Lush rolling hills set the scene for a peaceful getaway to the Sunshine Coast Hinterland. Renowned for its gorgeous landscape, lovely locals and incredible food, this iconic spot has been a favourite among Queensland locals for good reason. To help you plan your own trip to this beautiful region, here are 21 things that are actually worth doing in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland!
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1. Eat dinner at The Tamarind
The Tamarind is, in my opinion, the best restaurant in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland and an absolute must-do. Bring two or more people and you can do the 5-course degustation or simply enjoy the 3-course a la carte menu, showcasing local produce with Asian fusion cuisine. Everything about this place is wonderful. The food is delicious, the service is fantastic and the restaurant has a warm yet luxurious atmosphere. Expect nothing but the best! You can also visit Gardners Falls while here so be sure to fit that in if you can. Find The Tamarind here.
2. Do the Kondalilla Falls Circuit
The 4.8km Kondalilla Falls Circuit should take you around 1 1/2 to 2 hours to complete. The paths are really well maintained and you’ll be treated to stunning views of the falls and surrounding mountains as you make your way down. If you choose to do the full circuit, you’ll need to tackle some stairs on the way down and up and I recommend wearing shoes or hiking boots you don’t mind getting dirty. In summer, be sure to pack your swimmers and plenty of water. Find the Kondalilla Falls here.
3. Buy an obscene amount of fudge
This is the number one thing I always do when we go to Maleny. I never buy fudge from anywhere but Sweets on Maple. Seriously. So, when I do, I give myself full permission to purchase and eat as much fudge as my body and bank account can handle and, trust me, that’s a lot. The staff here are so lovely and actively encourage you to take advantage of the free fudge samples. If fudge isn’t your thing, don’t worry, they have a million other types of chocolate and candy to choose from. My personal recommendations are the Double Decker (caramel and chocolate) and, my #1 pick, the Turkish Delight. Find Sweets on Maple here. Tell them I said hi! (Update: I just checked their website and you can order online and they’ll send you fudge in the post. This is a real problem for me.)
4. Buy fresh pasta from Santini il pastaio
If you’re staying at a place with a kitchen or just visiting the day and want something tasty to take home with you, be sure to visit Santini il pastaio. Located in Maleny, this unassuming store sells fresh gnocchi and pasta, sauces and desserts all ready to be cooked at home (they even have vegan pasta!). Grab some pumpkin sage ravioli, a batch of puttanesca and about 100 cannoli, take it back to your accommodation, open a bottle of red and relax in front of the fire. Bliss, right?! Find Santini il pastaio here.
5. Explore the Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve
For a relaxing time in the rainforest head directly to the Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve. Overlooking the Glass House Mountains you can enjoy great views before entering the reserve to spot birds, wildlife and enjoy the lush scenery. The walking trails here are easy going so perfect for a relaxing stroll and ideal for little ones. There are also plenty of interactive displays at the Rainforest Discovery Centre and a cafe to sit and unwind a little longer, if you wish. Find the Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve here.
6. Feast at the Kenilworth Country Bakery
The Kenilworth Bakery is the best bakery in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland and possibly the entire state. It’s certainly my favourite bakery of all time! Why? Because they have two shopfronts: One dedicated to savoury stuff like pies and sausage rolls and the other entirely dedicated to donuts. Best of all, there are gluten-free and vegan options. Pre-order a 1kg donut or 1kg sausage roll to take on an epic food challenge or enjoy their iconic coffee-filled donut. Oh, and no matter what your sensible self tells you while you’re there, you absolutely need at least 4 donuts for later. Get them to go! Find Kenilworth Country Bakery here.
7. Enjoy fresh scones at Spicers Clovelly
You don’t need to be a guest at Spicers Clovelly to enjoy the food! This is the best spot in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland for scones, trust me. Baked fresh, they’re warm and soft and so very tasty lavished with fresh cream and jam. The Spicers team know good coffee too so be sure to enjoy a cup or two and take a walk around the grounds of Clovelly, it’s just gorgeous. Spicers Clovelly also has an exceptional restaurant, The Long Apron, one of the finest restaurants in the region and well worth booking in for a life-changing degustation. Find Spicers Clovelly here.
8. Do the Fig Tree Walk
I’m going to mention Kenilworth a few times in the blog post and with good reason! It’s got to be the most underrated part of the Sunshine Coast Hinterland and it has so much to offer. The Fig Tree Walk, located a short drive outside of the town is an 800m circuit and very easy going, taking you past 150-year-old Moreton Bay fig trees as you wind through the rainforest. Ideal for little ones, it’s an easy and beautiful track to follow and the perfect thing to do after stuffing yourself at the bakery. Find the Fig Tree Walk here.
9. Stop at roadside stalls
As you drive around the region you’ll notice roadside stalls set up by locals and farmers. Make sure you have cash and small notes/gold coins to drop into the honesty box at each stop. Keep an eye out for spray-free, homegrown produce like avocados as well as golden, gooey honey and big bags of firewood. It’s a great way to support local farmers and truly taste the region while taking some goodies home with you.
10. Check out the view from Mapleton Falls Lookout
It’ll take mere minutes to walk from your car to the Mapleton Falls Lookout where you’ll be treated to absolutely spectacular views of the Obi Obi valley and lush rainforest below. If you’re keen for a little more adventure you can also do the Wompoo Circuit, a winding 1.3km track offering great views of Mapleton Falls and more. Find the Mapleton Falls Lookout here.
11. Stock up at Maleny Cheese
It seems no trip to the Sunshine Coast Hinterland is complete with a visit to the famous Maleny Cheese cafe and store. Producers of award-winning, handcrafted cheese and yoghurt using pure local milk, you can rest assured everything here is fantastic. Grab a bite to eat at the cafe and stock up on cheese to take with you, perfect for assembling a platter back at your accommodation later. Be sure to try the smokey cheddar and the unique buffalo range. Find Maleny Cheese here.
12. Visit Lake Baroon
Take a drive down to Lake Baroon, located between Montville and Maleny. The dam is huge and incredibly gorgeous, especially when spotted from above as you drive between Maleny and Montville. Pack a picnic and relax a while on the shore or head into the water for swimming, boating, kayaking or even fishing. Of course, there’s no lifeguard on duty so please be careful! Find Lake Baroon here.
13. Visit the Eumundi Markets
Held every Wednesday and Saturday from 8 am to 2 pm, it’ll take you around 50 minutes to drive from Maleny to the Eumundi Markets. Entry is free and you’ll be blown away by the sheer size of these markets! Operating since 1979 you can peruse a huge variety of stalls selling absolutely everything from arts and crafts to clothes, fresh food and so much more. Best of all, there are plenty of places to grab a bite to eat. Find the Eumundi Markets here.
14. Eat at Monica’s Maleny
You’ll find Monica’s on the main street in Maleny serving up all-day breakfast and lunch 6 days a week (they’re closed on Thursdays). It’s extremely popular on the weekends, with good reason, so bear that in mind to avoid disappointment. The menu boasts plenty of options for all dietary needs including great burgers and truly delicious thick-cut chips for lunch. Find Monica’s Maleny here.
15. Visit the local thrift shops
If you love to thrift just as much as I do, you’ll be pleased to know there are a few little spots to check out in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland. Check out the Lifeline, Bloomhill Op Shop and Salvation Army stores in Maleny and The Salvation Army and Sunshine Hospice Op Shops in Montville. As always, it’s a bit of a mixed bag, especially on weekends. Sometimes I find things, sometimes it’s a bust. That’s the thrift game for you!
16. Grab breakfast at Shotgun Espresso
Also located on the main street in Maleny, Shotgun Espresso serves up healthy, delicious and ethically sourced food and coffee. The seasonal menu features free-range meats and eggs, homegrown produce where possible and plenty of local produce too. Open 6 days a week (they’re closed on Mondays), you’ll want to stop in for their all-day brunch menu. Tuck into chilli scrambled eggs, a Korean steak sandwich, baguette French toast or spiced poached chicken broth. Find Shotgun Espresso here.
17. Do the Obi Obi Boardwalk
You could easily visit Maleny a hundred times and miss the Obi Obi Boardwalk, just like we did! This winding path connects the town with showgrounds, running along the Obi Obi Creek. It’s an easy stroll that takes you underneath the canopy, along the creek to platypus viewing platforms. I want to manage expectations here: it is tough to spot a platypus unless you’re at a zoo. They’re shy creatures and only come out at certain times of the day so just know if you do see one, you’ve been blessed! Find the Obi Obi Boardwalk here.
18. Check out Kenilworth Dairies
Here’s another Kenilworth gem for you! You may have already seen some of their award-winning products in your supermarket and not even realised it, if you’re a Queensland local. Stop in at Poppa’s Cafe, onsite, to enjoy a cheese platter, homemade ice cream, coffee and waffles before dropping an absolute dime on goodies to go. Whatever you do, don’t skip their iconic rich chocolate mousse. Find Kenilworth Dairies here.
19. Visit Australia Zoo
The iconic Australia Zoo is only a short 22-minute drive from Maleny and makes for a perfect day out during your stay or a great spot to stop in on the to or from your hinterland escape. Of course, it’s going to be an absolute hit with the kids but it’s awesome for all ages. Get up close with a wide range of animals including loads of familiar local faces and be sure to catch the famous Wildlife Warriors Show in the Crocoseum. Book tickets for Australia Zoo here.
20. Stop in at Brouhaha Brewery
Lovers of quality craft beer will be delighted to visit Maleny’s award-winning brewery, Brouhaha. It’s here you can match local produce with fantastic beer, just keep in mind this awesome spot is open Friday, Saturday and Sunday so you’ll need to plan your visit accordingly (worth it!). Tuck into a tasting flight and bar snacks or dive into their a la carte menu boasting mouth-watering bites like a wagyu beef burger, lemongrass and garlic Mooloolaba prawns and braised pork belly. Yes, please! Find Brouhaha Brewery here.
21. Go strawberry picking
I don’t know what it is, exactly, that makes picking your own strawberries so lovely but it just is! Maybe because it’s such a wholesome, sweet activity or maybe because it’s a super tasty one. Either way, it’s a really lovely way to spend a few hours and you can usually count on there being a great cafe selling strawberry ice cream, jams and coffee. There are quite a few spots to do it so here’s a link to a fantastic guide sharing the best strawberry picking spots on the Sunshine Coast.
Where to Stay
Planning a trip to the Sunshine Coast Hinterland? Booking.com and Agoda are fantastic websites for finding accommodation on the Sunshine Coast. Below are a few of our recommendations and options worth looking into:
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