Impressive Sunshine Coast Hinterland

Sunshine Coast Hinterland

Before driving to Sunshine Coast we heard a lot about it. People say that Sunshine Coast is very beautiful and not as busy as some places on Gold Coast. So, we were looking forward to seeing all the attractions around it.

Once we got to Tewantin which is located in the north of the Sunshine Coast it started raining heavily and the forecast was raining for seven days.

What can I say? We stayed in Tewantin caravan park for three days and we did not do much. Only Nell had the fun of playing in the water plunges. 

To kill time we went to the movies and to the indoor playground so at least Nell had an opportunity to play with kids. 

Hema - Queensland

Hema’s HX-2 Navigator

Explore Australia with Hema’s HX-2 Navigator, the ultimate GPS system for on and off-road navigation.

Hema HX-2 Navigator

That’s all. Noosa will be here next time.


Sunshine Coast is beautiful when it is not raining. We had to leave Noosa with regret we did not see much. 

Our next stop was Caloundra from where we would have good access to Sunshine Coast Hinterland and Glass House Mountains. We drove past Maroochydore, a quite big and developing town with a nice bridge. 

There were many other places that we could stop and enjoy for another two weeks but we started to get short on time so we drove further.

Caloundra happened to be a beautiful town placed on hills at the seashore. During our 8 day stay we had an opportunity to explore it more by driving around and picnicking on beaches. 


The beaches are beautiful and popular for swimming, windsurfing, boating and fishing. They have nice, short and hilly streets with magnificent views. 

There are plenty of playgrounds and water features. Also, there is a boardwalk at the shore that is a very popular fishing spot and from where Bribie Island can be seen.

When we turned up the first day we were looking for a caravan park and we drove up to another Big4 Caravan Park located close to the beach. 

I was badly surprised when the lady told me the price: $79 per night just for a powered site. It was the biggest price for a powered site during our trip and we decide to not take it and look elsewhere.

Nell playing with water
Nell playing with water

Golden Beach Holiday Park

Sometimes we need a bit of luck and this time we got lucky. We found a good Golden Beach Holiday Park that was run by a nice couple and only for $45 per night (if you book for a  week then the 7th day is free).

Travel Spiced Life

When booking a caravan park for a week, ask if they have a special. During the off-season, caravan parks often have specials where they offer one day free if you book it for a longer time.

Golden Beach Holiday Park is conveniently located at the shore, in front of a long, narrow stretch of land from Bribie Island.

Bribie Island cannot be accessed from Caloundra but if you have a kayak you can easily paddle to the other side. Note that you need a permit to visit Bribie Island and you can purchase it from the Queensland National Parks website.

We had a really good time in Caloundra and during our stay except resting and fishing, we drove to Sunshine Coast Hinterland and Glass House Mountains.

Our spot at Golden Beach Holiday Park
Our spot at Golden Beach Holiday Park

During our stay in Queensland, we had an opportunity to see the state east coast pretty well and I have to say that Queensland seashore is surrounded by mountains and hills. When we drove, we constantly could see a beautiful hilly landscape full of national parks and state forests located not far from the coast. 

One of the best examples of this hilly landscape was Sunshine Coast Hinterland.

It was a big change for us, as we lived in Melbourne west side which was flat and treeless.

Sunshine Coast Hinterland

Sunshine Coast Hinterland is located 35 km from the sea and can be accessed via a picturesque tourist drive. 

The best way to explore it fully is to drive around via a big loop that goes through Maleny, Conondale, Kenilworth, Mapleton and Montville

This is only when you have enough time as you will be stopping on the way many times as there are various lookouts, waterfalls, historic buildings and nice cafes.

We decided to do a small part of the loop by seeing all attractions around Maleny, Mapleton and Montville.

So, we drove to Landsborough and then headed up to Maleny. The road was a little bit steep. I mean in comparison to all roads we have done so far it was a smooth climb. On the left-hand side, we could see an amazing view of the Glass House Mountains but not only that.

People at Sunshine Coast Hinterland have a good sense of humor
People at Sunshine Coast Hinterland have a good sense of humour

The area is simply green and beautiful. There are many houses on the edge of the hill with a stunning view. With good weather, you can see the waters of the sea and Caloundra. We stopped a few times to just see this spectacular view. 

Other houses in Sunshine Coast Hinterland are built somewhere in the middle where only one road leads. People who live here run their life at a slow pace and no worries (except work). 

Actually, when we drove up to one of the lookouts we talked to some locals and we found out some other interesting facts about living here (for example how much rainfall they have).


Maleny is a small, scenic town with many historical buildings and their main attraction is Botanic Gardens and Bird World which is located on the south of town.

Botanic Gardens & Bird World

There are two main attractions in Botanic Gardens & Bird World to see: the gardens and a big collection of birds. It is possible to buy separate tickets for gardens and bird world but we decided to see everything.

There are a few different aviaries to see in the bird world: finch aviary, small parrot aviary, large parrot aviary and Australian aviary. The main attraction was a guided tour and this is where we headed first.

The birds were being fed and we had an opportunity to feed them too. Progressively we moved from aviary to aviary seeing different birds and it was a great experience. Nell loved it so much.

Kasha feeding the big parrot
Kasha feeding the big parrot

After we finished our bird world tour we had time to walk around the botanic gardens. They are beautifully located on the hill with an amazing view of the Glass House Mountains. We had a really good time walking around the alleys and watching different plants and trees.

After spending a good time at Botanic Gardens & Bird World we drove past Maleny, and behind Witta we turned right to Curramore Road. This way we could shortcut the big loop and join Obi Obi Road that leads to Mapleton.

It happened it was a good gravel road with no surprises.

Botanic Gardens
Botanic Gardens

Mapleton Falls

Mapleton Falls are conveniently located off Obi Obi Road just before Mapleton. We stopped at the car park and the walk to Mapleton Falls was very short. The water was flowing slowly so we could so we enjoyed it for a few minutes before heading to Mapleton.

Mapleton Falls
Mapleton Falls

There is also a 1.3 km Wompoo circuit track that winds through rainforest and eucalypt forest with a picturesque Peregrine Lookout overlooking Mapleton Falls and Obi Obi Valley.


Mapleton is a beautiful, historic town with many local taverns, restaurants, and quaint cafes. There are a number of days walks to do in the park where you can enjoy the wild rainforest with its colourful birdlife. As it is situated on tableland you can enjoy an amazing view of the surrounding valleys.

Also, Mapleton is home to Yarn Festival to celebrate the art of the Aussie bush ballad. We admired the beauty of the town and drove further to Montville.

Le Relais Bressau restaurant in Flaxton between Mapleton and Montville
Le Relais Bressau restaurant in Flaxton between Mapleton and Montville


Montville is home to art galleries, coffee shops and boutique stores. You can buy anything from handmade beanies to sculptures or paintings made by local artists.

Often tourists visit Montville as a weekend destination and stay in one of the luxurious resorts or cute hinterland cottages.

Montville is close to Kindalilla National Park where you go entertain various walks in the rainforest.

We stopped there for a quick lunch and drove to Baroon Lake.

Lake Baroon

We turned right just after Montville and drove for 9 km before turning left to Narrows Road.

That was the most surprising view of the day as the road to Lake Baroon led us sharply down with a big descend. Interestingly we could see a big part of Lake Baroon from the distance right on the top of Narrows Road.

Sharp descent to Lake Baroon
Sharp descent to Lake Baroon

Down at the lake, we walked around, had some refreshments and drove back home.

From Montville, we took a shortcut road through Hunchy Road and Palmwoods. Later on, we passed Buderim and landed back in our trailer. 

Our trip to Sunshine Coast Hinterland was a great success and we saw amazing views and walks.

Lake Baroon
Lake Baroon

Glass House Mountains

On another sunny day, we went for a drive to Glass House Mountains

We were wondering why the mountains are called that. It happened that they were named by explorer James Cook in 1770 as the peaks reminded him of the glass furnaces in his county of Yorkshire.

Before getting to Glass House Mountains, we drove through Landsborough and we stopped at Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve.

Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve

It is a small reserve with 55 hectares of the subtropical rainforest located with a great view of the Glass House Mountains. 

The biggest attraction in Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve is the loop walk. While walking around the loop we saw big trees and learn about plants and local animals.

Watching big trees at the Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve
Watching big trees at the Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve

Later on, we sat in the cafe to enjoy the morning while having a coffee.

I think the best part was enjoying the view where from a long distance we could see ‘glassy’ peaks of the mountains that are placed randomly in the bushland. 

Later on, we took Mountain View Road, Maleny-Stanley River road and we joined Kilcoy-Beerwah road. We wanted to loop around the Glass House Mountains and take a shortcut from around Woodford.

Kasha and Nell at the Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve
Kasha and Nell at the Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve

Glass House Mountain – Wrong shortcut

But, the problem was we could not find the shortcut road. We turned off from the main road two times but we had to go back. 

Finally, around 10 km after Woodford we found the road and we thought it was the one. Later, we realised that we were mistaken. 

In the beginning, the road was wide and good, and then it was only one lane but still bitumen. Then the road turned to real 4WD and we stopped and thought about whether to return or go further. The track was in really bad condition after the last rainfall but we took the challenge.

We took a wrong shortcut and we got lost in Glass House Mountains
We took a wrong shortcut and we got lost in Glass House Mountains
Travel Spiced Life

Glass House Mountain is a great place for any type of 4WD driving. Make sure you serviced your car and add all necessary equipment.

We got lost but the rescue came on time

We had to drive on low range gear really slow. Fortunately, it was only for 1km and then we saw a Ute with a guy, a young boy and a dog. 

We asked them if we are heading in a good direction to Glass House Mountains. The answer was ‘No’ but the guy offered us a guide drive. 

So, we drove behind the Ute for about 10 km. We passed many people with their 4WD cars. The area happened to be a popular 4WD testing ground. 

Our rescue vehicle at Glass House Mountains
Our rescue vehicle at Glass House Mountains

Once we were driving we saw many nice forest trails and tracks where we can go in the future for fun. Finally, when the guy in the ute reckoned we can make it further, we thanked him, said ‘Good Bye’ and drove to the lookout. 

The view was stunning and the mountains looked amazing. There are many walking tracks but due to the late hour, we left it for next time. Definitely, it is a place to come back in the future.

The end of our trip was coming

Regretfully, we realized that our big loop around Australia will come to the end soon. We both started looking for a job a week ago already, and inevitably, one day we will find one and we have to settle, either in Gold Coast or Brisbane.

Next time we will drive to Gold Coast as this was our original destination to live. However we already noticed that there were not many jobs in Information Technology, so by the end of our search, it could be Brisbane – our new home. We did not know that yet!

From red dirt to tropical rainforest. Ten places anyone should add to their bucket list. Subscribe and receive ten colourful infographics.

Please subscribe to receive our monthly newsletter

Did you like our content?

Buy Me A Coffee

4WD Equipment Checklist

GPS Navigator or compass

Maxtrax – if you get bogged, you can use it for additional traction

Tire Deflator – deflate tires quickly when going on dirt or 4WD

Air Compressor – inflate tires quickly after going back on bitumen (we use MM)

Tire Repair Kit – to fix the tire by yourself when you don’t have access to the tire shop (we use Oztrail)

UHF Radio – for communication with your mates and in emergency

Full Recovery Kit (with Dampener Blanket) – must-have if you are going on real off-road

High Lift Jack – useful if you do serious 4WD tracks

Shovel – useful if you get bogged, also good for campfire cooking

Fuel funnel with water filter – additional protection when fueling up in dodgy places

Additional fuel canisters

Read more from our guides

Learn how to start a travel blog like this (step by step guide)

Learn more about off-road driving from our guide

Learn 11 Tips about outback camping from our guide

Learn about bush cooking from our ultimate guide

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *