As well as having spectacular beaches, the Sunshine Coast has a charming hinterland. Several quirky little towns enjoy a rainforest setting and views over the Sunshine Coast and Glasshouse Mountains. The Sunshine Coast hinterland is easily accessible from the coast, and exploring it makes a great road trip. If you don’t have your own vehicle it is definitely worth hiring a rental car to really enjoy the hinterland at your own pace.
The Blackhall Range and the Glasshouse Mountains have long been an inspiration to artists and craftspeople and, as such, the hinterland has become the cultural centre of the region. Culture vultures can enjoy an artistic tour of the region, taking in art galleries, photography and locally produced crafts such as woodwork, leather products and pottery.
It is also an agricultural centre boasting dairy farms and freshly grown produce, so foodies can feast on locally produced wines, cheeses, chocolate, ice cream, and a wonderful array of cafes and restaurants.
|Sunshine Coast Hinterland cafe with spectacular view|
For lovers of the great outdoors the National Parks offer wonderful rainforests to explore, complete with picnic areas, camping facilities, walking trails and waterfalls.
All of the drives are clearly signposted, and run along well-maintained roads. Simply choose your drive and follow the brown (tourist) signs displaying the ‘Tourist Drive’ number.
Blackhall Range Drive
Tourist Drive 23 – Mapleton to Maleny – 57km
Taking in Mapleton, Montville and Maleny, the Blackhall Range drive is one of the most popular. These three settlements are interspersed with a handful of other, smaller towns, and offer lots to see and do. There are restaurants with sweeping views over the Sunshine Coast, diverse shops (such as the Bowerbird of Montville that offers a little bit of everything, and even a clock shop selling quite an array of German cuckoo clocks), specialist crafts producers (such as pottery and woodwork), dangerously tempting chocolate shops and awesome Kondalilla Falls, an 80 metre rainforest waterfall in Kondalilla Falls National Park.
|Mapleton Tavern, Queensland, Australia|
Tourist Drive 22 – Eumundi to Maleny – 70km
The Kenilworth Drive is definitely worth starting from Eumundi on a Wednesday or a Saturday, to coincide with the Eumundi Markets that take place in the morning. The drive loops west of the Blackhall Range drive and offers a variety of scenery, the opportunity to visit a dairy factory in Kenilworth, and explore the Kenilworth State Forest. It then follows the Mary River south to Maleny, where the Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve offers a fantastic view across the Glasshouse Mountains, especially at sunset.
|Dairy cattle, Maleny, Queensland, Australia|
Glasshouse Mountains Drive
Tourist Drive 24 – Elimbah to Glenview – 30km
Named after the glass furnaces of industrial northern Britain in 1770 by James Cook, the Glasshouse Mountains are truly atmospheric to drive through. This short drive offers several wildlife experiences passing one of the best places to see a huge variety of Australian wildlife, Australia Zoo, and a parrot sanctuary.
|A Montville shop, Queensland, Australia|
Have you enjoyed these scenic drives? Which was your favourite?