Words and pics Matt Williams.
While the coastal towns are ever popular, the Sunshine Coast has more to offer if you head inland.
When we think of the Sunshine Coast, our first thoughts are of the sun, sand, surf, and the major coastal towns of Noosa, Coolum and Mooloolaba. If you take a short trip inland, however, the Sunshine Coast Hinterland has so much to offer. From the volcanic peaks of the Glasshouse Mountains to rolling hills and lakes nestled behind Noosa, there are many hidden gems.
Maybe it's because we see the billboards every time we drive to Coolum, but the only thing I knew about Yandina before this trip was that it was home of Buderim Ginger and the Ginger Factory. Located at the southern end of the Sunshine Coast Hinterland, there's a large caravan park nestled on the banks of the South Maroochy River.
A short drive from town will have you arriving at Wappa Falls, where locals hurl themselves off the rocks, somersaulting to the water below. We were lucky enough to visit after rains, so the falls were in full flow.
Yandina also lays claim to one of the hinterland’s oldest buildings. The Yandina Hotel was built in 1887 and moved by a bullock team to its present site in 1891. Enjoy a meal and a cold drink on the wide verandahs of this authentic Aussie pub.
A sleepy little town for most of the week, Eumundi springs to life each Wednesday and Saturday when the world-famous Eumundi Markets kicks opens its doors — or should it be peels back the canvas? Local artisans ply their trade next to fresh fruit and veggie stalls as the smell of freshly roasted coffee wafts through the air.
Along the main street there are cafes, restaurants and even the oldest bookseller in Australia, Berkelouw Books, so there is plenty to occupy your time.
You definitely won't go thirsty when you visit Eumundi, with two pubs located within one hundred metres of each other. The Imperial Hotel is even home to the Eumundi Brewery, so book a tour and tasting session, or just kick back and listen to the live music in the beer garden every weekend.
If you can't fit all that Eumundi has to offer in one day, just behind the markets is the Eumundi RV Stopover. You can stay for two nights and there is power available, as well as a dump point, free hot showers and BBQ's provided.
While we were exploring the Sunshine Coast Hinterland over a long weekend, we chose to base ourselves at Cooroy for a few reasons: its central location to the other towns in the hinterland; we had found a great private campground only minutes from the centre of town that has awesome views and was dog friendly; and Cooroy is a great little town with everything a traveller needs and then some.
For the art lover, a visit to the Cooroy Butter Factory Arts Centre will no doubt be high on your list of priorities. Open from Sunday through to Tuesday, the Arts Centre hosts frequently changing exhibitions, a retail store and a pottery studio. Workshops are also run regularly where you can channel your inner Pro Hart or Brett Whitely and create your own masterpieces.
Not far from Cooroy is Lake MacDonald and Noosa Botanical Gardens. The lake is home to a large range of bird and fish life, with bass and perch regularly caught from shore or by boat. Bring a picnic and relax by the water’s edge before ambling through the grounds of the botanical garden.
With so much to see and do, it's great to know you can stay at the Cooroy RV Stopover for a maximum of four nights while you explore the region. Just a short stroll from the main street and at only $12 per night, this is a 'no frills' campsite where the only amenity provided is a dump point. All RVs must be fitted with their own toilet, shower and waste water tanks.
Just up the road from Cooroy is Tinbeerwah and the impressive Mt Tinbeerwah. Take the drive up close to the summit but be aware that this is not a road suitable for caravans and trailers. For the last 500m, you'll need your walking shoes.
The first lookout point is accessible by prams and wheelchairs, and allows for endless views to Lake Cooroibah, Lake Cootharaba, Noosa and beyond.
Follow the well-worn path across the rocks to the summit for spectacular 360 degree views across the hinterland. For the extra keen, get up early to watch the sun rise, or enjoy a glass of bubbles as you watch the sun dip below the horizon.
The vertical cliff faces of Mt Tinbeerwah also lend themselves to rock climbing and abseiling for the adventurous.
On the banks of Lake Cootharaba is the township of Boreen Point, and as you could imagine, water sports and activities play a major part in daily life. Hire a kayak and take a paddle out onto the tannin stained waters of the lake — or perhaps windsurfing is more your style.
Boreen Point is also home to the Noosa Council operated campground which is located only metres from the banks of Lake Cootharaba. There are powered sites, dump points and a camp kitchen available, as well as hot showers. No need to leave your furry friend at home, as dogs are allowed with prior approval.
Don't feel like cooking dinner? Pop into the historic Apollonian Hotel for a delicious meal and a cold beer.
Dominating the main road through the small township of Kin Kin is the Country Life Hotel. This grand old pub exudes an old-world charm while the large, wrap-around verandahs beckon you inside for a home-cooked meal, a chat and a cold beer. Time it just right and you might find yourself singing along to live music.
Just behind the pub is the Kin Kin Sports Grounds, which provides a camping ground for users of the Noosa Trail Network. There's also a number of stalls provided for your horses. The Noosa Trail Network incorporates eight scenic hinterland trails that are suitable for walking, mountain biking and horse riding. They vary in length and difficulty and are very well signposted.
For those seeking an eclectic gift or a vintage collectable, then a visit to the quiet township of Cooran should be on your agenda. Filled with retro memorabilia and clothing, upcycled furniture and more, the Vintage Junction also sports a coffee shop serving the best brews around.
For those wanting to get a bit of dirt under their tyres, head a little further north through Woondum National Park to Mothar Mountain Rock Pools to escape the summer heat via a 4WD only track. On your way back to town, take a detour to Cooran Tablelands Lookout for stunning hinterland views.
I must admit, I have saved my favourite location in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland until last. My wife and I have been visiting this friendly town for years, and we always struggle a little when it is time to leave and head home.
Nestled in the shadows of the imposing Mount Cooroora, Pomona is a town that has a natural, easy going vibe, and where people still say g'day to you in the street.
Recently, the Pomona Distilling Co has opened up a fantastic establishment serving up wonderful food and even more amazing locally produced gins, giving us even more reason to continue to visit.
For those that are looking to burnsome extra calories from a breakfast at one of the several cafes, Pomona has a fantastic, self-guided heritage trail around the town. Taking in all the old buildings and historical sites, the walk will take you around an hour and a half — unless you are married to a history nerd, like me, then it will probably take double that!
A highlight of the walk is the Majestic Theatre, the only remaining silent film theatre in the world. The theatre screens silent movies on the second and fourth Saturday of each month at noon.
If that's not enough exercise for you, the challenging 439m Mount Cooroora summit hike might be calling your name. It's a challenging climb but the rewards are views from one of the highest points in the hinterland.
As you're walking up, just think that every July there are people out there who compete in the 'King of the Mountain' challenge. A 4.2km race to the top of the mountain and back!
Looking to spend a couple of days in Pomona, then look no further than the Pomona Showgrounds and Caravan Park only a minute or two from the centre of town. It's got all the usual facilities like hot showers, camp kitchens and dump points, as well as being pet friendly for those setting up around the perimeter of the oval.
So there you have it, a holiday on Queensland's Sunshine Coast can offer up a lot more than a dose of sunburn, sand in your swimmers and getting dumped by a wave. Take the roads less travelled and enjoy a relaxing time in the hinterland.
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