The Sunshine Coast Hinterland is a glorious stretch of Queensland’s coastline. Our Sunshine Coast hinterland road trip covers a stretch extending about 120km (75 miles). From Bribie Island in the south to Rainbow Beach, near Fraser Island, in the north. Compared to the Gold Coast, commercial development is more restrained on The Sunshine Coast; though there are still high-rise towers and shopping malls. You are never too far away from a peaceful expanse of golden beach.
Noosa is the jewel in the coastal crown, an unlikely encapsulation of luxury, hedonism and natural beauty that rarely fails to charm. Back from Noosa Main beach, the rolling green hills of The Sunshine Coast Hinterland are peppered with quaint villages and mysterious volcanic mountains. The red-cedar loggers are long gone (as are the red cedars), replaced by craftspeople, alternative lifestylers plus bakers and baristas servicing the tourism boom.
A road trip from Noosa to The Sunshine Coast Hinterland towns of Montville and Maleny makes for a worthwhile road trip unto itself. Especially on a rainy day when Noosa Beach no longer an option.
GLASS HOUSE MOUNTAINS
Head north from Brisbane on the Bruce Highway approximately 56 km (35 miles). Turn left at The Glasshouse Mountains Tourist Drive. Known as Steve Irwin Way since the death of The Crocodile Hunter. This stretch is where you will catch your first glimpses of the Glass House Mountains. These unusual volcanic rocks are the remains of lava-belching volcanoes rising out of the earth some 20 million years ago. The craggy, eroded peaks in the National Park offer some of impressive walking tracks. Tracks that will take you to some of the most panoramic lookouts on The Sunshine Coast Hinterland. Where you can look out across the well-drained slopes of rich volcanic soil at the base of the mountains ideal for growing pineapples. Pineapples straight off these farm can be purchased at roadside stalls, along with avocados, macadamia nuts and other produce.
Continue along the same road, following the signposted tourist drive that takes you north to the hill township of Maleny. Maleny is a picturesque country town of quaint colonial architecture. Occupied by new-age shops, galleries and craft outlets. Talented artists and craftspeople have made Maleny their home. For that very reason you may just find something special in Maleny. Something genuinely Australian, and original.
Head east on the Maleny–Landsborough road before taking a left turn to Montville. Again you will enjoy spectacular ridge-top vistas, plus a few glimpses of scenic Lake Baroon. Montville is more of a chocolate-box town than Maleny (visually). The entire town is ornamented with quaint shops offering all manner of unique arts and crafts. The main street is well worth a wander, with numerous options for eating and drinking, such as The Edge Restaurant.
Heading east some 15km (9 miles) to the Bruce Highway, turn left towards Nambour and you will reach the unique market town of Eumundi. Another charming hinterland town, Eumundi is decorated with contemporary artwork and sculptures by local artists. Mingling with the historic buildings are shops selling new-age paraphernalia and jewellery, along with plenty of cafés. Eumundi is most renowned for its markets putting it well and truly on the The Sunshine Coast Hinterland map. From Eumundi, it is 21km (13 miles) east via Route 12 to the coast at Noosa.
What is Noosa? The area includes Noosaville, set back on the Noosa River; Noosa Junction; and Sunshine Beach, but for most people the name means the compact area called Noosa Heads.
Located on the sandy shore of Laguna Bay at the mouth of the river and overlooked by a ruggedly natural headland, the tourist ‘strip’ is Hastings Street, where the chintziest shops, finest restaurants and beautiful people all come together epitomising the Noosa fairytale. There is no shortage of things to do in Noosa from shopping, water activities on the ocean, in the Noosa River, exploring Noosa National Park and fine dining. Among the great choice of restaurants is the perfectly positioned Bistro C, while all your information and booking needs are met by the Noosa Visitor Centre (Hastings Street; tel: 5430 5020; daily 9am–5pm). Directly in front of Hastings Street is Noosa Main Beach, where you can learn to surf or just enjoy the golden sand and gentle waves.