Sunshine Coast: The Less You Know: Hidden Gems

If you go the back way up the Sunshine Coast chances are that you’re going to head through the very picturesque townships of Beerwah, Maleny and Nambour. And if you’re heading to the coast, you’re likely to visit idyllic paradises that are Caloundra, Mooloolaba and Noosa. While those places are listed high up on the places to visit for good reason, they aren’t the only spectacular places to see in this incredible part of the world.

Wide open spaces

Postman’s Track, between Cedarton and Maleny, offers an alternative route north between beautiful Bellthorpe National Park and another national park on the right. Turning left at the end onto Maleny-Kenilworth Road takes you further into the spectacular countryside, nestled between the vastly untouched Conondale National Park on the left and Maleny National Park on the right. (It’s here that you find the entryway into Conondale, however, entry is reserved for those with high clearance vehicles.)

After going through the beautiful tiny township of Kenilworth, head down Obi Obi Road for an easy drive through the countryside and over picturesque creeks before a heading up a divinely steep pass into Mapleton National Park. At the very crest of the incline, pull over into a tiny inconspicuous car park which has a breathtaking lookout (Wayne’s Lookout) over the valley you just ascended.

Kenilworth, Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia
Waynes Lookout, Mapleton, Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia
Waynes Lookout

Carry on a few minutes down the road and drop in to see Mapleton Falls. The falls themselves are at present, pretty dry but the cliff from which they cascade is beautiful and offers stunning, albeit similar views of the valley below.

Mapleton Falls, Mapleton, Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia
Mapleton Falls
Boardwalk to Mapleton Falls, Mapleton, Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia
Mapleton National Park

Tracking Towards The Coast

Head back on the main inland route to Nambour and drop in by the well-trodden Dulong Lookout before a short trip up the Bruce, getting off at Yandina for a climb at Mt Ninderry.

Mt Ninderry offers a short, yet challenging walk up to the summit. It has a couple of viewpoints that deviate slightly off the main track but the real drawcard is the Eastern Platform which has breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding areas. Of particular note is the dominating laccolith that is Mt Coolum which rises 208m above sea level in a landscape filled with plains.

Mt Coolum, Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

Sunrise over a laccolith mountain next to the ocean
View of Mt Coolum from Mt Ninderry (first viewpoint)

To the north, you can see views of Noosa National Park and Lake Weyba and to the south, the high rises of Maroochydore and Mooloolaba. To the far, far south, you can even spot the peaks of some of the Glasshouse Mountains but they look quite a bit different from this angle and rounding out the other side of the mountain are the less impressive but still beautiful views of Yandina and the Blackall Range.

North east views from Mt Ninderry, Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia
North to Noosa (second viewpoint)
North east views from Mt Ninderry, Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

Woman sitting on rocky outcrop overlooking a vast plain
Eastern Platform

Mountain, Meet Ocean

Making a break for the coast due east and traversing through the scenery you just viewed from atop Ninderry, you’re now in Coolum country. There’s a short but more challenging climb to the top of the plainlands namesake mountain which offers gorgeous sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean, Mooloolaba and back across to Mt Ninderry.

South views from Mt Coolum, Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

Elevated landscape image of a small town next to the ocean
Views while ascending Mt Coolum
Mt Nnderry as seen from MtCoolum, Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

Sun setting over a small mountain.
Mt Ninderry from Mt Coolum

The coastlines in this township are as breathtaking as the views from the top of Mt Coolum but there’s no mistaking that these are the real drawcards for visitors. The coastlines here are absolutely stunning and a personal favourite of mine. Unlike the vast lengths of uninterrupted beach that make up most of South East Queensland’s coast, the beaches here are short, sheltered, rugged and picturesque with headlands adorning each side of them. As the landscape rises above the beach, encapsulating them on three sides with cliffs, it makes walking along the coast here spectacular with many stunning elevated viewpoints.

Point Arkwright, Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

Ocean waves with tree on right
Point Arkwright
  • If you would like to laugh at me plodding my way up Mt Coolum, follow the link.

Little Slice Of Paradise

Heading south, you’ll soon be in Mudjimba. Stop off anywhere along here and assuming you aren’t hit by a bus whose driver doesn’t grasp the extent of his vehicles girth and you’ll be able to spot the very cute Mudjimba Island sitting just off the coast all by its adorable self.

Mudjimba Island, Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

Small island in distance as see from a sitting area in dunes behind beach
Mudjimba Island

Venture further south by hugging the coastline, you’ll come across an amazing hidden wonderland. This is doggy heaven. Pooches are free to play, splash and poop to their heart’s content. As joyous as it is to see puppies off-leash and free to smell other dogs butts and sniff out the fishies that wander into the shallows, there was a stunning rock formation rising from the land at beaches end that was the real drawcard. (Mostly for the fact that I had seen it on the map and the puppy play area was an accidental discovery.)

Seeing Pincushion Island from a distance is beautiful but circling its perimeter and climbing over it truly reveals its colours. Literally. It’s white and orange banding is simply gorgeous and will remind you of the clownfish, Nemo. Pair that with being spectacularly rugged and insanely windy, this tiny rock jutting out of the landscape with an endless golden sandy beach and Mt Coolum on one side and the Maroochy River and Point Cartwright on the other is breathtaking every way you look at it.

Northward views of Mt Coolum from Bare Rock, Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

Orange and white rocky outcrop at the end of a beach with mountain in background
Pincushion Island with Mt Coolum in the distance
Bare Rock, Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

Small rocky outcrop on beach peninsula
Pincushion Island with Point Cartwright in the distance

Go Beyond The Brochures

The Sunshine Coast is known for having a vibe so relaxed that you become soft, moldable putty as sunbake on long sandy beaches with some jagged glass shard-like mountains lingering further inland. While those things are well-deserved for taking out the top spots in the must-see areas, the truth is, the Sunshine Coast is brimming with natural wonders awaiting every type of visitor. So, go on, take that back road, you won’t be disappointed.

More Sunshine Coast:

The Sunshine Coast is part of the South East Queensland region. Click here to see what the South East Queensland has to offer.

2 thoughts

  1. Sunshine Coast is such a happy name. I instantly connected with what you said about going beyond the brochure; I love exploring new places with the people who live there because they know all the hidden spots of paradise. 🙂

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