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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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