For many travellers, the Sunshine Coast’s identity is little more than what you can glean from its name. And while there’s plenty to be said for the warm weather and beautiful beaches combo, there are plenty of inland things see and do in this idyllic Queensland destination.
Read on to find out what else there is enjoy in the Sunshine Coast, especially if you’re hoping to escape for a long weekend or explore Queensland from the comforts of a car. Prime your plans for:
- Big fruit
- National parks
- Botanics and birds
- Ginger galore
With such a wide variety of entertainment on offer and sights to explore, get ready to lean into the Sunshine Coast’s underrated hinterland.
Taste the Big Pineapple
Northern Queensland has the perfect climate for growing tropical fruit and it’s where many of Australia’s juicy crops come from. Come summertime, mangoes, passionfruits, pawpaw, and even durian are ripe for picking.
In true keeping with Aussie spirit, one visionary farmer built an oversized pineapple in 1971. Since then, the pineapple has survived tornado damage, arson and an attempted robbery, all so it can bring smiles to tourists every year. The Big Pineapple is about 15 minutes west of the Sunshine Coast, near Forest Glen, a worthwhile stop on a Queensland road trip. Needless to say, this is one of the best things to do in the Sunshine Coast if you’re into Big Things.
Explore Noosa National Park
Half an hour to the north of the Sunshine Coast is the stunning Noosa National Park, earning a spot on the list as one of the most scenic national parks in Queensland.
One of the highlights of the park is the Coastal Track. This 11 km out-and-back trek takes around four hours and weaves along some of the Sunshine Coast’s stunning shoreline. One of the highlights of the walk is the stop at Boiling Pot, a lookout over crashing waves below. Venture further to witness resident dolphins frolicking nearby and interesting geological features like the Devil’s Kitchen and Hell’s Gates. All along the walk, you can tuck inland to explore bushland.
Enjoy the Noosa Everglades
Overlapping in part with the Noosa National Park, the Noosa Everglades are a vital ecosystem in Australia. There are only two everglades systems in the world (the other is in Florida) — a swampy area of mazelike waterways, tall grasses and an abundance of wildlife. In fact, more than 40% of the country’s bird species call the everglades home.
There are a few ways to explore the everglades. Hiring a boat tour is the easiest as you’ll get a guide to show you around some of the best spots. Guides typically have a keen eye for spotting camouflaged critters in the marshland. You can also hire kayaks and canoes if you prefer to get around with a bit of paddle power and find your own way through the waters.
And, unlike the Florida Everglades, these ones are safe to swim in because there are no alligators or dangerous crocs lurking beneath the surface.
Search for a Yowie
America has Big Foot, the Himalayas have their Yetis and Australia is home to the Yowie, a large hair-covered creatures hiding in the wilderness. Not many people have seen a Yowie in real life, but some claim to have. The most common sightings are around Kilcoy, a small town roughly an hour from the Sunshine Coast.
The first of these Yowie tall tales came in 1979 when two young boys spotted one, and tried to shoot it. A statue was erected to commemorate the day and, since then, there have been dozens of reported sightings in the area. No sightings have been captured camera, but maybe you could be the first?
Wander the botanic gardens and bird world
In Maleny, the heart of the Sunshine Coast’s hinterland, you’ll find an incredible botanical garden with exotic bird aviary attached. The gardens are spread over 18 acres of land within the rainforest and with the Glass House Mountains as a stunning backdrop. Take your pick of the handful of walking trails to meander along as you admire the various flowers, trees and water features.
The adjoining aviaries are split into four walk-through sections that house more than 700 species from around Australia and the world. You have the choice to stroll through at your own pace or join guided tours throughout the day.
The botanic gardens are open every day of the year, except Christmas. Tours take place five times per day. Buggies are available for hire for those who prefer to explore the gardens with a set of wheels.
Climb a mountain or two
From the Sunshine Coast, you can see mountains on the horizon no matter where you are. Both Mount Coolum and the Glass House Mountains are within easy driving distance and each has a number of different hikes and climbs that offer amazing views over the area.
Mount Coolum is perhaps the easier of the two to climb and, because of its central location, it reveals amazing views over the Sunshine Coast.
For trekkers who want a walk that offers more of a challenge, the Glass House Mountains are found about an hour south of Noosa. Within the mountain range, take your pick of 11 peaks, walls prime for abseiling, and the iconic Australia Zoo, founded by Steve Irwin.
Right in the heart of the Sunshine Coast is the Yandina Ginger Factory—a triple-threat of experiences for a day with an open agenda.
Tours of the factory show you the surprisingly interesting journey of how ginger grows, is processed and turns into many of our favourite treats.
The onsite ice creamery and cafe are the perfect places to taste ginger. The menu is overrun with ginger additions, from whipped ginger button and ginger tomato relish to ginger beer and ginger scones. There’s also a gift shop where you can buy many of these products to take home.
And, for kids, there’s a playground, as well as family-friendly ginger train and ginger boat to tour the property. With so much sensory spice on offer, you’ll be leaving peppier than you arrived.
Common questions travellers have about the Sunshine Coast
What is the Sunshine Coast known for?
The Sunshine Coast is most famous for its beautiful beaches, but it’s also close to a number of other amazing attractions like national parks, Big Things and Yowies (maybe).
Is Sunshine Coast expensive?
The Sunshine Coast is no more expensive than most coastal towns in Australia. In fact, if you’re travelling up from Brisbane, you’ll probably find accommodations, restaurants and tours a bit cheaper.
What are the closest airports to the Sunshine Coast?
The Sunshine Coast has its own airport, about 9km north of Maroochydore. Nearby, there’s also Brisbane Airport 100km to the south and Gold Coast Airport 200km to the south.
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