Queensland’s Sunshine Coast stretches from Caloundra to Cooloola. The region to the north of Brisbane is one of Queensland’s top holiday destinations, with sun-drenched beaches and green rolling hills. This combination makes for a relaxing holiday. It’s also easy to get there as the Sunshine Coast is only a one-hour drive north of Brisbane. From beaches to national parks, laid-back seaside suburbs to hinterland towns, here are some wonderful things to do on the Sunshine Coast for your next holiday in the sun.
The sunny coast has long been a magnet for frazzled city dwellers who head north for the beautiful Sunshine Coast weather and stunning beaches. The region is well-known for its 100km of Sunshine Coast beaches stretching from family-friendly Caloundra to the Cooloola Coast and stunning coastal views of the hinterland. Another favourite weekend activity is to visit one of the many excellent Sunshine Coast markets. So next time you visit, tick these things off your list of things to do on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland.
- 55 Things to do on the Sunshine Coast
- Best Tours
- New Things To Do In Sunshine Coast
- Things to do in Mooloolaba
- 6- Spend the day at Mooloolaba Beach
- 7- Explore Sealife Aquarium
- 8- Cruise The Canals
- 9- Paddle around Mooloolaba River National Park
- 10- Go Whale Watching
- 11- Watch the Mooloolaba Christmas Boat Parade
- 12- Eat Fresh Seafood Straight Off The Trawlers
- 13- Meet The “Locals’ At Mooloolaba Wharf
- 14- Lounge Around Alex Headlands
- 15- Dive HMAS Brisbane
- 16- Watch The Sunset Over The Mooloolah River
- 17- Go Sailing
- 18- Go Fishing
- 19- Yoga at Point Cartwright
- 20- Go Paddle Boarding
- Things to do in Maroochydore
- Things to do in Caloundra
- Things to do in Coolum
- Things to do in Noosa
- Things to do in Cooloola
- Things to do in Sunshine Coast hinterland
- 40- Do the Sunshine Coast Hinterland Gallery Trail
- 41- Explore the Glass House Mountains
- 42- Go for a walk in Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve
- 43- Hike to Kondalilla Falls
- 44- Mapleton National Park
- 45- Pomona
- 46- Cooroy
- 47- Eumundi Markets
- 48- Drive the Mary Valley
- 49- Hike the Conondale Range
- 50- Unleash your creativity at the Australian Body Art Festival
- Sunshine Coast attractions for kids
- Where is the Sunshine Coast?
- What’s on Sunshine Coast
- Sunshine Coast Accommodation
55 Things to do on the Sunshine Coast
- Noosa to Rainbow Beach – 4WD Tour in Great Sandy National Park to see the Coloured Sands.
- Sunshine Coast: Shared Return Transfer to Eumundi Markets – spend the day shopping for presents and tasting local food. This is one of the best markets in the country.
- Sunshine Coast Hinterland and Noosa Small Group Tour – discover the villages in the Blackall Range.
New Things To Do In Sunshine Coast
1- Swim with sharks
Swimming around with reef sharks, grey nurse sharks, and wobbegong sharks is an experience at SEA LIFE Mooloolaba.
Shark Dive Xtreme is an adrenalin-rush for adventure seekers who can swim with nine types of sharks.
The swim lasts two hours and includes a safety briefing, dive training, and you’ll learn a lot about the role of sharks in the ecosystem.
Sharks face threats from habitat destruction, overfishing and the demand for shark products.
The Sunshine Coast has beautiful beaches and a stretch of coastline home to an assortment of sharks.
Lifeguards use drone technology to keep swimmers safe by identifying rips, conditions and spotting sharks.
SEA LIFE Mooloolaba’s Shark Dive Xperience is available to those aged 14+. Book your ticket to Sea Life and enjoy an experience of a lifetime.
2- Do A Ropes Course at Next Level
Zip over Cornmeal Creek at Sunshine Plaza’s zipline.
From easy activities like crawling through net tunnels, stepping stones and a pirate walk to swinging from rope to rope while dangling 18m above the ground, the course has four difficulty levels across seven circuits and an impressive 145 aerial obstacles.
Circuits take about one hour to complete and there are different levels catering to various ages.
There are over a kilometre of ziplines and a view of the coast from a 22 m viewing platform.
Next Level is at Sunshine Plaza, Maroochydore. Tickets are based on the number of circuits and start at $25 (children above 6), $35 (18+) for one circuit. If you plan on doing four or more circuits, buy a weekly pass for $80 (adult)/ $70 (child).
3- Ride The Aquaduck
Aquaduck is an amphibious vehicle offering one-hour sightseeing tours around Mooloolaba and the Mooloolah River.
The Aquaduck rolls past Mooloolaba Esplanade and cruises around the waterways of Minyama.
Sights along the way include mansions, Point Cartwright, Mooloolaba fish markets and the glamorous mansions of Minyama Island.
It’s a fun way to learn a bit about the region’s history, ogle at luxury mansions, and discover the Sunshine Coast’s hidden secrets.
The Aquaduck leaves from the Wharf on Parkyn Parade. Find out more here.
4- Go Fliteboarding
Caloundra’s Pumicestone Passage is a 35 km channel that stretches from Bribie Island to Deception Bay and is in the Moreton Bay Marine Park.
It’s a great spot to go stand-up paddleboarding, kayaking and jet skiing. It’s also the place to spot turtles, dolphins and to go fishing.
An experience to remember is flying over it on a fliteboard.
Flight boarding is also known as electric foiling, and a fliteboard is a surfboard powered by an emission-free electric motor.
Imagine flying over water on an electric hydrofoil watercraft without having to paddle out.
Sunshine Coast Boardsports at 21 Mayes Avenue, Caloundra, has fliteboarding lessons from $199 an hour.
5- Go Glamping
Escape to the country and enjoy nature while staying in a luxurious safari-style suite.
The spacious glamping suite is on a private property in Woombye and has a lounge area, ensuite bathroom, kitchenette and a fireplace.
Suites are luxuriously furnished, with stone basins and recycled barn floorboards.
Soak in the bathtub while enjoying peaceful views and fresh air.
Enjoy organic sparkling wine and cheese beside Petrie Creek while soaking up the serenity of the forest.
Starry Nights Rates start from $295 a night for accommodation in a safari tent, and a breakfast hamper.
Things to do in Mooloolaba
The name ‘Mooloolaba’ is thought to have derived either from ‘mulu’ the Aboriginal word for snapper fish, or ‘mullu’ red-bellied black snake.
In 1864, William Pettigrew’s purchase of land at the mouth of the Mooloolah River put him in the position to dominate the timber trade in the Maroochy District over the ensuing thirty years.
He established a timber depot and wharf to ship timber from Cotton Tree and Buderim to his Brisbane sawmill.
From 1870-1884, Mooloolah Heads served as the main gateway to the Maroochy District. Protected by Point Cartwright, it was favoured as a port over the Maroochy River, where the ocean swell and sand bars often made access hazardous.
Pettigrew’s steamers continued to operate in the Mooloolah and Maroochy Rivers, regularly carrying produce and passengers as well as timber between Mooloolaba and Brisbane.
6- Spend the day at Mooloolaba Beach
Mooloolaba has a north-facing beach, vibrant al-fresco precinct, picnic areas and playgrounds.
Across the road, Mooloolaba Esplanade is lined with luxury resorts, designer shops, trendy cafes and alfresco restaurants.
In summer, these alfresco cafes and coffee shops are packed with holidaymakers and shops selling bikinis, thongs, trinkets, postcards and CDs.
Sit and watch the waves crashing onto the beach while you dine on calamari and sip white wine.
In Mooloolaba, the set up is so convenient you could end up doing nothing but swim, sunbake, surf, shop, sip and dine at a different restaurant each night.
7- Explore Sealife Aquarium
You don’t have to snorkel or dive to experience the wonders of the ocean.
One of the best Mooloolaba attractions for families is Sealife Mooloolaba, which has four interactive levels filled with amazing ocean creatures.
Watch an exciting seal performance, meet the otters or dive with the sharks.
There’s a thrilling walk beneath gliding rays and giant sharks through a transparent Oceanarium tunnel. Skip the line and book your ticket online here.
8- Cruise The Canals
Queensland is full of beach towns that have kilometres of soft white sand and clear blue skies but what makes Minyama extra special is the opulent canal homes that flash past at you as you drive over the canal bridges along Brisbane Road.
This once sleepy fishing village is now a lifestyle playground with massive luxury waterfront mansions and expensive yachts.
The majestic mansions flaunt crisp modern architectural lines using glass to capture sparkling water views and private jetties along the waterfront.
You can kayak around the canals or cruise the Mooloolah River in a dinghy or boat. Another way to experience the canals is to book a seafood lunch or dinner cruise.
- Mooloolaba Canal Cruise with commentary
- Mooloolaba Seafood Lunch Cruise
- Mooloolaba River Sunset Cruise
9- Paddle around Mooloolaba River National Park
Just a few short minutes away from the dreamy waterfront mansions and luxury yachts of the Mooloolaba canals there is the secret nature hideaway of the Mooloolah River National Park, where kangaroos and birds still find solace in their natural habitat.
Although it is located only minutes away from the Minyama Canals, it is a world away from its opulence and glamour.
The wooded coastal lowlands of the Mooloolah River National Park with protected remnants of wallum heath, open eucalypt woodlands and tea-tree swamps is a quiet out-of-the-way nature lovers refuge with no facilities or walking tracks.
Don’t be surprised to glimpse the occasional local hiding amongst the bushes soaking up the tranquil atmosphere.
This serene part of the world was once home to the Aboriginal Undanbi tribe who foraged amongst the woodlands for cotton tree flowers (that taste like lettuce) and fished for oysters along the river banks.
This tribe along with others of its kind disappeared through the passage of time as the area became populated by industry and civilization.
By 1919, Mooloolah Heads was more of a fruit growing area than a seaside resort. Fishing was also developing as an industry of some importance.
Thomas O’Connor bought Pettigrew’s land and surveyed the first allotments of what was to become Mooloolaba; the first sale of allotments was held on 1 January 1921.
It was then that the name ‘Mooloolaba’ was adopted to differentiate between this developing area and the Mooloolah Township on the North Coast Railway.
The section of the Mooloolah River that runs through the National Park looks like it has not changed much from the days of the Undanbi tribe when aboriginals camped, built their fish traps and gathered bush tucker.
As you cruise along, it would not be uncommon to spot local birdlife such as a pair of Brahminy kite birds perched on an overhead branch eagerly watching for fish.
Brilliant blue kingfishers flutter around the mangroves as kangaroos laze by the river bank watching.
A pair of wild ducks splash in the river, droplets of water on their shimmering blue wings glisten under the suns rays.
It is so easy to forget the opulence of the civilised canal front as you drift along for hours in a dreamy reverie, while this lost pocket envelopes your senses and you leave all your responsibilities behind.
10- Go Whale Watching
Humpback whales cruise past the coast on their way back to Antarctica after migrating north months earlier.
They swim past the Sunshine Coast around May and June to head to Townsville and tropical north Queensland to give birth.
Around late July and August, they migrate south and arrive in Hervey Bay before moving south towards Antarctica to feed on krill.
You can join a whale-watching cruise from Mooloolaba and there’s a fabulous opportunity to go swimming with the whales.
Recommended tour: Mooloolaba Whale-Watching Cruise
11- Watch the Mooloolaba Christmas Boat Parade
Sleigh rides through a winter wonderland, chestnuts roasting on an open fire and Santa sloshing through the snow are typical scenes in the Northern Hemisphere but in the Sunshine Coast, there are beach barbeques and the Christmas boat parade.
So, if you’re visiting at Christmas time, find yourself a spot to watch the Mooloolaba Christmas Boat Parade, which is a glittering flotilla of boats gliding around the canals past the waterfront homes.
Residents deck the hulls of their boats and canal-side homes to celebrate the holiday season.
The flotilla of yachts, powerboats, outriggers, party boats and catamarans are dressed up for Christmas, with animated Christmas scenes and costumed carolers.
It has been going since 2002 and is a fun way for residents to celebrate Christmas in nautical style.
Revellers dress in Christmas colours and some people get right into the Christmas spirit by dressing up as Santa and elves.
The boats work their way through the harbour, to The Spit and back through the main canal.
A good place to get an eyeful is the Kawana Waters Pub on Nicklin Way or if you happen to know someone who owns a house on the canal, that’s even better.
12- Eat Fresh Seafood Straight Off The Trawlers
Feast on fresh seafood at one of the many fresh fish places on Parkyn Parade, where the fishing boats are docked.
It’s a favourite spot for locals to line up for their Christmas prawns and is the most popular place to go for the freshest fish and chips.
Fisheries on the Spit has a fresh seafood section, a fish and chip shop as well as an outdoor deck (upstairs).
It’s often the busiest but there are a few other seafood places around that are excellent, such as Brown’s Qualify Seafood.
Recommended tour: Sunshine Coast Tour with Lunch and Drinks
13- Meet The “Locals’ At Mooloolaba Wharf
The revamped Mooloolaba Wharf is home to some fun and quirky statues that are fun to pose with.
it’s a short walk from the Mooloolaba Esplanade and beach and is the spot to go to book your river cruise and other aquatic activities such as whale watching, scuba diving and fishing.
New bars, restaurants and cafes have sprouted up in this precinct.
My favourites are the Dock Mooloolaba bar and restaurant, which is a lovely spot on the water for a hearty meal, and Rice Boi, for the best fusion Asian meal that won’t break the bank.
14- Lounge Around Alex Headlands
Pick up a cocktail or a coffee from the Alexandra Headland Surf Life Saving Club and find yourself a comfortable beach lounge with one of the best ocean views on the coast.
Go early in the morning and put yourself in a good mood for the rest of the day or end up here in the evening with a cool glass of wine.
15- Dive HMAS Brisbane
Diving enthusiasts will love exploring the engine and boiler rooms of the ex-HMAS Brisbane, 28 m down.
The former Australian naval ship has been converted into a world-class diving site and a reasonably easy dive for beginners.
The ship was sunk in 2005 and marine life such as fish, turtles, rays and octopus can be spotted here.
Other places to visit in Southeast Queensland
- 50 Incredible Things To Do In Brisbane
- Best Brisbane Hotels
- 5 4WD Tracks Near Brisbane
- Where To Drink Craft Beer in Brisbane
- 10 Best Brisbane Cafes
- 10 Steak Restaurants in Brisbane
- Where To Find The Best Food In Brisbane
- Stanthorpe and the Granite Belt
- The secret of Grevillea Robyn Gordon
- Hiking Mount Barney
16- Watch The Sunset Over The Mooloolah River
A fabulous spot to calm your soul is La Balsa park on the Mooloolah River, where a golden sunset is a moment worth capturing.
The park also has barbecue facilities and there’s a walking path beside the river that heads up to the Point Cartwright lighthouse.
For some aquatic tank art, check out the water tank next to the lighthouse.
17- Go Sailing
Go sailing at Mooloolaba Yacht Club, which was home base for 16-year-old Jessica Watson who spent 210 days sailing alone in her pink yacht, Ella’s Pink Lady in 2009.
18- Go Fishing
There are lots of good spots to go fishing on the Sunshine Coast such as creeks, beaches, rivers and the ocean.
Fishing on the Sunshine Coast offers the chance to catch bream, flathead and whiting in the creeks or if you prefer fishing off the beach, you’re likely to find dart, mulloway or tailor.
In winter, large bream are found near the mouth of the Mooloolah River and the canals in Buddina offer up Mangrove Jack.
Other good spots are fishing from the rocks at Point Cartwright, Minyama Bridge, Mooloolaba Wharf and around the Mooloolah canals.
About 10 km offshore, Gneerings Shoal or Arkwright Shoal is the post for mackerel and tuna in summer while Mudjimba Island has mulloway and snapper in winter.
19- Yoga at Point Cartwright
A great way to start the day is yoga on the rocks at Point Cartwright.
Go early in the morning for solitude and to feel the power of the ocean with no one around.
Sometimes, you might bump into a group of locals practising laughing yoga or early morning dog walkers.
20- Go Paddle Boarding
Things to do in Maroochydore
For a long time, Maroochydore was a low-key regional centre with a riverside lifestyle, however, in recent years, it has started to take off and there are new restaurants and lots of apartment-style accommodation.
The commercial hub of the Sunshine Coast is wedged between the Maroochy River and the ocean.
Things to do in Maroochydore include hiring a boat and floating dreamily along the river.
21- Cafe hopping at Cotton Tree
The mouth of the river, near Cotton Tree, was once the site of a timber mill where local lumber was shipped to Brisbane by paddle-steamer.
These days, Cotton Tree is a trendy spot with a choice of cafes that dish up healthy food such as Cafe Envy, Cafe 37 and Harvest.
22- Shop at Sunshine Plaza
Sunshine Plaza is the place for shopping and a new wing has recently opened with new big-name department stores like David Jones and BigW.
It’s built over Cornmeal Creek and has bridges linking the centre’s 200 shops and waterside cafes.
There’s plenty of parking in the plaza’s new section and some excellent Asian eateries serving delicious and well-priced meals.
Our favourites are casual Vietnamese eatery Nguyen Brothers (the Vietnamese iced coffee is great on a hot day) and Roti + Buns, which serves buns, dumplings and authentic Malaysian chicken curry.
Even if you’re not planning on shopping, the Plaza is a great place to stay cool when the mercury hits the thermometer.
23- Sunbake on Maroochydore Beach
Maroochydore Beach is a short walk to the shops and cafes at the ocean-side suburb of Cotton Tree where there’s a choice of hotels, luxury apartments, holiday flats and a caravan park.
24- Explore the local market on Fisherman’s Road
A favourite way to spend Sunday morning is to head to the market on Fisherman’s Road, grab a coffee and wander around.
The stalls rotate, depending on the season, but you’ll always find something to buy here from crafts and clothes to fresh bread, tools and other knick-knacks.
25- Go for a walk around the Maroochy River
Walk along the Maroochy River at Cotton Tree for a flat walking path with some interesting monuments and displays along the way.
Things to do in Caloundra
If you’re looking for things to do on the Sunshine Coast with the family, head to Caloundra for family-friendly beaches, water activities and wonderful coastal views.
Bring your own picnic or cook up a barbeque at a beachside park or hit a round at the Greg Norman-designed golf course, Club Pelican.
26- Cuddle a Camel at QCamel
Most visitors to Sunshine Coast camel farm QCamel are surprised at how intelligent, cuddly and friendly the camels are.
The Sunshine Coast dairy is an industry leader and was the first in Australia to make pasteurised camel’s milk, which is easier to digest, high in iron and vitamin C while being low in cholesterol and fat.
The business also produces organic camel’s milk and other products such as soap, chocolates, yoghurt and feta.
Farm tours are educational and the opportunity to learn everything you ever wanted to know about camels.
For example, did you know that camels are tolerant to drought tolerant and are friendly to the land as they don’t cause erosion?
QCamel has farm tours on the first Saturday of each month where you’ll learn about the industry and cuddle the camels.
Recommended tour: Sunshine Coast: Camels, Gin, and Beer Guided Tour
27- Visit Caloundra’s beaches
Caloundra has a fair share of patrolled beaches that are safe for children and a number of dog-friendly beaches with off-leash runs for your four-legged friends.
This seaside city in the southern part of the region is the perfect spot for a good old-fashioned family holiday.
The kids can swim, surf and snorkel under the watchful eye of lifeguard patrols at Kings Beach, Bulcock Beach or Golden Beach.
The 25m seawater lap pool at Kings Beach is worth a visit and has a children’s swimming pool and wading area.
Caloundra’s beaches are also a hub of Sunshine Coast activities families can enjoy, such as fishing, kayaking, windsurfing and boating.
Best beaches: Moffat Beach, Shelly Beach, Dicky Beach and Kawana Beach.
28- Walk the Caloundra Coastal Path
The Caloundra Coastal Path is a walking trail that stretches from Golden Beach to Point Cartwright.
The 25 km walk takes you along the scenic shoreline and one of the best Caloundra things to do if you need to clear your head.
It’s a scenic part of the Sunshine Coast and the walk is an opportunity to get some exercise while admiring ocean views and spotting birdlife and marine life.
29- See the aircraft at the Queensland Air Museum
The Queensland Air Museum has a fantastic collection of aircraft on display and is one of the best air museums in Australia.
From time to time, the museum fires up its collection of engines and aircraft on their Aero Engine Run Days, which is a great day out for families.
The museum’s operational engine and aircraft collection consist of engines ranging from 40 hp up to 1,500 hp and dating from 1930, including a fully operational CAC Wirraway aircraft.
- CA-16 Wirraway aircraft used for training in WWII
- 1500 horsepower 14 cylinder Pratt & Whitney R-2000 radial engine out of a RAAF Caribou aircraft
- A hand started 40 horsepower 4 cylinder Continental A40 engine
- An Armstrong Whitworth Meteor TT MK20
- Several different kinds of helicopters
It has an impressive collection of historical military and passenger aircraft, aircraft engines, equipment, photographs, models and books.
Collections are arranged in themed displays, such as Charles Kingsford Smith, women in aviation, World War II, the Korean and Vietnam wars, Qantas Airways and the Royal Flying Doctor Service.
A highlight of the museum is the General Dynamics F-111, which is on loan from the Royal Australian Air Force.
The F-111s were best known for their fiery dump and burn exhibitions at air shows around Australia.
They could fly at two-and-a-half times the speed of sound and when they retired was still one of the fastest strike aircraft in the world.
The Queensland Air Museum is open every day from 10 am to 4 pm. Go here for more details. Admission: Adult $15, Concession $10, Child $8 and Family (2 adults, 3 children) $35. Address: 7 Pathfinder Drive, Caloundra Airport, Sunshine Coast
Things to do in Coolum
Playing golf, surfing and diving are some of the things to do in Coolum and the surrounding area.
Coolum Beach is great for surfers but there are also quieter beaches, such as Mudjimba and Marcoola.
Sunshine Coast accommodation ranges from budget to luxury and the areas around Coolum are less expensive than Noosa or Mooloolaba.
30- Play golf at Twin Waters
Twin Waters has an 18-hole championship golf course where you’re almost guaranteed an audience of kangaroos.
The par 72 championship course is a beautiful course with a challenging opening hole.
It’s open to the public; green fees are $82 for 18 holes for non-members.
31- Go Skydiving
If skydiving is an experience you’ve always wanted to try, the Sunshine Coast is a stunning region to give it a go.
Imagine at 200 km an hour from a height of 4,572 m on a tandem skydive that will give you the thrill (and an excellent bird’s-eye view of Coolum Beach or Noosa). Find out more here.
32- Climb Mount Coolum
The Sunshine Coast has its own version of Uluru – Mount Coolum is the world’s second-largest rock.
Formed 26 million years ago, it has a 208 m peak and a 1.6 km track that takes about 40 minutes to tackle (return).
The view of the coastline and hinterland is spectacular and there are some unique plants to see, such as Xanthorrea and Scribbly Gums.
Luxury resorts, fine food and a world-famous beach are the main drawcards of Noosa.
This stylish beachside resort has an international vibe and is one of Australia’s iconic seaside destinations.
- Noosa: Craft Beer and Distillery Tour
- Noosa: Afternoon Cruise through the Noosa Everglades
- Noosa: Stand Up Paddle Lesson Double Island Adventure
33- Go surfing
Noosa’s Main Beach is one of the best north-facing beaches in Australia.
As the beach is protected, calm conditions make it a popular place for families and beginning surfers.
Experienced surfers might prefer Peregian Beach or Sunshine Beach.
34- Dine in Noosa restaurants on Hastings Street
If you’re serious about good food then Noosa is the place to be.
Hastings Street has long been the hub of luxury beachfront resorts, galleries and designer shops.
Noosa Heads, Noosa Sound and Noosa Junction all have excellent restaurants to please foodies.
35- Cruise the Everglades
Noosa National Park is a lovely place for a walk and the Noosa River meanders through a series of lakes to the Noosa Everglades, where a river cruise is a delightful and scenic way to spend the day.
Things to do in Cooloola
From Rainbow Beach to Cooloola National Park, the Cooloola area is a pristine part of the region.
The sub-tropical coastal country is a fishing, boating, crabbing and bird-watching paradise. Wild dolphins swim right to the edge of the water at tranquil Tin Can Bay.
36- Kayak in Cooloola National Park
Take a kayak trip through mangroves or a hike through the national park.
37- Hike the Cooloola Wilderness Trail
Experienced hikers will love the 46.2km Cooloola Wilderness Trail, camping along the way.
38- 4WD on Rainbow Beach
A thrilling 4WD beach drive from Rainbow Beach is quite an adventure.
Rainbow Beach is the gateway to the world’s largest sand island, Fraser Island.
Recommended tour: Noosa to Rainbow Beach: 4-Wheel Drive Tour in Great Sandy NP
39- Fossick for gold in Gympie
Gympie’s historic heritage balances out the natural wonders of Cooloola.
Fossick for gold, go on a heritage hunt for Victorian architecture on Mary Street, explore the Gold Mining Museum or watch local craftsmen at work in the WoodWorks Forestry and Timber Museum.
Things to do in Sunshine Coast hinterland
A driving tour of the towns and villages is one of my favourite things to do in the Sunshine Coast hinterland.
The Blackall Range is are dotted with galleries, clothing boutiques and craft shops.
There are also plenty of cosy B&Bs, where you can snuggle in front of an open fire.
The drive from Maleny to Mapleton has jaw-dropping views and should be on your Sunshine Coast to-do list.
40- Do the Sunshine Coast Hinterland Gallery Trail
From the towering Glass House Mountains to the charming craft communities of the Blackall Range, the Sunshine Coast hinterland is a magical world of green rolling hills, lush farms, dramatic volcanic landscapes and pristine national parks.
In particular, the Blackall Range has breathtaking views of the coast.
Montville and Maleny are dotted with quaint craft shops, mountain cafes, galleries and wineries.
The Sunshine Coast Hinterland has amazing views that have been the inspiration to many artists who call this place home.
You can view art by following the Sunshine Coast Hinterland Gallery Trail. Several galleries display the works of talented local and international artists.
From bronze and marble sculptures to oil and watercolour paintings; from wood to hand-blown glass and ceramics, there’s bound to be something to suit your taste.
You can even join an art class.
There are several available, including sculpting, glass blowing, woodcraft, pottery and even writing and music. Joining a class is a great way to clear the mind, relax and let your creativity flow.
As you drive around, you’ll come across cafes, craft shops and boutiques.
Montville has a European ambience and interesting shops where you might pick up a locally made souvenir or two. Maleny is less touristy and has some fabulous galleries.
Recommended tour: From Brisbane: Day Trip to Noosa, Glass House Mountains and Zoo
41- Explore the Glass House Mountains
You can buy fresh pineapples, strawberries, macadamia nuts or custard apples from the farm gates in the Glass House Mountains.
42- Go for a walk in Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve
Looking for things to do in Maleny? There’s a lovely walking trail to Gardner’s Falls and Maleny has enough galleries and cafes to fill a few hours.
There are also plenty of nature trails such as the walking trails through the lush rainforests of Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve in Maleny.
43- Hike to Kondalilla Falls
The Sunshine Coast Hinterland Great Walk is 58km of trails that traverse scenic areas of the hinterland through Maleny Forest Reserve, Kondalilla National Park and Mapleton Falls National Park.
44- Mapleton National Park
Go bushwalking or bird-spotting in Mapleton National Park where the spectacular cascade of Mapleton Falls tumbles off the western escarpment of the Blackall Range into the Mary Valley.
Take a step back into history on a drive in the countryside and fall in step with the laid-back country beat.
Stop for lunch in a historic pub, visit a herbal tea plantation or detox at a health retreat.
A driving holiday could include Pomona, home to the Majestic Cinema and the oldest continuously running silent movie cinema in the world. The region is home to artists.
The Old Pomona Railway Station Art Gallery is housed in the original town railway station and exhibits works by local artisans.
The Cooroy Butter Factory is now an arts centre with an exhibition space that displays works by local artists.
The Cooroy Heritage Walk is a journey back into history to explore the region’s timber logging past.
Meet the growers and producers at the Noosa or Big Pineapples Farmers’ Markets.
47- Eumundi Markets
Eumundi’s market is a juggernaut of 350 stalls beneath towering heritage-listed fig trees and one of the main drawcards of the region.
Here, you’ll find everything from timber handicrafts to organic produce, local art to fresh bread.
You can have your face painted, palm read or foot massaged.
There are performances of tranquil electronic new age music, didgeridoo and bush poetry. Book your return transfer to Eumundi Markets here.
48- Drive the Mary Valley
Mary Valley is all about good old-fashioned country hospitality and a scenic part of the world, with winding country drives through country towns like Dagun, Amamoor, Kandanga and Imbil.
Stop for lunch at a local cafe or an authentic country pub such as the Railway Hotel in Imbil.
The Kenilworth Country Foods factory offers free tastings of award-winning hand-made cheese.
The leisurely Kenilworth Forest Drive winds through pine plantations and open eucalypt forests of grey ironbark, grey gum and white mahogany.
Recommended tour: Sunshine Coast: Mary Valley Rattler Ticket from Gympie
49- Hike the Conondale Range
You can hike the picturesque Conondale Range with its rainforests, mosaics of plantation forests, lookouts, waterfalls, cascades and boulder-strewn creeks.
Or stop for a picnic at Little Yabba Creek and Booloumba Creek.
50- Unleash your creativity at the Australian Body Art Festival
The Australian Body Art Festival is the eye-popping event of the year on the Sunshine Coast.
If you’re looking for a colourful and creative event in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland, head to the festival and you’ll be amazed at what you see.
There are painted bodies everywhere, decorated with Australian mammals, reptiles, birdlife and delicate wildflowers.
Some are painted with fantasy landscapes, while others are tributes to ANZACS, swagmen and flying doctors.
Entrants come dressed up according to the theme of each year’s festival.
There’s usually a “Wearable Art” fashion show filled with stylish designs made from recycled treasures.
Models paraded in dresses made from of all kinds of recyclable materials, such as Australian stubby coolers, an inflatable air bed and even the canvas from a 1920’s tent!
Body Art is an art form in which people modify, change, decorate and adorn their bodies.
The main forms of body art are tattooing, shaping, scarring and painting. Some of these art forms are thousands of years old.
The oldest tattooed body known to man was Ötzi the Iceman, a frozen human discovered in the Austrian Alps with 57 tattoos.
The body dates back 5,300 years ago and some of the tattoos were thought to have been used as a treatment for arthritis in the ankles, knees and lower back.
The Australian Body Art Festival is held in May each year at Apex Park at 2 Maple Street Cooroy on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland. For the latest details go here.
Sunshine Coast attractions for kids
Spectacular lookouts, bush trails and adventure activities, the Glass House Mountains are majestic and awe-inspiring.
While sailing past on his voyage along Australia’s east coast in 1770, explorer James Cook saw them.
Little did he know they would one day be landmarks in one of Australia’s most popular lifestyle destinations, the Sunshine Coast Queensland.
He named them the string of 20-million-year-old volcanic plugs rising from the coastal plain after the glass-making furnaces in his hometown of Yorkshire.
51- See the animals at Australia Zoo
The most well-known Sunshine Coast attraction is Australia Zoo, which was brought to the world’s attention by Steve Irwin’s wildlife documentary series The Crocodile Hunter.
The kids will be in awe of the zoo’s thrilling live crocodile feeding sessions.
Nearby, you can stop at farm gates to buy fresh pineapples, custard apples or pick your own strawberries. Skip the line and book your entry ticket and transfer here.
52- Attend the Woodford Folk Festival
If you’re considering a visit during an event, one of the biggest Sunshine Coast events is Woodford Folk Festival.
The festival attracts international performers and is a colourful multi-day festival worth visiting.
53- Aussie World
With over 30 rides and attractions, many suitable for younger kids, such as a Ferris Wheel, kids train, crazy mirror maze and carousel, Aussie World is a fun place for families.
Amusement park fans can get their thrills on The Wasp and feel the G forces on the Space Shaker Swinging Ship. And the rotations of the Redback are not for the faint-hearted either.
Aussie World is at 73 Frizzo Road, Palmview.
54- The Big Pineapple
The Big Pineapple has been a famous landmark in Australia for years and underwent a $116 million facelift in early 2019.
There’s a cafe, a souvenir store and the Pineapple Train, which is heritage listed.
The train rides through the rainforest and past the zoo next door. There’s also an adventure course.
The Big Pineapple is at 76 Nambour Connection Rd, Woombye. It’s open daily from 9 am to 4 pm (last train ride is at 3.30 pm). Entry to the cafe and souvenir store is free but the train costs $5.
55- The Ginger Factory
This ginger-themed attraction has a showroom packed with goodies such as ginger jams, ginger bears, ginger chocolate and a range of different kinds of ginger beer.
Beyond the showroom are lush tropical gardens, which you can ride around in the Ginger Train, and a row of quaint shops where you’re likely to find something to take home.
The Ginger Factory is at 50 Pioneer Road, Yandina. It’s open daily from 9 am to 5 pm. Entry is free but there’s a fee for the train ride, factory tour and bee show.
Looking for more things to do in Queensland? Check out:
For more things to do in Queensland, read:
Where is the Sunshine Coast?
The Sunshine Coast is a region north of Brisbane. The road trip from Brisbane to Sunshine Coast takes anywhere between one to two hours. It’s an hour to Caloundra and about two to Noosa.
What’s on Sunshine Coast
The Sunshine Coast has a growing programme of events. Sunshine Coast Tourism and Sunshine Coast Council are good resources to find out what’s on Sunshine Coast and other new things to do on Sunshine Coast.
Sunshine Coast Accommodation
Mantra Mooloolaba Beach
Mooloolaba Beach is a sheltered arc of north-facing sand with picnic areas, playgrounds and walking paths.
Across the road from the beach is a strip of holiday apartments, boutiques and al-fresco eateries.
Along The Esplanade, Mantra Mooloolaba Beach has 24-hour front desk service.
The resort’s spacious lobby is stylish and offers guests the ambience of a hotel while staying in a spacious holiday apartment.
Almost all apartments have at least partial ocean views and many have big sweeping views of the ocean and coastline from Point Cartwright to Coolum.
The setup is ideal for families and includes hard-wearing in-room furnishings that are child-friendly, a heated indoor pool to keep the kids occupied on days with inclement weather and a spacious landscaped barbeque area planned around an outdoor pool.