The call of the Sunshine Coast and its hinterland is hard to resist, with an abundance of lush rainforest, unspoiled beaches, fine food and swathes of natural beauty. Curious travellers who wander off the highway will find a treasure trove of villages – such as charming Yandina and Maleny – hidden around every bend on the way to Noosa. You can discover a lot in three days, though you'll want to stay forever.
What to do day one
Pick up your hire car from Brisbane Airport and follow the Steve Irwin Way north for an hour. Roadside pineapple stalls and avocado farms appear as you ascend into the subtropical air and take in the spectacular views of the Glass House Mountains. Stretch your legs in the enchanting Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve for a fix of nature. Just minutes away is the artists’ hub of Maleny, where you’ll find an eclectic range of stores on Maple Street. Pop into Gary Myers Art Gallery for vibrant landscape paintings, David Linton Furniture and Timber Works for ornate wooden crafts or tuck into a Greek-style lamb burger at Sarah’s Unplugged cafe. Stay the night at Spicers Tamarind Retreat (pictured above), nestled in the forest near Gardners Falls. At the retreat’s hatted restaurant, The Tamarind, enjoy fragrant curries of salmon and Thai eggplant or charred beef, snake beans and pineapple, plus exotic desserts – koji creme caramel and candied ginger is a standout – overlooking tranquil gardens. Venture into town for live music at Jen’s Woodfired Pizzas.
What to do day two
Up for a morning drive? Head 40 minutes north-west, through green hills dotted with dairy cows, to the heritage-listed Kenilworth Country Bakery (pictured above) for coffee and decadent cream-filled doughnuts. But be quick – they’re usually sold out by noon on a Saturday. Drop by Yandina, about 30 minutes east, a down-to-earth village with bohemian favourites, such as Stay Wild Boutique for natural-fibre threads and Collective Haus, a church-turned-bazaar of antique furniture and preloved fashion. Head to Eumundi Markets, another 15 minutes north, for a wholesome brunch and meet the local makers of jams, arts and crafts. Dip your toes in the sea just 20 minutes east at Peregian Beach then follow the foodies for a light lunch at bistro Pitchfork, where freshly caught fish and Coffin Bay oysters have all the holiday vibes. A short seaside drive via the David Low Way will guide you to the luxurious Sofitel Pacific Resort (pictured below) in the heart of Noosa Heads, with its plush ocean-view rooms and the town’s famous boutiques and cafés right on your doorstep. Stroll the lively Hastings Street to Locale, a sophisticated, moodily lit wine bar and Italian restaurant serving traditional cicchetti, stone-fired pizzas and swanky cocktails.
Image credit: Facebook.
What to do day three
Start your day with a two-hour hike around the breathtaking Noosa National Park headland (the views are worth it) before arriving at Sunshine Beach. Refuel with a well-earned breakfast at The Deck Cafe, where the spiced corn fritters are go-to staples, or grab a speciality roasted coffee from Costa before heading back to Noosa (a 45-minute walk by road or a quick 10-minute drive). Make one last stop before the two-hour journey back to Brisbane. Belmondos Organic Market in Noosaville is a must for foodies with its incredible produce; Tanglewood artisan sourdough, toasted muesli and Yukti Botanicals’ remedies, such as Ayurvedic teas (perfect for a detox). Your suitcase – and your stomach – may be a little fuller on the way home.