Tips on visiting the Sunshine Coast:
- The City of Sunshine Coast includes a lot of suburbs and towns. Amongst them, I visited/drove through Mooloolah Valley, Maleny, Glass House mountains, Montville and Noosa Heads.
- Stop at the Pallet life and Artisan Market (open Thursday to Sunday 9am-4pm) for some local food and treats, or Colin James Fine foods & Maleny food co for cheeses and gelato, or Maleny Marketplace for lunch. There was a great organic store called Maple street co-op and I wish I’d had time to stop at Shotgun Espresso and Brouhaha brewery, just outside town. There were also 2 regular grocery stores as well as a liquor store.
- Stop at the Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve and enjoy the Glass House Mountains National Landscape.
- Stop at Poet’s café for a romantic brunch or lunch, Mayfield Patisserie & Chocolates cafe for a cappuccino with a view and walk around the cute little town. Buy a sampler plate at Maleny Cheese and drive over to Flame Hill winery, grab a bottle of wine and walk through the winery and settle down somewhere for a picnic! I ran out of time to enjoy views of Lake Baroon and foodie treats at Secrets Café Montville.
- Hike/walk to the Kondalilla Falls. Bring a towel and your swimsuit if you want to jump in!
- Noosa Head:
- Noosa Head Main Beach seems to be where everyone goes and you will find a lot of cute shops and cafés around here.
- For a less crowded experience, head over to the Sunshine beach area, close to the Beach house Noosa (google it) and street park. Walk down the public stairs and access the beautiful beach (also a dog beach) but you should know I didn’t see a public restroom!
Impressions of the Sunshine Coast:
The drive from Byron Bay to Maleny was beautiful. It reminded me of the countryside in Ireland: green, plush, humid but hot (unlike Ireland!). I stopped at the Macleod brewing company on the way in and tried a few beers. The spicy one was, well… too spicy and I did not enjoy it at all but the other ones were delicious.
Maleny was a cute, sleepy town where most places seem to only be open between 10 am and 3 pm. I walked up and down the main street (Maple Street), looking into the storefront windows of all the cute shops and bought some provisions at the Maple Street co-op.
Montville was a little bit bigger and more touristy. It still had only one main street with a lot of cute cafés and shops. The Poet’s café has a very beautiful and romantic ambiance and the Mayfield Patisserie & Chocolates cafe has fantastic views of the valley and a good cappuccino! I stopped at the Maleny cheese factory and was slightly disappointed by the setup but I bought the cheese sample kit (which is a good buy for a cheese board or a picnic). I also enjoyed some wine at Flame Hill winery. You can bring a date, pack a picnic basket (or buy from their food selection) and spend the day in the vineyards with a bottle of wine. They also offer brunch and dinner menus (call for schedules).
I also went for a walk/hike to check out the Kondalilla falls. It was a fun downhill walk most of the way, with a few cute stops before the main waterfall. You can also do the loop and come back to it, which is what I did and treated myself to a nice swim in the refreshing water before the climb back up to the parking lot. There was a nice area with picnic tables, grills, and restrooms, closer to the parking lot, in case you want to hang out here after the walk.
I stayed in an old cabin in the Diamond Valley (found it with Airbnb). It was VERY RUSTIC: the guesthouse ran on rainwater collected from the tin roof, without a filtration system, which was fine to drink according to our host and the shower had very low pressure. There was no Wi-fi/Internet connection available. It was very remote, far from the very small village, tucked at the bottom of a valley in the woods. It was VERY HOT AND HUMID, and the cabin had no AC, only a few fans, and most windows didn’t have mosquito screens. The beds ALL had nets over them so I made sure I used them and didn’t get too many bites. I can confirm this was the most uncomfortable part of the trip.
I made a stop at Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve to check out the beautiful Glass House mountains. It was worth the stop and I’d recommend grabbing a coffee or lunch in their café to enjoy the view and soak it in.
After this sticky and hot adventure, I was ready for some beach time and headed towards Noosa Heads. This felt like the Laguna Beach of California. My perception of this city, which is based only on driving through it and trying to find parking in the downtown area, is that it’s a wealthy, busy and stylish beach town. The beaches looked packed! I tried to park close to the Noosa National Park but no luck, so I headed back towards the Eastern Beaches (or Sunshine Beach) hoping I would be luckier, and I was! Parked on the street in a residential area, I had to walk down a flight of numerous stairs to get to the beach but the hassle was worth it! The beach was beautiful, long and not very busy! I think this area would be worth spending more time in.