What to do
Sunshine Coast, K’Gari, Mary Valley and beyond
From the distinct peaks of the Glass House Mountains to Noosa and the Coloured Sands of Rainbow Beach, the region includes more than 100km of pristine sandy beaches that sit alongside tropical rainforest and majestic mountains, surrounded by villages steeped in history.
The Sunshine Coast is known for its beachside culture, fresh local food, events, bucket-list experiences and natural treasures in the surrounding hinterland. Make sandcastles at the beach in the morning, then indulge in afternoon tea in the hinterland, less than 40 minutes away. Visit Mary Cairncross Rainforest Discovery Centre, take an easy walk through the rainforest, then stop at the gorgeous cafe with stunning views across the mountains and valleys. Dive the wreck of the ex-HMAS Brisbane or paddle the Pumicestone Passage.
Fraser Island and the Cooloola Recreation Area of the Great Sandy National Park are a natural wonder – walk through towering subtropical rainforest, swim in pristine freshwater lakes, hike across ancient sand blows and discover the Maheno shipwreck on 75 Mile Beach. There are hundreds of kilometres of white beaches, cliffs of coloured sands, amazing plant life and wildlife. Fraser Island’s dingoes are believed to be the purest of their breed in Australia, see humpback whales as they cruise past during their annual migration between May and October, and kayak with dolphins. From Noosa, take a guided day tour, overnight trip, join a tag-along 4WD tour or hire a vehicle and explore the region yourself. Do the Fraser Island Great Walk – the entire 90km walk takes 6-8 days, or take it easy with half-day strolls. Head along the Great Beach Drive from Noosa’s North Shore to Inskip Point, past Rainbow Beach and catch the vehicular ferry to Fraser Island – or fly in and land on the beach.
Just beyond the Noosa hinterland, the hills, rivers, lakes, forests, waterfalls and scenic mountain lookouts of the Mary Valley take over, linking the Noosa region to its northern neighbour of the city of Gympie. You will find local markets, food producers, cafes serving delicious local produce and picturesque winding roads along the Mary Valley tourist drive. Visit Gympie’s heritage-listed buildings, some dating back to the Gold Rush days of the 1800s, and pan for gold along the Mary River – it’s great fun for the kids. Kayak on tranquil waterways or venture on to forest trails. Go horse riding or mountain biking through mountain and bush trails, and ride the new Mary Valley Rail Trail.
Also surrounding Noosa are great family visits to Australia Zoo, Aussie World, the historic Mary Valley Rattler steam train, The Ginger Factory, Big Kart Track and much more fun.