Sunny Delight: Sunshine Coast to Noosa travel guide

When you’ve got a car to get you there, you can take a week to explore all this region – famous for its stunning beaches and lush hinterland – has to offer.


Aerial view of Noosa, showing the town, beach and headlands, Sunshine Coast, Queensland

A road trip from the Sunshine Coast to Noosa isn’t a huge expedition. In fact, leave Maroochydore’s Sunshine Coast Airport, drive for less than an hour and you’re there. But you’ve got a car so make the most of it. Head into the lush hinterland, where you’ll find national parks, dairy farms, wineries and character-filled towns. Give yourself four or five days so there’s no rush then spend your days hiking along headlands, finding cafes in the hills and getting in some beach time.


A pedestrian street with small food outlets operating from wooden huts, on Maple Street in Maleny, Queensland

Spend at least a day in the artistic, slightly bohemian town of Maleny, about 50 kilometres southwest of the airport. There’s so much to do here, from seeing how a farm works at Maleny Dairies to picnicking in the glorious Maleny Botanic Gardens with spectacular views of the Glass House Mountains. There’s the excellent Maleny Sunday Market, with arts, crafts and collectables, plus walking trails at Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve. Don’t miss Brouhaha Brewery for craft beers and excellent pub grub produced with a nose-to-tail philosophy.


  1. You’ve probably heard of Buderim Ginger, and its home is The Ginger Factory, where you can see how this tasty crop is grown, harvested and processed. There’s a display of incredible ginger flowers, and plenty of shows, rides and playgrounds to keep the kids entertained. Don’t forget to try some of the homemade ice-cream before you leave.

  2. There are two everglades systems in the world: the one in Florida and the Noosa Everglades. This 60 kilometre collection of waterways snaking through ancient tea tree forests is part of the Great Sandy National Park and has looked like this for thousands of years. Hire kayaks or stand-up paddle boards to explore it and look for pelicans, black cockatoos and even jabirus. You can also join a tour with Everglades Ecosafaris if you’d rather go in a boat.

  3. Fans of browsing should beeline to Eumundi Markets, where the best artisans from across southeast Queensland come to sell their wares. As well as just about any type of product you can think of, from jewellery to homewares, there are vendors selling so many different types of food you’ll never be able to choose what to have for lunch.

  4. Set in the Kondalilla National Park is a spot where Skene Creek drops 90 metres over rock into an enticing pool of water. The walk to Kondalilla Falls is a good one, but you need to give yourself a few hours if you want to have a dip. There are about 300 steps on the 2.5-kilometre walk there and, since what goes down must come back up, you need to be reasonably fit to take them on.

  5. From July to mid-October this stretch of ocean is a hot spot for migrating humpback whales. Join Sunreef Mooloolaba on one of its whale-watching tours or opt for the ‘swim with whales’ experience. At the same time of year, divers can choose a trip to Wobby Rock, the winter home for grey nurse sharks.


The Hastings Beach Houses

If you’re keen to start your day with a swim at the beach and a cafe breakfast, The Hastings Beach Houses are just metres from Noosa’s restaurants and shops and a block from the sand. It has a range of options, from budget to luxury.

Kondalilla Eco Resort

Head into the hills and stay at Kondalilla Eco Resort. Its 21 rooms – the treehouses are sublime – are all set within the rainforest, and it’s a great base if you’re keen to explore hinterland towns like Maleny and Montville.

Joe’s Waterhole

Set yourself up in Eumundi at Joe’s Waterhole. This popular local pub has a beer garden, bistro and live music on Saturdays. But it also has four rooms that share a bathroom, and a self-contained two-bedroom apartment.


A woman walks past a strip of upmarket shops on Noosa’s main street, Sunshine Coast, Queensland

There’s absolutely nothing to it, especially if you book your Apex rental car in advance to collect after you land at Sunshine Coast/Maroochydore Airport. Then it’s just a question of deciding how much of the region you want to explore and how quickly you want to do it. You can head straight to Noosa – take the Sunshine Motorway and David Low Way if you want to stick to the coastline – just over 30 kilometres away.


Underwater shot of three humpback whales swimming past with snorkellers in the foreground, Sunshine Coast, Queensland

Tack on some extra time and keep driving north about 180 kilometres to Hervey Bay. This is probably one of the best-known whale-watching spots in Australia (peak season is mid-July to October) because it’s the only known stretch of the coast where the mammoth mammals stop to take a break. Apart from that, it has excellent beaches, fishing, diving and sailing, and is a great place from where to take a one- or two-day tour to K’gari (Fraser Island).