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  • Writer's pictureNarelle Donnellan

Road trip to Sunshine Coast Hinterland...

Take a trip out of Noosa and into the Sunshine Coast Hinterland!. That’s exactly what my family and I did last weekend.  We re-discovered a place called Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve in Maleny.  We haven’t been there for nearly a year. It was the best fun and there was so much to do. It’s exactly 1 hour’s drive from Noosa through the Noosa Hinterland, up the Bruce Hwy and then into stunning scenery.

Where do I start?? The last time we came here, we grabbed the first street car parking spot and then totally missed that Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve has a car park with a large grassy area, sheltered BBQ and tables dotted around, as well as a kids playground. This time, we found the car park and it was an on/off drizzly day.  (Yes, it does rain here in Qld too.)  Thankfully, the playground had a roof.  Seriously, no playgrounds here have that! My son loved the slide and my daughter loved the wobbly bridge, which was slightly slippery, so her little feet slipped and slid while she held on tightly. Meanwhile, I nearly completely fell on my bum.

The playground is nestled right next to the rainforest and the butterfly walk.  The butterfly walk is nothing to rave about, it was very short and leads to a seating area which I presume sometimes has a lot of butterflies, who knows?  

Next, we went on over to the Mountain View Cafe which serves yummy food and hands down the best baby chinos with extra thick foam, sprinkles on top and marshmallows. The cafe, as the name suggests, has amazing views but not of just one mountain but the Glasshouse Mountains.  So stunning! You can sit outside to enjoy the views but we opted to eat inside right at the window.  

Local’s tip: To avoid photo bombers…’s best to take your photos on the other side of the road. 

Café is open Weekdays 8:30am - 4:30pm and Weekends 8am - 5pm (limited seating at the moment). 

Seriously the best Baby Chino, anyone with kids know what I mean.

Shot on the side of the cafe with bad timing photo bombers

Just cross the road to be safe and score your shot like this of the Glasshouse Mountains

Once you have finished admiring the views and enjoying your meal, head on into the state-of-the-art interactive discovery centre.  It covers everything you need to know about the rainforest.

At the moment it is open Monday - Friday 10am - 2pm

The rainforest, which is a gold coin donation to enter, is 55 hectares of subtropical rainforest. The path loops around, which I love because there is no need to repeat your steps. We even spotted a red-legged pademelon aka wallaby this time.   I love listening to the different sounds of the birds. You can take as long as you want by stopping and reading all the signs about the flora and fauna. Don’t forget to have your eyes peeled for slithering creature’s aka snakes.

Rainforest walk is open everyday 7am - 6pm

Red-Legged Pademelon spotted throughout in the end

Some of the path was raised but otherwise mainly gravel

Here are some tips to make it a full day trip into the Hinterland.  On your drive back to Noosa, stop in at Montville, which is 15 mins from Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve and on your way back. It’s a quaint village with so much character in the buildings. Not to mention it’s got amazing panoramic views over the sunshine coast hinterland beaches. There are plenty of cafes to pick from, we found and loved “Mayfield Patisserie and Chocolates” as it has the best views over the hinterland valley from the balcony. Take a stroll around town, admire the buildings, pop into the boutique shops, and visit the Montrose Water Wheel. 

Montrose Water Wheel easily spotted on the Main Street

View from Mayfield Patisserie and Chocolates Cafe

Now you have your day trip covered, how about your night experience here?

Well, the Eumundi Drive-ins are back on again! The next showing is Friday 14th August (Princess Bride and Neverending Story). Gates open at 5pm and the movie starts at 6pm.  It’s $30 a car.  Local’s tip:  arrive on time as it is limited to 120 cars.

Another option for your evening is cruising on the "Noosa Queen" on the Sunset River Cruise for only $10 per person. You can’t get cheaper than that!! Departing from Noosa Marina, you will pass Richard Branson’s Makepeace Island and the North Shore ferry crossing to the stunning Lake Cooroibah. The boat waits for one of those beautiful Noosa sunsets while you have a glass of wine or a cold beer from the fully licensed bar. Make your booking by calling 0488734220.

If your really lucky your sunset will be like this

That’s a wrap for what to do in and around Noosa. For those who have made it over the border enjoy your time here, and for those yet to come….start planning your trip!

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