The ultimate way to spend a long weekend in the Sunshine Coast
Boasting over 100 golden beaches, miles of walking trails and mountain hikes, ancient hinterland and a food scene fit for feasting, a long weekend on the Sunshine Coast is a rite of passage for intrepid travellers.
Hit the ‘out of office’ and head north on the Bruce Highway for a long weekend on the Sunshine Coast.
9am | Work up a sweat
Lean in to your first hours of a long weekend on the Sunshine Coast along the Caloundra Coastal Walk. Stretching 25 kilometres from Golden Beach to Mooloolaba, there are many sections of the walk worth strolling, but the views of the heritage-listed lighthouse at Point Cartwright are extra special.
The Warana to Point Cartwright section of the Caloundra Coastal Walk takes in incredible views of the open ocean and hugs the rugged coastline. Stop along the way for a refreshing swim at Kawana Beach and keep your eyes on the horizon for glimpses of migratory humpback whales in winter.
12:30pm | Lunch by the water
A solid walk and a swim guarantee a much-needed lunch. Just 20-minutes’ drive from Warana is Mooloolaba’s famed Asian street food haunt, Rice Boi. With a relaxed beer garden overlooking the marina, tuck into their famous crispy skin barramundi laksa and sticky chicken wings as you watch the boats drift in.
2pm | Seek out secret ocean breezes
Post-lunch swims are the norm here, and while there are some incredible beaches on the Sunshine Coast, sand seekers will relish the tranquility of Cotton Tree Beach, just north of Mooloolaba.
At the point where the river inlet and ocean meet, beachgoers can opt-in for stand-up paddle boarding and kayaking, or simply doze under the palm trees. The choice is all yours.
8pm | Dine on award-winning fare
Make reservations at Spice Bar; Mooloolaba’s award-winning, Asian fine dining restaurant. In the heart of the bustling esplanade, soak up the sea breezes as you knock back fresh sashimi with yuzu and ginger. Do yourself a favour and settle in for the seven-course degustation. Your waistline might regret it, but you won’t.
Stay local and hit the hay at Mantra Mooloolaba Beach, for a 4-star snooze just metres from the beach.
10:00am | Release your inner wildlife warrior
Hidden among the pine forest on the edge of the Sunshine Coast Hinterland lies Australia Zoo and its award-winning Wildlife Hospital. The largest of its kind in the country, thousands of animals come through its door every year requiring specialist medical assistance.
The Wildlife Hospital offers daily behind-the scenes tours, where guests can get a glimpse at the incredible conservation work being done and meet the team of dedicated veterinarians and volunteers who care for our native wildlife. All money from the tours goes right back to helping Queensland’s unique critters. Good deed for the day, done.
12pm | Explore the Glass House Mountains
On your travels the day before, you may have noticed the striking silhouette of the Glass House Mountains rising up on the inland skyline. Etched with deep spiritual significance to the local Indigenous people, this family of peaks feature a fascinating Dreamtime story of how they came to be.
One of the most easily recognised is the symmetrical Mount Tibrogargan, while the tallest is Mount Beerwah. They are both open for climbing, however traditional owners request that they aren’t climbed. Wild Horse Mountain lookout, however, provides a spectacular view.
Mount Coonowrin, with its crooked peak, can be viewed from Mount Ngungun. This mountain’s summit walking track is a just-under 3km trail through greenery with jaw-dropping 360 views of Mount Tibrogargan, Mount Coonowrin and Mount Beerwah from the top. Don’t forget to whip out camera for the money shot panorama of sparkling coast and sweeping hinterland.
7pm | Session ales and seasonal dishes
Any self-respecting foodie region has its own craft beer brewery; for the Sunshine Coast, it’s Brouhaha Brewery in Maleny. Order the tasting paddle and stay for their menu of locally sourced dishes.
10pm | Sleep in Sunshine Coast luxury
A French-inspired, boutique hotel nestled in rugged hinterland is just the kind of curveball a long weekend on the Sunshine Coast serves up. Spicers Clovelly Estate is an education in countryside elegance. Only 30-minutes’ drive inland, it’s the perfect base for a long weekend on the Sunshine Coast.
Hit the Long Apron, Spicers Clovelly’s hatted restaurant, the next morning. Their breakfasts are legendary, and all ingredients are either grown on the property or sourced directly from the region’s producers.
9:30am | Head for the hills
Take a drive inland along the magnificent Blackall Range Tourist Drive. As well as taking in breathtaking lookout points, you’ll pass through some of the Sunshine Coast Hinterland’s most beautiful townships, including Maleny, Montville, and Montville.
High up the ranges of Kondalilla National Park, the architecture in these sleepy towns look something straight out of an English country town, with dozens of art galleries, local craft and produce stores to unearth.
Being so close, it would be mad not to venture into Kondalilla National Park. If not to share space with a 90-metre waterfall (one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the region), walk through the ancient eucalypt forests before diving into the freshwater rockpools hidden beneath the lush canopy.
1pm | Pit-stop for burgers
Rick’s Garage in Palmwoods is the rockabilly burger bar of your dreams. A heady mix of vintage décor, live bands, burgers mega thick shakes, Rick’s is a Sunshine Coast icon. Stay a while longer in Rick’s adjacent whiskey bar, where over 170 whiskeys line the walls of this hidden bar.
6pm | Roll out the swag
For a real taste of the Sunshine Coast Hinterland, pitch a tent in some of the most spectacular spots going. Boreen Point, on the shores of Lake Cootharaba, is one of the most beautiful peaceful camping spots going and gets major bonus points for all the water-based activities it provides come sun-up.
Or, for absolute privacy, seek out some of the country’s most luxurious bell tent camping experiences at a location of your choosing. Because, what’s better than camping out under the stars with your very own luxury tent and blow up bed?
9am | Morning history lesson
Take in a morning exploration of Cooroy and Pomona; two beautiful country villages featuring heritage walks bursting with local history. Make sure to stop by the Butter Factory and Lower Mill site in Cooroy for peak nostalgic vibes. Hidden hinterland gems like this are everywhere. You just have to know where to find them.
If you find yourself in this neck of the woods on either a Wednesday or a Saturday, take a 10-minute drive south to Eumundi; home to the famous Eumundi Markets. More than 500 markets set up beneath the heritage-listed fig trees, selling all manner of fresh produce, arts, crafts and local wares.
12pm | Lunch at Spirit House
An award-winning Thai-style restaurant, Spirit House embodies the laid back nature of the Sunshine Coast. Housed in a lush, tropical setting in Yandina, the restaurant is nestled in tranquil gardens surrounding a shimmering pond.
Insider tip: Book in advance and take it from us: order the whole crispy fish. If you have nowhere to be, drop into sister venue, Hong Sa for a few sophisticated creations from their cocktail list.
3pm | Walk the treetops
One for the adrenaline junkies, tackle the Treetop Challenge at Big Pineapple. A rugged outdoor adventure challenge, eight acres of pristine forest feature 12 ziplines at 25 metres high, so you can spend your last hours of holiday bliss racing through the canopy.
Want to know more about the Sunshine Coast region? Head here.