Sunshine Coast Local’s Guide

A local’s guide to the Sunshine Coast Hinterland

As you move away from the sparkling coastline of the Sunshine Coast, you’ll discover a whole range of new ‘sweet spots’ – especially if food is your thing. The man behind Brisbane dessert institution Freestyle Tout and B&B come cooking school Freestyle Escape (eds note: both businesse now closed), Martin Duncan lets us in on all the foodie secrets on the range.

Can’t-beat-it breakfast

My fave local place for brekkie is in Mapleton at La Botiga. Try the salmon and dill tartlet and owner Rebecca’s yummy muffins.

Best coffee

Again, La Botiga – it’s definitely Mapleton’s best coffee. But if you’re looking for a coffee with a view, go to Secrets on the Lake in Montville.

Favourite restaurant

I’m a foodie; I can’t have just one favourite! For a chilled-out, casual night we love to go to Bellavista in Mapleton for great pizza and pasta


For something a little bit more special, throw on your glad rags and visit The Long Apron at Spicers Clovelly in Montville. Fabulous ambience and great food.

Spirit House is a must. We love taking our guests there in the daytime for lunch as there are water dragons, ducks and turtles that come out to play. It’s equally special at night with the stars above and garden lighting.

And Flame Hill Vineyard is a great for food and stunning views out to the coast.

Top spot for a tipple

I love the Mapleton Tavern with great views to the coast or the Montville Cafe Bar & Grill with its Tudor-style, olde English feel.

Best activity for under $50

We’re very blessed in the hinterland as we’re just under half an hour to the coast and just minutes from fantastic national parks. My favourite thing to do for under $50 would be a walk on the beach at Mooloolaba to the lighthouse and back, then have brekkie at one of the many cafes – all have views to the ocean.

Or do the rainforest walk at Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve and sip away on a coffee overlooking the stunning views of the Glass House Mountains.

Favourite way to spend a Sunday

Food with a view

Curling up in a beanbag with a good book on my deck. On wet cold days in winter, staying in with a roaring fire, good friends, local cheeses and wine or two. Incidentally, most accommodation places on the range have fireplaces and/or spas.

Best shopping spot

As a foodie, I adore the Natural Food Store, Organic Cafe and Garden Centre (eds note: business name changed to Kunara Organic Marketplace) at Forest Glen. For stunning furniture and bits ‘n’ bobs, David Linton’s Furniture and Timberworks at Maleny.

Must-do activity

Hire a convertible and drive along the ridge (topless, that is) from Mapleton to Maleny  – stunning views and the drive makes you feel alive!

Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve offers a must-view of Glasshouse Mountains.

Most romantic activity

Fill a picnic basket with goodies from La Botiga in Mapleton or Colin James Fine Foods in Maleny, spread a blanket at lake’s edge and have a picnic at Baroon Pocket Dam.

If money is no object…

Freestyle cooking class

Stay at Freestyle Escape or bring a small group of special friends to learn how to cook or paint, then sit down to gorgeous lunch.