A local’s guide to the hidden Sunshine Coast Hinterland
The Sunshine Coast Hinterland is hardly undiscovered. Many a day-tripper has made the journey up the Bruce Highway from Brisbane or meandered inland from their beachfront holiday apartment in Mooloolaba to stroll the streets of Montville or seek out the tracks of the Glass House Mountains.
Inland from the beaches lies tiny little villages known mostly by the locals who have eschewed the beach in favour of a more country lifestyle. And I’m one of them.
So let me take you into my home, a place that delivers beautiful local produce, pretty scenery and a lifestyle that’ll make you want to pack in the city hustle and head for the hinterland.
Many would assume the tiny towns dotted through the Sunshine Coast Hinterland are all about mugs of mocha and meat pies with tomato sauce, but you’ll be surprised to find a multitude of outstanding cafes and eateries, serving award-winning ristrettos and local produce.
Set with on a large block filled with canopy trees and outdoor seating, Homegrown in Palmwoods takes the paddock-to-plate ethos to a whole new level, never dishing out anything that has come from more than 100km away. Try the brioche topped with seasonal local fruit for a decadent mid-morning brunch. Take home some local harvest from the little grocery store, aptly named The Pantry, out back.
Here you’ll get everything from an old-fashioned burger to a coconut sago bowl. Sit on the street out front and admire the slow-paced countryside. You might even spot a few horses casually strolling by.
For the snobbiest of espresso aficionados, order a brew at Homegrown Café, where the owners import and roast their own beans in the tin shed behind the building.
If you’re driving through the old town of Nambour, stop and say g’day to the fellas at Urban Garden. Easily one of the best coffees on the Sunshine Coast, these guys know their stuff and aren’t shy if you’re in the mood for a friendly chat.
Devotees of the retro era, Ricks Garage in Palmwoods is the hot spot for hot rod Holdens and every type of booze a bar-hopper could ask for. Don’t just stop at a beer in their retro diner, make your way up to the second level where you’ll find a top-shelf whisky bar boasting first class liquor imports from the USA and beyond.
Although the area is not famous for fancy hotels, jump on any popular B&B website to find hundreds of little hideaway houses, where the old timber floors and big back decks will make you feel like you’re visiting your granny’s country cottage.
For the closest boutique accommodation, try Spicers Tamarind in Maleny or Secrets on the Lake in Montville. The BIG4 Forest Glen Holiday Resort is also a great hidden hinterland base for families. You’re just as close to the coast here, so you can opt for the beach or the hills.
Silence is golden in these parts of the hinterland, and while everyone else is busy making their way to the beach, the sound of singing birds and leaves fluttering is all you’ll hear from one of the numerous parks and reserves. Unwind with a picnic blanket and a basket of fresh goodies in tow.
There are plenty of markets if you have your treasure-hunting hat on. The torpid town of Yandina awakes from its slumber every Saturday morning from 6am-11am with hundreds of tents pitched methodically on its sports fields selling everything from backyard spuds to 18th-century antiques.
Good luck leaving empty handed from the old converted church in Yandina where the girls at Collective Haus have set up a stunning store of vintage clothing, furniture and hard-to-find homewares.
Love op-shopping? Nambour boasts over 30 secondhand clothing stores around its small town centre of four blocks. If you can’t find a pair of vintage Levis and a glow mesh handbag here, you’re doing something wrong.
Head to The Time Machine for original vinyl albums, or follow the steep stairs down from Currie street to the underground Book Exchange, where the smell of old hardcovers will have you craving a cup of tea and a big comfy armchair.
There were two main tramways in the area which stopped operating during the 19th century. The Palmwoods-Buderim Tram (including a first-class coach), which climbed the steep hill from Palmwoods through Forest Glen to the top of Buderim mountain, and the heritage-listed cane tram in Nambour.
The original track can still be seen in the main street of Nambour.
When to go
Winter in the hinterland flaunts warm sunny days and cool cosy nights. If you’re a fan of open fires and home-cooked meals, this is the season to sojourn.
Catch the city train from Brisbane to Nambour, the express service stops at most major towns including Palmwoods and Woombye.
Head west on Maroochydore-Nambour road (accessible from the Bruce Highway and Sunshine Motorway) to cruise past the famous Big Pineapple and into farming fields.