Have you heard of the Noosa Trail Network?
Anyone who’s done a European vacation knows walking trails are one of the best and most immersive ways to see the countryside, right?
Well, we’ve got news for you. There’s a whole bunch of countryside hikes around Noosa on the Sunshine Coast that fly well under the radar in the shadow of its more well-known — dare we say glitzy — beach side. Yep, swap your bathers for boots, people!
Crisscrossing farmland, fields and forest, the Noosa Trail Network is a series of eight ways to see the Hinterland by foot (or horse or mountain bike), ranging from the easy one-hour-return stroll to a five-day trek.
The walks are all well marked (many of them originated as animal stock routes) with interpretive signage including ecology facts and fascinating history. It’s a great way to get to know Noosa as you’ve never seen her before, passing through national parks, state forests, working dairy farms, macadamia nut farms (with sweet, sweet smelling blossoms in winter and spring) and along quiet country lanes.
The trails also link the hinterland villages of Kin Kin, Pomona, Cooran and Cooroy showcasing an array of local cafes, country-style pubs and antiques, crafts and markets through to chic new craft beer bars. Now that’s something for everyone of any age or fitness level!
EASY DOES IT
Kookaburra Park to Mary River Cod Park, Lake MacDonald (a section of Trail 4) – 1km each way
This is an easy one-hour return walk along Collwood Road and provides a stunning example of Noosa’s rainforest with views over Lake MacDonald to boot.
Interesting fact: Mary River Cod Park is named after one of Australia’s most endangered freshwater fish (the Mary River Cod), busily being bred in the adjacent hatchery and open several times a year to visitors.
The nearby Noosa Botanic Gardens are also definitely worth a look and feature sculptures, a fern house, over 100 species of birds and a Greek-inspired amphitheatre boasting regular opera performances.
On your drive home, drop into the township of Cooroy. Local institution Twig & Grace (15 Diamond Street) serves coffee and cake inside or outside under shady trees.
You’ll find Kookaburra Park at Corner Lake McDonald Drive and Collwood Road.
Mary River Cod Park, Lake MacDonald to Middle Lookout, Cooran (a section of Trail 4 and Trail 2) – 10km each way
Up for more? From Mary River Cod Park continue through Forest Acres residential estate, into Ringtail State Forest and up to Twin Hill Views Lookout, Pomona.
After enjoying the views, follow Trail 2 to Middle Lookout where there’s a camping ground. Return on foot or get collected from the Camphor Road car park.
From here by car, you’ve got the townships of Pomona and Cooran to choose from: they’re both close by and famous for upcycled/vintage-inspired shops and cafes.
Try The Vintage Junction in Cooran (2 King Street) or Spilledbeans in Pomona (enter through clothing store Rusty Hinge, 12 Memorial Avenue). Decisions, decisions.
THE ONE AND ONLY
Cooran Tablelands to Kin Kin via Woondum Forest Reserve (Trail 3) – 22km each way
If you’ve only got time for one walk, then Trail number 3 is where it’s at (and also the local ranger’s fave which is a thumb’s up from us!).
Park at James McKane Memorial Lookout (also known as Tablelands Lookout, 526 Tablelands Road, Cooran) and walk a leisurely 17km downhill to Kin Kin via Woondum National Park and Johnstons Lookout.
A wide variety of eco-systems is what makes this trail so special, from panoramic hinterland and coastal vistas to tall open eucalypt forest, rainforest and farmland.
Stay overnight at Kin Kin, it’s a jewel of a township with cute-as-a-button cafes and the not-to-be-missed Country Life pub (69 Main Street). Parmy, anyone?
There’s loads of accommodation options too from powered campsites to country retreats and B&Bs. The Kin Kin Creations market is on the first Sunday of each month from 9am to 1pm.
Return to Cooran by uphill walk the next day or organise a return lift from Kin Kin.
- You’ll need to be fairly fit to complete this trail and will need to leave early in the morning. Woondum National Park is only open during daylight hours with no overnight camping.
- Access to James McKane Memorial Lookout includes a gravel road and requires a 4WD after periods of heavy rain.
- For an extra challenge, start from the township of Cooran rather than the lookout.
ON SECOND THOUGHTS…
The Kin Kin Countryside Loop (Trail 1) – 14km circuit
If you’d like to stay a while longer in Kin Kin, take in the Countryside Loop, a four-hour walk through mango farms and rolling green hills. Start at Kin Kin sports grounds, conveniently located opposite the general store so you can stock up and pack a picnic which celebrates local produce.
Have a leisurely lunch at either Sheppersons Park or Gradys Park (depending on which loop direction you’ve chosen). Wave to the friendly dairy cows and goats as you go, and there’s plenty of bird life so pack the binoculars.
Note: Before attempting any of these trails, obtain a copy of the Noosa Trail Network brochure from a Sunshine Coast Visitor Information Centre.