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The Noosa Hinterland is a destination on the rise. We’d experienced, and loved, the other side of the Sunshine Coast Hinterland in the towns of Montville and Maleny, so why not go a bit further north and see how it compared?
The Noosa Hinterland is famous for its scenic landscapes of mountains, vineyards and small town charm. You’ll find oldy-world cottages and lush farmlands with rolling hills. It’s a lush green contrast to the golden beaches of the Sunshine Coast, making it the ultimate destination for a rural escape.
If you’re thinking about a Noosa Hinterland getaway but you need a little help planning, here’s a complete guide to the Noosa Hinterland to help you out.
Where is the Noosa Hinterland?
The Noosa Hinterland is a region north of the Sunshine Coast and west of the town of Noosa.
It combines the towns of Doonan, Eumundi, Kin Kin, Pomona, Cooran and Cooroy.
The area is known for its scenic, rural landscape with vineyards and historic pubs, country cottages and heritage walking tracks.
Getting To and Around Noosa Hinterland
To get to and around the Noosa Hinterland you’re going to need to hire a car, if you don’t have one already. The area is rural and while you can take buses to some attractions, you will be wasting a lot of time waiting around and less time exploring.
You can get to Noosa by train or bus from Brisbane, but from Noosa town to the hinterland, you’ll need your car.
If you are driving to the Sunshine Coast from the Gold Coast or Brisbane, we recommend leaving as early as you can. We thought we left with time enough to beat the traffic but we didn’t.
I’m not sure if it makes any difference, to be honest, as I always seem to get stuck in traffic near Brisbane Airport as you head to the Sunshine Coast. It’s one of the worst roads in Australia for traffic jams, so plan ahead!
Places to Visit in the Noosa Hinterland
Now you know a little bit about the Noosa Hinterland and how to get around, it’s time to introduce you to the top attractions in Noosa Hinterland…
1. James Mckane Memorial Lookout
Upon arrival in Noosa Hinterland and through the cute villages we breathed a collective sigh and headed straight to the James Mckane Memorial Lookout in Cooran for sunset.
The Sunshine Coast knows how to do a good vista. You’ve all heard of the Glasshouse Mountains – those spiritual craggy peaks that arise out of the ground. At this lookout, you get more of the same, but the craggy peak vista is unlike the photos you typically see and are just as stunning.
There’s a picnic spot, a few BBQ’s, and plenty of space for the kids to play. It’s part of the Noosa Trail network which is a series of hiking trails.
2. Clooney’s Restaurant
In the village of Cooran is the local’s favourite, Clooney’s Restaurant. It was warm and cosy with views out to the tree lined street. Craig and I both enjoyed a steak, mine was a reef and beef, his a fillet with peppercorn sauce.
Best of all was dessert. Craig, Savannah and I all dug into the signature gluten free honey and date cake (we were also told the brownies are homemade and run hot off the shelves!) and Kalyra enjoyed a pavlova.
It was a lovely way to unwind out of that Brisbane traffic and drive into Noosa Hinterland.
3. The Noosa Everglades
Savannah said it best only a couple of kilometres into our paddle across Lake Coothraba. “I love it out here Mummy. It’s so quiet. Back there the noise always hurts my ears.”
After adamantly deciding she would not be kayaking upon waking, she was now paddling away, grinning madly and having an incredible time.
I was just as gleeful behind her. Not just because we were out in the middle of nowhere in a pristine natural environment with only the sounds of the birds flying and the water lapping against our boat, but because I was experiencing this adventure with her.
It was another of those moments where I unplugged and fell in love with my daughter all over again: her strength of spirit, her bubbly crazy personality, and her old soul.
It spoke to me for the entire 16km journey telling me stories and encouraging me to continue paddling even though my arms felt like they were about to fall off and I wanted to cry, “ I can’t paddle another stroke.”
“C’mon, Mummy. Go faster. We’re coming last. We can’t let everyone get ahead of us. Keep paddling. “
I couldn’t let my four-year-old out paddle me. She was still going. Four years old and she paddled for the entire 16 km trip.
We had a break and a delicious gourmet brunch in the sun. She curled up in a ball, wrapped up in the towel to warm herself up and gather the strength to paddle home.
As Vivian, our kayaking guide from Kanu Kapers told us, “You couldn’t have picked a better day to do this.” It was mid-twenties, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky, barely a breeze and the water was so still and glassy.
Vivian had us stop for a moment of silence amongst the everglades to absorb that silence and listen to the rising birdsong that this would be one of my favourite experiences in Australia. It’s unique and wild. We barely saw another soul or boat which was so surprising for what it offers out there.
Serenity, wildlife, endless waters, lily pads and reeds to paddle and play in. You almost expect a crocodile to raise its beady eyes at any given moment. Thankfully, this is not croc territory!
The Noosa Everglades is one of only two everglades in the world.
You can hire kayaks and enjoy a self-guided tour or can join a guided tour like we did. You could be an even wilder adventurer and pack up the kayak with your bush camping gear and head out to the wilderness on a three-day adventure.
I’m half tempted.
“I loved that paddle, Mummy. I didn’t like the last bit where were coming last but I loved everything else.”
Me too darling. I loved spending that time with you paddling out in nature and seeing your champion spirit.
Read our guide to the Noosa Everglades
Tours of the Noosa Everglades to consider
Noosa Everglades Video:
See more of this amazing experience and our time in the Noosa Hinterland in our video.
4. Eumundi Markets
If you want to experience the vibe of a historical Queensland village, Eumundi in the Noosa hinterland is the place to come. Historical buildings, some dating back to 1890-1930, line the street and are filled with art galleries, boutique wineries, and cafes.
When we lived in Mooloolaba, the Eumundi Markets was always on our list of places to take our visitors – and we had a lot. The markets are held every Saturday and Wednesday and are one of the largest artisan markets in Australia.
I loved spending the day browsing the stalls filled with clay figurines, paintings, jewellery and listening to the buskers and didgeridoo players. We’d grab some food from the food stalls or sit at one of the cafes on the main street for a rest with live music after our day of browsing.
Wednesday markets are the best to escape the crowds; Eumundi is always busy on a Saturday.
5. Kin Kin General Store
What a gorgeous little village Kin Kin is. There’s not much here, but all you need is the General Store, come Post Office, come Black AntGourmet Cafe.
It was our late lunch spot after kayaking. We were so famished after expelling all that energy that we ordered a decent size lunch.
The food was amazing! It’s not the fish and chips food you’d expect from a corner store. It was modern, creative and fresh – and decently sized.
They have gourmet burgers which you can have as a wrap or salad.
I had the barramundi korma with poppadum and mango salsa salad. Craig went for the Cajun salmon on coconut rice.
You always know a hinterland village place is great when bikers make it a pit stop on their weekend cruises.
The General Store also sells local products and free range local grown meats. The restaurant also holds a variety of theme nights through the year.
6. Apollonian Hotel in Boreen Point
The Apollonian Hotel is a typical Queensland country pub with its wide verandas and set on 3 acres and surrounded by rainforest gardens, and large lawns.
It has a historical vintage feel with its fireplaces, high ceilings ornate bathroom decorations and black and white tiled pool room.
I think a lot of memories have been made in this pub. We met our friend Cory, form Sunshine Coast tourism for dinner. It was hearty pub grub, sure to warm the heart of any Aussie or international visitor wanting to understand why we love meals like this in settings such as this.
It’s full of characters and good stories.
The Sunday spit roast is the place where all the locals meet. Our hosts, David and Liza told us how good it was.
7. Mt Cooroora
I decided to sneak out early on our last morning to hike up Mt Cooroora in Pomona. It was only an 8-minute drive from our B&B.
It was so beautiful to drive through the dales at this time with the mist rising off the green fields and the sky awakening in pastel pink.
I left a little later than optimal as I missed the sun rising out of the ocean from the lookout. I got there not long after but enough time for it to be blazing the earth with its power. The thermometer told me it was six degrees, but my vanishing layers spoke otherwise.
Mt Cooroora is famous for the King of the Mountain race held each year and the weekend before our time in the Noosa Hinterland.
The crazies amongst us race to the top – as in run. Now this is a very steep mountain. I did not go to the top, only 1km up to the first lookout. That was enough.
I was out of breath and the last bit climbing up to the lookout was steep and accompanied by a chain rope, a rock scramble, and a very steep ladder.
I was glad I was on my own and not coaxing the girls up them. Although after Savannah’s super human effort kayaking the day before, she’ probably would have run up it.
It was worth it though, the views out over the hinterland across the ocean were stunning.
It was nice to sit on the rock on my own and thank the sun for another magnificent day.
I was on my own only at that lookout space. Everyone else was on the path running up to the top of the mountain or running back down. And I as worried I was going to be the only one walking through the forest and up the mountain.
It wasn’t only super fit either. Young children and elderly passed me by as well. Made me feel a little self-conscious and determined to be the King of the Mountain…next time!
8. The Ginger Factory in Yandina
I drove past the Ginger Factory in Yandina almost every weekend for 18-months when we lived in Mooloolaba and I’d visit the Yandina farmers markets of a Saturday to stock up on fresh produce.
I didn’t like ginger back then, which is the only reason I can explain never visiting. It’s a popular tourist attraction and even for locals who visit regularly with their local passes for a coffee with friends in the cafe while their kids play in the playground and take endless boat and train rides.
The setting is just gorgeous, and now that I love ginger, I was really excited to visit.
We started at The Ginger Cafe with a taste of ginger scones with ginger tea and cream, whilst the kids decorated their ginger bread men. Divine.
We took a walk through the rainforest and then jumped aboard the steam train for a ride around the property, through the rainforest gardens and past the sugar fields to learn all about the ginger factory that started as in Buderim as Buderim ginger with ginger beer.
I was sure to grab an ice-cold one from the fridge on the way out. It was delicious. Years ago I would have shuddered at the thought of drinking one of those, now it’s the only soda drink I treat myself to every now and then.
My favourite experience was Kalyra’s transformation from pouting, “This is so lame” upon boarding the Overboard boat ride, to exclaiming of delight at how cool it was as we sailed on by the displays of different nations around the world.
The Kiwis were doing the haka, the French the Ginger Rouge. In each display was a hidden Gingerbread man you had to find.
Always try things first before casting judgement Kalyra!
My true favourite experience was the Bee Talk. We’re now all in love with bees. Seriously. The beekeeper almost had us signing up to become beekeepers and find our Zen.
In case you didn’t know, without the bees life would be dead within a few weeks. The bees are responsible for our food.
Love the bees. Look after them. If you can’t keep a hive and make your own honey, then plant lots of flowers and don’t waste water.
Don’t worry about us taking all the bee’s honey. They make too much of it and are constantly working to keep making it. That’s all they do for their short six-week lifespan is make honey all day long. It’s the lady bees that do all the work too.
If you’re scared of bees and one comes near you, just remain still, she’ll soon work out you’re not a flower and leave you alone.
After a honey-tasting session, we grabbed ourselves some bee pollen and Manuka honey from the store on the way home and it’s now a part of our regular health routine. Yep. Super-food max out! You know that’s how we roll.
There are also tours of the ginger factory which we didn’t get time for.
And of course, what visit to the Sunshine Coast would not be complete without a stock-up at Costco on the drive home.
9. Noosa Heads Main Beach
Set on the scenic Noosa Heads coastline is Main Beach. It’s a beautiful beach with crystal clear waters and great surf.
The shoreline gradually descends so it’s great for those with families looking for a gentle beach for toddlers to paddle in.
Enjoy a swim, surf or relax on the boardwalk, it’s the perfect place to visit in Noosa for a relaxing day in the sun.
Another popular beach in Noosa if you enjoy surfing is Sunshine Beach which has bigger waves. Sunshine Beach extends from Noosa National Park to the Maroochydore River and Twin Waters.
10. Noosa National Parks
There are several national parks in the Noosa Hinterland region, including Noosa National Park, Tewantin National Park, Mount Coolum National Park, Mount Cooroy Conservation Park and the Southern side of the Great Sandy National Park.
The Noosa National Park is the most famous, and is well known for it’s hiking trails and coastal landscapes. It also has some wild koalas living in its forests, so keep your eyes on the trees to see if you can spot some of these elusive native animals.
Tewantin National Park is also worth checking out, as it’s known for its protected coastal rainforest which provides a home for the nearly endangered frog species, including the tusked frog, green-thighed frog, wallum froglet and giant barred frog.
It is also home to the last remnants of Wallum Heath, an area of solidified lava created by volcanic eruptions millions of years ago.
You can read more about the Noosa National Park in our post sharing things to do in Noosa.
11. Noosa Botanic Gardens
The Noosa Botanic Gardens opened in 1990 and is made up of eight hectares of native and exotic plants. They are located just a short drive from Cooroy, next to Lake Macdonald.
The botanic gardens was built on a site that was once used to dump rubbish until a local resident, Ida Duncan, asked for it to be cleaned up and turned into a garden by the coucil. With the help locals, Ida Duncan cleared the dumping ground and work began on turning it into a park in 1987.
The gardens are still looked after by the locals, as volunteers come to maintain them every Thursday.
Pack yourself a picnic and enjoy a full-day of relaxing in this stunning landscape.
12. Copperhead Restaurant And Brewery
One of the main reasons to visit the Noosa Hinterland is for its vineyards and breweries. If you enjoy craft beer, it’s worth visiting the Copperhead Restaurant And Brewery in the town of Cooroy.
With exposed brick walls, timber beams and a wooden chandelier and oak furniture, this is no ordinary restaurant.
You can sample several locally made ales and craft beers, as well as enjoy some delicious pub grub.
What is the best month to visit Noosa Hinterland?
Since Noosa Hinterland is all about the outdoors, the best time to visit is during Australian summer, which runs from December through to February. This is when the weather is most optimal, with warm temperatures and less rain.
This is a great time of year to do some hiking or water activities.
Noosa Hinterland Accommodation
The Noosa Hinterland region is relatively small, so you don’t really have to worry about the neighborhood you stay in as you can easily drive from town to town within 10-15 minutes.
Most people choose to stay in Eumundi or Cooray as there are more accommodation options.
We recommend staying at Eumundi Guesthouse and B&B, which has free parking, so you can park your car safely at night and set off early each day. It’s also only a short walk from Eumundi Markets and has an outdoor pool for the summer.
For a more rural retreat, you can’t go wrong with the Noosa Hinterland Retreat. The name itself tells you exactly what to expect.
It’s designed to be an escape from the stresses of daily life, offering sweeping mountain views and scenes of the surrounding gum forest.
You can choose to stay in a little apartment or villa which is kitted out with a kitchenette, living space and terrace (some with a BBQ).
Camping in Noosa Hinterland
Another way to experience the Noosa Hinterland is to camp. There are many campgrounds in the region, but there are three main camping spots in Noosa Hinterland that we would recommend.
The first is Noosa North Shore Beach Campground, which is one of the few campsites on the beach in Noosa Hinterland.
It’s location is hard to beat, and it has all the amenities you would need, such as well-maintained bathrooms with hot showers, and it also has a kitchen that guests can use.
Another is Habitat Noosa, which is an award-winning campsite located on the shores of Lake Cootharaba.
It’s an EcoCamp that won the Australia’s Best New Tourism Business Award and is set inside the The Great Sandy National Park.
It offers glamping tents and campsites where you can pitch your own tent, and has clean faciltiies with hot showers.
What sets this campsite apart is its activity center, where you can rent stand up paddle boards, canoes, wave skis, kayaks and more.
Finally is Boreen Point Campground, which is also on Lake Cootharaba and has been in operation for more than 70 years. It’s a popular spot for those who are interested in sailing on the lake or fishing.
It has some powered sites so if you’re planning on renting an RV, this is the spot for you.
South Queensland Travel Tips
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