Sunshine Coast National Parks
As a region with dense, lush foliage and unique hinterland you'd expect that a beautiful attribute of this region is its National Parks. In fact, the Sunshine Coast has more national parks than any other region in Queensland. There are seven in total, and they range from large hinterland areas like the Glass House Mountains, to coastal paradises like Noosa and the southern fringe of Fraser Island.
Dramatically cascading waterfalls, trickling streams and amazing flora and fauna can be clearly seen from using the beautiful winding walking tracks and well established 4wd tracks interspersed throughout many of the parks. Some national parks offer a menagerie of landscapes from volcanic craggy mountains, everglades, freshwater rivers and lakes.
If you'd like to experience the parks in all their glory, one of the best ways to do it has to be the Sunshine Coast Hinterland Great Walk. This 58km walk can be done all at once if you are enthusiastic, or in half or full day walks at a time.
Sunshine Coast National Parks
Below is a listing of some of the most beautiful national parks that the Sunshine Coast has to offer:
Set in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland on the Blackall Range, Mapleton Falls National Park is only 105km north of Brisbane. As its name might suggest, the park has excellent views of Mapleton Falls, but also the Obi Obi Valley. There are several short walks through tall, open bushland and rainforest. The park is a small but important reminder of the forests that once covered the Hinterland.
Just west of the Glass House Mountains this State Forest is comprised of rugged eucalypt forest, rainforests and cascades alongside the scenic Stony Creek.
For the 4WD enthusiast Branch Creek Road is a challenging ride that winds up through the middle of the park. The remains of Brandon’s sawmill can still be seen on West Bellthrorpe Road.
This massive park of spectacular forests, deep gorges and panoramic views is an important habitat for a variety of wildlife including many rare and threatened species such as the cascade treefrog and red goshawk.
For the best experience take the Conondale Range Great Walk as it winds through ancient rainforests, tall open forests and past waterfalls, cascading creeks and phenomenal views. There are a number of shorter and longer walks to provide something for all levels of fitness and enthusiasm.
Driving along the Bruce Highway it’s hard not to notice the craggy, volcanic peaks that tower over a patchwork of pine plantations. These peaks form the Glass House Mountains, named by Captain James Cook himself on his voyage along Australia’s east coast.
The park is home to a variety of plants and animals, including 26 threatened plant species. The mountains were also an important meeting place for the Aboriginals of the area, using it for ceremonies and trading.
About 160km north of Brisbane, Noosa National Park offers picture perfect coastal scenery. Take a hike on the walking tracks to enjoy the scenery and possibly catch a glimpse of the koalas, black cockatoos, ground parrots and wallum froglets that inhabit the area.
You can probably guess from the name that this park features a whole lot of coast lands. The marine park extends from Baffle Creek all the way down south to Double Island Point. The park includes Harvey Bay, Great Sandy Strait, Tin Can Bay Inlet and the waters off the east coast of Fraser Island.
Plan well and you can track through the seagrass meadows, mangroves, rocky shores, reefs and beaches while keeping an eye out for whales, turtles, dugongs, grey nurse sharks and a myriad of other marine and coastal life.
Fraser Island provides visitors with a typical island paradise; long beaches, sand blows, rocky headlands, crystal clear lakes and streams. The area is popular for 4WDing as the beaches and inland dunes are a great track. It can be dangerous though so drive safe and check up on the new laws introduced for the park.
Situated between Noosa Heads and Rainbow Beach, Cooloola has something for all visitors. Take a 4WD past huge coastal sand cliffs, fish your dinner straight out of the ocean, go canoeing on peaceful waterways, or go hiking through the rainforests and blooming wildflowers.
The scenic reserve is probably the easiest way to experience the rainforest without leaving too many civilised comforts behind. There are short tours on the rainforest tracks throughout the day and the main centre has BBQ facilities, bathrooms, a playground and even a café.
The reserve itself comprises of 55hectares of lush rainforest that once covered the Blackall Range. There is a diverse range of plant and animal life on display out in the forest and a Rainforests Through Time Display in the centre.
Near Montville and only 100km out of Brisbane is Kondalilla National Park. The park is named for the glorious Kondalilla Falls, where Skene Creek drops 90m into the rainforest valley below. The area is an important refuge for a number of native plants & animals and is a cool mountain retreat for visitors.
Beerburrum and Beerwah are notable for the massive pine plantations that are patched throughout the open eucalypt forest with pockets of rainforest under the Glass House Mountains. The area has some good camping and picnic areas while the walking tracks offer some spectacular lookouts.
Mapleton sits at the northern end of the Blackall Range and is home to several creeks, small waterfalls, and rocky outcrops with amazing views. Take a walk through the scenic rainforests, piccabeen palm groves, tall open blackbutt forest, vine forest and shrubby woodland.
Linked to the mainland by a road bridge, Bribie Island is only a 65km drive north of Brisbane. The island is a tranquil place of beautiful coastal scenery, bush camping, boating and fishing areas and wonderful spring wildflowers.