A big, big place that’s far, far away, Australia, the land aptly known as Down Under, is divided into six states: New South Wales, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria, Western Australia and Queensland, where I escaped winter back home to enjoy a short second summer basking in the warmth of this state’s picturesque Sunshine Coast, along with documenting my sojourn with footnotes and photos.
On several occasions, I left my home base in Maroochydore, where the Maroochy River empties into the Coral Sea, and ventured up into the Blackall Range of the Hinterland on arguably the most scenic of the Sunshine Coast drives, where the air is cooler and the grass is greener, to see what I could see. My self-drive adventures provided me with stunning views of lush valleys and magnificent mountain peaks along with stops at two of the Hinterland’s most tourist-friendly towns: Montville and Maleny.
A botanical garden-like postcard, Montville, sitting at 1,300 ft. above sea level, is a lovely artisan enclave with a population of 886 friendly folks all asking “Ow ya goin´” on just about every street corner and shop.
Montville just radiates true village charm with a pleasant array of Alpine chalets, English, Irish and Tudor log and stone cottages, Queenslanders, with their signature wrap-around verandas, and a camera-ready old mill water wheel.
After a leisurely stroll up and down Main Street take a load off at Poets Cafe, a beautifully renovated Queenslander house that backs onto the lush vegetation leading to the valley below, for a coffee, a beer, a glass of wine, one of its signature baguette sandwiches or a full-on dinnies.
High above the sparkling sandy beaches of the Sunshine Coast lies Maleny, a 1950’s-looking, arts-and-crafts town.
After a light repast at Sarah’s Unplugged — try a smoked salmon panino or a bush tucker salad of locally-grown stoned fruit and baby greens, homemade feta cheese and topped with edible flowers, along with a glass or two of wine — have a pooch around all the interesting shops up and down Maple Street, Maleny’s main drag.
Just a few kilometers outside of town is the Mary Carincross Scenic Reserve, with its walking trails that wind through 55 hectares of subtropical rainforest. And, just across Mountain View Road are the landmark Glasshouse Mountains, named by Captain John Cook, the famed British explorer, back in 1770. These 11 distinct peaks, formed by volcanic activity millions of years ago, remain to this day sacred sites of Aboriginal Australians.
Heading back down towards the coast, be sure and make a quick stop at Gerrard’s Lookout to admire some great views of the Mooloolah River Catchment out to Nambour, Mooloolaba, the Mudjimba Islands and Maroochydore.
Care to hop aboard a “rattler” and traverse the Mary Valley with me? I’ll give you a tingle this arvo to let you know the date and time we pull out from Gympie Station. Until then, toodle-oo!