Live by the beach and craving to go country for the day? A day trip through the Mary Valley should satisfy all your needs for cows, rustic tin sheds, rolling farms, creeks and teeny old towns.
Named after the river that runs through it, the Mary River, Mary Valley is tucked at the top end of the Sunshine Coast and is a nature-lover’s paradise. So grab your sneakers, dust of your akubra and leave your dreams of a squeaky clean car at home. You’re about to go on an adventure.
Stop 1: Get A Sweet Fix At Kenilworth
Every great road trip should start with food, and this hit list of the best things to do in Mary Valley is no different. Whether you’re coming from the south, the north, east or west, make Kenilworth your first stop. Sitting on the main drag of this Sunshine Coast country town, you’ll find the famous Kenilworth Bakery. Renowned for their sweet creations, one step inside and you’ll be bowled over with rows of doughnuts lined up before your eyes. Made fresh daily, go simple with cinnamon or bite through one of their epic filled doughnuts. Or, big eaters who like a challenge, should fast from the night before so they can test their eating-stamina with the 1kg doughnut challenge. Finish it within the allocated time and you’ll get your name on their wall of fame out back.
Stop 2: Drive On
With a fully belly, it’s time to make tracks and head north along Kenilworth Brooloo Road. This stunning drive through verdant farmland and bush, will take you past Bluff Creek Campground, one of the Sunshine Coast’s best camping spots. Book here for when restrictions lift and overnight stays, and then continue on to the lookout further along. Soak in the views, pull out your camera and take a snapshot of the ‘country you’.
Stop 3: Stroll Through Imbil Markets
Continue along to Imbil, and take a stroll through the town’s country markets. Held every Sunday from 8am to 1pm, this is where you can stock up on local produce from the farmer’s themselves, along with arts and crafts, honey and much more.
Stop 4: Paddle Down The Mary River
If you haven’t touched the Mary River, have you even been to the Mary Valley? Line up a date with the folks at Ride On Mary and jump into your very own kayak for a self-guided tour of this beautiful waterway. Expect to glide past patches of rainforest, take in mountain views, and if you’re lucky, spot the odd platypus, Mary River turtles or wallabies. If you’ve already hit the Mary River in the past, try Yabba Creek or Borumba Dam for something different.
Stop 5: Shop Local At Kandanga Farm Store
By now, it’s likely you’ve got jelly arms from paddling and a grumbling stomach after smashing all your fresh fruit from the markets. So, next up is a stop at the Kandanga Farm Store. While it is technically a rural concept store—think all your farming needs, plus artisan soaps, locally-made beeswax wraps and preserved goods—they also have an adjoining kitchen that offers a simple takeaway menu (launching June 1, 2020) based around coffee and cakes with a couple of savoury options.
Stop 6: Spot Platypus At Amamoor State Forest
Amateur twitchers will be able to pull out their binoculars and spot over 120 different bird species that call this slice of forest home. If birds are not your jam, Amamoor State Forest also produces the goods in terms of walking trails. So hop out of the car and stretch your legs with a stroll through the forest, past babbling creeks and streams. For a super-short adventure, try the 300-metre (yep, you read that right) Platypus Walk to a viewing platform, then keep your eyes peeled for the little creatures in the water below. Or, step it up a tad and tackle The Rainforest Walk from the Cedar Grove camping area, cooling off with a dip in the swimming hole when you make it to the end.
Stop 7: Sip Wine In The Sun At Dingo Creek Vineyard
We’ve saved the best ‘til last. Cross the Bruce Highway to Traveston and start the drive home with a final stop at Dingo Creek Vineyard. This relaxed, slightly rustic winery is the perfect end to a country day trip, with roaming chooks, lawns to sprawl on and an indoor-outdoor dining room, perfect for nibbling on a platter in between sips of your chosen drop. Before you find your hang location for the afternoon, opt for a wine tasting session and get the rundown on each variety. With the current coronavirus restrictions still in place for Queensland, guests are limited to a maximum of 10, so bookings are essential. Call 0438 851 731 to reserve your spot.
Looking for more weekend drives? Check out our guide to the ultimate road trip to Maleny.
Image credit: Lumea Photo for Urban List and Tourism and Events Queensland