The Sunshine Coast is surrounded by the very best that nature has to offer—beach, bush, flora, fauna; there’s no denying it, we really do have the cream of the crop within arm’s reach.
Best of all, it’s completely free—or at least, freakin’ cheap!
Whether you’re after an escape from reality, or simply looking for a change of scenery, get in touch with nature by visiting five of the best national parks on and around the Sunshine Coast.
Glass House Mountains National Park
The Glass House Mountains National Park has something for every kind of adventurer, spanning many kilometres of walking tracks, mountain-bike rides, rock-climbing routes and horse-riding trails. Depending what you and your crew are up for, it’s worth doing some research before you go, or chatting with the friendly locals manning the visitors centre. A climb up Mount Beerwah and Mount Tibrogargan will definitely get the adrenaline pumping, but for an easier hike, hit the summit of Mount Ngungun. Sadly, you can’t camp in the national park itself, but there’s plenty to do to fill up a day, and the hinterland towns are but a wee drive away.
Driving Time: 1-hour
Noosa National Park
This one is an obvious choice, but it’s worthy of a top spot among the best national parks on the Sunshine Coast. Providing the perfect combination of beach, bush, views and things to do, Noosa National Park is a sure-fire crowd-pleaser. After you’ve fuelled up with a delicious brunch on Hastings Street, follow the beachside boardwalk to Little Cove where the coastal track starts. Several walking tracks shoot off the coastal path, so take your pick and choose your own adventure. If the tides are right, a dip in the fairy pools along the way is a must, just past Granite Bay. A round trip of any of the tracks will be at least 5km, so you can head home knowing you’ve earned the wine and cheese that’s waiting for you in the fridge.
Driving Time: 1-hour or less
D’Aguilar National Park
Pack the car, crank your best Spotify playlist and head towards Brisbane to the D’Aguilar National Park. This huge nature reserve of over 36,000 hectares has two distinct sections—the Mount Mee section and the South D’Aguilar section. When it comes to bushwalks and picnic spots, Mount Mee takes the cake and it has two vehicle accessible campsites too. Those keen to wander off the beaten track might prefer to try the South D’Aguilar option, boasting eight remote (read: no vehicles allowed) camping areas. Anywhere you choose, you’ll be surrounded by hidden gorges, green pastures, lush open rainforest and sweeping views out to Moreton Bay and the Glass House Mountains. Seeming worlds away, it’s hard to believe the D’Aguilar National Park is less than two hours down the highway. Queensland, you beauty.
Driving Time: 1.5 hours
Conondale National Park
Spectacular forests, cascading waterfalls, vast gorges and unbelievable vistas make the Conondale National Park hard to beat. Just past Maleny, the best way to access the park is from just outside the small town of Conondale, either from Booloumba Creek Road or Sunday Creek Road. Being gravel roads, they can be a bit tricky and phone reception also tends to go walkabout, so make sure you do some extra preparation before you commit to this one. There are plenty of short strolls within the national park that are perfect for daytrippers, like the Booloumba Falls walking track. If you’ve got four days to spare, the 56km Conondale Range Great Walk showcases the best of this national park and without a doubt should be added to your bucket list.
Driving Time: 1-hour
Great Sandy National Park
Head up the highway, past Noosa, and you’ll enter the Great Sandy National Park. This mammoth park is split into two sections, both of which are worth checking out. The Cooloola section stretches between Noosa Heads and Rainbow Beach, and the Fraser Island section covers, well, Fraser Island. If untouched beaches, crystal-clear waves, sweeping sand dunes and gleaming freshwater lakes are right up your alley, you’d better add this one to your adventure plan asap. As well as being home to two Great Walks and ample camping sites, Great Sandy is also inhabited by many protected bird species, so bring your binoculars for a spot of twitching. Note: You’ll need a 4WD and permits to tackle this one.
Driving Time: 1.5 hours
Looking for more things to do on the Sunshine Coast? Here’s five outdoor adventures you need to do at least once in your life.
Image Credit: Brooke Darling for Urban List