There is so much to see on the Sunshine Coast, but sometimes the most beautiful and tranquil parts in nature are overlooked. Here you'll find a selection of the best parks, waterfalls and zoos showcasing nature on the Sunshine Coast.
Once again having a car to get around is advantageous.
There are 15km of walking tracks here in the Noosa National Park, which will keep you busy all day.
The most popular track is the 10.8km return coastal track, which takes you to beaches you can't reach by car. It's on this walk that you might catch the sight of dolphins and humpback whales between June and November.
Along the coastal track, you'll find Tea-Tree Bay and Granite Bay.
You have to be fit to do this 1.6km return walk up Mt. Coolum.
It doesn't take long on this track for the stairs to start, and they don't get any easier as you go up. I haven't gone all the way to the top, maybe a third of the way, as there isn't any type of barrier or handrail. The steps are uneven, and I get very uneasy on winding, uneven exposed steps, so know your limits.
The views from the top are supposed to be 360° over the Sunshine Coast, from the beach to the hinterland.
This walk has a great reward at the end of it with the rockpool at Buderim Falls a popular swimming hole. Also known as Serenity Falls, this walk has two tracks leading to the falls, Harry Lane off upper Lindsay Road, and Quorn Close, which is also off Lindsay Road at the lower end.
The Harry Lane entrance has a large car park. This is also the entrance where Harry's on Buderim, the fine dining restaurant is located.
Boardwalks and bridges help you cross the stream and cascades can be seen as you walk beside the stream
The track gets a bit off-road and will be hard to get through if there has been a lot of rain as you have to clamber over rocks in the water.
Your reward at the end is the falls and the cool waters of the swimming hole on a hot day.
The Quorn Close entrance has a small car park but is a quicker walk than Harry Lane. Only a 15-minute walk on this track takes you down an incline and some natural rock stairs.
You cross Serenity Bridge which has excellent views of the falls. There isn't much water coming off these falls as Buderim is a hill and isn't high, but it is a beautiful place to visit, especially for families.
Wildlife HQ is another great little zoo on the Sunshine Coast located where the Big Pineapple is in Woombye. You can spend all day in this area if you take in the Zoo, Big Pineapple and TreeTop Challenge.
With only 200 animals you won't need all day to visit, but it can take 2-3 hours if you take your time going around.
You have a small train, which goes up to the Big Pineapple from a couple of stations at the zoo.
For the adventurous, a new attraction at the Big Pineapple is the TreeTop Challenge, a high rope and zipline course through the bush.
There are about 120 activities across the 2km course, with challenges including a 120m zipline. The course will take around half a day to complete. PLEASE NOTE: BOOKINGS ARE ESSENTIAL.
There are two car parks, one at the Big Pineapple, which is large and a bigger one at Wildlife HQ.
Kondalilla Falls is a very popular walk not only on weekends but during the week as well.
You'll need moderate fitness for this one, especially if you want to go to the very bottom of the falls. Even going from the car park to the picnic grounds is a steep downhill walk, but at least it is sealed.
The sealed path goes nearly all the way to Picnic Creek, with a lovely view from the path before you start to head up.
The path goes up some stairs then it's a slight to no incline to the 300-steps down to the rockpool and bottom of the falls. You can take a small detour to views over the valley or wait until you get to the rockpool.
You can either walk back up the 300-steps or take the path down to the bottom of the falls. If you've gone back to the steps to take the left path down, you'll have views of the falls.
The 90m fall of Kondalilla Falls and the end at the bottom.
Once you get to the bottom, you can go back up the other side as this circular track goes back up to the rockpool. You can have a break here before tackling the 300-steps back to the track that will eventually take you back to the car park.
The Kondalilla Falls circuit is 4.7km long, and you should allow 2.3 hours. Hopefully, along the tracks, you'll see some of the local wildlife that calls this place home.
Gardner's Falls is not a hard walk, just a lovely stroll beside the Obi Obi Creek for 400-hundred metres.
Calmer pools are safe for kids as long as parents keep their eyes on them. At the falls you have a deeper waterhole which is popular with teenagers and adults.
The track ends at the drop, but if you are confident at going "off-road" you could scramble down beside the waterhole.
The car park isn't very big and will fill up quickly on the weekend. You could bring a picnic to enjoy at one of the many sites along the Obi Obi River.
The Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve Rainforest Discovery is a 55-hectare subtropical rainforest that is a great place for all ages of the family.
BBQs, picnic tables and parkland are available, or there is the Mountain View Cafe that you can enjoy your lunch or a snack. Don't forget to put your rubbish in the bin or take it home with you.
Above the Cafe, you can enjoy views over the Glasshouse Mountains. It is accessed from either the stairs or a lift.
A gold coin donation will see you enter the rainforest through the interactive gallery. In here you can learn about the geology, fauna and flora of the area.
There are no steep inclines and only a couple of stairs now and then to negotiate. Some areas have boardwalks helping to protect the fragile environment.
Keep an eye out in the undergrowth for Pademelons and all the birds that are flitting about the branches. Also, watch out where you're stepping as snakes and lizards may be on your path.
A Pademelon and Southern Angle-headed Dragon are two of the animals you might walk on your walk around the Rainforest
09:00 AM–04:30 PM
Closed Good Friday, Easter Sunday and Christmas Day
Daily for Breakfast and Lunch
08:30 AM–04:30 PM
08:00 AM–05:00 PM
Closed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day
Just an eight-minute drive down the road from Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve Rainforest Discovery Centre is the Maleny Botanic Gardens and Bird World.
Over 18 acres of beautiful gardens are there for you to freely wander around with ponds and viewpoints across the Glasshouse Mountains.
The park is steep in parts, but you can hire a buggy to get around if you have mobility issues.
When you have finished walking around the gardens - or maybe when you arrive - there are three aviaries to walk through.
Guided tours take you through these huge aviaries with the birds flying freely around you.
Birds big and small are on show, but be prepared for them to land on you. If you wear jewellery, especially earrings, it's best to take them off before the birds do. These cheeky feathered friends will use their beaks to rip any earrings from you lobe for themselves.
After you have seen the birds, you can either carry on around the gardens or enjoy a snack at the cafe. The cafe has views across the Glasshouse Mountains. You could also bring a picnic to enjoy at one of the many gazebos or in the parklands.
Back down the mountain in Beerwah, you'll find Australia Zoo.
Home of the Crocodile Hunter, Australia Zoo is also home to Crocodiles. You'll see the Crocodiles performing in the Crocoseum as well as the birds in flight show.
The Whistling Kite and the Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo is flying over the Crocoseum and our heads during the bird show
Shows are timed during the day, so you not only get to see all the animals here but others like Otters, Tigers and everyone's favourite the Koalas up close and awake.
The ultra-cute and adorable Asian small-clawed otter, the Sumatran Tiger and the ultra-cute baby Koala with Mum
It's an easy walk around the 1000-acres, exploring animals from all over the world. The zoo has been split into zones with Africa, Wetlands, Bindi's Island, walk-through Kangaroos and Koalas, Snakes and the Tiger Temple.
Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital is in the car park. You can see the operating theatres and recovery areas and the animals that are in there.
If you are spending time in Brisbane, then read my following blogs, Brisbane City, where to find Koalas around Brisbane, the Gold Coast Hinterland, what there is to do in Redcliffe, Brisbane City Markets and Eat Street Northshore.
Queensland is the skin cancer capital of the world, so always bring the sunscreen, hat and sunglasses, even in winter, and don't forget your water.
On some of these walks make sure that you have sturdy footwear as the ground may be unstable. You may also need mosquito repellent if it has been raining as well as a raincoat or umbrella.
Explore the outer coast of Pohatu Marine Reserve and marvel at its spectacular towering cliffs, rock stacks, reefs, and deep sea caves. Observe the diverse wildlife and marine species such as penguins, seals, various sea birds and possibly the world’s smallest dolphin!