We spent almost 6 weeks on the Sunshine Coast, ending up quite by accident in Mooloolaba for the last 4 weeks after finding the near-perfect house. Situated on a canal with bicycles and paddleboards at our disposal, a short walk to the beach and a short drive to local sights it was the ideal place to linger longer!
Close to our house is Buderim Forest Park, a 45-hectare rainforest park with a small waterfall. Being one of the few places open, and a Sunday, the walking track was quite busy in sections. We enjoyed our walk beside the stream passing by a few small waterfalls and admiring the rainforest. It was pleasantly cool and a welcome change from walking in the hot sun on the beaches recently…ha ha first world problems I know 😂
While living in Noosa Heads a few weeks ago, we hiked the coastal track around Noosa National Park, traversing Alexandria Beach during the hike and wanted to return. Alexandria Beach is only accessible by foot and as such it attracts few people, the beach’s isolation also makes it a hotspot for those who enjoy getting back to nature wearing nothing more than sunscreen. We were unaware of this when we decided to walk there one day for a picnic and a swim. Normally this would not phase us but the nudists hide at the edge of the beach in the bushes making it feel a bit creepy. Added to the creepiness was a fella who decided to ‘whack his willy’ standing on the hillside overlooking a naked female sunbather. Fortunately, another couple passing by on the beach warned the young lady, which scared the man into running away, she packed up and moved to the middle of the beach. All rather distracting during what was to be a quiet picnic on the beach 🙄
On May 1 the Queensland Govt eased some restrictions allowing people to get out a bit more. Key for us was the news we could now drive up to 50 km for exercise and the National Parks would be re-opening for hiking. We stretched the limits a bit driving into central Brisbane for a day trip before the restrictions were eased. We had yet to visit the city and rather than move we thought a couple of day trips would satisfy our curiosity. Brisbane is a city of over 2.4 million people so we were rather anxious about maintaining social distancing, our new reality. It turned out to be no concern whatsoever, the downtown core was a ghost town. We had a list of buildings and places to visit and with nothing open it made our tour pretty quick. Our first challenge was finding parking after seeing that both the city lots we had noted were full. We ended up parking at a Woolworths lot that cost us AUD $15 ($9.75 USD) for 2 hours, cheapest parking we could find! Our walking route for the next two hours took us along the City Reach Boardwalk to Story Bridge; past St Johns Cathedral and the Cathedral of St Stephen; through Anzac Square and King George Square; to City Hall and Customs House. It was an interesting contrast admiring the lovely historic buildings dwarfed by dazzling skyscrapers.
After completing our dash around the city center we drove to Mt Coot-tha, looming over Brisbane with gorgeous views of the urban sprawl. At the base of Mt Coot-tha is Brisbane Botanic Gardens. The gardens were open, however the plant houses were all closed. We enjoyed a walk around the grounds, rounding out our day in Brisbane. This turned out to be our only day, we are not fans of big cities at the best of times and with everything closed there is not much attraction to spending time there. I have no doubt this is a vibrant city to visit when everything is open.
Falling within the 50km travel distance limit for exercise are the Glass House Mountains and National Park. The Sunshine Coast is a busy area and we made the mistake of trying to go for a hike on a holiday Monday, what were we thinking!! The trailhead was packed with too many people so we gave up and visited a couple of viewpoints instead. The first one was the Glass House Mountains Lookout, now open to the public. There is an observation platform, picnic area and walking track. The walking track is a short 800 meters around the summit through the forest. Next up was the Wild Horse Mountain Lookout which requires a steep 700m walk to the top. The viewing platform is filled with information boards about the area describing what you are looking at in each direction. From this viewpoint you can see the skyscrapers of Brisbane far off in the distance. The valleys below are rich with volcanic soil, filled with forestry and orchard plots growing timber, pineapple and a variety of citrus fruit.
On a quiet and less crowded weekday, we headed out to explore the Glass House Mountains. The hikes we chose were both fairly short so we summited two of the peaks in the park. First was Mount Ngungun, a 2.8km round trip hike through the forest to an exposed rocky peak with gorgeous views in every direction. Second was the Mt Beerburrum summit, a 3.5km round trip hike to the fire lookout at the top. This was the hardest climb with the last .75km straight up a very steep concrete path to the lookout. I think going down such a steep path was harder on my poor knees than going up!! The views were not as dramatic as Mount Ngungun so I would recommend Mount Ngungun as the better hike for spectacular views of the area. The photos below are from the Mount Ngungun hike.
Looking for another short hike we settled on the Baroon Lookout walk, a 5.2km out and back trail with a couple of short offshoots to viewpoints. The views were spectacular from the lookout, perched atop a sheer cliff overlooking Obi Obi Gorge, Baroon Pocket Dam and miles of forest. This track is a small section of the 59km Sunshine Coast Hinterland Great Walk renowned for its majestic multi-day walk through the mountains.
Our time in Queensland has come to an end as we now fly south to Sydney in the state of New South Wales. Right now Sydney looks like our best hope of finding a flight to Canada in the near future. We have loved Queensland and the Sunshine Coast, especially the beach walks we took almost every second day. Sadly we missed the opportunity to venture further north to see more of Queensland. Long-distance travel has been strongly discouraged by the government so we did our part to help stop the spread of coronavirus by staying local.
Here is a quick recap of the most amazing beaches we were fortunate to visit while here.