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Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve

Home > Sunshine Coast > Walks | Views | Parks | Outdoor
by Louise Boylen (subscribe)
I live at Montville and as a Montville Accommodation provider, I'm passionate about telling the world about the beautiful Sunshine Coast Hinterland. You can read more of my writing at
Published March 18th 2013
Queensland's Sunshine Coast Hinterland is blessed with national parks and walking trails. And thankfully, you don't need stout boots and steely determination to tackle some of these walking trails. Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve is one of my favourites for several reasons.

First, it's easy-walking. You can do it in thongs. In fact I recently saw a group from a retirement village trundling their walking frames along the path. And the paths don't get boggy after rain.

Indeed it's surreal to visit when the clouds are low and the canopy disappears into the clouds. I wouldn't be surprised if Harry Potter's Hagrid appeared from behind the gigantic roots of the ancient strangler figs.
Mary Cairncross Reserve
Walking in the mist at Mary Cairncross

Mary Cairncross Reserve is just outside Maleny in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland. It's 15 minutes from Montville, half an hour from Caloundra and less than an hour from the northern suburbs of Brisbane.

It's a 55 hectare subtropical rainforest, preserved by the forethought and generosity of Elizabeth, Mary and Mabel Thynne who donated the site in 1941 and named it after their mother, Mary Thynne (nee Cairncross). Another plus: this reserve has an interpretive centre with volunteer guides who'll tell you which birds are visiting and where you might spot particular species.

And look out for the Richmond Birdwing Butterfly when you visit. It's a big butterfly with black and green wings and yellow body. That's the showy male; the female is larger but less colourful.

A grove of the birdwing butterfly's host plant has been planted near the playground to provide food and habitat for this vulnerable species which is in danger of disappearing. The strategy must be working because I got buzzed by one of these beautiful butterflies on a recent visit; who would have thought a vulnerable species would be such a daredevil.

Finally, the most important reason why Mary Cairncross is perfect for lazy bushwalkers … there's an open air café with panoramic views of the Glasshouse Mountains and delicious cakes, all baked on the premises. But be warned if you order the nachos, you might need climbing gear to tackle it. It's a generous serve, piled high with corn chips and a really tasty bean mix.

Mary Cairncross Reserve
A table with a view at Mary Cairncross Cafe
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Why? Bushwalking for the faint-hearted
Where: Maleny QLD 4552
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