No matter where you are on the Sunshine Coast, there are always 'walks' close at hand. Walkers can explore a variety of tracks and trails, all promising new and dramatic scenery. As nature lovers, we can get away from the crowds and marvel at our spectacular surrounds, whether it be beachside, wetlands or forest environments. Most of us tend to take these walks for granted, but for some taking a 'walk' can prove to be more than challenging, especially when confined to a wheelchair or pushing a stroller. These six walks are in some of the most spectacular panoramic regions of the Sunshine Coast, making it possible for everybody to get up close and personal with nature.
1. Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve, 148 Mountain View Road, Maleny
Interpretive Boardwalk | 0.2km length circuit Suitable for walkers, strollers and wheelchairs
The main natural attraction of the Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve is the magnificent remnant rainforest and of course, the to-die-for views of the Glass House Mountains.
To-die-for views of the Glass House Mountains! Image: Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve FB
The Rainforest Discovery Centre was opened as recently as 2017 and is the main access point into the rainforest and the rainforest walks. The Discovery Centre provides a detailed interpretive experience of the Scenic Reserve's environment and is well worth stopping by for an informative browse. Venture through the Discovery Centre to a rising boardwalk that gently curves through the forest, before leading back to level 2 of the Centre and out onto a viewing platform of the Glass House Mountains. Wheelchair users and strollers can access the lift to go down to the Mountain View Cafe.
Relax with a coffee! Image: Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve FB
After the walk, visitors can either relax at the cafe with a coffee and light refreshments or enjoy a picnic out on the open lawned area, whilst the shy pademelons, who call this area home, look on with just a touch of curiosity.
Naturally shy pademelon - Image: Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve FB
Visitors can purchase souvenirs at the kiosk, including books featuring the flora and fauna of this oasis of tranquillity and serenity. An awesome trip into the Sunshine Coast hinterland. Facilities include disabled toilets.
2. Russell Family Park, 196 - 198 Main Street, Montville
Easy Grade 0.8km length circuit Suitable for walkers, prams, wheelchairs and recreational cyclists
I recently wrote about the wheelchair and family-friendly, Russell Family Park in the heart of Montville. This newly developed 7.3ha park features its own wooden bandstand (the kids were using it to ride their skateboards); an authentic windmill; two lakes with signed heritage walking paths and wonderfully lawned hills for children to safely roll and romp down. At the northern end of Russell Family Park is a flying fox that even adults can enjoy.
Russell Park is an awesome wheelchair and family-friendly park in the heart of Montville!
Russell Family Park is the perfect escape from the crowds of Main Street in Montville and it certainly has the advantage of being able to walk off all the delectable coffee and cake enjoyed at one of the many Main Street cafes and restaurants. Take a stroll through the park and enjoy one of the many benches, overlooking the water whilst the ducks and local birdlife provide a constant stage of viewing pleasure.
Pack a picnic, with views like this, you won't want to leave ...
Pack a picnic and/or BBQ supplies and enjoy a delightful lunch at one of Russell Family Park's many undercover picnic spots. A fabulous day out! Facilities include toilets.
3. Girraween Criterium Circuit, Noosa Heads
Easy Grade 0.9km length circuit
Suitable for recreational cyclists, especially beginners
The Girraween Criterium Cycling Track is a 914 metre self-contained road circuit for criterium races and offers wheelchair users, kids on foot, bikes, scooters, skates and boards and prams too, the ideal safe recreational and training venue, free from vehicles. The track is ideal for social and training rides, catering for all level of skill and fitness.
The Girraween Circuit is open to the public! Images: Sunshine Coast Council FB
This nice little paved loop offers easy parking, great proximity to town and the stunning bush surrounds provide the perfect nature add-on! Facilities include drinking water, picnic table and toilets on site.
4. Imbil State Forest : Fig Tree Walk, Maleny-Kenilworth Rd, Kenilworth
Grade 1, 1.0km length circuit
The Fig Tree component of this walk is wheelchair accessible
Take a leisurely stroll through the lush riverine rainforest of the Imbil State Forest, its magnificent canopy filled with Moreton Bay fig trees, Piccabeen palms, flooded gums and white cedar trees.
Little Yabba Park lies just south of Kenilworth on the highway towards Cambroon. The Sunshine Coast Hinterland Poetry Trail has a superb 'Buttress Root' sculpture located in the park, which is worth stopping by for a read of the inspirational poetry inscribed on the surface, whilst listening to the creek trickling over the rocks and the birds singing in the trees.
Little Yabba Creek straddles both sides of Maleny-Kenilworth Road with an underpass connecting both sides so there's no need to cross the highway. Amenities and a picnic area are available, with access to Little Yabba Creek to be found along sections of the bank. A short walk across the bridge will take walkers to the wheelchair-accessible Fig Tree Walk. This is where nature lovers will discover an enviable variety of forest wildlife as well as an impressive number of fig trees, with mammoth buttress roots, securing them to the forest floor.
After completing the one kilometre Fig Tree Walk, head into Kenilworth and sample some of the local cheese and yoghurt at Kenilworth Country Foods, one of Queensland's last privately owned cheese factories. The decision by a young Danish man, Peter (Poppa) Hansen, nearly one hundred years ago to leave his homeland and seek his fortune in Australia, still means a lot to Kenilworth residents. The quirky little hinterland town of Kenilworth is worth taking a stroll around, as there are many gift shops and cafes to spend some leisurely time in. Facilities at Fig Tree Walk include toilets on site, but no drinking water.
5. Maroochy Wetlands Sanctuary Boardwalk, Sports Road, Bli Bli
Easy Grade 2.0km return sealed boardwalk
Suitable for wheelchairs, walkers and prams
The 2km boardwalk through the Maroochy Wetlands Sanctuary, makes it easy to explore the wet and dry eucalypt forests, rainforest, melaleuca forest, casuarina woodland, salt marsh and the mangroves.
A diversity of plant life piques one's interest at the Wetlands ...
Within this wetland, life thrives inland on the edge of the sea, which is alternately flooded by freshwater and salt tides. One of south-east Queensland's largest groups of Mangrove Ferns grows in these wetlands. The Maroochy Wetlands boast five different crab species, including the fiddler crab, with its very distinct large orange pincer claw. The best viewing times for the fiddler crab is at low tide.
The Maroochy Wetlands Sanctuary provides a haven to at least two hundred species of native birds and gloriously-coloured butterflies, as well as other fauna that calls the wetlands home.
Early morning is a great time to spot the spectacular native birds - Image: Maroochy Wetlands Sanctuary Support Group FB
The best time to visit the Maroochy Wetlands Sanctuary is usually early morning or at dusk for bird sightings, but it's advisable to slip-slap-slop with mozzie repellant. Personally, we have visited during summer and have found ourselves being blanketed with mosquitoes and much prefer visiting during the drier/cooler months of winter, when the mozzies are not so abundant.
Domestic animals, such as dogs, are NOT permitted in the gardens as once the resident koalas get a 'sniff' of the dogs, they tend to relocate to safer environs; locals would prefer the koalas to remain resident within the Botanic Garden. Facilities include toilets but no litter bins - please take your litter home with you.
The Sculpture Gardens are a favourite location for 'hide and seek' with painted rocks!