The Sunshine Coast hinterland is the region's soul. It's fascinatingly different to the nearby coastal towns and beaches, equally rich in natural beauty but with its own unique character. It's not somewhere to rush about and pack everything into a single day. The magic here is in the exquisite peace and quiet of its towns, national parks and country roads, an especially striking experience if you come from the city. Take your time and make it a truly refreshing holiday.
The Blackall Range drive is one of the most scenic in Australia, especially the views over the Glasshouse Mountains to the coast. Along this route you'll find Queensland's alternative lifestyle capital of Maleny. It's a relaxed, wonderfully creative town with yummy organic food, natural health and healing practitioners and many an eclectic art gallery. Not far from Maleny is the village of Montville with its quaint shopping precinct, multi-period architecture and panoramic views over the coastal plain.
Away from the range you'll find such delights as the Spirit House Restaurant in Yandina, source of many best-selling cookbooks and where original Thai food is served in a peaceful bamboo forest setting. Peaceful in a spiritual way is the Chenrezig Institute for Buddhist Studies at Eudlo where temple visitors are always welcome.
And don't forget the National Parks. Kondalilla Falls National Park near Montville is spectacular in the summer wet season with its waterfall tumbling 90 metres into a rainforest valley. Glasshouse Mountains National Park offers both hard and easy graded walks, many of which end with the reward of hinterland and coastal views in nearly every direction.