Somehow my travels landed me here in Australia for the past couple of months. I say somehow because if I’m being honest, in my life plan this was definitely a surprise. I never thought I’d travel to Australia as it was never particularly high on my bucket list. However, having an Australian partner and traveling together since October landed me here: The Sunshine Coast.
I’d like to note that I have nothing against Australia, in fact I’ve completely fallen in love with it. When I previously thought of my top places to travel there were just always other places that came to mind and intrigued me more. I am pleased to report that Australia has surpassed all of my expectations and I truly enjoyed it way more than I anticipated. I have ended up falling in love with this hot and beautiful country and I am feeling sad to be leaving in a weeks time.
As an avid hiker and outdoor enthusiast, a lot of my time here on the Sunshine Coast has been spent exploring all the different hikes there are to do. Let me tell you, the hiking here was much better than I expected. Mountain summits, scrambling, waterfalls, hidden pools, and beautiful walks on this coast. This area has so much to offer and its beauty is truly diverse and incredible.
In my two months here, we have done lots of exploring and have checked out lots of places all along the east coast of Australia from Sydney up to Noosa Heads. Since we have spent the majority of our time here on the Sunshine Coast, I have decided to share with you my top five favourite hikes in this area.
A few things to note about hiking on the Sunshine Coast:
–Its usually hot and sunny! Surprise surprise. Actually though, it rains a lot more than I thought. It’s like a tropical climate. Hot weather with a good, short, afternoon rainstorm. Check the forecast before you head out as a few of these hikes are NOT suitable to do if there is any rain.
–Bring lots of water. The heat is no joke here and the humidity is next level. Bring lots of water on your hike to keep yourself hydrated and cool. For almost all of these hikes I recommend at least two litres.
–Wear a hat. A few of these hikes do not offer much in the shade department. The heat really hits you hard so cover up that head. Having a hat saved me more than a few times while hiking here.
-Sunscreen sunscreen sunscreen. You’ve heard the rumours about that Australian sun being strong and I can tell you right now its a FACT. The sun is intense. It’s incredibly easy to get a burn. Wear at least SPF 50 and reapply at least once on your hike. I am not someone who is known to be great with her sun safety (hey, I’m trying to get better though), so trust me, I am not exaggerating about the sunscreen thing. Don’t ruin your day with a bad burn.
–Refresh your first aid skills. Specifically, snake bites. This may seem extreme (and probably is), but Australia has a lot of snakes. Some of them are the most poisonous in the world. As a Canadian, I didn’t know much about snake bite treatment. While the odds of getting bit by a snake are incredibly low, it can’t hurt to know what to do in case the worst case scenario happens to you.
–Give yourself time. The distances on these hikes might not seem long, but the heat slows you down. Well, at least it does for me. With water breaks, swim breaks, food breaks, and just your general pace on a 30 degree humid day, make sure you leave yourself more than enough time to complete these hikes.
So! Now that you are geared up and ready for your hike down under, check out one (or all five) of my top favourite hikes here on the Sunshine Coast (not listed in any particular order).
1. Mount Ngungun
Location: Glasshouse Mountains
This walking track takes you to beautiful 360 degree views at the top. This was my first hike here on the Sunny Coast and it did not disappoint. The Glasshouse Mountains are a gorgeous area and the views at the top of this hike give you an awesome perspective of the surrounding mountains.
This track is very straightforward. Follow it up from the parking through a series of switch backs. There are some rocky sections but nothing hard or complicated at all. The track takes you through gorgeous, lush forest area until you reach the top. Once you are on the rock at the top, its only a few minutes walk to the summit. As I said, the summit views are nothing short of awesome so its the perfect place to enjoy some snacks and soak in all the beauty.
2. Kondalilla Falls
This hike is a beautiful circuit through the rainforest that takes you down the escarpment then all the way back up, ending at the perfect swimming hole to cool off. The forest is completely magical, lush, and green. Your hike starts at the top of the waterfall, takes you all the way to the bottom, then back up.
Many people simply hike to the swimming spot, but I definitely recommend doing the entire circuit. Seeing the falls from the bottom and exploring through the forest is so beautiful. Putting in the effort makes it a much more rewarding swim at the end too. It is easiest to walk this trail in a counter clockwise direction.
3. Mount Tibrogargan
Location: Glasshouse Mountains
This is definitely a scramble, not just a hike. There are some tricky places if you are not comfortable scrambling steep, exposed, rock. However, if scrambling is your jam than this one is for you!
Follow the trail from the car park until you see it branch off for the summit track. It is obvious, you shouldn’t miss it. A steep walk after this sign you will hit the rock. Scramble straight up all the way to the summit. The scramble through the rock is straight forward to follow, but not for the faint of heart.
I have to add that this hike is completely in the sun once you leave the forest. There is not much shade on your way up, so I recommend it for a cooler day. We tried to do it on a 35 degree day and ended up turning around because we felt sick. The rock is also incredibly hot to touch on day like that. Save it for a cooler day, but make sure there is no rain! This is not the trail you want to get caught on in the rain as coming down would be next to impossible on that slippery rock.
4. Coastal Track
Location: Noosa National Park
This walking track absolutely took my breath away! The perfect mix of walking through the gorgeous trees, yet right on the coast for those amazing, blue water views. There are multiple, quiet beaches along the way as well to swim at and enjoy… need I say more?
This hike starts at the carpark for Noosa National Park. Follow signs for the coastal track (or just head along the coast and you’re probably on the right track). The track is mainly paved with a few sections of dirt trails along the cliff edges. It takes you through amazing trees, jagged headlands, and beautiful beaches if you branch off the trail. If you don’t want to do the whole track there and back, a great option is to hike until the Hell’s Gate Lookout and turn back there. This makes the hike roughly 5km instead. Keep an eye out for Koalas on this hike! There is a population of them in the area so your odds are better than other places.
5. Mount Beerwah
Location: Glasshouse Mountains
The tallest of the Glasshouse Mountains, this hike is similar to Mount Tibrogargan in the sense that it is not a hike, but a scramble. It is sustained, exposed scrambling in the hot sun. Again, do not do this if you are not comfortable climbing rock.
From the parking lot, follow the trail for roughly 10 minutes until you get to the rock wall. From there, the only direction is up! I personally thought the start of the scramble was the hardest and it got easier after that. Eventually you will come to an upper cliff area. Follow the trail to the right, and around the side of the mountain. From there, it’s a scramble to the top.
Side note, the flies were absolutely horrendous at the summit. I read about it before the hike, but after experiencing it myself they weren’t joking about how bad they are. Make a quick summit visit, grab a photo, then head back down a few minutes and stop to enjoy your snack and water away from the biting flies.
These five hikes listed above, and more, completely took my breath away while here in Australia. I didn’t know what to expect when I set out hiking here for the first time, but the mix of mountain summits, scrambling, waterfalls, rainforests, beaches, and rugged coastlines made the hiking an experience I will never forget. Whatever you’re in the mood for, this place has it. There are many other hikes we did that I loved, however, these are just my personal favourites. No matter what level of hiker you are, or what views you like to see, I guarantee there is something for you. Australia surprised me in the most beautiful way. Known for its beautiful beaches and oceans, I now hold it in my mind as an incredible playground for all kinds of outdoor activities. Get out for a hike, go for a climb, trek through the forest, then finish the day hitting the beach and cooling down in that amazing salt water. Enjoy mates!