Not many southerners would call temperatures of 23C and azure blue skies “winter’.
But irrespective of how you define the seasons, winter months are perfect for outdoor adventure on the Sunshine Coast.
Trekkers who love walking in nature – but sleeping in comfort – will love a new package offered by Narrows Escape Rainforest Retreat in Montville.
While the focus is on trekking the Hinterland Great Walk, it is organised around easily managed guided day walks. Lunch and snacks are provided and the “world’s most romantic hotel” waiting and ready for your return.
Two of the best walks are through rich sub-tropical rainforest to Kondalilla Falls and in the Conondale National Park. Here, the walk has the added attraction of the extraordinary Andy Goldsworthy Strangler Cairn sculpture in the middle of the forest.
Designed to reflect how fig trees can effectively “strangle” their host, the artwork is part of a trek that includes a former gold mine. It ends with very enticing cascades and swimming hole.
The Glass House Mountains is home to 11 ancient volcanic peaks that all deserve to be explored but if you only have time for one, try Mt Ngungun.
The 2.8-kilometre return hike will take about two hours. With so many jaw-dropping sights on your way to the 253-metre summit, don’t be surprised if that timeframe blows out. Yyou’ll have breathtaking views of backlit Mt Coonowrin and Mt Beerwah in the distance if you reach the top around sunset.
Closer to the coast, Mt Coolum – a 26-million-year-old volcanic peak – takes less an hour to ascend. Your efforts will be be rewarded with a panorama that stretches from Noosa National Park down to the Caloundra skyline and west towards the lush countryside beyond the Maroochy River. An added incentive over winter will be to spot migrating whales.
On your bike
The Sunshine Coast’s climate and natural assets helped win the region hosting rights for the cycling – road and mountain-bike – events at the 2032 Olympic Games. But you don’t have to be an Olympian to enjoy a two-wheel adventure.
A self-guided cycle along the Lake Doonella Bushland Reserve, Caloundra Coastal Pathway and the Surf Beaches Trail to Noosa Junction are ideal for road cyclists of all talents.
For mountain bikers, the proposed Olympic venue – Parklands in the hinterland – is the best place to test your skills. It features more than 30 kilometres of twisty tracks that take you through dense forest areas, interspersed with numerous stream crossings, rocky climbs, steep switchbacks and flowing cross-tracks. You’ll deserve a gold medal for completing the taxing course.
Kayak Mary Valley’s serene waterways
The Mary Valley is one of the most picturesque areas of the Sunshine Coast. Ride on Mary offers both kayak and cycle adventures through the verdant valleys, with expert guide Ian Harling bringing his three decades of experience to the fore.
A stunning time to be out kayaking is dawn on Yabba Creek, as the sun slowly burns off the mist revealing the surrounding valley and mountains. If this serene first-light experience isn’t reason enough, Ian offers the prospect of viewing normally reclusive platypus.
Fast, but not furious
One of the most attractive ways of discovering the Pumicestone Passage that runs between the Sunshine Coast and Bribie Island is by jet ski.
Caloundra Jet Ski offers guided safaris through the smooth waters, with fascinating commentary about the dramatic landscape and history of the area.
You receive expert instruction from the guides as you power through mangrove lined marine channels. You’ll visit deserted beaches and even a historic strawberry farm, while watching out for dolphins, dugongs and turtles.
Soothe your muscles
After all that adventuring, it’s probably about time you soothed those adventure-seeking muscles.
Fortunately, the Sunshine Coast is full of indulgent day spas that are all about dialling up the zen.
The Spa Anise Day Spa at Spicers Tamarind Retreat in Maleny is set within the lush rainforest and offers a truly tranquil experience. There are couples’ massages, hydrotherapy treatments and incredible hot-stone massages on the menu.
For soothing reflexology and a cleansing facial, head down the road to Lillypilly’s Day Spa and, for a deep-tissue massage, check out Coolum Thai Massage.
Fuel to burn
With so many action-packed activities, fuel your body with some of the freshest produce on the Sunshine Coast. Greenhouse Cafe in Caloundra offers dishes featuring organic, locally sourced ingredients.
Poke bowl lovers will find their nirvana at Raw + Rice’s three locations along the Coast. Their bowls of goodness, featuring the freshest of fish, vegetables and rice, are the ideal post-exercise meal.
Take me there
Australia’s most romantic hotel: Yes, that’s official, according to TripAdvisor reviewers. Surround yourself in luscious rainforest and luxury at Narrows Escape Rainforest Retreat. Visit: narrowsescape.com.au
Stay in a church or train: Glass House Mountains Eco Lodge offers everything from railway carriages to converted churches for a unique stay. Visit: glasshouseecolodge.com
Explore more: visitsunshinecoast.com