When it comes to natural wonders and wide-open spaces, there’s plenty worth seeking out in Australia. With over 500 national parks, the problem isn’t finding them – it’s choosing just one or two to visit. Here’s where we think you should head once you’ve picked up your rental car at the nearest Enterprise Rent-A-Car branch.
Once you’ve driven into Noosa and parked at your accommodation, one of the best ways to experience the Outstanding natural beauty that surrounds you is by leaving the car behind and exploring on foot instead. Leave your troubles and stress behind as you discover paradise on a series of walks. Select from long and short, and easy and difficult trails. Here are five of the most scenic.
Beginning and ending at Noosa Main Beach, this leisurely stroll provides 10.8 easy kilometres of idyllic coastline. Alternatively, for a shorter walk, make your way as far as Sunshine Beach and take a bus back. Allow plenty of time as there are a number of stunning photo opportunities along the way. From the main beach, head north towards Tea Tree Bay, then follow the trail to Hell’s Gates, before venturing all the way along Sunshine Beach. As you walk, you will be treated to unrivalled views of hidden golden sandy beaches, sheer cliffs, and the turquoise ocean. Look out to sea to spot dolphins, turtles, and humpback whales between June and November. Look up into the trees if you want to catch a glimpse of a koala or two.
For a scenic hike leading to a magnificent lookout, drive to Tewantin National Park, where you can embark on a walk up the incredible Mt Tinbeerwah. The car park is close to the summit, making the hike just 1kM. The first part is suitable for prams and wheelchairs, allowing all visitors to delight in the gorgeous coastal views at the first lookout. Beyond the first lookout, the track leads up to the fire tower lookout, nestled 265m above sea level. The walk is just 300 metres from the first lookout, and provides spectacular 360-degree views across Noosa, the ocean, and the glasshouse mountains. You may spot abseilers and rock climbers, as this is permitted for those who are suitable experienced and equipped. Make use of the picnic tables and enjoy lunch with a glorious view.
If you’re craving more breathtaking mountain views, add Mount Coolum to your itinerary. Mount Coolum is a 25 million year old volcanic dome, presiding over the Sunshine Coast landscape. The car park is located 3.5KM south of Coolum Beach, and signs will lead you from here to the walking trail, through native bushland and forest. The return hike should take approximately 1.5 hours in total, and requires a moderate level of physical fitness, as the steep track traverses the rock face. Along the way, be sure to appreciate the endangered flora and fauna species, and look out for echidnas, bandicoots, flying foxes, and a variety of tropical birds gliding overhead. The summit is 208 metres above sea level, providing astounding 360-degree views over the coastline, the Pacific Ocean, and the rolling hills of the hinterland.
Noosa National Park is an area of magnificent natural beauty, located 15 minutes from Hastings Street, and home to several tempting easy to moderate walking trails, varying in distance. Select walks based on abilities and fitness levels of your group using the walking grades provided on signs. Choose trails that meander along the pristine coastline, through the sub-tropical rainforest, or through open forest and heath. Opt for the Emu Mountain Summit Walk if you want panoramic views of the whole area. Admire the range of exotic flora, including dune plants such as dune bean and pigface, and plenty of pretty wildflowers in winter and spring. You may spot koalas in the trees, and a range of marine life when you look out to sea. Take a picnic to enjoy in one of several picnic areas in lovely open woodland.
For a leisurely, relaxing stroll, look no further than the Noosa River Walk, which is just 2KM each way. Head to the river mouth to begin, then follow the paved footpaths which offer sensational views and glimpses of local wildlife. The trail will lead you to Gympie Terrace, which offers a plethora of fun activities for all the family, if you wish to stop for sailboats, stand up paddleboards, or other water-based options. Continue onwards to the esplanade and Tewantin Marina, where you will find mouth-watering restaurants, should you wish to re-fuel before walking back. Alternatively, use the free BBQs on the trail. The sun setting over the river provides exquisite views and a perfect Instagram opportunity, as the rainbow lorikeets flock past you to their nesting spots for the night.