The Sunshine Coast Hinterland, extending from the Glass House Mountains just northwest of Brisbane to Eumundi and Yandina, west of the northern Sunshine Coast town of Noosa, is ideal terrain for day-trippers. Tracts of subtropical rain forest and mountainous areas linked by scenic drives and walking trails are interspersed with charming hillside villages, their main streets lined with cafés, galleries, gift shops, and guesthouses. Here you'll also find thriving markets; renowned restaurants and cooking schools; ginger, nut, and pineapple farms; theme and wildlife parks; and luxury B&Bs.
The Hinterland's southerly extent is the nine distinctive conical outcrops of the Glass House Mountains—the eroded remnants of ancient volcanoes—rising dramatically from a flattish landscape 45 km (27 miles) northwest of Brisbane. Get a great view of the mountains from Glass House Mountains Lookout, also the starting point for a scenic, 25-minute walk. Several longer trails begin from nearby vantage points, such as Mt. Beerburrum and Wild Horse Mountain Lookout. Nearby, you'll find Aussie World amusement park, and the late Steve Irwin's famous Australia Zoo.
Meander north through the mountains to reach the arty village of Maleny, quaint, European-style Montville, and food-friendly Mapleton. Nearby lies tranquil Baroon Lake and easy walking trails in Kondalilla National Park and Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve.
Continue north to Yandina, where you'll find much-lauded restaurant Spirit House and the Ginger Factory, and Eumundi, known for its thriving twice-weekly markets. Hinterland hub Nambour, east of Mapleton, has shops, banks, and local attractions.