Australia has more than 20,000 km of coastline but there is just 200km of that vast coastline on escarpments that combine panoramic views of mountains and the sea. 20kms of that special escarpment is in the Blackall Range, in the hinterland of Queensland s Sunshine Coast.
This is a most spectacular scenic drive and a 'must do' day-trip if you are holidaying on the Sunshine Coast. The twisting and often awe-inspiring road is full of surprises, not the least are the views to the coast and the Glasshouse Mountains. No matter what your interest - art galleries, food, wine, coffe, shopping, rainforest walks, waterfalls, views - you'll find it all here. The Blackall Range Tourist Drive starts from the historical township of Landsborough and ends in the foothills near Nambour. The Blackall Range is just over an hour's drive north of Brisbane.
The Range, as it is locally known, was created by 200 million years of constant interaction by volcanoes and water which left behind a mass of hills, valleys and waterfalls. In summer the rainy season fills the rivers and creeks making strong powerful waterfalls. A trip through the Blackall Range along the most scenic drive on the Sunshine Coast is a great day out. As the Blackall Range is just over an hour's drive from Brisbane, it's just as easy a destination to reach if you are based in Brisbane as on the Sunshne Coast.
Length: 110 km (from Caloundra)
Features/attractions: The villages of Maleny, Montville, Flaxton and Mapleton; natural attractions of the Blackall Range. The best known falls are Kondalilla and Mapleton, both of which are in their own national parks.
Minimum duration: 2 1/2 hours
Travelling North up the Bruce Highway, follow 'Sunshine Coast' signs. Take the 'Glasshouse Mountains Tourist Drive' exit ('Steve Irwin Way'). Travelling from Caloundra on the Sunshine Coast, take the Landsborough-Maleny Road to Maleny. Mary Cairncross Reserve is a 52 hectare remnant of the natural rainforest which once covered Blackall Range. It has a spectacular view of the mountains, plus a short 1.7km walk through ancient subtropical rainforest.
Follow the signs to Kenilworth via Maleny-Kenilworth Road (31km). The town hosts the Kenilworth Scarecrow and Limerick Festival held every year in September or October.
Mapleton Falls Lookout
Take the Obi Obi Road to Mapleton (22km). Mapleton is the second highest town on the Blackall Ranges. Throughout this beautiful district, art and craft galleries abound, along with potteries, antique shops and museums. The village flanks Mapleton National Park which is renowned for its rainforest picnic glades. The waterfall viewing platform in Mapleton Falls National Park gives an unbelievable view into the Mary River Valley plus a straight 120m drop down to the Pencil Creek waterfall. Mapleton Forest Reserve protects rainforest remnants with bunya pines, piccabeen palm groves, tall open blackbutt forests and picturesque mountain scenery. See the forest along the Mapleton Forest Drive starting from just down Delicia Road.
Continue on Flaxton Drive to Flaxton (5km), a tiny village where you will find lovely arts and crafts and excellent devonshire teas and lunches. Surrounding the many avocado orchards is a town of restaurants, guesthouses, art and craft galleries and private dwellings. Montville (3km), known as the creative heart of the Sunshine Coast, is home to a range of quality art galleries that exhibit, and sometimes produce, works of great interest to all art lovers.
Shoppers also love the many craft shops, fashion boutiques and gift shops that exhibit a staggering range of affordable, locally made items. It has been developed on the lines of an European mountain village complete with Swiss and Bavarian chalets, mills and Tudor cottages. Kondalilla National Park incorporates 327 hectares of lush subtropical rainforest (Kondalilla Falls, 90 metres high).
From Montville you have two options;
1. continue on Flaxton Drive, turning left towards Palmwoods on the Palmwoods-Momntville Road. follow Woombye-Palmwoods Road and Nambour Connection Road to Nambour (19km).
2. Return to Flaxton, turn right after the township into Dulong Road to Nambour (17km). This route takes you past Dulong Lookout, with view over Bli Bli Valley towards Nambour.
From Nambour, return via Bruce Highway to Caloundra (30km).
View of the Glasshouse Mountains from Mary Cairncross reserve, Maleny