What do you think of when you think of visiting Noosa? If your plans don’t extend past the beach and riverside areas you are misssing out on the rich diversity of the beautiful hinterland and the villages located there. We share our favourite spots to visit, within 20-60 minutes drive away. Think charming villages, great eating and shopping opportunies, galleries, breweries, markets, a cooking school, distilleries, a meadery, and live music. And loads of fresh air activities like walking, horse riding, running, canoeing and hosted cruises. Add lovely accommodation and less crowds and you may even eschew the usual tourist spots for these locales. I focus mostly on the eating, drinking and shopping opportunities. For more on the outdoor life this post will tell you more.
There are of course other villages to consider in the broader Sunshine Coast and Mary River/Gympie regions, but for now I’m going to focus on those close to home. I have listed them alphabetically as they each have their own charm and it would be impossible to pick a favourite. All but Eumundi and Yandina are in the Noosa Local Government area. I have added Eumundi and Yandina as they are close to Noosa and are popular destinations.
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Boreen Point is situated on the lovely Lake Cootharaba, Queensland’s biggest natural salt water lake, and offers a low key vibe and natural beauty. The village is the gateway to the Noosa Everglades. A 20-30 minute drive, Boreen Point is an easy drive on well made safe roads. Take your time to soak up the natural beauty of Boreen Point, perhaps enjoying a walk and a picnic by the shores of the Lake. Watch for kangaroos and birdlife as you take a stroll. Or cast a line or launch your kayak or enjoy a swim. Or if social pursuits are more your thing do visit the historic Apollonian Hotel for a drink and perhaps a meal. You might also find some live music is happening when you visit.
Just out of Boreen Point itself are the Noosa Everglades. Whilst there is dissension as to whether these are ‘real’ everglades, there can be no doubt that they are very beautiful. We visited as a family group of 3 generations and enjoyed our cruise even though it was raining at the time. It is also possible to hire a canoe and drift through the environment. The entry point to the Everglades is at Habitat Noosa on Lake Flat Road. Habitat will not only organise your time enjoying the Everglades, this site also offers camping and glamping and has a brewery, a bistro featuring locally sourced produce, and an ice creamery. We highly recommend you take some time to visit this lovely spot.
Cooran is the little village that punches well above its weight. Just over 20 minutes drive from Noosa, Cooran is fulll of unexpected delights. Take it slowly on the road as it is narrow and does have one single lane bridge, but the journey will be worth it.
As you enter the main street the first business you will see is the Lazy Fox Cafe, a great spot for coffee, cake and local preserves. Check the Facebook page for updated opening hours and for any special events. At the time of writing, Lazy Fox was offering Thai food for Sunday lunch with a visiting chef.
Right near the Lazy Fox is Studio Yarn, full of inspiration for knitters and crocheters. Here you will find not only beautiful yarns but also needles and notions, magazines and patterns. You might even like to join a class in this welcoming space.
Just a few steps further along King St is Hinterland Restaurant which has a strong focus on organic local produce, including pork from the chef’s own heritage breed pigs, and permaculture grown vegetables. Hinterland has a very local feel and the night we visited it was obvious many of the diners were well known to the staff. The menu ranges from pizzas to confit duck and pork belly. Dishes are accompanied by a credible wine list, plus cocktails and beers.
Continung on, you will find a heritage building which hosts the Hinterland Brewing Company where you may find live music to accompany your brew. Choose from at least 6 beers on tap with beers made at the brewery, and also featuring seasonal and collaborative beers. Light food such as Ploughman’s lunches are also available at the Brewery, so plan to make a day of it at this location.
Cooroy is an easy 20 minute drive from Noosa and has a lot to offer on arrival, being one of the more sophisticated and developed villages. Having said that don’t assume that Cooroy is lacking charm, it certainly is not.
Just as you arrive on the outskirts of Cooroy you will see a sign to the very lovely Noosa Botanical Gardens situated on the foreshore of Lake MacDonald. Take some time to wander along the pathways through the 8 hectares of gardens and sit in the amphitheatre soaking up the views over the Lake. Maybe even take a picnic or grab some takeaway from a local restaurant or cafe.
Dining opportunities in Cooroy are varied, and as you arrive in Cooroy from Noosa you will see the Copperhead Brewery and Restaurant on your right – well worth a visit. You can enjoy a beer and a snack at the bar, or sit down for lunch or dinner in the restaurant with a beer a wine or a cocktail. The menu caters to vegans and vegetarians as well as having a kids menu, making it a great place for a group to dine.
The main business area of Cooroy is over the railway line and offers a broad selection of shopping and eating opportunities. We love poking into Blue Brown Bag for great gift and homewares and for lovely women’s clothing pieces with a focus on linen. The staff are super friendly and helpful too and everything is beautifully merchandised to provide temptation. Do make time to wander along Maple Street dropping into the lovely shops and grabbing a coffee or some lunch in one of the cafes. And don’t miss what the side streets offer either.
Also in the centre of town is the Butter Factory Arts Centre with exhibitions, workshops and a lovely gift shop. The lawn area outside the Butter Factory has a performance space and we have greatly enjoyed attending NAIDOC week celebrations at this venue.
One of the fun places to visit is just outside of Cooroy on the Mary Valley Road; Bus Stop Espresso (see image at the top of this post). Not only will you enjoy delicious coffee and yummy cakes, you may well be able to pick up some local produce. This is a unique experience in a lovely setting, run by a great couple.
Also on the outskirts of Cooroy is the 20 20 Distillery (we like our breweries and distilleries in this part of the world). Set in a commercial precinct on Taylor Court, 20 20 has much to offer. Do plan to do the gin tasting (make sure you have a designated driver or join a tour). 2020 is definitely in growth mode and have added a gin seltzer to their product line as well as their White Dog Whisky. To complement your tasting enjoy a delicious tapas plate,and if gin and whisky are not your favourites you can enjoy a beer on tap. or a kombucha. Despite the location this is a very class act and one we highly recommend.
Stricly speaking Eumundi is not in the Noosa Local Government area, but the Eumundi Markets are such a popular destination it is impossible to leave out. An easy 25 minute drive, Eumundi has much to offfer, much more indeed than the famous markets. Alternatively it is easy to catch a bus out to Eumundi, with the 630 bus dropping you right at the market location and delivering you back to Noosaville, Noosa or Noosa Junction
Yes the markets are justifiably famous and a great place to shop for clothes, unique homewares and to grab something delicious to eat. But there is more to Eumundi than the markets. This pretty town also offers permanent stores such as Berkelouw Book Barn and Cafe and Eumundi Style, as well as a wide choice of eating places. The iconic Imperial Hotel is well known for hosting regular live music as well as offering good quality pub food.
Kin Kin is one of our favourite locations with much to offer. 25 minutes from Noosa, the drive to Kin Kin is best executed during daylight hours. The road is narrow and winds through the hills, again offering the challenge of single lane bridges. The local quarry trucks are also known to damage the road surface, so it is definitely a proceed with caution experience. But it is well worth it, so do plan a visit.
On the way to Kin Kin, keep an eye out on the left side of the road for Amrita Park Meadery at Pinbarren, about 5 minutes from the Cooran turnoff. Set in beautiful grounds the Meadery offers quite a unique tasting experience. Don’t dismiss mead because you think it is sweet, Amrita Park offers a variety of mead flavours with many having a tropical fruit influence but still with some dryness on the palate. Think flavours like Citrus and Chai Spiced Mead. You might also pick up some beeswax candles or beeswax furniture polish whilst visiting,
In Kin KIn itself you will find a quirky village with a lot to offer. On the right as you enter the village is the Country Life Hotel. At the time of writing the pub is undergoing substantial renovations to ensure it is protected from future floods. Once the renovations are completed you will not only be able to enjoy food, drinks and music here but also stay in a heritage renovated room. Check the website before planning to visit.
But fear not, you will be well fed and watered at the wonderful Black Ant Gourmet, where Jodie and her team serve food and great coffee 7 days a week for breakfast and lunch, and for dinner on Fridays. But the Black Ant is more than a destination for a meal; also functioning as the local general store and offering a wide variety of local produce to take away. Oh and house made ice creams, yes please. If you are lucky you will find the world’s best pineapple jam available too.
And just across the road from the Black Ant is another one of our favourites, the Kin Kin Depot. This cute space is crammed full of gifts, all of them tempting you, including local art. The owner is a delight to deal with, making the Depot a must visit.
And if you visit Kin Kin on the first Sunday of the month, you can enjoy a visit to the Kin Kin Market. This is a delightful step back in time (in a good way) with a variety of stalls offering everything from local produce to clothing and essential oils, and much more. Grab a coffee from the funky coffee van and an egg and bacon sandwich from the community fundraisers, and sit soaking up the relaxing vibe of this lovely village whilst live music plays close by.
Pomona is a 20 minute drive from Noosa, and offers yet another experience that can’t be missed. Sitting just under Mt Cooroora, Pomona is famous for the annual King of the Mountain run and Festival. But there is more to Pomona than a run up the mountain; with a great pub, a distillery (yes another one), and art galleries amongst other spots to check out.
Whether you are a local or not do take the opportunity to visit Noosa & District Landcare in Station St. Why you might ask? Because the store here has loads of unusual gifts to check out, includiting beautiful products by Kim at Burrawingee Basics using essential oils . Everythng from insect spray that works, to natural deodorant. You will also find lovely gift cares and other gift ideas well worth checking.
Pomona Distilling specialises in gin and vodka but also offers great food based as much as possible on local produce. You can choose platters to share or individual meals. Add affogatos based on local Clandestino coffee or a variety of cocktails for a great experience,
Also in Pomona are the much loved country markets, which are on every Saturday from 7 am to 11.30 am where you can find local produce, local crafts and listen to music as you look for a bargain.
And don’t forget the famous Majestic Theatre claimed to be the world’s longest silent film theatre. Silent films are featured at noon every Saturday but you may also find live entertainment with local or international performances.
Last but not least is Yandina. Again not part of the Noosa Shire, but such a popular destination that it cannot be ignored. Yandina is perhaps best known for the Spirit House Restaurant, but also has more to offer and is a favourite spot to visit
Do plan a visit to the Ginger Factory, a fun spot to take children but also a great place to pick up some delicious preserves and sweet goodies. Wander through the shops and cafe, grab some gelato as you wander and perhaps catch some live music.
Across the road from the Ginger Factory is the Nutworks and the Chocolate Factory, also worth a visit.
Do make sure you visit the Spirit House Restaurant and Cooking School for the best Thai Food in Australia. If possible book in for a cooking class but if time is not on your side you can also enjoy a drink at the Hong Sa Bar. The gardens at Spirit House will have you feeling as though you have landed in Asia such is the beauty. This is definitely a must do.
And for fun clothes and accessories do check out Stay Wild Collective, a tiny boutique delivering a huge amount of style.
Noosa Hinterland Accommodation
All of these locations are less than an hours drive from Noosa but you may wish to linger a little longer and stay in some local accommodation. Do reconsider driving after dark on the narrow roads with their abundance of native wildlife.
We recommend the following places to stay, make sure you book in advance.
Kin Kin offers two accommodation places well worth consideration: Kin Kin Cottage Retreat and Mayan Luxe Villas, both worth consideration. We recommend the Mayan Villas owned and operated by Jodie and her partner Brett of Kin Kin General Store.
Also receiving excellent reviews are Cooroy Country Cottages, offering 1, 2 and 3 private cottages with full kitchens. Perfect if you prefer to self cater, and also pet and children friendly