Five of the best towns to visit in south-east Queensland

One of the most rewarding aspects of travelling are the towns you encounter along the way, and south-east Queensland has some of the best.


The Sunshine Coast hinterland is renowned for its verdant ranges and pastoral vibes, and right in the middle of it is Maleny. Paradoxically quaint and hip, Maleny is flush with authentic cafés, restaurants and other boutique businesses (including nearby wineries and cheese factories) to entice a stroll down the main street, while outside of its limits is a cavalcade of top-shelf wilderness areas.

Closest is Lake Baroon, which is well-appointed with facilities for a sunny day on the lake, while fanning out to the north is a handful of pristine National Parks. Kondalilla National Park features waterfalls and walking trails, while Conondale National Park has undulating 4WD tracks and plenty of creek-side campsites to occupy adventurous types – not to mention other options in the more diminutive Maleny and Mapleton National Parks.


Situated in the heart of the Granite Belt with an almost temperate climate, Stanthorpe is one of south-east Queensland’s most distinctive towns. Renowned for its food and wine culture – local wineries are in every direction – Stanthorpe has a bed-and-breakfast vibe that seems to permeate the entire town.

Outside of Stanthorpe’s borders are multiple wilderness areas to discover, most notably Girraween and Bald Rock National Parks. Both parks showcase the region’s distinctive granite boulders and monoliths, and feature walking trails, camping areas and unsealed roads to experience them by.

Mount Tamborine

Known simply as ‘The Mountain’ to most locals, Mount Tamborine is an isolated and tight-knit locality that manages to retain its enduring charm despite the fanfare it receives. The drive to and from the plateau is a favourite among tourers and motorbike riders, and what awaits travellers at its zenith is particularly memorable.

Over 60 art, craft, gift and other kinds of shops line Gallery Walk, offering enough unique wares and cuisine to occupy visitors for hours on end. On the route to Mount Tamborine are plenty of noteworthy attractions to enjoy as well, including Thunderbird Park for families and Tamborine National Park for lovers of rainforest, walking trails and waterfalls.


Brought to prominence by a folk festival and sustained by its unassuming quaintness, Woodford is a tourer’s dream. The town’s open main street and bygone-era architecture creates a relaxed atmosphere, which is enhanced by its many one-of-a-kind eateries and specialty shops.

To adventurous types, Woodford is also the launching pad for a number of high-quality, off-road trips around the Sunshine Coast Hinterland. To the south-west is D’Aguilar National Park and its winding dirt tracks, to the east are the Glass House Mountains, while to the north is the deep rainforest of Bellthorpe and Conondale National Parks.


A beachside haven with a bustling centre, Noosa’s popularity is justified by the wealth of attractions on its doorstep. Aside from its stunning coastline, thriving café culture and numerous accommodation options, Noosa is also close to some of Queensland’s best beach driving. Head north through Tewantin to reach Great Sandy National Park and the Cooloola Coast, a stretch of secluded coastline that’s available for four-wheel drivers and long-distance hikers to explore.

Content courtesy of Hema Maps. Hema Maps has been crafting folded maps, guides and digital navigation products for exploring Australia off the beaten track for over 30 years. Visit the Hema Maps website to find out where your next adventure could take you.