Revitalise your body and soul with a physical and mental challenge that inspires peace through nature.
The Retreat Beach Houses are the perfect base for discovering nature through the Noosa and Sunshine Coast region.
For absolute wellbeing try this 4-day hiking challenge which is a collection of waterfalls, mountains, rivers and beach walks. Each challenge is a separate day trip idea, easily accessed from The Retreat Beach Houses.
Baxter Falls Challenge
There are many variations to experience this off-the-grid enchanting waterfall and I will give you a few options that I have done. Your available time and level of fitness will need to be considered when choosing. Most important is to ensure that you have good shoes that do not cause hot spots and blisters (I discovered that I need hiking shoes or boots that are at least a size larger than what I would normally wear). Equally important is plenty of water. These hikes can be done with a friend or with the whole family.
Just Baxter Falls parking and returning via the same track – half day
allow 4-5 hours (includes 1.5 hour return trip drive, 8km hike and time for a picnic by the falls).
It is possible to do this if you have less than half a day, however it is nice to pack a picnic lunch before leaving The Retreat Beach Houses. The Peregian Bakery has some great pre-made rolls, wraps and other treats if you don’t wish to make your own. The other absolutely delicious item to pack is an almond croissant from the French Patisserie in Peregian, although they are not baked everyday – so you might have to add that on one of your other hikes. The Peregian Beach IGA has a great variety of fresh local fruit to add to your picnic. It is also wise to have a small first aide kit in your backpack.
Drive west to Flaxton Mill road (on the northern side of Flaxton). There are a few ways to get there, you can drive through Yandina, via Yandina Coolum road, through Bli Bli along David Low Way, or through Woombye up the Blackall Range road. It’s about 45 minutes which ever way you go – it’s always good to come back a different way and see more of our local region. Just check on your mobile maps for directions. Park on the right side of the road about 1.7km from the turnoff, you will see signs for the great walk.
The hike into Baxter creek is about 3.5km, it is a moderate walk for reasonably fit through open eucalypt forests and rocky outcrops. The descent is steep, there is a suspension bridge across Baxter creek. We usually sit on the rocks in the creek under the falls and enjoy a picnic there, depending on the volume of water flowing at the time. Relax and breath in the fresh mist and slightly eucalypt scented air…..allow the feelings of absolute wellness to fill your body and soul.
Return the way you came.
Baxter falls to Mapleton Falls,
this is a lovely addition if you have a driver who’s not walking and can meet you at Mapleton Falls carpark, or if you have 2 cars or motorbikes and leave one at the Mapleton carpark prior to hiking.
Just continue across the suspension bridge and ascend through a palm filled grove about 3.5 km to the Mapleton falls viewing platform.
Lake Baroon to Mapleton Falls via Kondallila Falls and Baxter Falls – full day
(includes 1.5 hour return trip drive, 23km hike and time for a picnic by the falls).
This is a full day hike and will require either 2 cars (one to be left at Mapleton Falls) or a driver who’s not hiking. We split up at Kondallila to do this and Dan returned to the car and then met us later at Mapleton, for a well-earned drink at the pub.
Plan to leave early and start the hike before 7am from Lake Baroon Picnic area. This hike is about 23km and has some hard, steep sections. You will need to pack extra snacks, water and perhaps hydrolytes. The first part of this walk winds through lush rainforest with giant strangler figs, crosses bridges over palm and vine forested streams. Make sure you detour to the lookout points sign-posted for spectacular views of the gorge, Lake Baroon and Obi Obi creek where boardwalks protect the rare frog habitats. Take a swim and enjoy your packed picnic by Kondalilla Falls. Kondalilla Falls is much busier than Baxter falls, so don’t forget to respect social distancing while enjoying this beautiful place in nature.
The climb out of the falls is tough! There are toilets and a rest area at the carpark. Follow the signs and walk along Montville Mapleton Road through Flaxton and out Flaxton Mill road, where you will join the track I mentioned above to Baxter falls.
Peregian Beach to Hastings St via Noosa National Park Challenge – half day,
allow 7 hours return (includes lunch in Hastings St and 15-minute bus ride return)
This is best done early in the day, preferably at dawn, so that you can experience the sunset while walking along the beach.
Pack snacks and plenty of water including a picnic for morning tea. Baked poetry café in Peregian has some very good cakes you could purchase the day before this hike. Don’t forget sun protection as beach walking is very exposed, you will need sunscreen and a hat.
No need to start the car – walk out through the sand dunes from The Retreat Beach Houses and head north. Breath in the clean, salt filled air and relax as the sun rises (the best sun-rises are when there are a few strips of cloud, these change colour and are truly mesmerising). Set a steady pace and continue through to the National park at Noosa Heads, keeping an eye out for dolphins, whales, turtles, sea eagles, sand crabs and wallabies in the dunes.
The entry into the park is via a steep stair case – this is sometimes used for excising by fit locals – so don’t despair if they run past you! Pause on the way up to look behind and see where you’ve walked. There are a few beautifully grassed spots up the top at Devils kitchen where a peaceful picnic soothes the soul and replenishes the body, however you do have leave the track to find them. Adventurous hikers also descend the rocks at low tide to discover an incredible cave opening onto the sand.
Continue along the coastal track through shrublands and wildflowers to Alexandria Bay, where you will see local surfers catching the breaks off the rocks on the northern side of the bay. At the end of the bay, you will have another set of stairs to climb up towards Hells gate which is a great spot to rest and take in the spectacular views. If you look down it is likely you’ll see turtles bobbing in the waves. During May – October humpback whales pass, although you will probably have seen them along the beach.
This part of the track is typically busy with visitors and locals. You can continue along the coastal track through Granite bay to Dolphins point, aptly named and Tea Tree bay to Boiling pot or veer off through the woodlands along the Tanglewood track. Don’t forget to look up along either of these walks, as there are koalas in the eucalypts. Tea tree bay is a beautiful spot to swim and cool off.
Continue along the boardwalk into Hastings Street and enjoy a well-deserved lunch at any one of the unique restaurants’ or cafes. Catch the 620 bus back to The Retreat Beach Houses and relax tired muscles with a deep bath and diffused essential oils.
King of the Mountain
allow 3 hours (includes 1.5 hour return drive).
This hike is hard, but short and can be done in less than half a day. Pack water and snacks to enjoy at the summit.
Drive west through Pomona to Mt Cooroora day use area. The hike is well worn and takes you through dryland forest and up over rocky outcrops. There is a chain in some sections and a scramble is required in parts. Stop and look around on the way up. Every year this mountain becomes a race track and competitors of all ages run up and down in record time. This is hard to imagine unless you are quiet fit and have robust ankles! Walk to the end once on top to view the west. Relax and unwind!
Descend down on the same path. There is a new brewery in Pomona and the café makes great coffee – so enjoy some hospitality in this country town.
Noosa Everglades Challenge – full day
allow 11 hours return (includes 3 hours return 4WD into Cooloola National Park).
This is a combination 4WD, kayak and hike and is my favourite to truly experience a sense of peace, health and wellbeing in just one day!
You will need a 4WD with a kayak loaded on top. As this is a very full day trip, I recommend also packing a thermos to have a cuppa along the way. Pack plenty of snacks, water and again a picnic lunch. You will need to leave in the dark, we normally go at about 4 in the morning, which gets us to Harry’s hut where we launch the kayak before the mist lifts off the river. This is a surreal experience and a little daunting the first time, but worth getting up early for! Drive to Harrys Hut via Boreen Point, this takes about an hour and a quarter.
Park at Harrys hut day use area and launch the kayak. Head north through the Everglades along the upper Noosa River. When the water is still, as it usually is in the mornings, you will experience a sense of paddling in the sky as the reflections are so realistic. Everywhere you look, you’ll want to take a picture!
Kayak 7.7 kms north watching for all sorts of birdlife and take in the sounds of their birdsongs. Watch closely for Campsite 3 on the right side of the river, pull your kayak up there, this is a good spot for a cuppa and a snack.
Hike along the track about 6km (12km return trip) which is sign posted to Cooloola Sandpatch. The walk is gradual and pleasant through shrub and woodlands, with plenty of wildflowers. At the top of the track you will be awed by the expanse of the sandblow as you walk out through it, some of the holes are worthy of sliding down if you brought a good strip of cardboard with you, just don’t forget you also have to climb out. Watch for dingos here, you will see plenty of their tracks. Relax and stretch out for a picnic lunch in the shade before commencing your return journey. Take the time to truly feel the benefits of the outdoors and the healing power of nature calm your soul.
Return the way you came and consider calling in at the Cootharabar local brewery for a tasting palette and some hot chips!