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Exploring the Mary Valley, Queensland

Every time we get a day off together, the boy and I make it a priority to explore somewhere new. Previously we’ve visited many of the national parks and towns of the Sunshine Coast hinterland, and are great fans of this beautiful area on our back doorstep. However, we haven’t really explored the hinterland north of us here at Noosa much, so this time we set about exploring the Mary Valley.

Despite it approaching winter here in Queensland, the day of our trip heralded some great weather and one of those brilliant blue-sky Australian days. This meant we could fully take advantage of the stunning scenery and outdoors adventure the Mary Valley region provides. We hastily packed up our trusty Land Rover and set off.

Named after Mary River that flows through this gorgeous countryside, the first thing you notice in the area is the plethora of signs that all carry the same message. “Save the Mary!” These placards tell of a rural community that banded together to stop their beloved river being dammed under government proposals some years ago. There’s even a museum, in the township of Kandanga, dedicated to the cause!

Safe from any further threats now, the Mary Valley region is once again dominated by farming – particularly cattle and dairy – and tourism. Due to the high rainfall this area sees, the soil is wonderfully fertile and historical farms dot the landscape. There are also plenty of lovely rolling green hills around, many of which provide great horse riding or mountain biking opportunities. River activities such as fishing and kayaking also bring tourists to the area, as do the fabulous national parks, as well as hiking and camping possibilities.

Our love of Australian National Parks & Forests is well known so we as part of exploring the Mary Valley, we decided to make our way to Amamoor State Forest. Only an hour or so away from Noosa, we followed the Mary Valley Tourist Drive (route 42) after turning off the Bruce Highway near Imbil. This area provided us with some great country driving full of picturesque farms and views. I’ve said it before, but every time I leave the coast in Australia, it really does amaze me how quickly things become very rural and sparsely populated.

This was certainly true of the quant town of Imbil we visited. It was a Saturday when we arrived there and everyone in the whole town seemed to have turned out onto street to have a chat and a coffee. The town is famous for its Sunday markets and, evidently, its great annual tomato festival too!

We then headed through the townships of Kandanga and Amamoor, where we stopped to stock up on last minute supplies before heading out the nearby State Forest. In small country towns, like Amamoor, you often find just one store that also acts as post office, gas station and general store. We loved the one we found in Amamoor – going inside was like stepping back in time!

It was then only a few km until we hit Amamoor State Forest. Famous for the Gympie Muster, one of Australia’s largest outdoor festivals, this large country music celebration is held in the park every August.

Amamoor State Forest has 2 campsites: Cedar Grove and Amamoor Creek. Amamoor Creek is further into park and is the location of the Gympie Muster in August. The rest of the time, however, the place is very quiet and peaceful! Cedar Grove is closer to the main park entrance and has a swimming hole. Both campsites have fire pits. Camping at both sites can be booked online through Queensland National Parks.

Because Cedar Grove had swimming facilities it seemed most people with kids went there and the place was pretty busy. As such, we chose to set up camp at Amamoor Creek and found a good shady spot to enjoy a spot of lunch!

While there isn’t any serious hiking to be had in Amamoor SF itself, there are some nice trails that are a couple km long. As neither of us were feeling particularly active, it was a great way to walk off lunch and enjoy some of the glorious weather. We found a trail walk not far from Amamoor Creek (follow the road out of the campsite and at the fork take a left), but there is a trail going along the river at the Cedar Grove campsite too.

The scenery here was classic Queensland bush with a mix of tropical rainforest and pine forest. It was very peaceful and quiet and we enjoyed walking in the forest, listening to the birdsong.

Sadly, with only a day up our sleeves, that was all we had time for, but there is plenty of other stuff to do whilst exploring the Mary Valley including horse riding, kayaking, fishing and mountain biking. For us, however it was just back to the camp to start a fire, cook dinner and then enjoy the stars before bedding down in our converted Land Rover.

We’d definitely recommend exploring the Mary Valley area for some quiet country time. Particularly if you are on the Fraser Coast or Sunshine Coast of Queensland, its an easy drive and will give you a nice impression of life in the rolling hills of the hinterland.



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My name is Stephanie Parker and I'm a travel addict! With a background in the arts, I've always enjoyed writing, creating and sharing. This, combined with my love of wandering the globe and a deep-rooted nomadic spirit, led to the creation of Big World Small Pockets. Originally from Jersey, Channel Islands, I'm now based in Australia and backpack the world upside down collecting tips, advice and stories, to share with a smile.

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