The idea is simple: a picnic in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland.
There is, however, a twist: we need to gather the components of our picnic from a number of different providores.
But wait, there’s more: to find out where we need to gather the components of our picnic from – and, indeed, where we’ll be eating our picnic – we must first solve the clues. These are emailed through the night before. Rather than solving them in advance, we decide to stick to the spirit of the day and solve each clue as we go.
We’re told to be at our first stop by 11 am, but other than that, the day is ours…
Stop No. 1 – Maleny Chocolate Company
Our first stop was Maleny, my favourite of the hinterland villages.
This cute spot is full of bookshops, galleries, and fabulous cafes – and is a must-visit if you’re on the Sunshine Coast. We, however, had solved the first clue and were there to pick up a bag of chocolate bark from Maleny Chocolate Company.
Using the best Belgian chocolate couverture, cream from (pretty much over the fence) Maleny Dairies, honeycomb made from scratch and macadamias, citrus and coffee beans grown organically on-site, it’s difficult to imagine a more local chocolate.
Outside, we munch on a couple of dark chocolate frogs while we solve the clue to our next pick-up – a platter from Maleny Food Company, just a few doors down the road.
Stop No.2 – Maleny Food Co.
We’ve been coming here to fill our picnic basket for as long as we’ve been coming to the hinterland for picnics – and that’s more than twenty years. The fromagerie here is a very good one, and the store carries a good range of cured meats and condiments.
The cafe is, however, busy so we don’t linger, but pick up our platter and head back outside to solve the next clue.
Stop No. 3 – Maleny Cheese
Our next clue takes us on the road towards Montville and to Maleny Cheese. Here the cheese is made from milk supplied by just five local dairies and we haven’t been here for years.
We pick up a brie and a couple of cold drinks – which are also locally made. The Buderim Ginger Beer comes from Yandina and the Wimmers sarsparilla from Cooroy.
Making a mental note to come back over the next month or so while it’s still winter to try the hot potatoes with raclette in the cafe, we move on to our next clue… which takes us to Flame Hill Winery for a wine tasting.
Stop No. 4 – Flame Hill Winery
I’ve told you about Flame Hill before, it’s one of our favourite spots on the hinterland for Sunday lunch. This time, though, we’re here to do a tasting – something I can’t believe we haven’t done before.
Most of their wines come from their Kurrajong vineyard in the Granite Belt – at the northern end of the New England Tableland. About four hours away from us, it’s cold in the winter and (usually) dry in the summer and the wines they produce are different in style from those we’re used to. The winemaker is there and tells us about each variety and how they’ve managed the land during the unseasonal wet weather we’ve had.
We buy a bottle of Bambino – their Rosé – to have with our lunch.
Stop No. 5 – Sweet and Flour
Our final pick-up is at Sweet and Flour in Mapleton for a breadstick.
Picnic hamper complete, all that remains is to make our way to our picnic spot – Mapleton Falls National Park. But just as we’re leaving the village, the cars in front of us suddenly stop. I get out to see what is holding up the traffic (not that a couple of cars counts as traffic) and see what we’re all looking at – a python sunning himself in the weak winter sun. He’s massive and quite beautiful and we all watch as he lifts his head and decides to make his way slowly off the road and towards the bush. Only once he’s safely away does the traffic begin to move again.
Stop No. 6 – Mapleton Falls National Park
Just a few kilometres down the road is the Mapleton Falls National Park – and where we’ll be picnicking.
While there are some day-trippers at the lookout, we have the picnic area to ourselves. It’s lovely – the noise of the falls in the background, the breeze pushing through the trees, the occasional crack of the whip bird’s song. Perfect.
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The clues were easy to solve and come with ideas of other points of interest to explore while you’re in the region, and the food is good and was sufficient for us – we were, in fact, unable to eat it all and took home half a breadstick, half of the cheese, and most of the chocolate.
While we’d previously been everywhere (other than the final bakery and picnic spot) on our tour, if you’re visiting the Sunshine Coast it would be a great way to explore the Hinterland – although if you’re bringing a dog let them know so they can change the picnic spot (pooches aren’t allowed in national parks).
Finally, these were the stops our clues brought us to – yours could be completely different…just saying… It is, after all, a mystery!