REVIEW: Mary Cairncross Reserve

With wonderful views, an abundance of wildlife and a great playground for the kids, it was hard to imagine how Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve could get any better – then the new $4.7 million Rainforest Discovery Centre opened!


KOTC issue out now MREC

Mary Cairncross Reserve

Mary Cairncross Reserve is a glorious spot just outside of Maleny, overlooking the Glass House Mountains. Visitors can explore the rainforest along one of the rainforest track loops – the tracks are well defined and level and range from 1.3km to 1.7km, making them a breeze for little legs. Some are also suitable for those with prams or wheelchairs.

Before or after your walk, you can enjoy some of the other facilities at the reserve. Take in the view of the Glass House Mountains from the elevated viewing deck and walk along the all-ability Elevated Glider Gallery Boardwalk, offering a birds eye view of the rainforest below. The kids will also love the interactive playground with tree house, swings, spinning cup, worm slide, tree climb pole, boulder scramble, suspension bridge and more. Here you will also find toilets, and a huge open space perfect for a picnic or BBQ using one of the BBQ stations. Or, if you prefer to take it even easier, the new café offers lunch and coffee and has indoor and outdoor seating and a lovely fireplace – perfect for the chillier months.

And, of course, don’t forget to explore all the Education Centre has to offer. You can learn more about the plants and animals of the reserve via some great interactive, multi-sensory features. The dusk-to-dawn room allows you to discover the sights and sounds of the rainforest after dark, and the augmented reality iPads bring the walls of the centre to life. There are lots of interactive touch screens with more information about the native plants and animals and you can also bring out your inner DJ as you mix your own rainforest soundtrack using frog, bird and other animal sounds!

Get up close with the bugs that inhabit the reserve as you explore the impressive collection of exhibits in the museum drawers, and use the microscopes to view some specimens in more detail. You can also chat to one of the volunteers, who are friendly and certainly know their stuff.

The kids can also pick up an Eco-hunt challenge booklet and become a junior ranger for the day as they follow clues to answer the questions about items they will spot on their walk. And don’t forget to take your camera – email a great photo of your day at the reserve to enter the photo of the week competition. The best photos will be displayed on the monitor at the information desk. See the website for more details.

Mary Cairncross Reserve also hosts holiday programs at its Education Centre, including the eARTh kids program. Suitable for kids aged between 4 and 15 years, it features a range of interactive, hands-on activities to keep them entertained over the holidays. Booking are essential – see website for details.

Other events such as educational workshops and art exhibitions are also held throughout the year. See the website for details.


Mountain View Road, Maleny.

More information at:

Mary Cairncross Reserve is open daily from 9am to 4.30pm. Closed Christmas Day and Good Friday. Entry to rainforest walks and Discovery Centre by gold coin donation.

Keep Reading

Great bushwalks for kids on the Sunshine Coast
Best spots in south-east Queensland to reconnect kids with nature


Servicing Brisbane, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast and beyond, Kids on the Coast is an online guide for parents with kids events, attractions & things to do with kids, schools and education, school holiday guides, health & wellbeing for families, parenting and lifestyle news located on Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast & Brisbane, QLD.



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By Angela Sutherland
After spending many years hustling stories on busy editorial desks around the world, Angela is now mum of two little ones and owner/editor at Kids on the Coast / Kids in the City. She is an atrocious cook and loves cutting shapes to 90s dance music. Angela is the editor of Kids on the Coast - a free family magazine whats on guide for Kids: things to do, school holiday fun and free activities for kids... Fun attractions, family food & travel, kids health & wellbeing, kids parties venues, parenting, pregnancy & babies, guide for parents. Servicing Brisbane, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast and beyond, Kids on the Coast is an online guide for parents with kids things to do with kids, schools and education and lifestyle news located on Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast & Brisbane, QLD.

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