It's always donut day in the characterful country town of Kenilworth, an easy drive west of the Sunshine Coast Hinterland. Savour a doughy delight, then work off the indulgence with this list of things to do.
The Mary Valley town of Kenilworth in South East Queensland is proof that good things do indeed come in small packages.
Framed by the Mary River, rolling pastureland, and the ridges of the Blackall and Conondale Ranges, and with several forested national parks and state reserves in close proximity, the main street of this rural idyll occupies no more than a block or two. But it’s packed with country charm and heaves with visitors from the wider Sunshine Coast on any given weekend. It’s donuts that bring many of them to the yard; the queue for the Kenilworth Country Bakery’s famous dough creations can stretch out the door and up the road.
However, there’s much more to Kenilworth than a jam-and-custard-fuelled calorie fest. Day trippers will find plenty to fill their time, as will those on an overnight stay or short break. In terms of accommodation, there are rooms at the local pub and charming B&Bs dotted across the region. The Kenilworth Showgrounds hosts caravans and campers, and is perfectly positioned as a base for exploring the town. If you’re happy to drive a short distance, Kookaburra Park offers cabins and caravan/camping sites, and will give the kids a quacking taste of farm-life.
Here are ten of the best things to do in Kenilworth.
1. Get crafty at the Tourist Information Centre
Always the first port of call for savvy travellers, the Tourist Information Centre in Kenilworth is as cute as pie and staffed by passionate volunteers ready to bend over backwards to ensure that your visit is a great one. It’s a particularly useful first stop if you plan to do any walking in the region. Get maps and advice on the hikes best suited to your fitness level.
Once you’re mapped and brochured-up, continue out the back to the Kenilworth Community Craft Shop. It showcases the wares of various local artisans and will see you right for tea and hanging hand towels, tea cosies, soft toys, and cushion covers — all crafted by hand with love.
2. Indulge in a sweet treat at the Kenilworth Country Bakery
Just across the road, the concept of a lifetime-on-the-hips seems completely justifiable as you tuck into a pie or donut (or both) from the Kenilworth Country Bakery. Don’t be put off by the sound of the aforementioned queue; the bakery has expanded in recent times and now encompasses two buildings — one dedicated solely to donuts, and the other to pies and other baked goodies. It’s made the sales process much faster and more efficient. An alleyway decorated with colourful pop-art murals runs between the two outlets and leads to a shaded seating area.
Those made of the right stuff may want to face off against the bakery’s fabled one-kilo donut, which holds buckets of jam/Nutella and cream.
3. Say cheese at the Kenilworth Dairies
Softs, blues, flavoured cheddars, fetta, and haloumi; you’ll find cheese in abundance, alongside milk, cream, yoghurt, and a killer chocolate mousse, at Kenilworth Dairies — located at the southern end of the town centre (just a short roll downhill from the bakery). Opened in the 1950s and originally owned and operated by Kraft, today the factory is a family-run affair and a must-visit while you’re in town.
The dedicated retail area has state-of-the-art self-opening/closing fridges packed with dairy produce. There’s an onsite café and outdoor seating area, but Town Park across the road is a lovely spot to retire to with a boxed cheese-tasting platter. They come with crackers for an extra fee, or just BYO.
4. Step back in time at the Kenilworth Historical Museum
The Kenilworth township was established in the 1920s on the back of sheep and dairy farming in the Mary Valley region, which commenced as far back as the mid 1800s. Learn more about life in the pioneering era by visiting the Kenilworth Historical Museum — just a short drive or walk (uphill) from the town centre on Alexandra Street. Getting access is the trick; the museum is only open on Sundays, and only during the cooler months. If you’re visiting at other times of the week, or in summer, and you have a group of five or more, contact the museum via their website or Facebook page to arrange special entry.
5. Browse the eclectic wares at the Kenilworth Markets
For a second chance at finding that unique souvenir of your visit to Kenilworth, try the Kenilworth Saturday Markets in Town Park. Pottery, handmade soaps, gift cards, gourmet foodstuffs, and potted plants are all on offer. Enjoy a browse and chinwag with vendors in the delightfully shady confines of this cherished community recreational space.
6. Go for a country drive
One of the great joys of visiting this part of the Sunshine Coast is the opportunity to immerse yourself in some seriously gorgeous countryside, which can morph from lush farmland to dense rainforest in the blink of an eye. A country drive is in order; if you’ve driven into Kenilworth on Eumundi Kenilworth Road from the M1, continue on the same route out the southern end of town, which will basically take you on a loop around Maleny National Park. Once you get to Witta, circle back to Kenilworth via Curramore Road and Obi Obi Road. Pull off as the mood takes you to admire pockets of forest ringing with birdsong, glistening waterways, and rustic farmhouses.
If you have a high clearance 4WD and are up for a challenge — including a couple of creek crossings and a two-hour return hike — consider visiting beautiful Bouloumba Falls in Conondale National Park. Hang a right off Eumundi Kenilworth Road onto Goades Road and proceed with caution from there (it’s narrow, winding, and relatively busy).
7. Do the Fig Tree Walk
Yabba Creek Park (ten-minutes out of Kenilworth along Eumundi Kenilworth Road) offers a less formidable opportunity to stretch the legs. Cross the bridge over Little Yabba Creek to find the entrance to the Fig Tree Walk — a mossy boardwalk that meanders through a verdant patch of rainforest. The circuit takes about half an hour to do and will lead you to not one, but two mammoth fig trees (don’t make the mistake of thinking the first one is the destination; the best is yet to come). The rainforest’s embrace is cool and refreshing, even in the heat of the day. Keep an eye out for wallabies, echidnas, and other wildlife.
8. Relax by the river
With all of Kenilworth’s tasty morsels at your fingertips, and the Mary River flowing by, why not throw down a rug riverside and enjoy a picnic? Kenilworth River Park at the end of Charles Street is walkable from the town centre, while an afternoon by the water in Isaac Moore Park on Eumundi Kenilworth Road necessitates a short drive. It has plenty of facilities, including the $600,000 much talked about ‘Designer Dunny’ — designed by Maleny industrial artist Michael Lenniel and titled Canistrum.
If you’re doing the Fig Tree Walk, mix a picnic with poems afterwards in Yabba Creek Park — part of the Sunshine Coast Hinterland to Headland Poetry Trail. Read excerpts from works by local poets on display in the park, or wax lyrical yourself over the surrounding natural splendour.
9. Channel your inner cowboy
Kenilworth’s streetscape may be compact, but it has some amazing retail offerings. West ‘N Colour is a homage to all things country and western: clothing, hats, boots, outdoor blankets, Americana, and much more. If you’re keen to bring out your inner rhinestone cowboy, this is the place to do it.
10. Enjoy country hospitality at the Kenilworth Hotel
What better way to wrap up a great day in the country than with drinks and dinner at an awesome country pub. The Art Deco-era Kenilworth Hotel opened in 1939 and has lost none of its original period charm. Offering great value, generously sized meals, and plenty of cold beer — some of which is brewed onsite — you can’t go wrong here. If you’re travelling with a four-legged friend, bring them along. The pub is pooch-friendly throughout.
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Do you have any suggestions to add to our list of the best things to do in Kenilworth? We would love to hear from you. Please leave a comment below.
Additional images: Bigstock
About the writer
Adam Ford is editor of Top Oz Tours, and a travel TV presenter, writer, blogger and photographer. He has travelled extensively through Europe, Asia, North America, Africa and the Middle East. Adam worked as a travel consultant for a number of years with Flight Centre before taking up the opportunity to travel the world himself as host of the TV series Tour the World on Network Ten. He loves to experience everything a new destination has to offer and is equally at home in a five-star Palazzo in Pisa or a home-stay in Hanoi.