Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve
  • Last updated:
  • 26 Apr 2017

Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve is a living museum of plant and animal life. This 55-hectare subtropical rainforest is a remnant of the rainforests that once covered the Blackall Range and delights visitors with its tranquillity and beauty.

Now there is even more to enjoy with the completion of the world-class Rainforest Discovery Centre in February 2017. Feel free to take a tour of the centre.


Visitors can enjoy a choice of relaxing walks through the rainforest track loops (1.3km – 1.7km) (well defined dirt track) and a range of interactive and multi-sensory experiences in the Rainforest Discovery Centre.

Open daily 9am – 4.30pm (closed Christmas Day and Good Friday)


The Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve is now hosting holiday programs at the Education Centre located within the reserve. The programs include a variety of activities to keep adults and children entertained and informed over the holiday period. Art exhibitions, educational workshops and events are also held in the garden and centre throughout the year. Check out the What's On calendar.

School Holiday Program

Workshops will be held throughout the holidays at both the newly opened Rainforest Discovery Centre, Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve and also at the Arts and Ecology Centre, Maroochy Regional Bushland Botanic Gardens.

Art with Fungi and Flora

If you're looking for something green, educational and creative to do this Easter holidays then come along to Art with Fungi and Flora. From 4 April through to 13 April, the program offers a diverse range of hands-on experiences for children and young people between 4 - 15 years of age.

Become a fungi eco-detective and find out what makes mushrooms grow. Learn to make paper using seeds or how to decorate Easter eggs using plant dyes. Craft your own fungi sculptures or capture the rainforest in mono-print. Come and taste bushfoods or paint the exquisite swamp orchid.

Spaces are limited and registration is essential! Go to Council's What's On page for more details and to book your spot. Look out for the printed program at your nearest Sunshine Coast Council library, gallery or Customer Service Centre. We look forward to seeing you this Easter at Art with Fungi and Flora!


The Rainforest Discovery Centre has been designed with accessibility in mind and is suitable for all abilities. Walk trails are well defined dirt tracks or boardwalks through the forest, some of these offer an accessible experience for visitors with prams and wheelchairs.


A gold coin donation is appreciated. Donations help us preserve this special place for generations to come through research, conservation activities, reducing human impacts on the forest and community education.

Rainforest Discovery Centre

The $4.7 million world-class Rainforest Discovery Centre was opened 27 February 2017 by the Governor of Queensland, His Excellency the Honourable Paul de Jersey AC. 

Visitors can enjoy a range of activities at the reserve:

  • An elevated viewing deck - take in the breath-taking views of the heritage listed Glasshouse Mountains
  • Elevated Glider Gallery Boardwalk (150m) - this all ability walk snakes through the mid-storey of the rainforest, showing the reserve from a new perspective
  • A large open space park with barbecue’s and toilets is the perfect place for a picnic
  • The innovative and interactive playground (located in the open space area) is suitable for primary school age and younger. It features swings, spring toy and spinning cup, tree house, worm slide, vine net and tree climb pole with suspension bridge and boulder scramble
  • A brand new café with spectacular mountain views is due to open late March 2017. The café will be open for coffee and lunch and features indoor and outdoor seating and a fireplace
  • An outdoor learning facility including tiered seating for wildlife, reptile and critter presentations
  • The cairncross theatrette - an extension of the Rainforest Discovery Centre for practical workshops and audiovisual displays.

Education Centre

A brand new interpretive centre offering a multi-sensory, interactive and imaginative experience for all ages. Discover the reserve’s plants and animals on your own or talk to one of the centres friendly and knowledgeable volunteers.

The centre features:

  • A dusk to dawn room - turn on your night eyes and discover the sights and sounds of the rainforest after dark.
  • Augmented reality - watch the walls of the centre come to life as you view them through augmented reality ipads.
  • Interactive touch screens and iPad apps - visitors can find out more about a range of flora and fauna on our interactive touchscreens. They can also mix their own rainforest sound track drawing upon a cacophony of birds, frogs and other sounds. This can be shared via social media links.
  • High quality microscopes - view the exceptional specimens found within the reserve.
  • Museum drawers - holding impressive collections of the Cairncross creepy crawlies.
  • Living exhibits and interactive interpretive displays.
  • Kids’ junior ranger eco-hunt challenge - kids can participate in the junior ranger challenge by find answers to the questions in the Eco-hunt challenge booklet. They can demonstrate their eco-ranger skills by following the clues to find the answers and looking for specific items on the walk, which can be captured on mobile devices.
  • Photo of the week - visitors are encouraged to share their memories of their experience through emailing photos or using the hashtag #mcsrpicoftheweek. The best photos will be showcased in the ‘what’s on’ monitor at the information desk.

Young Eco-documentary film competition

Council is searching for the Sunshine Coast’s next David Attenborough. Sunshine Coast school students are encouraged to showcase and share their favourite natural local environments in our Young Eco-documentary film competition running until August 2017. Winning films will be featured in the Mary Cairncross movie pod and theatrette. There are some awesome prizes up for grabs including a GoPro camera, the opportunity to work with a renowned composer on an artistic installation featuring their entry, and the opportunity to participate in a field study with local ecologists.


New volunteers are welcome and an expanded range of volunteer activities will be available including research programs, specimen collections, leading guided walks and setting up displays. Please visit the Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve website for more information.

Schools and organised groups

Schools and organised groups should pre-book their visit to avoid clashing with other groups. Visit the Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve website for more information. No dogs are allowed in the reserve (except for disability companions).

Community involvement

The reserve is a centre for conservation, learning and partnerships. Council works closely with the community to:

  • conserve and connect the area's habitats and landscapes
  • undertake research
  • provide advice on reserve management
  • help visitors learn about the reserve and enjoy their visit.

Further information

For more information, visit the Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve website.

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