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5 tech challenges for getting teens outdoors in Sunshine Coast national parks

We get it. Dragging your teens and tweens away from their technology and into the great outdoors can be difficult, if not downright impossible.

Whether you’re living on the Sunshine Coast or taking a well-deserved weekend or longed-for family holiday on the coast, seeing your kids glued to their screens for hours on end tends to destroy your peace of mind …

You know they need outdoor time in nature for their positive mental health and wellbeing, not to mention yours! You’ve tried everything—hints, cajolery, bribes, commands, threats … But who needs arguments?

The answer is quite simple—take the technology with you, and use it!

Arm yourself, and your tweens and teens, with smartphones and other wearable tech and head to Queensland National Parks for some nature-based challenges (with serious bragging rights).

Let them race it, ‘gram it and snap it with these 5 tech challenges on the Sunshine Coast.

1. Get moving

Teenager powerwalks along a level track through open woodland.
Mount Tibrogargan circuit | © Julie Swartz

In the Glass House Mountains National Park, get moving on the 5.7km Trachyte walking circuit (from the Tibrogargan trailhead) linking Mount Tibrogargan and Mount Tibberoowuccum.

Make sure the teens have hats, water bottles and smart watches then set off on a 2hr hike or powerwalk through open woodland and heathland. Breathe deeply and enjoy the passing scenery of spear-topped grass trees and golden, candlestick banksia flowers.

Take time out to snap the scenic views of surrounding peaks from the Jack Ferris lookout, including the gorilla-like Mount Tibrogargan.

Time your circuit, measure the distance travelled, and compare heart rates and periods of active minutes—high tech teen fitness in the great outdoors!

2. Climb a mountain

View from high vantage point of Glass House Mountain peaks rising from coastal plain.
View from Mount Beerburrum summit track | © Queensland Government

If your teens are up for more of a challenge, head for the 3.5km return Mount Beerburrum summit walk, starting from the Beerburrum trailhead in the Glass House Mountains National Park. Charge the batteries in the wearable tech first—you’ll want to count those steps—and make sure you have ankle-supporting shoes with good grip!

Pace yourselves on this sometimes-steep track through wet eucalypt forest and dry open forest to the fire tower at the top of Mount Beerburrum—one of the smaller Glass House Mountain peaks at 280m! Catch your breath and compare data—number of steps, floors climbed, heart rate and calories burned. Who’s got the best cardio fitness score?

Don’t forget to check out the Insta-worthy views! The teens can always brag on social that they’ve just climbed a mountain!

3. Paddle a river

Several kayaks paddle up a narrow river channel fringed by forest.
Upper Noosa River © Julie Swartz

Nothing beats paddling for a low-impact physical workout! Kayaking offers mental health benefits too—refreshing relaxation and healthful exercise that blows away stress and anxiety.

So waterproof your devices and set out to explore the Upper Noosa River in Cooloola, Great Sandy National Park, by canoe or kayak—BYO or join a tour.

Launch your craft at Boreen Point for a 7km shore-hugging paddle across Lake Cootharaba to Kinaba. Pull into the unstaffed visitor centre for a breather, then paddle a further 2km upstream in the narrow channels of the Noosa River. Snap your selfies along the way and make sure to capture the mirror-like reflections on the river’s surface.

At Fig Tree Point, relax and refuel with a picnic lunch before the return journey—then race to the finish line! Feel the burn and know that all that water resistance is giving you a great upper body workout! How’s that cardio fitness score looking?

4. Pedal a bike

A rider jumps his mountain bike over a bump in the track surrounded by forest.
Eumundi Conservation Park | © Queensland Government

A vigorous mountain bike ride on a nature trail is beneficial for your body and your mind, not to mention just good old-fashioned fun!

Load up the mountain bikes and set off to Ewen Maddock mountain bike trail in Beerburrum and Beerwah State Forest for an easy 12km trail through blackbutt forests, fern gullies and melaleuca wetlands.

If your teens are up for intermediate trails, head for Eumundi or Parklands conservation parks and take your pick of trails through tall eucalypt forests, past rocky platforms, steep gorges and trickling creeks.

Make sure the wearable tech is fired up and ready to collect key stats such as pace, distance and route. Work the legs, focus the mind and breathe in the fresh air! Your teens will challenge themselves against each other, the clock and the trail! Compare stories and stats after the ride—but most importantly who had the most fun?

5. Go ‘ninja’

Steps with handrails descend into a gully and cross a creek surrounded by forest.
Kondalilla Falls circuit | © Queensland Government

If you have a bunch of teens or tweens who are ‘budding’ Ninja Warriors, challenge them to a ‘Ninja workout’ in Kondalilla National Park. Set your timers and follow the Kondalilla Falls circuit down the escarpment, past rock pools to the waterfall lookout and through rainforest to the base of the falls. Then, because what goes down must go up, climb back up the ridge!

Tackle the steps (there are about 300 steps, count them!), jump over obstacles, dodge overhanging branches, and of course, ‘gram it’ along the way.

Check your times. Which of your teens is today’s ‘Ninja Warrior’ champion? Refuel over a relaxing picnic while you plan the next course ...

Ready to take the challenge?

Three teens walk on track through open forest.
Beerwah, Glass House Mountains National Park | Chris Whitelaw ©Queensland Government

Of getting you and your family outdoors and active, that is!

Check out these parks and other great opportunities on the Sunshine Coast for challenging teens and tweens, not to mention their parents, on some of our national park trails.

Last updated: 30 July 2020

Acknowledgement of Country

The Department of Environment and Science acknowledges Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the Traditional Owners and custodians of the land. We recognise their connection to land, sea and community, and pay our respects to Elders past, present and emerging.

Design developed by Boyd Blackman, a Butchulla and Birri Birri man, featuring the artwork of Elaine Chambers, a Koa (Guwa) and Kuku Yalanji woman.