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The insider’s guide to the Sunshine Coast

byPeter Burchell-14 Feb 2018

The Sunshine Coast is one of Australia’s most celebrated regions featuring pristine beaches, beautiful hinterland national parks, sumptuous food and wine, and so much more. 

Spend some time in a destination radiating fun and relaxation. It’s an irresistible combination.

It's worth the walk to experience the panoramic vistas from atop Mount Coolum
It's worth the walk to experience the panoramic vistas from atop Mount Coolum.

Sunshine by name, sunshine by nature – what’s there to do?

The options are just about endless on a sun drenched day, but here are a few starting points deserving attention.

Take a leisurely stroll along the Coolum Boardwalk for sensational coastal views and the chance to glimpse migrating whales (June to November). Alternatively, Caloundra's Coastal Walk is an inviting stretch that links the city’s gorgeous beaches and is dotted with enticing cafés.

The boardwalk offers relaxed coastal views and the chance to view whales at some times of the year
The boardwalk offers relaxed coastal views and the chance to view migrating humpback whales (June to November). 

Joining a river cruise is a fantastic way to soak up the region’s immense beauty. Snaking through rivers, lakes, and other majestic waterways, these cruises are dominated by sparkling scenery and depart from Caloundra, Maroochydore, Mooloolaba, and Noosa.

Elsewhere, the headland at Point Cartwright is a photographer’s delight as it overlooks Mooloolaba, the Mooloolah River, and is a whale watching hotspot. It is also the perfect location for a picnic. 

The views from Point Cartwright are a photographer's dream
The views from Point Cartwright are a photographer's dream.

What about a great beach?

There are plenty of strips of sand that could rank amongst the best beaches on the Sunshine Coast, and include:

Mooloolaba Beach is a white sand wonder favoured by families.

Kings Beach, in Caloundra is a family friendly beach with a swimming pool and time delayed water fountain for kids.

Moffat Beach, Caloundra  is the perfect stretch of sand for beach walks with your four legged bestie, and is close to cafes, restaurants and Moffat Beach Brewing Co.

Mooloolaba Beach is a family favourite. Credit: Tourism and Events Queensland
Mooloolaba Beach is a family favourite. 

Coolum Beach is a surfing and golfing mecca, with a carefree holiday atmosphere distinct from its neighbouring beach towns.

Rainbow Beach is found further north in Gympie, but is well worth a drive to discover the region's stunning natural wonders.

Peregian Beach is a magical spot for uncrowded coastal fun. 

North facing Noosa Main Beach is popular with swimmers and long board riders.

Rainbow Beach may be a little further out, but it's worth it for views like this. redit: Tourism and Events Queensland
Spectacular Rainbow Beach.

I’m keen to hit the nature trail. What you have got?

A handful of prized Sunshine Coast national parks and reserves should rank at the top of a nature lover’s itinerary.

Contrast coast and hinterland vistas from Mount Coolum's summit in Mount Coolum National Park - home to rare and threatened plants as well as eye-catching wildflowers.

With its towering trees, meandering tracks and stunning waterfall, Buderim Forest Park Reserve is a paradise for nature lovers and photographers alike. This subtropical oasis is just a short drive from the hustle and bustle of Mooloolaba. 

Nestled on the doorstep of Noosa, Noosa National Park features some of South East Queensland's most picturesque coastal scenery.

Glass House Mountains National Park is an icon of the region. Its funky, craggy volcanic peaks are a sight to behold and walking tracks of varying difficulty reward with breathtaking outlooks.

The iconic Glass House Mountains National Park is a must-visit.
The iconic Glass House Mountains National Park is a must visit. Credit: Brent Matthews Photography.

Explore the beautiful walking track in Kondalilla National Park that leads from Kondalilla Falls down the escarpment into a lush rainforested valley.

With stunning scenery and abundant wildlife, Kondalilla National Park is worth adding to your to-do list.
With stunning scenery and abundant wildlife, Kondalilla National Park is worth adding to your to do list.

What are the best family friendly attractions?

Aussie World at Palmview is an action packed theme park full of entertainment including thrilling rides, attractions, and shows.

Australia Zoo in Beerwah is the home of the Crocodile Hunter and the place to learn about native and exotic animals. Spread over 40ha, you could easily spend a day here enjoying the free shows, animal encounters and lush outlooks of this subtropical parkland. 

Ths kids will love a day out at Australia Zoo.
Ths kids will love a day out at Australia Zoo.

Big Kart Track, Landsborough is Australia’s largest commercial go kart track. A stack of fun for the kids and kids at heart.

You'll enjoy a day of educational, fun filled with activity including bee shows, train and boat rides, and factory tours at the Ginger Factory, Yandina 

A wonderland of water based activity awaits at Blast Aqua Park, Coolum.

Australia's largest go-kart track, The Big Kart Track, is fun for kids and adults alike. Credit: Tourism and Events Queensland
Australia's largest go kart track, Big Kart Track is fun for kids and adults alike. 

Where can I go for a spot of shopping?

There is plenty of scope for a touch of retail therapy on the Sunshine Coast. Sunshine Plaza in Maroochydore is the largest shopping centre in the region and boasts a wide array of stores, including some of Australia’s biggest brands.

The Sunshine Coast and markets go hand in hand, whether you’re after local produce, arts and craft, or boutique gifts. The Original Eumundi Market held in the coast’s hinterland each Wednesday and Saturday is perhaps the most famous example and regularly attracts big crowds.

You can easily do the credit card some damage by checking out the shops of Mooloolaba Esplanade, or head to Hastings Street in Noosa for high-end fashion and eclectic homewares.  

What about a spot of culture?

Head for the Hinterland Arts Trail. The Blackall Ranges are a Hinterland highlight, sprinkled with charming towns that burst with art galleries, boutiques, cafés, and more. Maleny and Montville are key towns to stop by for gallery gazing.

Flame Hill Winery offers a range of delicious wines and a tasty menu
​Gallery gaze in the charming town of Montville.

Back on the coast, the enticing riverfront location of the Noosa Regional Gallery at Tewantin sets the tone for the colour and beauty dominating its interior while Caloundra Regional Gallery has a growing collection that showcases the strong talent of the region.

I’m keen to stroll the fairways…

Then you’ll love the wide assortment of the Sunshine Coast golf courses, many of which enjoy sensational settings. Top picks include:

I fancy a drink. Any wineries or craft breweries close by?

The Sunshine Coast features a cluster of prized wineries in the hinterland area and a winning selection of craft breweries right across the region.

Flame Hill Vineyard in Montville is a top pick, particularly if you’re dining in, and boasts a wide selection of varieties - they also do a marvellous Sunday breakfast. 

Flame Hill Winery offers a range of delicious wines and a tasty menu. Credit: TA and TEQ
Flame Hill Winery offers a range of delicious wines and a tasty menu. 

You can find an excellent selection of craft breweries and beer experiences from the coast to the hinterland - and if you don't have a designated driver you can hop aboard a craft beer tour to sip and sample at your leisure. 

I’m hungry. Where should I go for a bite to eat?

Seafood lovers should head straight to Parkyn Parade, Mooloolaba where a cluster of restaurants dish up freshly caught goodies. Dine in at a fancier establishment or grab your takeaway and head to the rooftop deck to enjoy a casual meal overlooking the sea.

For something different, Spice Bar on the Mooloolaba Esplanade delivers an Asian fusion menu backed by a great atmosphere and is close to wine bars for an after-dinner drink.

Spirit House Restaurant in Yandina is situated in tropical gardens and features a cooking school as well as a new bar that’s quickly emerging as a fan favourite.

Noosa is home to a wide selection of award-winning restaurants and bars while The Esplanade, Caloundra has a generous sprinkling of inviting waterfront eateries.

Spirit House Restaurant in Yandina enjoys a stunning setting.  Credit: Spirit House
Spirit House Restaurant in Yandina enjoys a stunning setting. Credit: Spirit House

I know it’s the Sunshine Coast, but what should I do if it’s raining?

If the skies are grey, inject some colour into your day at SEA LIFE Sunshine Coast. The aquarium is home to a wealth of enthralling marine life and includes talks and presentations that reveal all manner of fun facts.

Encounter a magical world of marine life at SEA LIFE Sunshine Coast Aquarium.
Encounter a magical world of marine life at SEA LIFE Sunshine Coast Aquarium.

An almighty collection of machinery is on show at the Queensland Air Museum in Caloundra. Peer at historical aircraft, helicopters, plus loads more, and learn all about Australia’s rich aviation past through a series of absorbing displays.

This article first appeared on BIG4.com.au

 

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Peter Burchell
ByPeter Burchell

BIG4 Holiday Parks