The Sunshine Coast - Queensland Australia

For many visitors to Queensland, the excitement and hustle and bustle of the Gold Coast can be too much. They are finding the Sunshine Coast to be a wonderful alternative.

Queensland is famous for its beach culture and Queensland's Sunshine Coast is one of the State's best coastal strips. Bronzed lifesavers, turquoise water, beautiful resorts and superb food and shopping make a sojourn in the sun just the ticket. Jane Hodges discovers the delights of Noosa and the Sunshine Coast.

Caloundra in Queensland
Caloundra in Queensland
Family Sunshine Coast Vacations
Family Sunshine Coast Vacations

Stretching for 65 kilometres from the family-friendly Caloundra and extending north to fashionable Noosa, the Sunshine Coast features pristine sandy beaches, lush hinterland and rainforest and is dotted with just enough civilisation to make it the perfect holiday escape.

Access is a breeze with direct flights into Maroochydore Airport from Sydney and Melbourne and connections via Brisbane from other capital cities daily.

Accommodation on offer screams position! position! position! and in the main can be found perched ocean-side, riverside or mountainside amidst semi-tropical rainforest.

Whether it is a resort luxury, stylish self-contained beach villas, or treehouse cabins, the Coast will not disappoint. Noosa is undeniably the jewel in the coast's crown and the perfect base from which to discover the region's other treasures.

Once a sleepy seaside village, Noosa embodies the essence of relaxed Queensland ambience. It radiates a casual elegance and has managed to develop into an international standard resort while retaining its original beach holiday charm.

Vibrant Hastings Street at Noosa Heads is alive with designer boutiques, sidewalk cafes and restaurants and all manner of accommodation. The pink pastel facaded Noosa Sheraton Resort sits comfortably just a few doors down from a sidewalk tropical fruit stall and a surf shop where golden haired board riders congregate to check out the latest in surfing hardware.

The resort enclave caters to an amazing mix of sunseekers ranging from serious surfies to families, foodies, and executive couples doing their best to forget the office. It is this mix that is the vital life blood of Noosa and the restaurants and cafes lining both sides of Hastings Street provide the ideal vantage point from which to watch the passing parade.

Noosa's reputation as one of Australia's premier gourmet destinations is not without foundation. A thriving food culture and the Coast's sublime weather ensure eating alfresco is the order of the day. Eduardo's On The Beach is the perfect breakfast stop. Lunch and dinner choice is endless with Coco's at the entrance to Noosa National Park, the impeccable Palmers, brasserie-style Aqua Bar and swank La Plage recommended. Noosaville on the Noosa River offers other divine grazing experiences with Native Sun Cuisine, The Lemon Tree and Chilli Jam Thai all recommended.

Local fresh products and produce are well used and not surprisingly seafood and tropical fruits often feature. Surely the world's finest fish and chips are to be found at Saltwater on Hastings Street.

For those wanting to step slightly out of their comfort zone, soft adventure options include camel trekking on Noosa's North Shore, surfing safaris, abseiling, mountain biking, scuba diving, and ocean kayaking. Noosa Beach borders Hastings Street and a ten minute walk takes you to Noosa National Park, a natural haven of quiet sandy coves, walking tracks, rocky headlands and some of the best surf the coast has to offer. The Noosa River is superb fishing and crabbing country and Sunshine Beach provides challenging surf and rock fishing.

Numerous day and half day trips from Noosa to the Coast's other attractions complete the diversity on offer.

The quiet village of Eumundi, a short drive south west of Noosa, is notable for its rural authenticity and its colourful Saturday Markets. Stalls selling everything from organic carrots and new-born ducklings to hand woven hammocks and local pottery sprawl the main street from 6am to lunchtime. Eats of Eumundi and Batu Jimba are the grooviest eateries in town and the fern-encrusted Imperial Hotel serves a fair dinkum Aussie counter lunch that's hard to beat. There is a range of Bed and Breakfast accommodation if you fancy a few days peace.

A 30 minute drive west up the Blackall Ranges and you are in the Sunshine Coast hinterland. Often the climb affords both spectacular coastal views to the east and to the west the imposing silhouettes of the dormant volcanic Glass House Mountains. Dairy cattle graze on rolling green hills and the temperature drops a degree or two. The villages of Montville and Maleny are sleepy hamlets where a culture of coffee houses, country pubs, cosy restaurants, and craft studios thrives. Highlights include the Herb Garden, Pantano Glass Studio and Montville Art Gallery which features the work of leading Australian artists including Robert Dickerson, Pro Hart, Colley Whisson, Hugh Sawrey and Jill Kirstein. Bed and Breakfast guest-houses such as Maleny Manor, Bendles Cottages and rainforest treehouses Witta Gums are the ultimate in local accommodation.

Moving back to the coast, Coolum offers great surfing beaches and the elegant Hyatt Regency Coolum Resort nestled at the base of majestic Mt Coolum. The morning mountain climb, a round of golf at the championship course and a massage at the health centre are a must.

Novotel Twin Waters Resort at Mudjimba Beach also offers a superb golf course and the supervised lake and ocean water sports and creche are perfect for keeping children happy while parents unwind in peace.

Further south are Maroochydore, Mooloolaba and Caloundra, all renown for their surf beaches and quality beachfront apartments. Underwater World at Mooloolaba is recommended for families. Interactive marine displays and touch tanks allow children hands-on fun and an opportunity to ask questions.

Instant relaxation hits when you touch down at the Sunshine Coast. The locals are friendly, the food exquisite and the range of activities seems only limited by your inclination.


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