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The Sunshine Coast: Blending Waterfront and Hinterland Action
The Sunshine Coast is known for its endless stretches of beaches, small coastal towns and numerous family-friendly attractions a bit further from the waterfront. The holiday hotspot is only an hour from Brisbane, offering the perfect destination for a weekend getaway, although there is plenty to do if you stay longer. While much happens along the coast, a wide range of inland activities add to the mix: some of Australia’s best zoos and theme parks are only a short drive from the beachfront villages. And if you like walking and hiking, you won’t run out of trails to explore. Holiday homes abound, from ritzy rentals steps from the beach to spacious family homes with views of the Glass House Mountains.
Sunshine Coast Beaches
Many travellers visit the Sunshine Coast first and foremost for the beaches, which are favoured by swimmers and surfers alike. Even if you don’t want to get in the water, you can stroll barefoot for miles on the white sand. Noosa Main Beach, a short stroll from trendy cafes and stylish boutiques, is a popular destination with families, providing a safe swimming environment and the opportunity to take part in a surf lesson or rent some gear and try stand-up paddle boarding. This beach is patrolled. If you’re a more experienced surfer, you can spend some time at Mooloolaba Beach and if you get hungry, you can stop at one of the restaurants along the waterfront esplanade. Travelling to the Sunshine Coast with the family pet? You might prefer dog-friendly Sunshine Beach, which is another popular spot for surfing.
Exploring Pumicestone Passage
Along the Sunshine Coast, aquatic activities aren’t limited to beachfront action. Head out onto the water and discover the natural beauty of Pumicestone Passage. This body of water separates Bribie Island from mainland Australia and flows into the Coral Sea at Caloundra, the southernmost town on the Sunshine Coast. Travellers can rent a kayak or jet ski and explore the channel on their own or join a guided tour by ferry. From the Passage, you’ll be privy to some of the best views of the Glass House Mountains on one side and Bribie Island on the other. Keep your eyes peeled for dolphins as you navigate this waterway. Then, there are the Noosa Everglades, which you can explore by signing up for a cruise or by taking a kayak through this inland river network. The Noosa Everglades offer numerous photo opportunities, as you go past sand dunes, lakes and riverbanks teeming with wildlife.
Sunshine Coast Walks and Hikes
Another way to explore the Sunshine Coast is on foot; in fact, a series of trails line the coast and weave further inland. Put on your walking shoes and set off on the 9 km-long Caloundra Coastal Pathway, which starts at Point Cartwright and ends at Golden Beach. The path is also open to cyclists. Take in coastal scenery, including beaches, lagoons, creeks and even an old lighthouse. Next, visit Noosa National Park, which you can reach on foot by walking along an ocean way in Noosa Heads. The park features numerous trails, some of which will take you to scenic lookouts ideal for whale watching. Avid birdwatchers may wish to bring their binoculars, as the park is home to native species. Alternately, leave the waterfront behind and spend the day in the Glass House Mountains, where you will find tracks of all difficulties, including paths leading to the summit.
Family Fun on the Sunshine Coast
There is plenty for families to do on their Sunshine Coast holidays. Start off at the Ginger Factory, a free, award-winning Sunshine Coast attraction. Children of all ages have access to ginger-themed rides. Kids and adults alike can learn about the factory’s history by tuning into a Ginger Story Tour. History comes to life in the form of an 100-year-old cane train, which you can ride around the factory. Meanwhile, thrillseekers will enjoy Aussie World, arguably Australia’s best theme park. Across the road from Aussie World is the iconic Ettamogah Pub, inspired by an old cartoon that regularly ran in The Australasian. Nature lovers might prefer Australia Zoo, a short drive inland. You will be able to get up close and personal with kangaroos and even have your picture taken while holding a koala.
Getting to the Sunshine Coast
As a major holiday destination in Queensland, the Sunshine Coast has its own airport, with direct flights to and from the main Australian cities. If you are coming from Brisbane, you can drive to the Sunshine Coast in 1.5 hours. If you don't have access to a car, you can also take a train to the Sunshine Coast’s hinterland from Brisbane and reach the waterfront by transferring to a bus.