Australia’s Sunshine Coast. Some call it paradise. We call it home.
We travel the world in search of the spectacular, yet sometimes we forget how beautiful our own home is. For Dinah and I, home is 60 kilometres of arguably the world’s best beaches with a climate that means we can enjoy the outdoors 365 days a year. Located on Australia’s east coast about 100 kilometres north of the Queensland state capital of Brisbane, the Sunshine Coast is one of the premier destinations for Australian and overseas visitors looking to relax in a perfect sub-tropical environment. For visitors, it is a spectacular holiday escape. For us, it is where we live. What’s the saying: “Living the dream”? We certainly are and now on this last day of 2018 we’d like to share our dream and our home with you and hopefully, welcome you as visitors to the ‘Sunny Coast’ in the not-too-distant future.
As the marketing campaign proclaims, the Sunshine Coast is ‘Naturally refreshing’. It is everything you could ever want in a holiday destination. Pristine white surf beaches line the coast, with majestic natural wonders abundant in the adjacent hinterland. As well as first-class entertainment, dining and food experiences, visitors to the Sunshine Coast enjoy a huge range of accommodation options. You can choose resort locations such as Noosa Heads, Peregian, Coolum, Maroochydore, Alexandra Headland, Mooloolaba and Caloundra, offering everything from family-friendly budget accommodation to 5-Star luxury resort hotels. Many on or within walking distance of the beach. Or the perfect winter escape, a cosy bungalow with a roaring log fire in village nestled into the landscape of the Sunshine Coast Hinterland may be more what you are looking for.
A little about our home town
The Sunshine Coast is more than a tourist destination, it is a vibrant business hub, education centre, entertainment precinct and location for national and international cultural and sporting events. Some key facts to put it all into perspective. The Sunshine Coast is a city of over 350,000 permanent residents. With more and more people choosing to live on the Sunshine Coast every year, the population is expected to surpass 550,000 by 2040. It is also one of the fastest growing business precincts in Australia, with many large national and international companies choosing to base themselves here. Business confidence is high, with employment growth outstripping our state average. The Sunshine Coast also boasts one of the largest and most modern university hospitals and health care precincts in Australia, while the University of the Sunshine Coast (USC) is the fastest growing university in Australia. So, what does all this means for our visitors? It means that you will find everything you could ever want right here on the Sunshine Coast to ensure you have an exceptional holiday.
Arriving on the Sunshine Coast
For decades, the pristine white surf beaches have been a magnet for Australian holiday-makers looking for the perfect family holiday, and for surfers chasing that illusive perfect wave and the mystical endless summer. Indeed, our own three sons grew up on the Sunshine Coast beaches during our annual January pilgrimage to Noosa from Sydney. These holiday visits eventually turned into permanent relocation to the Sunshine Coast for Dinah and I.
For many Australians, the most popular mode of travel to the Sunshine Coast is by automobile, driving up from the southern states, as well as weekend visitors arriving from Brisbane. As air travel has become more and more affordable, many visitors are opting to fly, with direct flights to the Sunshine Coast Airport from the southern capitals. Air New Zealand flies directly from Auckland to the Sunshine Coast between early July and late October each year. For all other international visitors, the journey by air to the Sunshine Coast is currently via Sydney or Melbourne. From 2020 the greatly expanded Sunshine Coast Airport will see international flights flying directly to the Sunshine Coast from Asia and the Western Pacific.
The Sunshine Coast Airport is located in Marcoola, just north of Maroochydore, positioning it centrally along the length of the Sunshine Coast. Upon your arrival, shuttle buses, Suncoast public transport buses and taxis are all available to take you on to your final destination, be it Noosa to the north or Caloundra at the southern end of the Coast. Both are about 40 minutes by car from the airport, so you are super-close to getting your holiday underway.
The Funshine Coast
For residents living here, the relaxed atmosphere and excellent climate make this the ideal place to work and raise a family, even better for those retired. For visitors and holiday-makers, it’s all about having fun in the sun. In terms of what to do on the Sunshine Coast, in my opinion you have two basic options:
One: Arise, shower, have breakfast in your apartment or at one of the hundreds of breakfast eateries and coffee shops spread the length of the coast, then go to the beach for the morning. On with the sunscreen then laze in the sunshine on pure white sandy beaches and swim in crystal-clear water. About 12.00 noon, have lunch at a restaurant, café or one of the numerous Surf Lifesaving Clubs, RSL Clubs or Sporting Clubs along the coast. Club meals are well priced and are excellent. Then back to the beach and repeat for the afternoon.
Or, Two: Arise, shower, have breakfast in your apartment or at one of the hundreds of breakfast eateries and coffee shops spread the length of the coast, then off to explore all that the Sunshine Coast has to offer. There are hundreds of great things to see and do; some are free, some such as the attractions, will charge an admission fee.
To get around, you can drive yourself, use public transport, or take it easy and take a fully guided tour. A great way to start your Sunshine Coast adventure is with a tour of Australia Zoo. Home of the legendary Crocodile Hunter, Australia Zoo is of one of the most iconic zoos in Australia and is home to over 100 different animal species, including crocodiles, tigers, cheetahs and meerkats. Here you’ll have a great day out as well as learning about the wildlife and the importance of conservation. Just north of Noosa you can explore Frazer Island, the world’s largest sand island and one of the most naturally beautiful places in Australia. You can even join a tour and go four-wheel driving on Rainbow Beach and marvel at the world-famous Coloured Sands. There are also tours of the Everglades and the Sunshine Coast Hinterland. There any number of tour companies on the Sunshine Coast. One site you might like to check is: www.thebookingbox.com.au/
If you are an adrenaline junkie, then the Big Kart Track is definitely your speed. At 1.2 kilometres long, this is the largest commercial kart track in Australia, with karts for adults and for kids. But be warned – one visit is never enough! Check the Big Kart Track out and book at: www.bigkart.com.au
If fun is your thing then Aussie World is your perfect day out. The Coast’s very own family-friendly park, Aussie World offers over 30 rides, attractions, shows and a whole street lined with interesting shops selling all kinds of ‘Aussie’ products and memorabilia. Plus, there’s The Pub. Open for lunch and dinner there is no better place than The Pub to kick-back and relax. Explore Aussie World online at: www.aussieworld.com.au
There are any number of great destinations on the Sunshine Coast that are family favourites, including Sea Life Sunshine Coast Aquarium on the Wharf at Mooloolaba, the Ginger Factory in Yandina, Blast Aqua Park at Coolum, Aqua Park at Bli Bli, and the Aqua Fun Park at Twin Waters. If food is your thing, you are well and truly catered for. Some of the best restaurants in Australia are located right here on the Sunshine Coast; in Caloundra, the Wharf and Esplanade in Mooloolaba, as well as in Alexandra Headlands, Maroochydore, Twin Waters, Coolum, Peregian and Noosa. And in the Sunshine Coast hinterland; in Mapleton, Flaxton, Montville and Maleny. You can even time your visit to the Sunshine Coast to take advantage of the annual food festivals, including the Noosa Food and Wine Festival in May and the Caloundra Chilli Festival in November. For details on the many fun parks on the Coast, as well as for locations and dates of the food festivals, go to: www.visitsunshinecoast.com.au
In the evening, the decisions get really difficult. There are just so many great places to eat; from a three-course meal with fine wine in a sit-down restaurant, to fish and chips and a sparkling water on a bench on the boardwalk. On the Sunshine Coast, the options in terms of where to stay, where to go, where to eat and what to see and do are endless. You best bet is to go online and browse for yourself: www.visitsunshinecoast.com.au
Personally, I think that the best part of coming here is relaxing and enjoy the sun, the sand and the surf. And the best bit, they are all free. That’s our Sunshine Coast!
Tips for the Trip
Unless you are an Australian or New Zealand citizen, you will need a valid Australian visa to enter the country, which you must apply for before leaving home. You can apply for a range of visas, including tourist visas and working holiday visas at your nearest Australian Embassy or Consulate or through the Department of Home Affairs at: www.homeaffairs.gov.au/visit
Temperatures on the Sunshine Coast are generally warm year-round with summer temperatures averaging 17 to 28 degrees Celsius from December to February and autumn temperatures between 13 and 25 degrees Celsius from March to May. In July, our winter, daytime beach temperatures average around 20 degrees Celsius. Always extremely pleasant.
Main picture: This is what the Sunshine Coast is really famous for
- Noosa Main Beach looking toward the National Park
- Is this the purest beach sand in the world?
- Aromas Coffee Shop on Hastings Street is one of our favourite places to meet friends
- Fresh seafood is an absolute must
- Sara McCulloch and our new grandson-to-be on the beach at Noosa
- Our son Christopher getting ready for a great day’s fishing
- Deep sea or off the beach, the fishing is great. Just ask Finlay and Felix McCulloch
- Everyone can learn to surf
- Always swim between the flags