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With its pristine beaches, zen-friendly hinterland and laid back lifestyle, the Sunshine Coast has long been a favourite for a relaxing getaway. While retaining its country town charm, the coast now also hosts a thriving cafe and dining scene and a plethora of cultural experiences, making it an even more attractive destination — all just an hour north of Brisbane. If you need any more encouragement, here are 11 excellent reasons to make the trip to the Sunshine Coast.
Every coastal local thinks the weather in their region is absolutely perfect. The strange thing about the Sunshine Coast is that the locals are 100 percent correct. They enjoy around 300 days of sunshine each year, and the coastal breezes cuts through the oppressive humidity that Queensland’s famous for.
This is another dream destination. Follow Kawana’s dog-friendly beaches north, stopping to pat a few sandy pooches on the way (and perhaps even the teacup pig that’s been known to make an appearance). The sand will give way to a monstrous pile of volcanic rock — that’s Point Cartwright. Kids love exploring the sea life in the rock pools around the point’s base. Clamber up the grassy slope to the lighthouse for impressive views, most breathtaking when the summer storms are rolling in over the ocean. Follow the short bush-walking track for a fabulous family picnic spot.
With all that perfect weather, the most obvious way to spend the time is to hit up the beaches. While Caloundra’s Kings Beach is a hit with the tourists, locals tend to flock a few minutes’ further north at Currimundi Lake. Walk over the scrubby dunes to discover a pristine beach with rolling waves that delight both surfers and swimmers. If you’d prefer to chill, the quiet river mouth is perfect for zoning out in the shallows.
Similar to Currimundi, Cotton Tree gives you the choice of swimming in the calm rivermouth or out among the breakers. This is where the saltwater adrenaline junkies like to get their kicks — stand up paddle boarding, kitesurfing and kayaking are all popular. Also keep an eye on the skies; skydivers often choose the open beach as a landing spot. Venture back past the iconic caravan park to find a selection of fantastic cafes and local market stalls.
Don’t spend all your time at the beaches; there’s a whole other fantastic side to the Sunshine Coast in the lush green hills over the other side of the highway. For a simple introduction to the awesome hinterland, spend a day travelling along the 55 kilometre Blackall Range Tourist Drive. You’ll be introduced to the ever-popular townships of Maleny, Mapleton and Montville, which effortlessly blend antique charm and down-to-earth modernity.
You’ll be able to see the mighty Glass House Mountains from almost every point in the hinterland. On a cool day, it’s well worth lacing up your trainers and tackling a trail up to one of the many summits. Mount Ngungun is a popular choice, because you can enjoy breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains plus glimpses back across to the coast.
No visitor to the Sunshine Coast hinterland should leave without stopping off at Steve Irwin’s Australia Zoo. Here you’ll have the chance to see big crocs up close, plus meet all sorts of iconic Australian critters.
With all this wonderful outdoors to enjoy, it’s no surprise that many of the top events in the region involve a bit of sun and sweat. The triathlons at Noosa and Mooloolaba are a worthwhile challenge, the Noosa Festival of Surfing brings top talent from around the world, and the newly launched Velothon claims to be the largest cycling event on earth. The local music festivals — Gympie Music Muster and Caloundra Music Festival — are great chances to discover your next favourite band.
The Sunshine Coast hinterland has always been a bit of a haven for hippies, outsiders and eccentrics, so it’s no surprise that there’s a thriving arts scene hidden amongst the hills. Follow the Art Gallery Trail to sample the works of regions best painters, sculptors, glass blowers, jewellers, and ceramicists.
Like every region in Australia, the Sunshine Coast has developed a strong brewing scene in recent years. Sunshine Coast Brewery has been crafting fine ales and lagers for many years now, and they’re now joined by 10 Toes Brewery, Moffat Beach Brewing, Your Mates and Brouhaha, among many others — all worth an afternoon of your attention.
At the end of the day, when it’s time to indulge, the Sunshine Coast will not disappoint. You’ll find options for every taste and budget, from humble fish and chip shops to inventive fine dining. There’s never a bad spot to be for a night out, but Noosa certainly takes the cake. You’ll find an abundance of chic establishments perched right by world-famous Noosa Beach.