Considered one of Queensland’s premier holiday destinations, the Sunshine Coast is home to a perfect coastline and is naturally a popular backpacker destination – visitors keen to experience a slice of this amazing part of the world (it really is a stunner) will head straight for the beaches and surf, but there’s plenty to do around the Sunshine Coast’s towns such as Noosa and Caloundra, which have become loaded with apartments, nightspots and tourism attractions…
Noosa was a big winner at the 2013 TNT Golden Backpack Awards, voted Best Backpacker City/Region in Australia, squeezing out traditional favourites Sydney, Cairns, the Gold Coast and Byron Bay. Unsurprisingly popular with our readers, it is a town steeped in ‘Strayan’ beach culture and the jewel in the Sunshine Coast’s crown. It is one of Queensland’s most beautiful towns –a real beauty queen – and is perfect at pretty much any time of year (if anything winter – June and July – is best to visit because it’s a bit quieter and temps can still reach 23°C). A great way to see Noosa is getting environmentally friendly on a bike or canoe. Take a mountain bike tour on trails that will lead you to the best photo opportunities in town. General bike hire starts from $25 for the day (bikeon.com.au), or more for tours. Likewise, hop in a canoe and paddle yourself around the quays of Noosaville and Noosa River. Or if you’re feeling adventurous, head out on a guided three day trip into Upper Noosa River,exploring the Cooloola Sandpatch and Teewah Coloured Sands. For more info see kanukapersaustralia.com. Must-dos are Noosa National Parkand shopping on the famous Hastings Street, while we couldn’t recommend going on a camel ride (camelcompany.com.au) more highly, even if they are apoor man’s giraffe.
2. RAINBOW BEACH
Rainbow Beach is the major entry point to the Cooloola National Park, which offers one of the great 4WD excursions in Queensland, and is the usual jump-off spot for Fraser Island. It’s famous for huge cliffs, dunes and coloured sands, as well as the longest surf break in Oz. Check out the Carlo Sandblow – a unique moonscapes and mass – and feed wild dolphins just down the road at Tin Can Bay.
Mooloolaba is a thriving sunshine resort and its magnificent beach and sheltered waters are its claim to fame. Mooloolaba’s Wharf is where you’ll find Underwater World with an ocean of finned friends and foes. Entry is $30. The best part is that for a fee you can dive with the sharks ($175 if you are certified diver, $229 if not). You can also go in search of humpback whales on the Whale One boat (whaleone.com.au).
4. COOLUM BEACH
Coolum is the largest beach resort on Queensland’s southern Sunshine Coast and is perfect for lazy holidays. It’s also the home of one of Australia’s richest idiots, Clive Palmer– the chubby mining magnate with more money than sense who has built his own dinosaur park ( Palmersaurus ) at his Palmer Coolum Resort. The park includes 160 moving – and roaring –dinosaurs. Entry is $37.50.
With the dramatic outlines of the Glass House Mountains silhouetted along the hinterland horizon, cafes and boutiques galore, and Kings Beach, Dicky Beach,and Golden Beach all nearby, there aren’t many better places than this. When you’ve had your fill of all that, visit Australia Zoo – the home to more than 1,000 animals (australiazoo.com.au)– or take a boat cruise down the calm straits of the Pumicestone Passage.
MY EXPERIENCE: DEBBIE CLARK
WHERE DID YOU GO? I visited the Sunshine Coast in January 2014 and, after staying in Brisbane, I was lucky enough to visit Noosa and Hervey Bay, which included a three-day camping trip to Fraser Island.
WHY DID YOU GO THERE? I took a detour while travelling from Sydney to Cairns. Our travel operator recommended it and it was a bit of word of mouth too.
WHAT WAS IT LIKE? The Sunshine Coast is stunning. Every stop is very different and unique in its own way. The area is home to the fantastic Australia Zoo and Noosa is literally postcard perfect sun, surf and sand. There are some great national parks too with untouched views and beautiful scenery.
WHAT WAS THE BEST BIT? The best part of the trip for me was Fraser Island. I had so much fun camping in the dunes, driving in a 4×4 over the beaches and swimming in the fresh water lakes. Couldn’t recommend it more!
Images via Getty and Thinkstock