Every year the Sunshine Coast attracts thousands of tourists on holidays. The shiny attractions of Noosa Main Beach, Underwater World at Mooloolaba and my beloved Australia Zoo are iconic draw cards, but locals know the very best spots (and sometimes like to keep them up their sleeves). In farming terms, we’re only newcomers to the area, but after eleven years on the Coast Bearhands and I consider ourselves locals. Here are three family-friendly outings on the Sunshine Coast that only the locals know about…
Golden Beach is the most southerly of the Sunshine Coast’s beaches. Nestled in a quiet corner of Caloundra, it enjoys the protected waters of the Pumicestone Passage. The real gem of this area though is the northern tip of Bribie Island. If you’ve ever dreamed of escaping to a deserted island, this is the day out for you! The northern part of Bribie is inaccessible by vehicle, so there’s a good chance you’ll have the place to yourselves.
Bill’s Boat Hire at Golden Beach has a range of vessels, including pontoon boats for hire, no licence required. After the staff give you a quick boating lesson, punt across the Pumicestone Passage and find a quiet spot to anchor up on Bribie Island. From there it’s an easy fifty metre walk to the surf-side of Bribie Island. Once you’ve enjoyed the surf-side of the island, you can explore the passage or dangle a line. We like to anchor up outside of the boating channel and have a swim in the calm waters of the passage. The water moves quickly at times, so keep an eye on the tides.
Just beyond the spectacular Mountain View Road lies Maleny Botanic Gardens. The gardens are nestled into native rainforest and offer superb views of the Glass House Mountains. The 14 acres of garden is perfect for small people to explore the different areas. My girls couldn’t help but imagine fairies living under some of the waterfalls. Admission is $16 for adults, kids under 15 free.
The gardens have another big draw card for my two avian-loving daughters – a massive aviary (over 1000 square meters!) which is home to an incredible array of birds, including the kids’ favourites: macaws. Entry to the aviary and a walking tour by one of the keepers is an additional fee ($7 for kids, $10 for adults) and if you’re partial to our feathered friends it’s worthwhile paying this on entry – you don’t want to change your mind and have to hike back to the office for a ticket. Kids might also make a few new mates in the farm animal enclosure, where they can pat (or randomly annoy) tolerant goats, chooks, donkeys etc. When you’ve finished exploring the six(!) kilometres of walking tracks, put your feet up and order a devonshire tea. No seriously, order a devonshire tea, SO GOOD.
The final family-friendly outing is one close to our hearts (and our farm). In fact, our farm is named for Wild Horse Mountain. Located just off the Bruce Highway, Wild Horse is the smallest of the Glass House Mountains – just 123m above sea level and sits a little way from the other ten hills. The upside of reaching the top (see what I did there?) is a viewing platform and 360° views that reach as far as Brisbane and Moreton Island on a good day. The track is only 700m. It’s well maintained but steep. The Little Sister, who is three, can walk to the top unassisted. That said, she needs encouragement. Take your own water and have a spell at the top admiring the view of the other Glass House Mountains. You can just make out our farm from the top, so don’t forget to give us a wave! A few years ago there was a spate of break-ins in the carpark, so lock your car and hide your valuables/carry them with you.
So there you have it folks, my three family-friendly outings on the Sunshine Coast. If you’re looking for more locals-only knowledge, bloggers from all over the country are sharing little insights into their towns using the #shareaustralia hashtag.
are you a Sunny Coast local?
what would you add to the list?