The Sunshine Coast - Reconnect with Life

Queensland is known as the Sunshine State- a sobriquet that conjures up images of palm trees, blue skies and white beaches. This stands true for much of its coastline, a coastline that is hard to fault really except for the fact that the abundance of holiday destinations makes it tough picking a spot to spend your vacation in! One section of the coastline typifies everything Queensland holidays stand for, and it is called, appropriately, the Sunshine Coast.

A refreshing blend of relaxation and sophistication characterises the lifestyle of this laid back region, whose beaches, mountains and lush forests provide the basis for a diverse holiday that caters to all age brackets and interests.

Its close proximity to the state capital, Brisbane, has made the Sunshine Coast a popular weekend getaway amongst urbanites seeking a bit of fresh air. Its close enough for a day trip away as well, with the nearest town to Brisbane being Caloundra which is just an hours drive north.

The Sunshine Coast then extends up to Cooloola, which is the gateway to Fraser Island and a popular National Park. That distance encompasses more than 100 kilometres of beaches, stretching through picturesque coastal towns such as Caloundra, Mooloolaba, Maroochydore and Noosa, all of which are popular amongst tourists.

Behind these towns lies a hinterland where you will find attractions such as the rugged Glasshouse Mountains, the Blackall Range and the Mary Valley, all criss crossed with a network of wide rivers and smooth streams. A pleasant climate and fertile soils means agricultural productivity is high, and there are numerous wineries that produce well recognised wines.

So you've decided on the Sunshine Coast for your holiday, the next step is deciding where to stay there. A staple favourite is Noosa, not just for its beautiful location on the mouth of the Noosa River but also for its lively holiday vibe.

Although it has something of an 'upmarket' reputation, Noosa caters to all budgets and all types of travellers, and its just as easy to book into a caravan park or a backpackers as it is to a luxurious lodge. The main street running through the town is Hastings Street, which has plenty of boutique stores, coffee shops and tasty little eateries. Its a pleasant place to spend a morning, but keep an eye on your dollars as a lot of the stuff there is overpriced.

The Noosa River is a favourite amongst fishermen, most of whom hire 'tinnys' and traverse its length in hope of a catch. With both the river and the ocean to play with, anglers love the diversity of the region. The ocean is also popular amongst surfers, with an often gentle swell that makes it perfect for beginners.

Another popular coastal town is Maroochydore, which is pretty much in the centre of the Sunshine coast and thus conveniently close to most other attractions. Maroochydore is one of the chief business centres on the coast, so all the modern amenities you may require are present as well as an array of specialty shops, conveniently juxtaposed with the tourist attractions of the beach and the Maroochy River.

The main beach is extremely popular amongst surfers, although on the weekends it can be hard to move on it, let alone find some private space. A quieter and no less beautiful spot is the suburb of Cotton Tree, which is just a little way south. Extensive parklands and characteristic beaches make this a great spot for families. There are all forms of accommodation available in Maroochydore, but in the summer months pre bookings are essential. There are plenty of surf and music festivals taking place here during that time, so find out whats on and join the party!

If you need a break from the sun and the surf then its just a simple case of hopping into your hire car and exploring the hinterland. The Glasshouse Mountains have a popular tourist drive where you will see great panoramic views of coast and country, and if you are partial to a bit of bushwalking then this is the mountain range for you.

If you dont mind a drop of wine then take a drive to some of the numerous wineries in the region and visit their cellar doors. Many of them have a restaurant on site as well, so you can turn your visit into a whole day excursion if you wish.

Another popular days outing is to visit Australia Zoo in Beerwah, home to the late, great Steve Irwin. The crocodile exhibitions and the enclosures that are home to over 500 animals will delight and entertain kids and adults alike, as well as providing educational insights into conservation.

So whatever kind of holiday youre looking for, the Sunny Coast will provide it. Families, couples, backpackers, large group tours- its all catered towards in this classic Queensland holiday destination.

With a hire car you will have the freedom to explore the region to its fullest potential, and you will find it is one of those places that once you experience it you just have to go back! So get that ball rolling and enjoy the start of a long association with the Sunshine Coast....

Gavin Wyatt

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