Endless summer holiday

Queensland’s Sunshine Coast beckons with its coastal gems and charming hinterlands

12 Feb 2019 / 10:57 H.

DO DREAMY, endless summers actually exist?

I for one always thought it was an over-romanticisation of the season.

That is, until I let my bare limbs feel the warmth of Queensland’s Sunshine Coast. This is what it’s liked to be shamelessly sun-kissed.

The Sunshine Coast is a kind of ‘easy fling’, one that will lead you to fall in love with its coastal gems and charming hinterlands.

A 90-minute drive north of Brisbane, Noosa Head was my first taste of the coast. The little boutiques lining the shopping thoroughfare along Hastings Street offer a laidback style, while the cafés will sort you out for beachside bites.

If you’re not a strong swimmer, fret not, for Noosa Main Beach is one of Australia’s few north-facing beaches with softer surf sections, cradling you gently as you frolic in the sea’s calm embrace. Lifeguards are also always on patrol.

Around the corner from the beach is the start into Noosa National Park. Just follow the hiking trail, with the shoreline on one side and the forest on the other.

With a direct view of waves hitting the

rocks, this park has picture-perfect vistas to commit to memory and of course, Instagram.

You can also take in the sight of the sea at Sails Restaurant, which features ethically-sourced seasonal produce on the menu.

There, I savoured my first Moreton Bay Bug – not an insect, but a type of lobster.

On the Noosa river sits the Noosa Boat House, where you can have cocktails on the top deck with a stunning sunset as your date.

The river attracts many birds especially at dusk, with flocks crisscrossing above your head in graceful natural choreography. I even saw a fisherman casually toss out rejected parts of his catch to hungry pelicans and seagulls.

At the Noosa and Eumundi markets, you can sample gourmet snacks from bakers, or get fresh fruit from farmers. Amidst the vendors selling local artisan treasures, you can have your palm read, buy handmade jewellery, or tip talented musicians who’ll happily get your body swaying.

The Sunshine Coast’s tagline ‘Naturally Refreshing’ doesn’t only describe the sea breeze, but includes the privilege to breath in the air of the forests, mountains and everglades.

Tucked inside the Great Sandy National Park is Habitat Noosa, a sprawling ecocamp surrounded by a large population of eastern grey kangaroos, where you can sleep under the stars in impressive glamping comfort, explore walking trails, or get on the water.

Perhaps the best activity here is to kayak into the wilderness of the Noosa everglades.

Only one of two such glades in the world, this untouched everglade system is an enchanting place to hide away, with water so pristine, you’ll see why it’s known as the River of Mirrors.

Up in the hinterlands, along the Blackall Range scenic drive, are lookout points where you can stop to admire the peaks on the way to Montville.

Popular as a weekend getaway, it is blessed with waterfalls, creeks and even a dam.

The small town has an artist community, with shops selling art out of the heritage-listed Tudor- and French-style cottages on Main Street.

Just 20 minutes down the range is the famous Australia Zoo, the legacy of ‘Crocodile Hunter’ Steve Irwin. Cuddling koalas and feeding kangaroos are such clichéd touristy things, but it is worth it!

The zoo’s dedication to animal welfare is evident in the way its healthy residents look so content in their top-notch facilities.

Watching the giraffes and zebras placidly roam in their huge African savannah enclosure with the rhinos chilling nearby, one can almost believe in the idea of world peace.

Did you know that wombats have literal buns of steel?

Yup, they have bone-hard plates underneath their furry bottoms to protect themselves from predators.

These are the types of cool facts you’ll learn at the zoo.

The zoo also has an adjoining state-of-the-art animal hospital, where I got to see dedicated staff tenderly nurse patients back to health.

Its Wildlife Warriors show is the best ethical animal performance I have ever seen, hosted by wise-cracking expert handlers as they feed large crocodiles.

The birds are also showstoppers as they display their colourful plumage in flight, hyping up the already exciting atmosphere.

Don’t miss the tongue-wagging dingoes too, as they’re led by staff around the audience.

Another popular stop is The Ginger Factory in Yandina, which is not simply a banal processing plant, but a quaint ginger-focused theme park with educational tours, product tasting and fun rides for children.

The Overboard Boat Ride features handmade puppets telling the story of a runaway gingerbread man fleeing the chefs who baked him to feed sailors.

No matter your age, spotting the fugitive cookie hiding among animated characters while on his adventure around the world, is a treat.

Leaving the Sunshine Coast will trigger heartache but like anything worth falling in love with, no matter how short-lived, the long-lasting memories will make up for it.

The writer’s trip was hosted by Tourism Queensland, with flight sponsored by Malaysia Airlines.

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