Brisbane to The Sunshine Coast and Hinterland
If you visit Brisbane for the bright, sunny weather, or the beautiful, meandering Brisbane River, or the fresh local seafood, the scenic and diverse natural environment or the local island family resorts, you won't be disappointed – but if you come for the beaches, well, don't feel bad, you wouldn't be the first to make that mistake.
Brisbane's bikini-clad neighbour, the Gold Coast draws more than its fair share of beach lovers, in fact, in the peak of summer, it's hard to find a spot on the beach at Surfers Paradise. Not as well known is Brisbane's other sun-kissed neighbour, with beautiful white, sandy beaches, serious surf, family-friendly calm beaches and a breathtaking hinterland dotted with artist colonies, charmingtownships and mouthwatering fresh produce. It's the SunshineCoast and it's just one hour north of Brisbane.
Take the Bruce Highway north to Caloundra, the southern beaches of the SunshineCoast. For families, Caloundra's GoldenBeach offers white sand and calm waters perfect for little swimmers. Alternatively, the surf beach at Kings also boasts a large tidal swimming pool, and nearby there's plenty of shopping and some of the best fish and chip shops in Australia.
As you make your way north along the impressive coast road, you'll notice every beach is more spectacular than the last and there is no shortage of nooks and crannies to enjoy a quiet, private day at the beach.
After your swim, head to Mooloolaba for lunch and maybe a visit to Underwater World. Walk through a glass tunnel under a sea of sharks and other sea life and even “pat” some of Australia's bizarre sea creatures. For the brave, book in advance for your chance to swim with sharks in the giant Underwater World tank.
For the discerning shopper (and surfer) Noosa is a great option. Hastings Street is the Rodeo Drive of the SunshineCoast and there are plenty of fine dining options available for dinner. Perched above the sensational HastingsBeach is the NoosaNational Park, where visitors often make a rare sighting of a wild koala.
Inland of the SunshineCoast is the breathtaking BlackallRange, the destination for lovers of fine arts, antiques and breathtaking scenery. From Caloundra, take the Caloundra road to the Glass House Mountains Road. (From here, animal lovers - and budding crocodile tamers - can continue on to Steve Irwin's Australia Zoo).
For those after something a little less “crikey” continue on to Maleny for art galleries, boutiques, wineries and day spas. Montville, just north of Maleny is a hub for antiques, fine hand crafts, woodwork and leatherwork and delicate blown glass ware. Pick up some delectable chocolates and macadamia nut treats made from locally grown nuts. Lovers of Ginger should keep an eye out for Ginger Factory treats made at nearby town Yandina, as they are legendary in the area.
Fresh water fishing enthusiasts should pay a visit to LakeBaroon for stocked Bass, Golden Perch and Mary River Cod as well as some local species. The lake is a good spot for a picnic lunch along the way.
For lovers of nature, Mapelton to the north of LakeBaroon offers spectacular waterfalls and magnificent views along the way. Stop at any of the roadside stalls for fresh picked fruit and vegetables and taste some of the divine local cuisine at the restaurants.
From Mapelton, head to Kennilworth and the countryside of the Mary Valley. The might MaryRiver and its tributaries weave through rolling hills, spectacular forests and little farming towns. Stop off at one or two of the local wineries to try some surprisingly good, affordable drops and maybe pick up a souvenir or two of your trip.