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Sunshine Coast

Popular Queensland Visitor Destination North of Brisbane


When travelers talk about Queensland's Sunshine Coast, they probably mean Noosa which seems to be the main Sunshine Coast destination of vacationers.

In fact, the Sunshine Coast starts farther south just north of Brisbane.

Geographically, you could say that the Sunshine Coast begins at the junction of the Bruce Highway and the Sunshine Motorway.

The coastal towns would be accessed from the Sunshine Motorway while the hinterland would be along, or accessed from, the Bruce Highway until it branches east on the Eumundi-Noosa Rd or Cooroy-Noosa Rd into Noosa at the north end of the Sunshine Coast.

Beerwah, off the Bruce Highway north of Caboolture, is home to Australia Zoo, made famous by Ocker Aussie croc hunter Steve Irwin.

Then there's Caloundra on the coast with Mooloolaba to its southeast and Maroochydore to its north.

Inland is the Nambour region with its Big Pineapple.

And then, of course, there's Noosa.

1. Australia Zoo

With animals at Australia Zoo, copyright Tourism Queensland
With animals at Australia Zoo © Tourism Queensland

Australia Zoo's recognition and popularity factor grew as the fame of movie and TV Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin (1962-2006) grew.

Despite Irwin's early death at age 44 from being stung by a stingray north of Cairns, the popularity of Australia Zoo has not seemed to have abated, with Irwin's widow, US-born Terri Raines, and children Bindi and Bob continuing to be involved in the zoo's activities.

2. Mooloolaba

Mooloolaba Wharf, copyright Tourism Queensland
Mooloolaba Wharf © Tourism Queensland

The coastal town of Mooloolaba is some 100 kilometres north of Brisbane. From the Bruce Highway or Sunshine Motorway, take the Mooloolaba exit into Mooloolaba Rd.

Mooloolaba features ocean beaches and is on the banks of the Mooloolah River. For the visitor, there's a variety of restaurants, accommodation, and for sailing enthusiasts and anglers a marina and anchorage.

UnderWater World in Mooloolaba is Queensland's largest oceanarium and aquarium with a large variety of sea creatures. It's also a place where you can swim with seals, or with sharks.

3. The Big Pineapple

The Big Pineapple, public domain photo by TalShiar, Wikimedia Commons
The Big Pineapple, public domain photo by TalShiar, Wikimedia Commons

It used to be that when you took the Nambour Connection Rd from its junction with the Bruce Highway, you'd pass by the 16-metre-high Big Pineapple which was, and is, a Sunshine Coast landmark. The Big Pineapple is now closed to the public since there had been a change in ownership and renovation and reconstruction are being effected.

The Big Pineapple has mainly been identified with the town of Nambour in the Sunshine Coast hinterland but it actually is in Wombye which is due south of Nambour.

When the Big Pineapple was open to the public, it had an animal farm, a small zoo, a small train that took visitors around the plantation, and a cafe and souvenir shop.

4. Caloundra

Fishing at Caloundra, copyright Tourism Queensland
Fishing at Caloundra © Tourism Queensland

What they say in Caloundra is you can go to a different beach Monday to Saturday and be at the market on Sunday. The six beaches are all in and around Caloundra — Bulcock, Dicky, Golden, Kings, Moffat and Shelley Beaches — so take your pick.

Go swimming, surfing, canoeing, jet skiing, fishing: there's a watersport to suit the Caloundra visitor.

Away from the water, visit the galleries, dine at the restaurants, enjoy the different entertainment venues, and there's accommodation to suit every pocket.

5. Maroochydore

Shopping in Maroochydore, copyright Tourism Queensland
Shopping in Maroochydore © Tourism Queensland

Maroochydore lies at the very centre of the Sunshine Coast with Noosa to its north and Caloundra to its south. In fact, it's pretty much the commercial centre of the region, with a major bus interchange and the Sunshine Coast Airport some 9 kilometres north.

Not only is Maroochydore on the ocean front but the Maroochy River provides another waterside location not only for a variety of watersports but entertainment and dining venues as well.

A variety of accommodation is available, from resort-style venues to motels, hotels and caravan parks.

6. Noosa

Strolling through Hastings St, copyright Tourism Queensland
Strolling through Hastings St © Tourism Queensland

Noosa is arguably the best-known holiday destination on the Sunshine Coast. It is actually a conglomeration of areas which include Noosa Heads, Noosaville, Noosa Sound, Noosa Junction and several small adjacent towns.

It fronts the beach (of course), and Noosa's Hastings St, a popular watering hole, is a collection of cafes and restaurants, entertainment venues, and shops.

There are three main beaches, Noosa Main, Alexandria and Sunshine, all suitable for swimming and sunbathing. Nearby Noosa National Park features lookouts and walking tracks, and a chance to commune with Nature while enjoying views of a dazzling sea.

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