Sunshine Coast Attractions
The second great tourist and holiday area in southern Queensland after the Gold Coast is the Sunshine Coast, which extends north for more than 50km from Caloundra, 90km north of Brisbane, to Noosa Heads.
Long beaches of beautiful white sand are interrupted by stretches of rocky cliffs. The Sunshine Coast, with a population of around 120,000, is less commercialized, less spoiled and quieter than the urbanized Gold Coast. Although there are only occasional high-rise hotel or apartment blocks there is a good deal of building and investment going on, particularly at Noosa Heads. Here, as on the Gold Coast and the Great Barrier Reef, the increasing popularity of the Queensland coasts with holidaymakers is all too obvious. There is impressive coastal scenery, with quiet sheltered waters as well as magnificent surfing beaches but Queensland, with its subtropical climate, has the advantage over Australia's south coast, of making water sports and other outdoor activities possible throughout the year. Average maximum temperatures of over 20°C in winter make a holiday or retirement home in Queensland an attractive proposition for many Australians.The landscape of the Sunshine Coast is very varied, with sandy bays bounded by steep cliffs and areas of natural bush country, and quiet coastal waters and rivers offering an alternative to the surf of the ocean.The business center of the Sunshine Coast is Maroochydore at the mouth of the Maroochy River. To the north of Maroochydore are the resorts of Coolum Beach, Peregian Beach, Marcus Beach and Sunshine Beach. There are airfields on the Sunshine Coast at Caloundra, Maroochydore and Noosaville. The railroad from Brisbane to Gympie runs through the hinterland of the Sunshine Coast via Nambour and direct buses run from Brisbane to the various resorts. The road to Caloundra branches off the Bruce Highway, and a coast road leads to Noosa Heads. A new Sunshine Expressway runs from the Maroochy River to Noosa Heads.
Maroochydore (pop. 21,000) is the oldest beach resort in Queensland and the business center of the Sunshine Coast. The town grew up in the 1880s round a sawmill near the mouth of the Maroochy River. Situated as it is on the beautiful surf beaches of the Sunshine Coast and in the estuary of the river (water birds, safe bathing beaches), it has developed into a popular holiday center.The name of the river and the town comes from an Aboriginal word meaning 'place with black swans'.North of the town, near the airport, is a Pioneer Village, and at Bli Bli is a Fairytale Castle. Underwater World has a huge tank of seawater with a glass-walled passage through it, giving visitors a close-up view of the variety of the underwater world off the Australian coast.
Mooloolaba is a very popular holiday resort with beautiful sandy beaches and excellent facilities for visitors. The harbor at the mouth of the Mooloolaba River is sheltered by the rocky coasts of Alexandra Headland and Port Cartwright, providing a safe anchorage for fishing boats and pleasure craft. From here pilots take large vessels to Brisbane along the shipping lane running close to the coast. Mooloolaba is the finishing line of the annual yacht race from Sydney and the starting point of the race to Gladstone.
Caloundra (pop. 20,000) is a popular holiday resort at the south end of the Sunshine Coast. The shipping lane to Brisbane lies directly off the coast. The name Caloundra comes from an Aboriginal word meaning 'beautiful place'.Caloundra has two good beaches suitable for families with children, Bullock Beach and Golden Beach, a sheltered harbor and ideal facilities for water sports on the long Pumicestone Passage between Bribie Island and the mainland to the south of Caloundra.From the cliffs above Caloundra there are fine views of Moreton Bay and the large ships on their way to Brisbane.
At Wickham Point is a small coastal park commemorating the crew of the hospital ship Centaur, which was sunk by Japanese aircraft off Cape Moreton during the second world war.At Seafarer's Wharf is a small-scale replica of Cook's Endeavor.Caloundra is within easy reach of the Glass House Mountains National Park.
Caboolture (pop. 8900) is the center of a dairy-farming area in which tropical fruits are also grown. Lying so near the Brisbane conurbation, its population has increased considerably in recent years.The area round the Caboolture River ('Snake' in the Aboriginal language) was settled c 1860.The reconstructed Caboolture Historical Village is a living open-air museum.Caboolture is a good base for excursions to the nearby Glass House Mountains National Park, Bribie Island and Moreton Bay.
Glass House Mountains National Park
698ha (in four sections).The unmistakable landmark of the Glass House Mountains National Park is a group of nine volcanic plugs rising abruptly out of the coastal plain. The mountains were so named by Captain Cook in 1770, perhaps because of their glass-smooth sides. The individual hills bear names from the language of the Aborigines. The four most striking crags are Coonowrin, Beerwah, Ngungun and Tibrogargan; the highest is Mount Beerwah (738m). Some of them can be climbed (experienced rock climbers only).
Gold was found in Gympie (pop. 11,700) in 1867, and the rich goldfields helped the young colony to survive. After the gold petered out in the 1920s the town depended for its continuing prosperity on dairy farming and agriculture.The annual Gold Rush Festival in October takes visitors back to gold-mining days and commemorates James Nash, who first found gold here.
Gympie lies to the north of Cooloola National Park (Noosa Heads). There are excursions available to Tin Can Bay and Rainbow Beach (50km east), from which there is a ferry to Fraser Island.
Noosa Heads, Australia
Noosa Heads (pop. 12,000), the most northerly and most fashionable of the resorts on the Sunshine Coast, is beautifully situated on the Noosa River and on coastal lagoons, with Noosa National Park above the steeply scarped coast. The town offers two fine beaches, Sunshine and Sunrise.
North of the town are the Teewah Colored Sands and Cooloola National Park. Both are within easy reach either by road (all-terrain vehicles only) or by boat via the Noosa River, Lake Cooroibah and Lake Cootharaba.Inland, on the Noosa River, are the quiet settlements of Tewantin and Noosaville.
Cooloola National Park
39,000ha.High sand dunes, areas of blown sand and multicolored sand cliffs are the main features of this park, which can be reached by ordinary vehicles only from the northeast, near the Freshwater and Double Island Point campsites. The southern part of the park can be reached by boat from Boreen Point, Elanda and Tewantin.
Mount Pinbarren National Park
23ha.Mount Pinbarren National Park contains an expanse of rain forest on the hill of that name.
Noosa National Park
Pipeclay National Park
2ha.Pipeclay National Park protects an Aboriginal ceremonial site some distance off the road to Rainbow Beach.
The area round Nambour (pop. 10,500) was settled in the 1860s. The first to come were prospectors from the Gympie goldfields (60km northwest) looking (unsuccessfully) for gold in this area. Sugar has been the main crop since the 1890s.
There is evidence in this area of the Australian taste for the gigantic: the 15m high walk-through Big Pineapple at a pineapple plantation to the south of the town, the Big Cow 6km north and the Super Bee advertising a honey factory 14km south.Within easy reach is the Sunshine Coast, with the resorts of Maroochydore and Mooloolaba, only 20km away. To the west are the Blackall Ranges, from which there are magnificent views of the coast, and to the south is Glass House Mountains National Park.