The Best Sunshine Coast Spots For First Time Visitors

Sunshine Coast’s laid-back lifestyle revolves around its serene beaches, subtropical forests and warm weather.

Self-driving a campervan or motorhome from Brisbane is the most convenient way to go around, but it can be overwhelming to decide which places to go especially if you’re visiting for the first time. So to help you get the most out of your self-drive vacation, we’ve listed some of the best Sunshine Coast spots you can check out with your friends or family.

1. Mooloolaba Beach

Mooloolaba is one of Australia’s top rated beaches. With stunning views of the Pacific Ocean and patrolled waters, the place is perfect for swimming, surfing, snorkeling and marine life watching. All year round it has near perfect weather conditions and the water temperature is ideal for aquatic activities.

Mooloolaba Beach

"Alexandra headland / Mooloolaba" by texaus1 available at flickr.com/photos/texaus1/22995000904 under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic. Full License terms at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/ BY texaus1

The coast is full of restaurants, cafes and shops so you will never go hungry, if you didn’t bring food with you. The beach is also near the Underwater World Sea Life Aquarium where you can see and sometimes even touch their collection of aquatic creatures.

How to get there:

Just like the previous destinations, take Bruce Highway. When you reach Sippy Down, turn right to Sunshine Motorway. Continue driving and turn left to Brisbane Road. The beach front is at the end of this road.

2. Stumers Creek

The dog-friendly estuary of Stumers Creek is just a  kilometre north of Coolum. The creek is shallow, making it ideal for children to swim in the waters. You can take the leash off  your pet here and let them frolic in the sand.

The nearby shaded grassy bank area serves as the picnic area. Stumers also has showers, toilet facilities and dog washing areas. The nearby shore is also ideal for kite flying. In fact, it used to be the venue of the Coolum Kite Festival which attracted kite flyers all over the world.

Make sure that you arrive early because the place is quite popular with locals and it’s difficult to find a parking space, especially during hot days. There are also nearby pet-friendly accommodations that charges $650 to $750 per week.

How to get there:

From Brisbane, drive north via  Bruce Highway. Turn right to Sunshine Motorway and when you reach a roundabout, turn right to Yandina Coolum Road. Continue driving until you reach the coast. Stumers Creek is just a bit up north.

3. Noosa Everglades

The Noosa Everglades is a must-see destination for any nature lover. Its assortment of flora and fauna is unparalleled in all of Sunshine Coast. Nestled in the Great Sandy National Park, this place is also a fave spot among canoers and kayakers. The Everglades also has access to Lake Cootharaba, Queensland’s largest natural lake.

Noosa_Everglades

"Everglades kayak" by eGuide Travel available at https://www.flickr.com/photos/eguidetravel/5778519933 under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0. Full terms at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/ BY eGuide Travel

Cruise deep into the dark and tranquil waterways of the Everglades when you go on a wilderness tour. It also includes a meal at “Harry’s Hut”, a logger’s camp where they serve fish, steaks, salad and beverages.

Don’t miss walking on the elevated mangrove walk, and experience the beauty of the Everglades up close. You can camp at Cooloola Recreation Area along the upper Noosa River for $5.45 per person or $21.8 per family. Generators and open fires are prohibited on the site.

How to get there:

From Brisbane, drive northward via Bruce Highway. Take the turn-off at Eumundi and simply follow the Eumundi-Noosa Road. Exit at Gympie and turn off at Cooray. Continue following the signs along the Cooroy-Noosa Road. Average travel time is less than two hours. When you arrive in town, you can rent kayaks for as low as $55 per day.

4. Kondalilla National Park

Hiking enthusiasts will love Kondalilla for all the right reasons: the park has a challenging trail, dense forest, the backdrop of Mount Everglades, a swimming hole and a 90-metre waterfall. The place is a great stopover on a road trip and is perfect for picnics. So whether you want to spend your holiday relaxing and swimming or hiking and playing a game of golf, Kondalilla National Park has everything you need.

The park’s trails are also grouped into different categories. The walking circuit is about 4.7kilometres long and takes 2-3 hours to finish. There are parts that are easy enough for children, making it perfect for family bonding. If you don’t have food, there are plenty of stores at the nearby towns of Maleny and Montville you can go to for supplies.

How to get there:

From Brisbane, drive 54 kilometres northward via Bruce Highway then exit through Steve Irwin Way, Exit 163. Travel 22 kilometres north and head to Landsborough, following the signs to Montville. Near the top of the range, simply turn right to Maleny – Montville Road. About 2.6 kilometres of Montville, turn left to Kondalilla Falls Road and drive another 700 metres to the park entrance.

5. King’s Beach Foreshore

The stretch of Kings Beach has lots to offer in terms of water activities, from kayaking to boogie boarding. Children would also love its interactive water fountains and flying fox playground. The coast is also swarmed by cafes, shops and restaurants to satisfy any food craving. There are also barbecue and picnic facilities if you brought your own food.

The highlight of the beach is its salt water tidal swimming pool where people can swim for free. The facility is also equipped with shade sails and wading area with disabled access.

How to get there:

From Brisbane, just head north via Bruce Highway. Turn right when you reach the intersection with Caloundra Road. Follow this route and turn left to Sugar Bag Road which changes its name to Queen st. Continue on this road until the waterfront is on the horizon.

 

6. Mary Cairncross Reserve

Sunshine Coast is not just about its beaches. It is also famous for its lush mountains. The Mary Cairncross Reserve has 55 hectares of subtropical rainforest that any nature lover would feel right at home in. The hinterland’s walking tracks are wheelchair and stroller-friendly. The reserve also overlooks the famous Glass House Mountains, so make sure you take lots of photos.

The reserve is also home to  native Red-legged Pademelons, Regent Bowerbird, Southern Angle-Headed Dragon, Brush Turkey and a forest of giant trees like Blue Quandong which can reach heights of 40 metres.

How to get there:

From Brisbane, take Bruce Highway and turn left onto Steve Irwin Way. When you reached Landsborough, head left to Railway Street and then turn to Maleny Street. Switch to Landsborough- Maleny Road and head straight until you reach Mountain View Road. From here the reserve is just a walk away.

 

This post barely scratched the surface when it comes to naming some of the greatest destinations in Australia’s Sunshine Coast. Whether you’re visiting for the first or tenth time, it’s best to rent a campervan or motorhome when you are travelling in groups to these places, so you can stop any time to enjoy the great views along the way.

To get competitive deals on your next motorhome hire, call Salamanda Travel right away. We look forward to helping you plan your Sunshine Coast holiday!

The Legendary Pacific Coast Road Trip between Sydney and Brisbane

Congratulations! You’ve booked a motorhome or campervan through Salamanda Travel and are looking forward to a self-drive holiday from Sydney to Brisbane (or Brisbane to Sydney). So the next thing is to find out what to do along the way. We will try and help you with that here.

Cheapa 6 Berth

The legendary Pacific Coast road is Australia’s national highway number one, stretches for approximately 1 000 km and is arguably Australia’s top tourist drive. On the way you will spot some signs showing the brown-coded scenic tourist route which points the way to some of the best beaches and most picturesque towns. It can be an adventure just to follow any of the Scenic Route drives without knowing where you will end up. Once there, you can visit local pubs and cafés – you never know who or what you’ll find. However, we also recommend planning some activities and places to visit before you start out on your road trip. Here is our list of some highlights along the way.

Blue Mountains
The Blue Mountains National Park is one of the most popular national parks in Australia and just a short trip west of Sydney. The most famous attraction in the park is the ‘Three Sisters’ rock formation. It’s a spectacular landmark, and highly recommended. Explore The Blue Mountains Bushwalks which are extensive and impressive. If you are looking for a more adventurous way to see the ‘Three Sisters’, you could ride the steepest passenger skyway in the world, the Scenic Skyway. Glide between clifftops and gaze at the rainforest canopy through the glass floor of the Scenic Skyway! Or go horse riding, and take one of the segway tours where you can discover the spectacular beauty of riding in the Blue Mountains in a different way.

Blue Mountains 2

Newcastle
A few hours drive north of Sydney, Newcastle is located in the heart of the Hunter Region and bordered by a stunning coastline with beautiful beaches. Take a dip in the “Bogey Hole” which was hacked out by convict labour in 1819. Once you see the Bogey Hole in real life you will realise what an achievement this was by the convicts. It was constructed by order of a commandant for his own personal bathing use.

Port Stephens
Further north again, Port Stephens offers a unique diversity of activities, especially for tourists. It is well worth discovering the ‘Great Lake Marine Park’, which is a 98,000-hectare marine reserve. You can also enjoy other water-related activities. The marine park was established by the NSW Government in December 2005, and has since developed into a stunning habitat full of diverse wildlife thanks to its rich variety of ecosystems. Go on a camel riding tour or a quad tour and experience the thrill of riding over the vast sand dunes of Port Stephens.

Port Macquarie
Further north from there, Port Macquarie is a bustling town with stunning beaches. Port Macquarie is known as the “Koala Capital” of Australia. Visit the Koala Hospital and Wildlife Park. There is a free Koala Hospital tour at 3pm every day.

Coffs Harbour
Heading towards the northern part of NSW is Coffs Harbour. No matter in what time of year you visit Coffs harbour, the area won’t fail to entertain and delight. Did you always want to travel to Holland and see how clogs are built? You don’t have to travel to the other side of the world – visit the Clog Barn to find a little piece of Holland in Australia. Take a leisurely walk around the model Dutch village with its miniature working windmills and working miniature railway. All the models are replicas of actual buildings in Holland. Visit Big Oma’s Coffee House, and taste some of the Dutch specialties, like croquettes, frikendellen and poffertjes.

Coffs Harbour has more to offer than just clogs. “Coffs” has some outstanding beaches, such as Gallows, Park Beach, Diggers, Sapphire, Emerald, Sawtell, Sandy and more. A popular attraction is the Big Banana,  one of the most photographed objects in Australia. Other attractions include a downhill taboggan ride, an ice skating rink and a waterslide.

Byron Bay

Byron Bay
On the way from Coffs Harbour to Byron Bay, make sure you visit South West Rocks and Scott’s Head along the way. They both have a caravan park overlooking beautiful beaches. Byron Bay iself is recognized as one of the homes of alternative lifestyle culture in Australia. Make a short scenic journey into Byron’s hinterland to Crystal Castle  to see a slice of the alternative lifestyle. In Byron Bay itself, you can hike to Cape Byron Lighthouse, the most easterly point in mainland Australia. It is definitely worth the walk for the amazing view. Don’t forget to try ‘Stand Up Paddling,  it’s one of the fastest growing sports, and there is no better place to try stand up paddling then in Byron!

Gold Coast
The Gold Coast is THE holiday destination for a lot of Aussies and tourists as well, due to the sunny subtropical climate, surfing beaches and plenty of nightlife, family entertainment, shopping and hotels. Apart from this, the Gold Coast has a lot of different theme parks, such as Dream World, Warner Bros Movie World, Sea World. Another popular attraction is the Tamborine rainforest skywalk. The skywalk is a great way of exploring the rainforest – during your walk you will be able to observe the diverse flora and fauna the rainforest has to offer from a birds eye view.

Brisbane Kangaroo Point lookout Brisbane

Brisbane
Your final destination is Brisbane – a town that offers plenty of things to do. At the Cultural Precinct at South Bank, visit the Gallery of Modern Art, the Queensland Museum, take the family for a swim at the “City Beach” at South Bank, or cruise over the river on the frequent ferries. Plan a trip down the Brisbane River on the special ‘Bat Cruise” to observe the flying foxes that take off each sunset to go foraging for fruit across Brisbane. There is also Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary at Fig Tree Pocket, just a short trip downriver by ferry where besides koalas you will see plenty of other Australian wildlife. The city itself offers plenty of shopping and historic buildings such as the Brisbane City Hall at King George Square, and then in the city on the river’s edge is the Brisbane Botanic Gardens. For more information, check out the Visit Brisbane website.

Brisbane as the locals know it (where to find great food)

The hidden Brisbane is my favourite part of Brisbane. To say that Brisbane is not interesting can mean one of two things – either you haven’t really looked, or you are so new you don’t know some of the local gems yet. And since, if you are on this website, you may be visiting in a campervan and just staying for a while, you are excused! Allow me to enlighten you.

Who doesn’t love food? I love it, and when I say I ‘love’ food, I mean I love decadent, sweet, delicious food that shortens your life span. If you are looking for healthy food, you are reading the wrong blog. But I will try to provide a well-balanced article.

There are a few fab joints for breakfast around town. Some of the most well-known ones are The Gun Shop, Lock and Load (both in West End), French Twist, Pearl Cafe, Crosstown Eating House (Woolloongabba). With the first two you might wonder where I am trying to send you. But it’s OK. The Gun Shop was once a Gun Shop … Lock and Load, well … I have no answer for that. It’s just a name.  Some people may question why French Twist is on the list…well, they make a spectacular french toast with banana, Nutella, maple syrup and ice cream which I love.

Lunch
Georges Seafood Paragon at Eagle Street Pier is on my list for two reasons. It’s cheap (hello half price lunches) and they seem to cook everything.  I hate seafood, so the fact I can eat here is noteworthy.  Taragindi Thai – I have never tasted better coconut rice. Always delicious, I would eat there every night if I could.

Dinner
My new favourite dinner eatery is Fat Noodles in the historic Treasury Casino building. You may be unimpressed with the Casino idea but the food is delicious, reasonable and the decor is funky. Something new catches my eye every time I visit (even though I always order the same dish).

Apparently people share food now … Well, that’s the impression when I visited Public. I feel that there is a ‘lady and the tramp’ push happening in Brisbane. Did I miss something? Is this the new speed dating? Anyway, it’s all about sharing at Public and their lack of tables means more intimacy with your dinner date.

West End Garden in West End is where I take friends visiting Brisbane. The chilli squid is amazing.

Dessert
My favourite meal of the day is dessert. Personally, I believe Brisbane should have more dessert restaurants. Milano at Ascot serves ice cream desserts similar to the ones you remember from your childhood when you visited the Big Pineapple. Passione Gelateria at Tenneriffe is a small establishment which offers some yummy Italian desserts. I am never less than impressed when I visit. Freestyler at Emporium is well known and open till late. Sometimes you’ll find it difficult to get a table. Poppie Cakes at Emporium rate a mention, as does CakeStar at Albion. Both sell  delicious cupcakes but Poppie Cakes serves rainbow cake. Google that – you will be impressed.

Meals at any time
Brisbane is limited when it comes to dining after 10pm. If you don’t want to visit the Casino I would head to the Villager, Brisbane CBD. Failing that, the Pancake Manor, Brisbane CBD is open 24 hours and provides meals other than pancakes. As the clubs close and the kebab lines are too long, you’ll see weary clubbers with shoes in hand making their way up the hill to the old church where the pancake manor is hidden.

Australia in a Campervan – Our Guide to Festivals in Australia

Music gathers people, and that is one of the main reasons we love festivals. Festivals are a great place to meet up with like-minded individuals from around the country and the world. There are many festivals of all kinds, sizes and music and lifestyle directions in Australia year-round, so there will always be something to suit you.

This isn’t your normal “Top Ten” list with the best festivals held in Australia, simply because there are too many festivals in too many places. So we have ordered them into categories.

Big Day Out Sydney

Modern Sounds
If you are looking for a lot of young people, beer, sun and current popular artists, it won’t be hard to find a festival that suits you.

Some festivals in Australia are held in different places at the same time, such as the Big Day Out and Stereosonic, which are good examples of this kind of national festival.

Big Day Out is held in January simultaneously in Sydney, the Gold Coast, Adelaide, Melbourne and Perth. The line-up features some of Australia’s best live rock bands as well as top international artists. The headline acts for 2014 are Snoop Dogg and Major Lazer.

Stereosonic focuses on House and Techno sounds and is held in December in Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney and Perth. Here you’ll find some of the biggest DJ’s from all around the world, especially from Great Britain and The Netherlands, like Armin van Buren and Calvin Harris. Talking about Dutch music, one of the biggest festivals in The Netherlands has also come to Australia since 2009. Defqon 1, founded by the Dutch powerhouse Q-Dance is one of the biggest festivals of its kind featuring House and Hardstyle music and it grows in size every year.

Some other festivals of popular current music that are worth considering are:

  • Field Day – Sydney Festival (January)
  • Homebake (December)
  • Bass in the Grass, Darwin (May)
  • Soundwave in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth (February).

Jazz, Blues and Classical
If those hard bass sounds aren’t really your thing, try one of the Jazz and/or Blues festivals. Combine some of the best nature in Australia with delightful music and enjoy a day out with a music adventure. Probably the best known of its kind is the Melbourne International Jazz Festival in June. With more than 300 Australian and international musicians and a rich program with club gigs, film screenings, master classes and evening sound walks, this is a festival for families, youth and even seniors.

The Byron Bay Bluefest is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. That means 2014’s Eastern Weekend will be very special this year at Tyagarah Tee Tree Farm with over 200 performances on 7 stages. The Bluefest welcomes international artists like Jack  Johnson, John Mayer, Passenger and Dave Matthews Band.

For Opera you should definitely visit ‘Opera in the Paddock’ and ‘Opera in the Vineyards’. These festivals are organised respectively in March and October and bring the best of opera to stunning outdoor locations so you can bask in world class music while enjoying some great scenery.

Womad Adelaide

Folk and Country
Experience country music like it should be. With a number of festivals organised year round in Australia we’re quite sure you’ll find what you’re looking for.

The Gympie Muster is held over 4 action-packed days and nights in Queensland’s most beautiful and normally peaceful National State Parks: Amamoor Creek State. Here you’ll find the true spirit of Country in Australia during the end of August each year.

This year the Tamworth Country Music Festival will be opened by two of Australian superstars in Country Music, namely Adam Harvey and Troy Cassar-Daley, that and lots of other performances makes the 42nd Toyota Country Music Festival Tamworth in January 2014 one that absolutely cannot be missed.

A great festival for the whole family is National Folk Festival in Canberra, hundreds of the world’s best musicians are showing their best music tracks during this five-day festival in March and April.

WOMAD
WOMADelaide is the Worldof Music, Arts and Dance, founded by musician Peter Gabriel in 1982. Over the last two decades it has grown into one of the biggest outdoor festivals in Australia and is held over four days in Adelaide. Participants can experience world class music performances as well as workshops, cooking programs and dancers.

A popular way to enjoy festivals is in a motorhome. Most festivals offer powered sites and a camper with your own bed, kitchen facilities and even shower and toilet are a very comfortable way to enjoy a stay at a festival campground. But do make sure you book early, because we get a lot of people booking well in advance to secure their campervan for a festival.

Still haven’t found what you’re looking for? Try the Australia Tourism website.

Australia in a Campervan – our Guide to Brisbane

Brisbane, the capital city of Queensland is considered the most relaxed capital city in Australia. But don’t assume that relaxed means boring. Brisbane doesn’t feel the need to gloat about its attractions, because it’s just part of the lifestyle.

Brisbane Arial

Brisbane is located on the east coast of Australia, approximately 1000 kilometres north of Sydney, a quick 1.5hr flight or a few days’ drive in your campervan or motorhome depending on how much you want to stop and see on the way. With temperatures ranging between 21-30oC  in Summer, Brisbane can be quite humid, although relief from the humidity is provided by intermittent summer storms which also make spectacular viewing. In summer take an umbrella wherever you go. Storms are fast and furious and sometimes strike with little warning. I’m not kidding when I say it can be both sunny and raining at the same time! Winter temperatures sit within the ranges of 10-21oC and it’s the driest part of the year.

South Bank

Brisbane’s balmy climate and river frontage has seen a surge of new restaurants and activities in the city. Southbank Parklands runs alongside the Brisbane River and offers prime views of the city. Its many restaurants, boutique bars, cinemas, beautiful green parkland and picnic areas make it an urban oasis in the heart of the city. Adjacent to Southbank is Brisbane’s cultural precinct. Here you will find the Queensland Performing Arts Complex, Queensland Museum, Sciencentre, Queensland Art Gallery, Queensland Theatre Company, Gallery of Modern Art and the State Library. If you love all things cultural – the ballet, the opera, theatre, and music, you are in the right place here.

Brisbane Kangaroo Point lookout

The Kangaroo Point Cliffs offer a prime view of Brisbane city which is unbeatable. From here you can view the city in all its glory stretching from South Bank to the Story Bridge. Return at night to see a spectacular view of the city skyline. The Ernst & Young building with its spiderweb design is a particular highlight.  But the view isn’t the only activity at the Kangaroo Point Cliffs; you can climb those orange-coloured cliffs day and night, visit Riverlife and paddle down the river in a kayak, climb the Story Bridge (situated above the worlds shortest highway) for another amazing view of the city, or abseil down it.  I should warn you though, the locals are quite a sporty bunch so expect a lot of runners, walkers and cyclists when you wander around. Some advice: keep to the left.

Brisbane, known as the River City, definitely lives up to its name. During the lunch hour you will find city workers spilling from restaurants and pubs along the river. Follow their lead and head into one of the many restaurants that line the river. Eagle Street Pier and Riverside offer a number of restaurants view great views of the city. Venture further into the heart of the CBD and you will find the Queen Street Mall, Brisbane’s main shopping precinct. Explore the surrounding streets and you will find the most magnificent Moreton Bay Fig ever seen, a 100 year old cathedral, city botanic gardens, the Anzac war memorial and public art scattered around the city.

Brisbane has a number of transport options to get you out and about. Trains and Buses are the most used, servicing a large area of the city and its extension into suburbia. Ferries and CityCats glide up and down the Brisbane River offering a relaxing journey between destinations. There are a few free transport options – City Hopper Ferries, City Circle and Spring Hill bus loop. They have a reliable timetable but are limited to the inner city area.