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Sunshine Coast - A Tourist Haven
sunshine coastWhen it comes to the Sunshine Coast of Queensland, you really must set aside at least a week to explore it properly. This beautiful part of Australia's coast offers such a diversity of sights and attractions, that you may in fact never want to leave!

The Sunshine Coast is one of Australia's most popular destinations, essentially because there is something here for all ages. Home to some of the country's most beautiful beaches and rivers, as well as an abundance of tropical rainforests.

The climate is one of the best attributes of the Sunshine Coast, being mild in winter, with many hours of sunshine all year round (hence its name). There is no wonder people flock from around the world to visit its beaches, mountains and towns. It truly is one of a kind!

The best way to start your exploration of the Sunshine Coast is to pick up your campervan in Brisbane and journey the one and a half trip north up the coast. The scenery along this trip is absolutely stunning, and you will be taken from one extreme to the next. The Bruce Highway is the perfect viewing point for the impressive Glasshouse Mountains as well as rows upon rows of towering pine trees lining the roadside.

Before you reach the Coast you might want to stop at some of the many attractions which are scattered along the highway. These are a little tamer than the Gold Coast theme parks but just as unique and educational.

Steve Irwin's Australia Zoo is one of Queensland's top tourist attractions and is visited by thousands each year. Located in Beerwah, about an hour north from Brisbane, the zoo is easily accessible with huge signs of Bindi Irwin leading the way. The zoo is home to over 550 animals making Australia Zoo a truly amazing place that will captivate your hearts and leave you in awe at the wonder of Australia's wildlife.

You also can't forget the pineapple and tropical fruit plantations which have made this region famous. The Big Pineapple, located near Nambour is hard to miss and was one of the first attractions in the region. It also features Australia's largest macadamia nut factory, not to mention endless entertainment for the kids, with farm displays and mini-train rides keeping them amused for hours. Entry is free and there is ample parking. Before you leave make sure you try one of their famous banana splits. The Deer Sanctuary and the Super Bee are also well known attractions located at Forest Glen further along the Bruce Highway.

Just before the Maroochydore exit, you can't miss the Ettamogah Pub, also known as Aussie World, as it has grown into a tourist attraction of its own. This is Australia's most famous pub and is an attraction suitable for the whole family. Including pub meals and 30 rides and games, plus a myriad of souvenier shops, this venue is worth visiting for the ultimate Aussie experience.

Underwater World, located at Mooloolaba, is Queensland's largest aquarium with over 25,000 different sea creatures on show. The seal and otter shows are always a favourite with locals and tourists. There are also several rides that will thrill and excite you on a whole new level!

Maroochydore is one of those lazy towns that help you ease into holiday mode and put the brakes on for a while. The best Caravan Park by far is Cotton Tree Caravan Park, located in a prime position on the beachfront and on the banks of the Maroochydore river. This tourist park is perfect for any traveller, as there is always a space available to set up and explore this beautiful part of the world. Be sure to bring your fishing and beach gear as you will end up spending a lot of time by the water.

If you are searching for the ultimate tourist escape, then you can go no better than Noosa. As the tourist mecca of the Sunshine Coast, Noosa is home to brilliant white beaches and tourist shops lining the famous Hastings street, plus perfect weather for most of the year. All these features mean that you will be relaxed in no time.

If there is at least one national park on your itinerary, be sure to make it the Cooloola National Park. This stunning natural environment is home to excellent camping grounds, pretty rivers, sandy beaches and an abundance of walking trails. This is essentially what makes this the hidden treasure of the Sunshine Coast.

If you are in the mood for some bargain hunting or simply want to browse fantastic handicrafts and artwork, the famous Eumundi markets are just the deal for you. Located just south of Noosa, they are perfect for a day trip and are packed full of fun and exploration. There are all the local tropical fruits available plus the famous arts and crafts, making them perfect for many tastes.

The Sunshine hinterland, with breathtaking views and art and craft shops, is a direct contrast to the brilliant beaches that line the coast from Caloundra in the south through to Madjimba further north.

Montville and Maleny are popular for their scenic beauty and restaurants. Situated on the Blackall range and located close to an hour from the beach, the panoramic views are truly exhilarating. The quaint streets are lined with interesting boutiques and handicraft shops, and there is truly something here for everyone. You will need time to park your campervan and take in the views which sweep down to the beaches and beyond.

Kondalilla National Park, located 2km north of Montville, is definitely worth a visit, especially for the beautiful scenery. There is a 2km circuit which ends with the majestic sight of the Kondalilla falls and is suitable for practically any fitness type.

There is something in the Sunshine Coast for everyone and for all ages, and whether you are a surfer, photographer, wildlife enthusiast, or just need a holiday, you will be back again and again.

Christine Barton

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