Sea and do

El­iz­a­beth Mery­ment checks out bud­get-savvy op­tions on the Queens­land Sun­shine Coast

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Front Page -

RACK or treat: One of the best ways to get to know a re­gion is via its nat­u­ral walks. Hap­pily, the Sun­shine Coast, north of Bris­bane, has an abun­dance of na­ture trails to ex­plore, from beach­side strolls in Noosa Na­tional Park to four-day trekking ex­pe­di­tions through na­tive wet­lands near Rain­bow Beach. An in­ter­me­di­ate op­tion is the half­day, 12.2km Kiniba track that winds through Cooloola, part of the Great Sandy Na­tional Park, north of Noosa. Walk­ers tra­verse man­groves, pa­per­bark swamps and cab­bage palm wet­lands on this self-guided walk, some of which is on el­e­vated board­walks. En­try is free.

To mar­ket, to mar­ket: Held on Sun­days on We­bya Road, not far from pop­u­lar Hast­ings Street, the bustling Noosa Farm­ers Mar­ket show­cases the best of Sun­shine Coast pro­duce. Farm­ers ar­rive in trucks laden with freshly picked pineap­ples, ba­nanas, man­goes, toma­toes, let­tuces, herbs and more, while lo­cal butch­ers, fish­er­men and small-goods pro­duc­ers ped­dle their wares. Qual­ity cof­fee mak­ers and cake stalls lend a car­ni­val at­mos­phere to the mar­ket. And trust me, it’s not pos­si­ble to walk away empty handed. En­try is free. www.noos­apro­duce­mar­

His­tory on show: Housed partly in a 1924 build­ing that was once the Lands­bor­ough Shire Coun­cil cham­bers and partly in a pur­pose-built mud brick house added in 1988, Lands­bor­ough Mu­seum show­cases lo­cal his­tory. The col­lec­tion in­cludes per­sonal items that be­longed to Sun­shine Coast iden­ti­ties such as ex­plorer William Lands­bor­ough and one-time Queens­land premier Joseph Nick­lin, as well as his­toric and in­dige­nous arte­facts dat­ing back more than a cen­tury. Check out the col­lec­tion of early cam­eras and tele­phones, as well as equip­ment used by the area’s first farm­ers. Adults, $8. www.lands­bor­ough­mu­

Vine host: You may be sur­prised to learn that Queens­land wine, in the past decade, qui­etly has gar­nered a rep­u­ta­tion for qual­ity. Ke­nil­worth Bluff Win­ery, in the scenic hin­ter­land, is the old­est es­tab­lished vine­yard on the Sun­shine Coast and has a new deck po­si­tioned to cap­ture a lovely view of the vines. Va­ri­eties on of­fer for tast­ing or buy­ing in­clude semil­lon, chardon­nay, mer­lot, caber­net sau­vi­gnon and shi­raz, all of which can be sam­pled with a va­ri­ety of Ke­nil­worth ar­ti­san cheeses. The win­ery forms part of the Sun­shine Coast wine trail that stretches from Ca­bool­ture in the south to Pomona in the north. En­try is free but there’s a $2 wine-tast­ing fee, re­fund­able on pur­chase of a bot­tle. Lot 13 Bluff Rd, Ke­nil­worth. (07) 5472 3723.

For a song: Kings Beach, Caloun­dra, pro­vides a gor­geous back­drop for the an­nual Opera on Kings, a night of open-air mu­sic. This year’s con­cert, to be held on April 18, will fea­ture the voices of the Caloun­dra Cho­rale, arias from clas­sic op­eras in­clud­ing Car­men, Don Gio­vanni and Rigo­letto, and hits from pop­u­lar mu­si­cals such as ThePhan­to­moftheOpera and Porgy andBess. The per­for­mance will start at twi­light, fin­ish­ing at about 8pm, mak­ing it suit­able for younger oper­a­go­ers. En­try is free. www.op­eraonk­

Off and racing: A draw­card of the Queens­land turf cal­en­dar, the Caloun­dra Cup Hore­serac­ing Car­ni­val not only of­fers great racing but an op­por­tu­nity for glam­orous par­ty­ing. The an­nual event takes place on the last week­end of June (June 27-28 this year) and pro­vides two days of racing and func­tions. The high­light is the Caloun­dra Cup, but with other qual­ity races on the card the to­tal prize money for the week­end is about $900,000. Many of the na­tion’s top jock­eys will at­tend, with cham­pion horses trav­el­ling from Bris­bane and be­yond. There will also be fash­ions on the field and free en­ter­tain­ment. Adults, $15.

Fishy busi­ness: The largest and ar­guably the loveli­est river on the Sun­shine Coast, the sandy-bot­tomed Ma­roochy River is a big at­trac­tion for fam­i­lies and fish­er­men. The wa­ter­way is teem­ing with flat­head, tai­lor, dart, bream and whit­ing, and there are sev­eral ex­cel­lent fish­ing points along its banks, as well as at the mouth, where the fresh­wa­ter streams meet the surf beach. Some of the best fish­ing oc­curs at Cot­ton Tree and Pin­cush­ion in the south chan­nel, where an­glers can cast from the shores of two car­a­van parks.

Head to the hin­ter­land: Set amid lush farms and pock­ets of rain­for­est on the Black­all Ranges, the scenic hin­ter­land towns of Maleny, Montville, Flax­ton and Maple­ton of­fer great sight­see­ing. The four towns are lo­cated about 30 to 40 min­utes from Noosa or Ma­roochy­dore and boast a plethora of cafes, gal­leries, bou­tiques and whole­food stores. The largest town, Maleny, has some qual­ity shops, in­clud­ing the splen­did Rosetta book­shop and the well-stocked Maple Street Co-op, sell­ing or­ganic and lo­cal pro­duce. Montville re­ally is the pick of the towns, though, with its glo­ri­ous views of the coastal plains, hap­pen­ing cafes and trendy gift­ware shops. Don’t miss the 1.3km Wom­poo cir­cuit board­walk in the Maple­ton Na­tional Park.

Tasty at­trac­tion: The Gin­ger Fac­tory at Yan­d­ina, with its pro­cess­ing fa­cil­i­ties, restau­rant, shop, rides and grounds, of­fers an in­ter­est­ing al­ter­na­tive to more main­stream Sun­shine Coast at­trac­tions. There’s a ter­rific ice cream­ery, di­verse range of gin­ger prod­ucts to sam­ple and buy, a her­itage-style Ginger­town and lovely gar­dens brim­ming with out­landish gin­ger flow­ers. Kids, es­pe­cially, find the place en­chant­ing. En­try is free but charges ap­ply for some tours. www.gin­ger­fac­

Wa­ter worlds: The Sun­shine Coast has a va­ri­ety of ex­cel­lent pub­lic pools, in­clud­ing the won­der­ful Noosa Aquatic Cen­tre, with its shaded chil­dren’s wad­ing area. But per­haps the best is at Cot­ton Tree, Ma­roochy­dore. Sit­u­ated on the Ma­roochy River next to the Cot­ton Tree Car­a­van Park, the aquatic cen­tre has 50m and 25m pools, a hy­drother­apy bath and two shaded wad­ing zones. Adults, $4.10; chil­dren and con­ces­sions, $3.30.

Come the raw prawn: Mooloolaba is a din­ing and shop­ping hub, with glam­orous sea­side restau­rants and ca­sual take­away venues. The seafood here could not be fresher, with trawlers un­load­ing their hauls daily. Be­fore the best ones get away, try a kilo of fresh Mooloolaba prawns fol­lowed by fish and chips at the Spit, right where the trawlers come in. www.mooloolabae­s­

Beach and board: At $20 an hour, hir­ing a surf­board only just scrapes into this dol­lar-savvy se­ries, but for the sheer thrill of get­ting out on the waves the splurge is surely worth it. From Noosa to Caloun­dra, surf com­pa­nies of­fer hire of long boards (mal­ibus), short boards and even body boards; in­di­vid­ual or group lessons are also avail­able. For novices, the best place to learn surf­ing is prob­a­bly Noosa, where the surf is calm and small, and the wa­ter is sparklingly clean and warm. Good luck. www.learn­to­

www.tourism­sun­ This is the third in a se­ries of fea­tures on best-value op­tions in pop­u­lar Aus­tralian des­ti­na­tions. Next week: Dol­lar­wise Dar­win.

Noosa Main Beach, with its golden sand and calm, clean wa­ter, is the per­fect spot to let en­er­getic youngsters off the leash

Art and crafts: Montville, with cafes and bou­tiques, is a favourite hin­ter­land des­ti­na­tion

Step into his­tory: Lands­bor­ough Mu­seum

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