Picturesque paradise for pensioners
The Sunshine Coast: Impressions of a superannuated tourist
‘‘Never been a better time to visit Queensland,’’ the television ads say.
Ah! The Sunshine Coast, those exotic place names: Mooloolaba, Noosa, Caloundra; blue skies, flowing beards, outback hats, the Queensland accent.
And why not? You can get a ‘‘carry on’’ fare which, leaving out taxes, is not much more than an airfare to Nelson.
At Brisbane you tick the same declaration box for blood pressure pills as you would for carrying porn, illicit drugs and firearms.
I thought it might make for an interesting encounter with Customs but they just waved me through.
The sky is an uninterrupted expanse of blue on a horizon of wattle and gum tree tops.
Huge, designed suburbs, such as North Lakes, with roundabouts and median strips planted in wellmaintained trees, hedges, shrubs and grasses.
Houses with brick walls, built to keep out the sun – temperatures reach more than 40 degrees Celsius in summer.
Queenslanders live outdoors; the sunny weather demands this.
The suburbs, the beaches, the river banks are studded with parks, each with a children’s playground equipped with swings, seesaws, flying foxes, climbing towers, and always with barbecue plates, sun shelter, and tables.
The barbecue plates are electrically heated and operate at no cost to the user.
Three and four-lane highways traverse the state.
The Bruce Highway, starting in Brisbane and ending at Cairns, is longer than from Cape Reinga to Wellington.
Queenslanders think nothing of driving a few hundred kilometres.
Traffic hurtles along but you don’t see any nonsense – police are humourless and unforgiving.
You speed through the bush, then a spanking new suburb appears, heralded by McDonald’s, often one on both sides of the highway. The number of fast-food places is unnerving and may explain the proliferation of medical centres, pathological laboratories and X-ray centres.
The shopping malls are huge. When locals aren’t at work or in the parks, you’ll find them there, enjoying the air conditioning.
Rivers are broad, not fast flowing, but wide. In some towns and in parts of Brisbane you see signs of the most recent floods. About the volume of the Sydney Harbour was deposited in the catchments in little more than 24 hours.
Queenslanders have an oldtime courtesy that is appealing to the pensioner. Ever felt threatened by an impatient driver when hobbling over a pedestrian crossing in Porirua? You’ll be charmed by Queensland courtesy, traffic stops and they wave you over even when there is no crossing.
When walking in the suburbs you are wished good day by elderly residents. Sit down in the malls and you’re likely to be the recipient of some elderly gent’s robustly expressed political views. Queenslanders can be a bit parochial. They call Victorians and Sydney-siders ‘‘ Mexicans’’ – they’re from south of the border.
For blue skies, sun and sea, outdoor lifestyle, and old-time courtesy, Sunshine Coast’s the place for the superannuated tourist.
Laid-back life: A hectic day at Mooloolaba Marina.
Landmark: Australia Zoo, near Beerwah, remains a popular tourist
attraction five years on from the death of its famed crocodile hunter