Anyone living north of the state of Florida pretty much agree that last year was the coldest winter for most North Americans in more than 35 years. What if the coming winter is just as harsh? We have come up with some viable options to ensure that instead of shoveling snow this January, you are buying sunscreen in Costco size quantities.
For the next few months we will highlight places in Goway’s Globetrotting world that we feel are well worth spending one, two or even three month in. We start with the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia. The Sunshine Coast offers a laid back environment that is relaxed in atmosphere but at the same time has a vibrant feel with numerous activities to explore allowing you to be active if that is what you seek or simply relax and enjoy the sun, the surf and the sand.
Anywhere called the Sunshine Coast sounds appealing to winter weary northerners. It suggests as the name implies lots of sunshine but do the weather stats back it up? Well it would appear that they do, the average high January through March is 82.5F and average low is 70F and the relative humidity sits at about 60%. The sun rises about 5am and sets around 7pm so days are a decent length.
Now that we have established we can guarantee you will not be shoveling snow what is there to do? We have compiled a list of the top activities available within a 2 hour drive to keep you occupied .
If you are a golfer this is great destination as there are numerous golf courses (more than 26 within easy driving range – no pun intended…) and the green fees are quite reasonable at many of the local courses. There are even some of the top ranked courses in Australia including the Hyatt Regency Coolum where the Australia PGA championship is played and Bribie Island which is considered one of the best in Queensland. Often though it is the local lower key golf courses where most of us will find ourselves and where you will meet some of the locals. The most picturesque and one of the most popular courses on the coast is the par 72 Mount Coolum course (nestled at the foot of Mount Coolum). It is a relatively flat course and has water play on 12 holes. The club house is in an original Queenslander (type of house that is unique to the state) and has a bar as well as what the locals call pokies (slot machines). It is not uncommon to spot kangaroos on the courses!
The Sunshine Coast is known for some of the widest and most beautiful unspoiled beaches in the world. They stretch on for miles and miles (43 miles to be precise – or 70 kms) and have incredible surf! The sand is white, the water is crystal clear and warm, but not so warm that it doesn’t cool you down. In other words – perfect! There are beaches with calm waters for swimming, world class waves for surfing or watching those that can surf, beaches perfect for walking, snorkeling, scuba, sailing, fishing and of course sunsets or for the early bird sunrises. Almost all beaches have a Life Saving Club, facilities for BBQ’s and picnics, ample parking, shower and toilet facilities. A few of our staff favs are Mooloolooba, Maroochydore, Caloundra, Noosa, Coolum, Peregrian and Marcoola.
3. Bushwalking Treks and Trails
Bushwalking is the Australian word for hiking. There are 52 bushwalking treks and trails on the Sunshine Coast. A superb place to begin is the Glass House Mountains National Park, the mountains are a group of 13 volcanic peaks that dominate the landscape of the Sunshine Coast Hinterland. Offering bushwalks that range from easy to challenging, many ending in magnificent views. You can also join some of the official bushwalking clubs as a visitor and participate in group walks.
There is no better way to explore a new community than sourcing out the local markets and heading to them to buy locally grown produce, freshly baked breads and treats, gourmet cheeses as well as browse handmade crafts, see local artists and is some cases watch buskers and listen to musicians. The markets range from local farmers markets such as Caloundra Country & Farmers Market on Sundays from 7am to 12 noon to the largest market on the coast, the Eumundi market, which attracts up to 10,000 visitors from locals, to interstate to international, it runs on Saturdays from 7am to 2pm. One of our favorites is the Fisherman Road Market in Maroochydore from 6am to 12noon on Sundays because it has loads of fresh seafood. At last check we counted over 25 markets within the two hour driving range! You could stay on the coast for 3 months and still not get to all of them!
There are 10 cellars within the region and wines range from Shiraz, Chambourcin and Chardonnay through to Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. All are boutique vineyards who hand-pick their grapes and hand prune their vines. The wineries are filled with locals who are passionate about their vineyards and wine, and who want to showcase Queensland wines and offer insight into the Queensland life style. The Sunshine Coast wineries marry the enjoyment of wine and delicious food. Many of the cellars offer cheese platters, gourmet picnics and excellent dining experiences that range from verandah dining overlooking vines, to relaxing with a glass of great Queensland wine by the harbour. There are a few wine tasting tours available locally so that you don’t have to drive!
Australians love their pubs, everyone has their local and the people are very friendly. We highly recommend that you simply try a variety of different ones. Having said that there are few that you might want to find your way to as they are unique to the region. One such pub is The Ettamogah. Ettamogah is the indigenous word meaning “place of a good drink” and that is exactly what you’ll get as well a very unique experience. The Ettamogah Pub is a cartoon pub created in the mind of cartoonist Ken Maynard and was featured in the now defunct Australasian Post magazine. The pub claims to be the most photographed pub in the world.
7. The Australia Zoo
Everyone young and old will more than enjoy a visit to Steve Irwin’s Australia Zoo. Unlike any zoo experience in the world the beloved Crocodile Hunters Zoo features an immersive hands on experience. Highly recommended is the full day guided tour and make sure to catch a crocodile show. You can cuddle a koala, hand feed a kangaroo and even walk with a tiger. Zoo staff wander the grounds with the animals as opposed to the typical zoo experience where you watch them from afar. The zoo features guests such as Jane Goodall in interactive shows. You can be a zookeeper for the day, or have a specific animal encounter (both must be prebooked).
8. Scenic Drives
There are three separate designated Scenic Drives that are each well worth an afternoon of exploring. Glass House Mountains (Tourist Drive 24), Sunshine Coast’s Coastal Strip, The Blackall Range Tourist Drive. The surrounding hinterland areas hold dense foliage, winding streams, cascading waterfalls and out-of-the-way quaint villages that showcase local art and crafts.
For more information about accommodation options and the nitty gritty of how one goes about organizing such a trip please contact one of our dedicated Downunder Experts via phone, online chat or email request. We also have an entire area of our website dedicated to long stays.
Next time we will cover the Cook Islands.