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Explore : The Sunshine Coast

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Located about 100km north of Brisbane, the Sunshine Coast is the third most populated area in Queensland and stretches from Trewantin in the north to Pelican Waters in the south.  It includes the towns and beaches along the coast, as well as villages and lakes in the Hinterland.


The region’s first white inhabitants in the 1820s were runaway convicts from the Moreton Bay penal colony.  In 1842, a British Governor declared the area a protected reserve to conserve the bunya trees, an important part of the local Aboriginal culture.  Unfortunately, during this time, the Bunya Bunya Reserve became the battleground for the Black War, a time of conflict between British settlers and Aboriginal people, but because cattle farmers and timber cutters exploiting the area, the reserve was later dissolved.


The towns along the coast started off as little ports for the timber industry, and grew somewhat when sugar cane and pineapples were introduced to the area, but the big boom came after the 1960s.  The Sunshine Coast had earned the reputation of a holiday destination, and various theme parks and tourist attractions were created, like the Big Pineapple at Nambour.


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Our visit to the Sunshine Coast was brief but enjoyable.  We started in the Hinterland, which was our favourite part – the little villages up there have so much character.  It started raining shortly after we arrived at Noosa, so once we did a quick lap to see the Big Pelican, we cruised down along the coast towards Caloundra.


Feeling a little big soggy, we made for Caboolture and stayed with some friends that we made in Darwin.  It was a great opportunity to catch up and swap a few stories as we dried off and prepared for our time in Brisbane.




Noosa to Caloundra

We were a little disappointed that we didn’t get to explore Noosa a little more.  It was really busy and congested because of the Food and Wine Festival and not long after we arrived, it started to rain.  We managed a few laps of Hastings Street, a popular shopping strip with big name brands up at Noosa Heads, before heading over to the Big Pelican at Noosaville.  Everything in Noosa has the word Noosa in it – Noosa Spit, Noosa Springs, Noosa North Shore, Noosa, Noosa, Noosa!  The rain and the conceitedness chased us out of town.


Apart from the Big Pelican, there are two other big things on the Sunshine Coast.  The Big Pineapple is south of Nambour and Juz remembers from when she was a little girl that this was a very popular attraction.  North of Nambour is the Big Cow, which stands on a hill near a closed training facility.  While you’re in the area, take some time to stop at Wabba Dam in Yandina, or the Tina Cooper Gallery in Eumundi – the glass artwork is amazing.


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We followed the coast to the central business district of the Sunshine Coast.  We swapped some books at a book exchange in Maroochydore and walked out onto the beach, but the grey clouds overhead made everything seem drab.


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Further south in Mooloolaba, we spotted a statue of Steve Irwin with his two kids, and it was here that we returned a few days later to finally get a picture of the Sunshine Coast with the sun out.  In fact, the sun was so welcome that all the bearded dragons were out to enjoy it.


Not far from Maroochydore is Buderim Forest Park and Serenity Falls.  If you love rainforests and waterfalls, then you must make the time to stop here.  You will also be treated to displays from beautiful birds, such as Emerald Doves and Rufous Fantails, a relative of the common willy wagtail.


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With the sun soon on the horizon, we didn’t have much time to explore Caloundra.  We visited Dicky Beach, named after the shipwreck of the SS Dicky, an iron steamboat that ran aground in 1893.  It’s the only beach in the world to be named after a shipwreck.  We also ducked into Kings Beach and saw the beachfront salt water pool, but with the fading light, we had to go and find camp.


For the entire drive down the coast, all we could smell was hot chips from all the fish and chip shops.  By the time we got to Caloundra, we were craving chips and stopped in at a takeaway food shop near Dicky Beach to get a serving of beer batter chips with chicken salt.


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Another great place to stop for a treat is Dutchy’s Bakehouse in Sippy Downs. Their pies are awesome – perhaps one of the best pies we’ve had in Australia.  They also do specialty Dutch sweets, like traditional fruit loaves and oliebol – delicious apple and sultana doughnuts.


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The Hinterland

We woke up at the Little Yabba Rest Area about 6km from Kenilworth after a massive hair-raising day of offroading at the Landcruiser Mountain Park.  Nearby was the Fig Tree Walk that lead us on a 1km mossy path through the forest of enormous fig trees.


From there, we got on the George Wyer Scenic Drive, a lovely route through the Hinterland with rolling green hills and fat cows.  The first town we passed through was Mapleton, a cute little community on the northern end of the Blackall Range.  It was a timber cutters’ town until the late 1950s, before becoming a tourist destination because of the awesome views from the elevation.


Our favourite location along the George Wyer Scenic Drive was Montville, an adorable little village that dates back to 1887.  With buildings that reflect a variety of architectural styles from Irish and English to Bavarian and Swiss, it had a lot of charm and we recommend you take the time to wander around.  There are plenty of eclectic stores and cafes, but what really took our breath away was the Montville Sandstone Chapel that overlooks the valley.


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On the southern end of the Sunshine Coast Hinterland are the Glass House Mountains, a cluster of eleven hills that rise up from the plain.  They’re all volcanic lava plugs that formed around 27 million years ago and over time, the weaker rock around them has worn away to reveal the hard rock peaks.


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The Big Pelican, Noosaville QLD

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Located at Noosaville Lions Park along the Noosa River, the Big Pelican was built around 1977 as a float for the Festival of Waters Parade.  As the emblem of Noosa Council at the time, it’s called Percy the Pelican, possibly after Mr Percival from Storm Boy.  The pelican can rotate its head, blink its eyes, open and close its bill, flap its winds and even wiggle its tail, all controlled by a collection of levers, pulleys and ropes from within.


Originally, the Big Pelican was a metal frame with chicken wire and papier mache, but because this wasn’t waterproof, it was later rebuilt with fibreglass.  During the 1980s, it fell into disrepair and was relocated several times – at one point it even capsized in the Noosa River.  It was eventually dumped on a block of land before being discovered by the owners of the Pelican Boat Hire company.  The Big Pelican was restored and set up as a permanent fixture near Pelican Boat Hire along the foreshore of the Noosa River.  That said, it is mounted on a trailer and is sometimes used for street parades.  The restoration cost over $10,000 and took 6 months to complete.


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