Dennis and Rosamund Knill visit one of Queensland’s coastal jewels and the centre place for discovery.
Every word printed about an unspoiled beach, year-round swimming, and endless sunshine must surely bring more visitors. Some will inevitably turn into residents and that means more development.
So then they’ll seal the roads, put the phones on, build apartments, open-up boutiques, cafes and restaurants and Mooloolaba will never be the same. Which is how holiday-makers knew and loved Mooloolaba before this sleepy little fishing village was discovered. But 60-years on everyone agrees that this piece of paradise is still one of the coasts most desirable destinations.
It’s a brilliant afternoon. A warm tropical breeze wafts across the beach and onto the esplanade as we are shown to our luxury apartment at Peninsular Beachfront Resort. From our balcony all we can see are scores of happy swimmers bobbing blissfully up and down in the breakers rolling in from the Pacific Ocean. Welcome to Mooloolaba.
Boasting temperatures that seldom fall below 20 degrees Mooloolaba is one of five shires that make up the Sunshine Coast. It’s the perfect escape for a retreat-style holiday or that much needed winter break. While Caloundra, Maroochydore, Coolum and Noosa are the best supporting actors in contrast Mooloolaba is the star attraction.
For the next 10-days Peninsular Beachfront Resort will be our home base. Consisting of sixty-five apartments each with full kitchens, air conditioning, flat-screen televisions and free Wi-Fi. Facilities include a gym, sauna, swimming pool, heated spa, flood-lit tennis court and secure on-site undercover parkingLong established as Mooloolaba’s centrepiece and one of the highest ranking resorts on the coast, its stylish surroundings are set in the heart of the narrow lines of low rise apartments that grace one of the most coveted stretches of prime real estate on the coast. Central to all the tourist attractions there’s an irresistibly laid-back atmosphere present from the Kiwi family who have owned and managed the complex from the outset.
Our daily routine fell quickly into place. A caffeine fix at one of the many cafes that line the esplanade, then a two kilometre leisurely walk along the foreshore of Mooloolaba Beach stopping at Mooloolaba River Fisheries for our fresh seafood for our evening meal. For seafood lovers the seafood on display is a class act with every variety of fresh seafood imaginable.
Despite getting to bed at midnight, a few hours later as the sun dragged itself up behind us and pulled away from the horizon we are on a tour bus heading off to Fraser Island, the world’s largest sand dune. A world heritage site since 1992, the island is much larger than we first thought, 123km long and 15km at its widest point Laughter filled the air as we surfed along the beach in the fun dune bus. The new day revealed the remains of a wrecked passenger liner and long lines of surf-casters coming out to play while masses of nature-lovers were ripping up and down the beach in their 4WD’s. The island itself is a rugged terrain covered in luxuriant rainforest and dense vegetation that thrives in the sand. With over 40 freshwater lakes, Lake McKenzie looks like a picture postcard from the Caribbean, fringed by its white silica sand.
A taste of the Sunshine Coast is an experience not to be missed. It’s a day tour that winds through Blackall Range and the hinterlands catching sight of green pastoral landscapes and vineyards and some of the richest agricultural country in the region.
On route is the Ginger Factory, the world’s largest ginger processor and Nutworks, a calorie-driven processor that guarantees you won’t leave without gaining a few extra kilos and then onto Pioneer Coffee for our daily espresso. Refreshed and revitalised we head for Montville a place you where feel you have stumbled across that’s known to few others.
Settled in 1887 many of the original quaint Tudor, Irish and English terraces of log and stone and Swiss and Bavarian chalets have been converted into cafes and specialty shops for artists and artisan.s
Winding our way back to the highway we stop briefly at Maleny Cheese for more free samples and then onto Maleny, a bustling town famous for its ice cream, wineries, galleries, arts and crafts.
A lazy drive up the coast brings you to the Enmundi Markets, a popular and enduring meeting place where every Wednesday and Saturday you can find a bustle of real bargains. If you’re looking for fresh produce or something handmade or original this is the place to be. And when you’re all done you can sit back and relax and be entertained by a stellar of musicians and performers to get you in the groove.
You can’t go to Mooloolaba without visiting Sea Life Sunshine Coast an imposing fortress and extravaganza of amazing aquatic sea creatures of just about every form of sea life. Feasting your eyes or swimming with the man eating sharks and the daily seal shows are the main draw cards.
The Sunshine Coasts biggest attraction is Australia Zoo in Beerwah. Set on 65 hectares the wildlife on show is enormous, so allow a full day. Around the corner is The Big Kart Track the largest go-kart track in the southern hemisphere and the perfect venue where serious petrol heads can test their driving skills and experience the thrills and spills of motor racing to get the adrenaline pumping.
Much has been written about Noosa, regarded by many as the premier destination in all of Queensland. It has a wide variety of 5-star and budget accommodation and for foodies it’s stacked with some of Australia’s best celebrity chefs serving the finest cuisine. And if you’re looking for some serious retail therapy Hastings Street is studded with designer label boutiques.
An unhurried twenty-minute drive midway between Mooloolaba and Noosa is Coolum, a classic coastal town famous for its all year patrolled surf beaches. There is a lot that you can say about Coolum and it’s all about contrast. Mount Coolum defines the town with its majestic presence. It’s a huge attraction for those energetic enough wanting to climb it and for the stunning views once on top. Nestled below this giant monolith is a championship golf course with a towering eight-meter animated dinosaur parked alongside the 18th hole.
We end our stay with a cruise on MV Mudjimba a fully restored classic timber ferry that cruises the Mooloolaba River and adjoining canals that house some of the most expensive real estate in Queensland.
It’s the end of our stay and we marvel that such a small part of Queensland can be full of so many lifestyle contrasts. It was tough saying goodbye to Mooloolaba, suddenly we don’t want to be anywhere else!
NEED TO KNOW:
Getting There: Air New Zealand fly daily to Brisbane with direct flights from June to October to Maroochydore
Where to Stay: Peninsular Beachfront Resort www.peninsular.com.au
Best Eats: Fish on Parkin (seafood), Kazu Toshi (Japanese), Spice Bar (modern Australian) Rice Boi (Asian fusion), Nobu Suzuki (Japanese)
Tours: Eumundi Markets (half day), Contact: Con-X-ion www.cxn.com.au Sunny Coast Tours also have half day and full day tours to Noosa, Hinterlands, Glasshouse Mountains, Mountville and Maleny. Contact www.sunnycoasttours.com.au
Transfers: Airport to door-to-door $A53pp, Contact: Con-X-ion www.cxn.com.au
Other Places of Interest: Aussie World, Ettamogah Pub, Bli Bli Castle, Queensland Air Museum, Sunjet Simulators
Background Reading: The History of Mooloolaba by Bill Lavarick
Further information: www.visitsunshinecoast.com
Dennis and Rosamund Knill