With winter on the horizon, it’s time to look for sunny escapes. A great option for a short break is Queensland’s Sunshine Coast. Here’s an ultimate guide to 48 hours on the ‘Coast’.
Picture this: you’re sitting on the balcony of your seaside apartment overlooking the ocean, the sun is shining, the sea is sparkling and you have two, blissful days ahead of you.
Daytime temperatures on the Sunshine Coast rarely dip below a balmy 20 degrees, even in the dead of winter, and the water is even warmer.
What sets a Sunshine Coast mini-break apart from many other destinations is that you can pack an extraordinary array of activities in a very short time. Think dining out on local seafood, following the region’s craft beer trail or swimming with humpback whales in the ocean.
Mark your calendar for epic events
While the Sunshine Coast is best known for its spectacular coastline and lush hinterland, it’s also home to a thriving art scene.
The region is full of creatives, galleries and hidden art trails, stretching from Caloundra in the south to Noosa in the north, and west to the Hinterland. A great time to view the rich arts and cultural scene is in August, when the annual Horizon Festival (August 26 to September 4) is staged. This year’s dynamic line-up includes music, dance, art, film and workshops inspired by the region.
For more of a laugh, time your visit for That’s Not My Dog! The Festival (August 26-28).
If food is more your interest, the Sunshine Coast’s legendary produce and dining can be explored during The Curated (side) Plate (July 29 to August 7), which will include a series of events connecting people with place through food. Think long lunches, paddock-to-plate experiences and local craft beer.
Green thumbs should mark their calendar for the Queensland Garden Expo (July 8-10), a three-day celebration of gardening that showcases all the best of subtropical gardening.
Warm up with an outdoor adventure
If you look out to sea during the winter months on the Sunshine Coast, chances are you’ll spot the iconic slap of a whale tail.
But imagine if you were right out there with them?
Sunreef Mooloolaba was the first operator in Australia to offer swims with humpback whales, allowing you to get up close and personal with these majestic sea dwellers in the wild.
The experience is completely authentic, it’s up to the whale how close they swim, and the opportunity of seeing a mumma whale and her calf pass close by is an experience that will never be forgotten.
The Sunshine Coast’s mild winter weather is equally perfect for cycling, trekking or an outdoor adventure by swinging through the rainforest canopy on the TreeTop Challenge.
This high ropes course has more than 120 sky-high games and 12 ziplines that will have you conquering your fears head on.
If you’re happier with two feet firmly planted on the ground, soak in the views of the Glass House Mountains from Maleny Botanic Gardens & Bird World, or get up close and personal with the animals at Wildlife HQ.
The best places to eat and drink
With more than 100 kilometres of pristine coastline, it’s hardly surprising that the Sunshine Coast is a mecca for fresh seafood.
And one of the best places to enjoy it is at Mooloolaba Spit, where you can stock up on Mooloolaba prawns and Fraser Isle spanner crab fresh off the trawler at one of the many fish-and-chipperies.
If fine dining is more your thing, book a table at Harry’s on Buderim, Spirit House Restaurant or See, Mooloolaba for award-winning fare.
But it’s not just the seafood making a name for itself on the Sunshine Coast. Journey beyond the beaches and you’ll find fresh local produce (think pineapples, macadamia nuts and finger limes), award-winning dairy and artisan beverages.
In fact, the Sunshine Coast is Australia’s Craft Beer Capital, with more than 21 craft breweries spread across the region.
Explore them at your own pace, or jump on a tour with Sunshine Coast Craft Beer Tours where guides take you behind the scenes to meet the brewers and discover how they use local produce to create award-wining beers, such as Brouhaha Brewery’s infamous Strawberry Rhubarb Sour.
If spirits are more to your taste, you can stop in for a gin and rum tasting at CAVU Distilling next door to the iconic Big Pineapple, or enjoy lunch and a paddle at Pomona Distilling Co.
Take me there
Hinterland stay: Poised to open its doors at the end of May, Maleny Lodge, a lovingly restored 1905 heritage house, is a must-stay for a Sunshine Coast Hinterland escape. Visit malenylodge.com.au.
Coastal stay: Located in the new Maroochydore city centre, Holiday Inn Express & Suites provides a comfortable base with some of the region’s best restaurants and sparkling beaches on your doorstep. Visit holidayinnexpress.com/sunshinecoast.
Explore more: visitsunshinecoast.com