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Image © Tourism and Events Queensland

Family fun on the Sunshine Coast

Aleney de Winter discovers why Queensland’s idyllic Sunshine Coast ticks all the boxes for family holiday fun.

No-one can accuse Queensland's Sunshine Coast of not being ‘as advertised’. Not only does it deliver with over 100 kilometres of pristine promised coast, but also with gloriously sunny weather all year round. Add patrolled golden beaches, volcanic peaks and pretty hinterland villages and you’ll find all the right ingredients for a perfect family holiday.

Our family finds the accommodation just as enticing as the landscape. We’re starting our holiday at the fabulous Novotel Twin Waters Resort, a sprawling Nirvana nestled in 36 hectares of natural bushland between the patrolled Mudjimba Beach, a picturesque saltwater lagoon and the Maroochy River. The serenity and scale of the resort blows us away.

As one of Australia’s best family resorts, there’s a swimming pool, kayaks and catamarans and even an inflatable water park that has the kids in a frenzy. Not to mention Segways, a golf course, kids’ club, boutiques, tour desk and a choice of great food from bar food and takeaway to fine dining.

There’s almost too much to do but that's where the fabulous Lagoon Day Spa comes in. While everyone else enjoys the action, I decamp to enjoy a nice, relaxing massage.

Image © Aleney de Winter

Meandering down memory lane

The Sunshine Coast is an old friend. One of my happiest memories is sitting in a strawberry patch at my uncle’s sprawling Nambour farm stuffing my then sevenyear- old face with unabashed enthusiasm. I’m pleased to find that so many of my old holiday haunts are still here, ready and waiting to be explored by my own children.

Between splashing and Segwaying sessions at Twin Waters, we ride the rails and see how pineapples are grown at The Big Pineapple. We join the Gingerbread Man for a voyage aboard the Overboard boat ride and shovel ice-cream in our faces at The Ginger Factory. We also take our macadamia-mad crew to Nutworks and the Chocolate Factory. And when the desire for a little more action arises, we bump, slide, float and squeal our way in and around the attractions at Aussie World in Palmview.

There’s also a pit-stop at Sunshine Castle in Bli Bli. The Norman-style castle, complete with a moat, drawbridge and towers, is the stuff of childhood fantasies (though pillaging the very real gift store of its toy swords and costumes appears to be the biggest hit).

Image © Ming Nomchong

Where the wild things are

No family visit to the Sunshine Coast would be complete without a pilgrimage to Australia Zoo, and ours doesn’t disappoint. Bindi and Bob themselves are here coaxing crocs in the Crocoseum. The zoo is one of the most interactive wildlife conservation facilities in Australia. We make our way around the zoo spotting giraffes, rhinos, zebras and cheetahs in the African Savannah, the tigers in Southeast Asia and visit Bindi’s Island to see ring-tailed lemurs, giant tortoises and vibrant macaws. We also find ample opportunities to snap selfies with Skippy, cuddle koalas, chat with a cockatoo, and wear a snake like a gorgeous slithering scarf.

Sea Life Sunshine Coast in Mooloolaba offers a fishy alternative for animal lovers. You can walk underwater surrounded by marine and freshwater animals, including fearsome sharks and giant stingrays, without getting wet. Or enjoy an encounter to get whisker-close to a cute seal.

Noosa delights

A visit to Noosa, one of Australia's most chic resort towns, is a must. While its calm waves and clear waters are irresistible, its designer boutiques, restaurants and galleries also add to its appeal.

Families wanting to stretch out their Noosa stay will find a choice of excellent family accommodation. The Islander Noosa Resort offers self-contained villas nestled among lush tropical gardens, right near the Noosa River. It boasts three swimming pools and spas, so it takes a little convincing to drag the kids away to dive into the welcoming waters of Noosa’s patrolled Main Beach, which is nearby.

Another excellent option is Noosaville’s Ivory Palms, located just a short stroll from the river and minutes away from Noosa’s beaches and Hasting Street’s restaurants. With its apartment-style accommodation, gated children’s playground, swimming pools, spas and games room, it's ideal for families.

Image © Tourism and Events Queensland

Clown Town by Kombi

Moving the crew to laidback Caloundra, or Clown Town as the locals affectionately call it, we make the most of the sunshine by popping the sunroof on the cool, cornflowerblue Kombi that’s our limo for the day.

It’s Sunday and the main street is a riot of quirky market crafts and tasty treats, which we explore with a refreshing lemon and ginger ice tea in hand. There are feathery dreamcatchers fluttering in the breeze, crystals sending spears of sunlight in a thousand directions, a requisite massage booth, and an easy, relaxed vibe.

With the sun and fresh air filtering through the rooftop of the tricked-up Kombi, we explore pretty beaches, each sandy stretch more dazzling than the last.

We stop at Moffat Beach to watch the surfers do their thing. At Kings Beach, we visit the Bathing Pavilion, a memento to days gone by, where we can almost hear the laughter and feel the heat of summers past.

At Dicky Beach, with its rock-pool-studded shoreline, as well as a popular skate park, the kids beachcomb and run free. We trade the Kombi for a timber boat and a relaxing cruise along Pumicestone Passage, a 35-kilometre waterway steeped in history and rich in wildlife and natural beauty.

Image © Aleney de Winter

A moveable feast

After the watery interlude, we return to our blue chariot to be whisked away for a picnic lunch overlooking Golden Beach. But this is no ordinary picnic. We appear to have fallen through a rabbit hole into what can only be described as a tealess tea party that's as extravagant as anything the Mad Hatter could pull out of his bag of tricks.

There are plush rugs, covered in piles of plump cushions scattered prettily around a miniature dining table, itself laden with flowers and glasses overflowing with fairy floss.

At one end is a tower of doughnuts painted with golden glitter while at the other rests a huge platter of quiches and bagels, smoked salmon, fresh sliced avocado and chunks of soft cheese surrounded by silver macarons covered in edible glitter and fat juicy cherries dressed in silver leaf. The experts from Deep Love Picnics have ensured everything is fresh, handmade and locally produced, and it is extraordinary. Alice never had it this good.

We walk off the magical lunch along the Caloundra Coastal Pathway, a shared walk and cycle path running from Point Cartwright in the north to Golden Beach in the south, and stop to watch kite surfers catching waves.

We end our perfect day in Caloundra enjoying the views from the balcony of our stunning two-bedroom apartment at Rumba Resort. The resort is ideal for families with big spaces, fully equipped designer kitchens, a dining area and an (almost) family-sized spa bath, which is just the place for a couple of sun- and sand-kissed kids to soak away the day’s awesome adventures.

This article appeared in volume 54 of Holidays with Kids magazine. To subscribe to the latest issue, click here.

Image © Aleney de Winter

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