The Maroochy River ... a peaceful haven.

Leanne Milmlow ... in her element, talking eagerly about the flora and fauna along this stretch of the river ...

... and little wonder when scenery like this is on offer.

Twin Waters Resort ... a true resort in the sense that you could spend several days there, with or without children, and be totally entertained and occupied without leaving the place.

Excellent dining is available at Twin Waters' classy Lily's restaurant.

Former Olympic swimmer Sam Reilly tries her luck Twin Waters' Cirque Espace, a dedicated circus training school.

Para-sailing at Caloundra’s King Beach.

Eumundi Markets ... real hippy-hippy-shake territory ...

... and offering plenty of excellent quality, locally grown and made products.

Klaus and Barbara Lutze ... running what is surely one of Australia’s finest genuine German eating houses.

Noosa has a style of its own ... where else could you watch a busker build an elaborate sand castle while waiting for your meal in an excellent seaside restaurant.


All images are copyright © 2008 Sandra Burn White.

To see more of her images of the Sunshine Coast, please CLICK HERE

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POSTED 08 SEP 08

SUNSHINE COAST, QUEENSLAND

JOHN ROZENTALS discovers that there’s much more to Queensland’s Sunshine Coast than sand, surf and sun. Pictures: SANDRA BURN WHITE

IT’S our last morning on the Sunshine Coast and we’re cruising on the Maroochy River. It’s a spring high tide, so Paul Manzbridge, the skipper, can quite easily wend his way through the sandbars and get closer to the mouth than he normally does.

Here the river reflects what most people probably have in mind when they think of the Sunshine Coast — canal-style residential developments; motor cruisers aplenty; the start of a mini-Gold-Coast stretch of high rise bumping its way south from Maroochydore through Mooloolaba to Caloundra; families frolicking in the still waters of the river; and fine surfing beaches both north and south of the mouth.

But this boat is owned by Cruise Maroochy, an eco-tourism specialist, and as we head upriver, past Chambers Island and its sailing club and then under the Sunshine Motorway, things begin to change. Residential and commercial development is replaced by bush, and our tour guide, Leanne Milmlow, a nature officer who grew up in Thirroul, is in her element, talking eagerly about the flora and fauna along this stretch of the river and sharing her binoculars to point out bird species.

The company also runs indigenous bush tucker cruises and is closely involved with providing hospitality training for young members of the local Gubbi Gubbi people.

The day before the cruise we’d ventured into the Sunshine Coast hinterland to Maleny, a charming, sophisticated town which looks out over the Glasshouse Mountains and has recently been in the news for its passionate, if unsuccessful, battle against Woolworths establishing an outlet there.

The main street is lined with galleries, restaurants and alternative health and lifestyle establishments, and the cafe we wandered into turned out to be a community-based licensed club of which just about everyone in Maleny was a member. It’s that sort of place.

A significant feature is the Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve, a 52-hectare remnant of the subtropical rainforests that once covered much of the district and provided valuable timber exports in colonial times.

Not far from the reserve is surely one of Australia’s finest genuine German eating houses, King Ludwigs Restaurant, run by the very affable Klaus and Barbara Lutze.

I’d certainly suggest trying the Bavarian potato cream soup, followed by Bauernschmaus, Sauerkraut und Semmelknoedel, a combination of Bavarian specialities including smoked pork loin, veal bratwurst and pork sausage served with bread dumpling, sauerkraut and Klaus’s beer gravy.

There are also more than 30 German beers to try, including the fabulous rauchbier, a “smoked” beer that smells a little like a German sausage in a glass and is definitely an acquired taste well worth acquiring.

Another must-visit town in the hinterland is Eumundi, especially if you can get there on a Wednesday or Saturday for the famous markets, which have been held under the town’s massive, heritage-listed fig trees since 1979.

This is real hippy-hippy-shake territory with a veritable network of alleys filled with a vast range of stalls offering clothing, food and drink, alternative healing, art and craft, mysticism, homewares, entertainment and much much more. Some of it’s the same shonk you’ll find in any Australian street market, but there are plenty of excellent quality, locally grown and made products as well.

Accommodation on the Sunshine Coast is plentiful and covers the gamut from caravan park and backpacker through B&B and pub to international hotel.

We stayed at the Novotel Twin Waters Resort, just about at the mouth of the Maroochy River on its northern bank, and it has plenty in its favour.

It’s a true resort in the sense that you could spend several days there, with or without children, and be totally entertained and occupied without leaving the place. That means a variety of dining options, including the classy Lily’s, which juts over the resort’s seven-hectare saltwater lagoon, and it means a range of activities, including canoeing, windsurfing and sailing on the lagoon, cycling, swimming, access to the day spa, gymnasium and the Cirque Espace, a dedicated circus training school. You can also arrange a round on the adjacent championship-standard Twin Waters Golf Club.

Another advantage is that the resort has been there for some 15 years and has the feel of being totally integrated with its environment. The downside to that 15 years is being very effectively addressed by a $17 million refurbishment.

Accommodation ranges from high-quality motel-style rooms with either garden or lagoon views through to 15 lagoon suites, which, like Lily’s restaurant, are set on pylons over the lagoon and offer spacious, self-contained luxury fit for royalty — it is, after all, where Queen Elizabeth II stayed during the CHOGM 2002 meeting.

For a more complete exploration of the Sunshine Coast, you should add a few other destinations as well ... watching the para-sailing at Caloundra’s King Beach, catching the train around the Big Pineapple’s plantation at Nambour, and, of course, Noosa.

Noosa has a style of its own ... laid-back, self-confident and classy. You could easily spend a day browsing the boutiques and art galleries along Hastings Street, stopping for a coffee and cake in one of the cosmopolitan cafes, or watching a busker build an elaborate sand castle while waiting for your meal in an excellent seaside restaurant.

And you could easily spend another day on the Noosa River. Don’t worry about hiring a boat. For $19.50 you can buy an all-day pass with Noosa Ferries and spend the day wandering the river between Noosa Heads and Tewantin, getting on and off to have lunch, do some shopping or just take in the atmosphere.

CONTACT

Cruise Maroochy: phone 1800 333 242; www.cruisemaroochyeco.com.au

King Ludwigs Restaurant: 401 Mountain View Rd, Maleny; phone 07 5499 9377; www.kingludwigs.com.au

Eumundi Markets: www.eumundimarkets.com.au

Novotel Twin Waters Resort: phone 1800 072 277; www.twinwatersresort.com.au

Noosa Ferry Cruise Company: phone 07 5449 8442; www.noosaferry.com

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