Just north of Brisbane lies a stretch of coastline known as the Sunshine Coast. From Caloundra in the south to Fraser Island in the north and out to the scenic Blackall Ranges in the west, this beautiful part of Australia provides a great family holiday destination.
There are hundreds of kilometres of magnificent beaches on the Sunshine Coast, Fraser Island, the world's largest sand island and the beautiful hinterland including the Blackall Ranges.
There is plenty of family friendly accommodation available, from reasonably priced quality lodgings to world class resorts. Some of the attractions available on the Sunshine Coast include Australia Zoo, Underwater World, The Big Pineapple and Aussie World. The Sunshine Coast is about 1-2 hours drive north from Brisbane on the Bruce Hwy.
The Sunshine Coast stretches north from Caloundra for 100km to Fraser Island. To the west, the Blackall Range dominates the Hinterland, with Maleny, Mapleton, Montville and Flaxton the main settlements.
Over 7 million visitors flock to the Sunshine Coast each year, for the warm weather and beautiful beaches.
Only 30 min from the coast, the Sunshine Coast Hinterland has quaint, historic towns and villages boasting arts and crafts, bushwalking, scenic drives and great dining. Among the crafts on offer, wood and glass feature strongly. There are many art galleries and antique shops.
Fraser Island is a World Heritage listed site, and the largest sand island in the world. It is 123km long and has an area of 184,000 hectares. Famous for its white, sandy beaches, freshwater lakes and ancient rainforests, it is well worth the trip.
You won't be lost for somewhere to dine on the Sunshine Coast. With its proximity to primary industries, the use of supurb fresh local seafood, fruit, vegetables and meats makes the Sunshine Coast one of Auatralia's most popular food centres. Most seaside towns have loads of al fresco dining options. In the Noosa area there are over 100 restaurants.
Sunshine Coast Facts
Population: Over 300,000
Location: The Sunshine Coast is an urban area in South East Queensland, north of the state capital of Brisbane on the Pacific Ocean coastline. Stretching from Caloundra in the south to Fraser Island in the north and out to the scenic Blackall Ranges in the west.
Climate: The Sunshine Coast enjoys a fantastic climate year round with one of the highest sunshine readings in the world (average from 6-8 hours sunshine each day). Summer temperatures range from a low of 20 degrees Celsius to a high of 30 degrees Celsius. It can get warmer away from the coast. Spring and autumn temperatures range from 14 to 26 degrees Celsius. Winter has a low of 10 and a high of 20 degrees Celsius.
Time Zone: There is no daylight saving time on the Sunshine Coast. Time zone is Eastern Standard Time (EST).
Transport: Plenty of taxis and local buses available as well as private buses. There are shuttle bus services from the airport. There are train services to and from Brisbane. Activities are not as centralised as the Gold Coast, so you may need a car to get around. If you need to hire a car you will have no trouble finding a car hire place, but stick to the well known companies (Avis, Hertz, Budget etc).
Flying Times To The Sunshine Coast: Direct flights from Sydney - 1.5 hrs, Melbourne - 2 hrs 20 min.
Medical: Hospitals are located in all main towns on the Sunshine Coast.
Beaches: Some of the best beaches for children include Kings Beach, Bulcock Beach, Golden Beach, Cotton Tree, Mooloolaba Beach and Mooloolaba Spit, which offer excellent beachside playgrounds. There are 14 patrolled beaches along the Sunshine Coast. There are also plenty of surf beaches to choose from including Kings, Moffat and Sunshine Beach. Some beaches can be dangerous so make sure it is patrolled and only swim between the flags.
Sun: The summer sun can get very hot especially between 10am and 2pm. Cover up and make sure you use sun protection.
Airport: Sunshine Coast Airport is located in Marcoola, midway up the Sunshine Coast. The airport has a Visitor Information Centre and shopping and dining options.
Electricity: 240v at 50Hz.
Visa/Passport: Visas are required to all visitors travelling to Australia except for New Zealand passport holders.
The Sunshine Coast is a one to two hour drive (depending where you're staying) from Brisbane along the Bruce highway.
The Sunshine Coast has its own airport in Marcoola (just north of Maroochydore) and is about 1 hour 20 minutes from Sydney by air and just over 2 hours from Melbourne. The airport is serviced by Virgin and Jetstar. Bus services run frequently from Brisbane Airport to locations along the Sunshine Coast. The region is also serviced by Queensland Rail with the Tilt Train from Brisbane or Rockhampton.
Travel to Maroochydore may be harder to secure at the cheap prices than to Brisbane, and with this and the larger number of flights to Brisbane, it may be worth while flying to Brisbane and hiring a car to drive up to the Sunshine Coast. Work out the price differences and allow around $50 a day for a car, and it may end up a cheaper alternative, especially when you take into account your transfers to and from the airport and attractions.
You can check the airlines web sites: Virgin, Jetstar.
There is plenty of family friendly accommodation available on the Sunshine Coast. You can choose from 5 star luxury resort to basic apartment accommodation.
Check our Sunshine Coast accommodation page for a listing of the family friendly resorts and hotels available.
Booking accommodation online is now the norm, with most resorts offering an online booking facility. There are also numerous online travel companies where you can check resort facilities and accommodation types, check for availability and price, and book your holiday using a credit card.
Breakfree resorts offer plenty of family friendly accommodation and Mantra also offer a number of family friendly properties on the Sunshine Coast.
Hotels Combined allows you to search a number of accommodation providers at once to make sure you get the best deal.
The Sunshine Coast offers a bit of everything if you want to shop - from markets, fashion boutiques and plaza shopping.
A visit to Eumundi markets is a great day out and you can buy clothes, food, artworks, toys, homewares, skincare, crafts.... It can get pretty busy but there is a friendly shuttle bus service from the carpark at the end of town. There are also interesting shops along the main street. Other markets worth visiting are the Noosa Farmers Market, Peregian Beach Market, Cotton Tree Market and Markets on Bulcock in Caloundra.
Hastings St, Noosa, is an up-market, elegant shopping strip.
For art and craft shops, art galleries, and tasty local produce head to Montville and Maleny in the Hinterland.
Sunshine Plaza in Maroochydore is home to large department stores and familiar fashion stores. It also has a cinema complex.
Things To Do
There are many activities available for families on the Sunshine Coast. Here are some of the most popular ones:
Australia Zoo (Beerwah)
Home of the Crocodile Hunter this private zoo features crocodiles and other Australian native animals. It is the ultimate wildlife adventure with an emphasis on conservation. There is a coach pick-up service from 7 Sunshine Coast locations. Open from 9am.
Aussie World and the Ettamogah Pub (Palmview)
Have a beer and hearty meal in the iconic pub then visit value-for-money Aussie World with plenty of rides and attractions for kids and adults. Located 1km north of the Caloundra exit on the Bruce Highway. Gates open 9am, rides start 10am.
The Big Pineapple (Nambour)
Find out everything you need to know about pineapples. The kids can visit the animal nursery or feed the kangaroos. A train ride takes you through the pineapple plantation. There are markets on here every weekend. Free entry. Train and animal farm open on weekends and school holidays, fee applies.
Underwater World (Mooloolaba)
Excellent oceanarium well worth a visit. Plenty of marine life to see including face to face meetings with sharks in the underground tunnels. You can swim with the seals or just get kissed by one! Open from 9am.
Sunshine Castle (Bli Bli)
A medieval castle featuring a torture chamber and a doll museum with over 2200 dolls. There are daily kids treasure hunts and a Lord of the Rings display. Climb to the top of the tower (24 metres up). There is a cafe and gift shop. Open from 9:30am.
Ginger Factory (Yandina)
Tour the world's biggest ginger factory. Taste the ginger in the Ginger Shop or visit the Ginger Factory to find out how the ginger products are made. Take a ride on the Historic Cane Train. Free entry. Open from 9am.
Top Shots Fun Park (Maroochydore)
Kids will love the mini-golf, blaster boats, extreme trampolining, and the waterslide. Open from 9am.
Bellingham Maze (Tanawha)
Visit this garden maze and join a maze hunt or try out the rope and tyre mazes. There are lots of puzzles to try and mini-golf. Relax in the garden cafe. Just a 10 min drive inland from Maroochydore. Open from 9am.
Eumundi Markets (near Noosa)
Open every Saturday and Wednesday these markets offer a large variety of stalls from pottery to paintings, clothing etc, etc. Plenty of food stalls available and rides for the kids. It is a must see attraction for visitors to the Sunshine Coast. Eumundi is 20km west of Noosa.
Noosa Marina Markets
Open each Sunday morning these markets are much smaller than Eumundi. Much easier to walk around and plenty of stalls to pick from.
The world's largest sand island with beautiful beaches, rainforests and freshwater lakes. Day tours of Fraser can be arranged from anywhere along the Sunshine Coast with pick up and drop off from your resort.
Located just behind the Sunshine Coast with dense rainforests and majestic ranges. The mountain villages of Montville, Flaxton, Mapleton and Maleny are famous for their local art and craft galleries, restaurants and beautiful scenery.