Sunshine Coast first stops
Expect a warm welcome from the locals, because they love helping visitors make the most of their holiday.
Whether or not you're staying in Noosa, an appointment with Peter Kuruvita's Noosa Beach House restaurant will get your holiday off to a very delicious start. Media personality Peter draws on his Sri Lankan and Austrian heritage to design menus that are big on flavour and innovation. If your budget won't stretch to dinner, breakfast or lunch is a cost-effective way to indulge in a rare culinary experience.
Surf clubs aren't all about beach patrols and lifesaving competitions. They're also about long, cool drinks with unobstructed, elevated views of the waves. Every great surf beach in the Sunshine Coast region has a surf club, from Dicky Beach in the south to Noosa Heads in the north. Whatever you're drinking can be followed up with a memorable seafood or steak meal. Surf clubs are consistently rated highly for their food.
Home to hundreds of native animal species, the Noosa Everglades is one of only two everglades systems in the world. Guided tours are available, or you can hire a canoe and guide yourself around the lakes, rivers and islands. The Noosa River is the only river system in Australia that has its entire upper catchment protected by a national park, so you can expect a life-enhancing experience here.
Discover a Balinese-inspired paradise at the Ikatan Day Spa, a multi-awarded centre for massage, facials and blissful body treatments. If you stay for the day, your experience can include yoga, meditation and high tea. Ikatan is just one of dozens of day spas in the Sunshine Coast region. Or there's always the option of a massage right on the beach in Noosa.
Halfway between Brisbane and Noosa Heads is Beerwah, the home of Australia Zoo and the Wildlife Warriors, who run the wildlife hospital and some seriously important conservation projects. Close encounters can be booked online, so you can waddle a wombat, hang with the lemurs, pat a red panda, cuddle a koala, and much more. Steve Irwin's legacy lives on through his family, who are still actively involved with the zoo's operation.
You can't help but see the Glass House Mountains, because they're truly gobsmacking. Formed around 27 million years ago, these vertical volcanic columns are tied tightly to Aboriginal history and legends. To capture the best photos of these strangely-shaped peaks, head up the Blackall Range to Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve near the town of Maleny.