Out and About with Kids Editor, Aleney de Winter recounts a recent family trip to the Sunshine Coast.
One of my happiest early memories is of holidaying on the Sunshine Coast, sitting in a strawberry patch at my Uncle’s sprawling Nambour farm stuffing my three-year-old face with unabashed joy. Now with my own three-year-old son Rafferty and eight-week-old daughter Marlo, we visited the Sunshine Coast to make some new, though slightly less fruity, memories.
Like A Tiger
Running late for the airport is not the most relaxing of starts for a family getaway, I have just discovered the hard way. Though, literally three minutes from missing our flight with Tiger Airways on their newly-launched route from Sydney direct to the Sunshine Coast, and needing CPR to recover from the mad dash to check in on time, we are pleasantly surprised and immediately calmed by the excellent service on and off the ground by the low fare airline and their friendly staff. Note to self: The time it takes to get to the airport when toting a toddler and a tot is exponentially longer than when travelling solo – in future allow extra travel time then add 30 minutes!
Ain’t life grand
Just fifteen minutes after arriving on the Sunshine Coast we find ourselves settling into a huge three bedroom waterside apartment at Twin Waters, arguing with an excited pre-schooler over who is getting the big room with its enormous bathroom and private balcony (a fight that mummy and daddy are always going to win). Though top marks to the Grand Mercure Apartments Twin Waters for the strategically-placed toy panda that welcomes our son to his room - a factor that may have had more effect than our negotiation skills.
Nestled between a patrolled surf beach, picturesque saltwater lagoon, and the Maroochy River, the Grand Mercure Apartments Twin Waters is ideal family accommodation in luxurious style. And for us, the convenience of our own kitchen, separate rooms for parental peace and quiet and the all important TV and DVD player for a tired tot to slob in front of after a busy day of adventure proves the difference between a good and a great holiday.
Our apartment has an enormous balcony, complete with barbecue and dining table, overlooking the lagoon and neighbouring Novotel Twin Waters Resort. There are pools, parks and lagoon areas dotted around the complex to keep families amused and if that isn’t enough the Novotel also welcomes Grand Mercure guests to enjoy their facilities (fees apply on some).
This is no small thing as those facilities include a patrolled beach, expansive swimming pool, kayaks, Segways, golf course, kids club, boutiques, tour desk and a choice of dining options from bar food and takeaway to fine dining (the Saturday Seafood buffet and breakfasts at Nouveau are sublime and the staff some of the nicest we’ve encountered).
And there’s the fabulous Lagoon Day Spa where this mummy immediately escapes to for a relaxing massage, and some much need ‘me time’, leaving Daddy to entertain the kids. For those with daughters a tad older than eight weeks, the spa’s Little Miss Precious package and Teenage Mini Treatments make for a lovely mummy and me experience.
The Sunshine Coast is renowned for its beaches, from excellent surfing beaches to safer patrolled family beaches. Coolum, Sunshine, Mooloolaba, Caloundra, Noosa and Kings Beach are just a few of the spots offering excellent swimming and facilities. Our accommodation is just a few hundred metres from the white sands of stunning Mudjimba Beach, and though its magnificence is somewhat lost on little Marlo, Rafferty spends hours playing happily on the pristine beach. That is until the temptation and convenience of the Novotel’s safe sandy beach, resplendent as it is with overwater trampoline, kayaks and dozens of buckets and spades, proves too much for our sand-loving son (and his caffeine loving dad!)
No family trip 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 and there are ample opportunities for getting up close and personal with the resident wildlife, including some lovely lady elephants. Kids rule at Australia Zoo and while baby Marlo snoozes happily oblivious to all the wonderful wildlife, Rafferty certainly lords it up as we tow him around the zoo in his rented trolley, stopping to view the animals at his bidding and to hand-feed farm animals and kangaroos.
His lordship really thinks he’s hit the royal jackpot on the way back to Twin Waters with a pit stop at Sunshine Castle in Bli Bli. The Norman-style castle, complete with moat, drawbridge, turrets and towers, ignites little boy fantasies of knights and dragons (though pillaging the very real gift store of its toy swords and costumes appears to be the real hit of his weekend).
Five family faves
Though the theme park scene on the Sunshine Coast may not match the Gold Coast, there are certainly plenty of original and unique attractions, besides Australia Zoo, that offer loads of fun for kids – and mums and dads. Here are our five family faves:
1. Aussie World and the Ettamogah Pub, at Beerwah, offers fun-filled Aussie themed attractions, shopping, food and more than 30 rides and games.
2. The Ginger Factory offers much more than just tasty ginger treats with its historic train and holiday kids club activities.
3. Kiss a seal or swim with a shark at Maloolabah’s Underwaterworld, a massive Oceanarium where you can walk amongst thousands of marine and freshwater animals without getting wet.
4. Eumundi Markets, just 20 kilometres from Noosa Heads, is held every Saturday and Wednesday and as well as great shopping and fab food there is plenty of entertainment for the kids.
5. Big kids can put their pedal to the metal at the Big Kart Track at Beerwah an international standard race track and the largest commercial go-kart track in Australia.
The Sunshine Coast airport is located just north of Maroochydore. Tiger Airways have daily flights from Sydney and Melbourne.
To make the most of all that the Sunshine Coast has to offer you’ll probably need a car. Most major car rental companies are represented at the airport.
Where to stay
To help plan your perfect holiday, call Harvey World Travel on 132 757or visit www.harveyworld.com.au