The Sunshine Coast area encompasses some of Australia's most beautiful coastal areas and is located just a few hours drive north of Brisbane. It is around about an hours drive out of Brisbane to reach its beginning, and it continues on north all the way up to Rainbow Bay, where the famous colored sands are located.
While most people are interested in visiting the quite stunning white sandy beaches, this area also includes a number of towns in the hinterland, that are worth visiting.
Most people take the trip north along main highway, known as the
Bruce Highway. Getting to the Sunny Coast from Brisbane is easy, as you simply follow the M1 road north until you reach the A1, known as the Bruce Highway, and keep going.
As you drive you may notice signposts to a number of small seaside towns along the way. Taking exit 142 on the Bruce Highway, leads to a lovely day trip, exploring the area known as the Northern Moreton Bay Tourist Drive. This Tourist Drive takes in Northern Moreton Bay coastal destinations and includes the Redcliffe Peninsula, Sandgate and Shorncliffe.
© David Minty | Flickr - Sunshine Coast
If you prefer you can drive north along the coast from Redcliffe, to Deception Bay and further along to Bribie Island. These parts of the coast are popular places that day trippers often choose to visit, and you may explore that region if you prefer.
These areas offer places where you can enjoy swimming and fishing close to Brisbane, and there are a number of other interesting spots to visit in the area. Bribie can be visited by taking exit 152, which is both the Caboolture and Bribie Island exit from the Bruce highway.
Bribie is about a half hour drive from the highway, and the road takes you past the
small town of Beachmere, and on to where a good bridge takes you from
the mainland to the middle of the island... see the picture on the left below. In the image on the right you can see the Redcliffe beach and jetty, which is where the whale watching boat "I Spy departs from during the whale watching season.
The actual Sunny Coast area starts just north of Moreton Bay and really begins where Bribie Island finishes. Bribie Island tapers to a very long and narrow spit, which is very close to the shore at the northern end opposite Caloundra. Caloundra is the first of the Sunshine Coast beaches.
If you continue along the Bruce highway heading north, about 45 minutes out of Brisbane you will pass the signpost for the hinterland and the Glasshouse Mountains. Landsborough is where you would exit if you are choosing to visit the Glasshouse mountains, and the highway continues north with a turnoff to the coastal beaches about ten to fifteen minutes later. You will see the Glasshouse Mountains on the left of the highway just past the exit to Landsborough.
If you wish to take the scenic route and drive along past the Sunshine Coast beaches, you leave the main highway at the Caloundra exit. Its a fairly short drive into Caloundra and from there you can continue on up the coast. The road winds around a bit and passes a number of stunningly beautiful white sandy beaches until around about an hour to an hour and a half later you reach Noosa Heads.
These are early morning pictures taken at Peregian Beach. Click on them to learn more.
If you decide to stay on the M1, note that near Maroochydore, highway 70 (also known as the Sunshine Motorway) branches off from the A1 and follows the coast. Watch out for the turn, as this road takes you almost to Noosa Heads before returning to being highway 70 again.
If you do miss the turn you will find yourself in the hinterland behind the Sunshine Coast, and there are a number of interesting towns in that area. There are also roads leading back to the coast, so don't be concerned if you end up going this way.
If you take exit 188 at Caloundra you can take the scenic drive along the coast, as there are a number of lovely beaches there. Continuing on north you travel past Kings Beach Caloundra, Maroochydore, Mooloolaba Beach, Alexandra Headland, Coolum, Peregian Beach, Marcus Beach, Sunshine Beach and Sunrise Beaches until you finally reach Noosa Heads.
Most people take this trip in a relaxed manner, but if you have a specific destination in mind you may travel it more quickly. While Rainbow Beach is said to be part of the Sunshine Coast, it is quite a distance past Noosa. Its a fairly long drive to reach it, and it requires a trip through the hinterland and the use of a four-wheel drive vehicle to get there.
The pictures above are taken at Maroochydore, which is a pleasant town located at about the mid point of the coast, and around an hour to an hour and a half drive from Brisbane. The photo above right shows vacationers fishing and three pelicans cruising just off the beach. For more close up pictures of Australian pelicans, visit our page full of Pictures of Pelicans.
The Sunshine Coast used to be less fashionable than the Gold Coast, with the party crowd anyhow, as is a more family-oriented area. It has a different atmosphere, and these days is popular as it is less frantic and more relaxed than the Gold Coast. It also has some of the best surfing beaches, so this will always be an attraction for those wanting to ride the waves.
© Kevin Bloomfield | Flickr - Surfing on the Sunshine Coast
Fortunately most beaches are patrolled by volunteers from the Surf Life Saving organization. As long as you listen to their advice, and swim between the flags you'll have an enjoyable day swimming at some stunning beaches. But do remember to take a hat and sun lotion, as the weather in Qld can be quite hot at most times of the year.
Along the Bruce Highway, behind the Sunshine Coast, you'll also see signs at exit 163 for Steve Irwin road. It leads to the Glasshouse Mountains scenic drive, incorporating both the town and the national park. In addition you can visit Australia Zoo, of course. This is the zoo Steve founded and made world-famous through his Crocodile Hunter TV shows.
© | Dreamstime.com - Big Pineapple Sunshine Coast
Also off the A1, but heading to Nambour this time, is the 'Big Pineapple', a popular touring stop for refreshments and, of course, pineapples. This is pineapple farming country. The big pineapple itself is an example of a particular kind of folk art popular throughout much of the English-speaking world, like the Big Apple and Big Nickel in Ontario, Canada.