Travel

Sunshine Coast: Coast with the most

EXOTIC RESIDENTS: Rhinos, giraffes and zebras have made their home in the new African exhibit at Australia Zoo.
EXOTIC RESIDENTS: Rhinos, giraffes and zebras have made their home in the new African exhibit at Australia Zoo. David Potts

FOXY the cheetah is out for his daily walk with his keepers.

Savannah, the one-year-old white rhinoceros, is playing in a mud bath with her mum. Several giraffes are munching on leaves high up a pole. Zebra are cheekily stealing some hay.

A shuttle packed with onlookers slows to take in the scene, their guide teaching them some words in Swahili ("Jambo - hello," she says).

It's a typical day in the new African section of Australia Zoo at Beerwah. The 10ha African enclosure, after years of planning, is only six months old but, by year's end, about one million zoo visitors will have seen it.

It was the dream of "The Crocodile Hunter" and zoo founder the late Steve Irwin to build an African Safari Park where animals could roam free in open plains and state-of-the-art, walk-through enclosures. He visualised a place where visitors could watch these animals interact as they would in the wild and have their own unique experiences with them.

To get to the African exhibit, we've passed tigers in the Tiger Temple and elephants in the South-East Asia section to link with a 700-metre track around the African enclosure.

Newest exhibit member, Sally the giraffe, came from Monarto Zoo in South Australia and made her public debut a week or so before Christmas. Savannah was born at Australia Zoo just a year ago.

Just like Steve, our Australia Zoo guide and international business development manager Wayne Poole has a passion for the zoo and for the Irwins' dream for its development. Later, he takes us behind the scenes of the Wildlife Warriors show and the pens where the Irwins' crocodiles are kept.

Animals are well-cared for in a zoo which takes pride in not only making it the premier local family tourist attraction but also a major force worldwide in wildlife care.

It's just one highlight in a round-up of great family experiences which make the Sunshine Coast such a popular year-round destination. In fact, accommodation website wotif.com last year named the Coast the third most popular destination in Queensland and seventh nationally.

Our next stop is Aussie World. This popular theme park, reminiscent of an old Australian fairground, has recently had a $2million makeover which has added three new rides in a total of 30 attractions.

We take a ride on the park's new water ride, Plunge: a log flume ride that's guaranteed to wet your pants as it plunges steeply down a ramp into a water splash - not once, but twice. Well, it wet ours.

A second new addition is the thrill ride Redback. It takes the adventurous on a dizzying 16m high ride on a spinning platform. The third new ride is a Giant Slide which takes you on a rollercoaster slide. The new rides have helped Aussie World to enjoy a record number of visitors in the past year.

To round out our Aussie World experience, we enjoy some burgers at the theme park's oddball Ettamogah Pub which was opened in 1989. The first thing you notice is how cartoon-like the pub is. Not surprising, given that it was designed to mimic cartoonist Ken Maynard's Ettamogah Pub cartoons which appeared in The Australasian Post from 1959. And, yes, that is a 1927 Chevy truck on the roof. We head back to our excellent accommodation at the Rumba Beach Resort & Spa - a boutique hotel on Bulcock Beach in the heart of Caloundra.

Our two-bedroom suite is beautifully and comfortably furnished, the Italian influence apparent in sleek lines and cool white tones. It has a fully-equipped kitchen and family spa bath in the main ensuite bathroom. This resort definitely has all the bells and whistles and is great for families.

D'licious gourmet hampers has kindly supplied us with a hamper of local produce which goes well with a bottle of wine enjoyed on the balcony of our Rumba unit with great views over Pumicestone Passage and, in the distance, the Glasshouse Mountains.

We work off some of the calories with a walk along part of the 25km Caloundra coastal path from right outside our resort and which hugs the shoreline from Golden Beach to Point Cartwright.

For a change of pace next day, we head out for a cruise with Caloundra Cruises to enjoy the spectacular beauty, the history and wildlife of the Pumicestone Passage Marine Park. Our hosts Ken and Rosie have a vast knowledge of the park. They share this with us as they point out the many species of birds - some of which have crossed the world to nest and feed here.

This afternoon we hit the art gallery trail along the Blackall Range on the Coast hinterland. Tony Gill and Jane Caraffi of Art on Cairncross at Maleny in the Blackall Range, have an exhibition of the noted landscape artist Rex Backhaus-Smith running from now to April 29. There are some great art galleries - 18 of them, in fact - with original Australian art along this scenic rim, a 40-minute drive from our base at Caloundra. For the revheads among us, the volunteer-run Queensland Air Museum at Caloundra has a collection of historic aircraft, some of them operational, and air memorabilia will keep us occupied for hours. The awesome sight and sound of a 1500hp, 14-cylinder radial engine powering up is an unforgettable experience. There'll be time tomorrow to visit UnderWater World, and maybe even Eumundi Markets.

GOOD TO KNOW ABOUT THE SUNSHINE COAST

For more information on all the attractions of the Sunshine Coast, see visitsunshinecoast.com.au.

Rumba Beach Resort and Spa has an autumn deal: book any one, two or three-bedroom Resort Spa Suite or Luxury Ocean apartment for three consecutive nights in April or May, and get an extra night free from $660 for four nights. Included are complimentary sparkling wine, bicycle hire and a Dine in Style discount card for great dining precinct offers. More information at rumbaresort.com.au.

Australia Zoo entry costs: adult $59, child $35, family of five $189, family of four $172. Coast residents can get an annual pass for $75, children $45 (201 days); adults $99, children $58 (272 days); or adults $145, children $85 (364 days). See australiazoo.com.au.

Aussie World entry: $29 for an unlimited rides pass; family (two adults and two children) $99. More information at aussieworld.com.au.

Caloundra Cruises - visit caloundracruise.com.

The writer was a guest of Sunshine Coast Destinations Ltd and the Rumba Beach Resort and Spa.

>> Read more travel stories.

Topics:  aussie world australia zoo sunshine coast travel travelling


Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

New design coming to Airlie Beach roundabout

NEW LOOK: The design which will be installed onto the Airlie Beach round-a-bout starting Monday.

The design will be installed as of Monday

Pirates in Whitsundays

ON SET: Pitaes of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, filming on Whitehaven Beach in July 2015.

The fifth instalment hits cinemas on Thursday

The world is invited to Whitsunday SESsions

Gavin "Butto" Butlin, Ellie Hanlon, Rob Cole, Mark Connors, Troy Jones and Kieran McCarthy (back) and Courtney Anderson, Daniel Moss, Leigh Munro (front) are ready to rock for Whitsunday SESsions.

Whitsunday SESsions will be live streamed across the world.

Local Partners

Epic task to move 29 wrecked ships

DAVID Edge is the man behind salvage operations on 29 of the 80-plus boats strewn across Whitsunday shores thanks to Cyclone Debbie.

Debbie's graveyard: Major auction to clear written-off cars

Auto Repair and Towing Service owner Shane Muntelwit at the salvage yard behind Mackay Airport, which has become a graveyard for about 150 vehicles destroyed or written off by Cyclone Debbie.

A salvage yard has become a makeshift graveyard

What to expect at Birds of Tokyo's Ipswich gig

The band will perform at the Racehorse Hotel on Friday.

BAND member Glen Sarangapany talks music, pub grub and doing shoeys

What public holidays are left in 2017

Ipswich residents will get the day off tomorrow for the show.

IPSWICH residents will get tomorrow off for the show

'Bulls--t!' Lisa Wilkinson grilled over Karl's pay packet

LISA Wilkinson has denied a gender pay gap on The Today Show despite reports claiming her co-host Karl Stefanovic earns more than double her wage.

Rebel Wilson trial: The secret we never could have known

Rebel Wilson outside court

“Most people wouldn’t know it exists,” she said.

Janet’s back in the ring

Marta Dusseldorp returns in season three of the TV series Janet King.

Season three of ABC's legal drama delves deeper than ever before.

Game of Thrones drops new trailer for season 7

Game of Thrones fans have been given a new trailer for season 7.

Fans are finally getting a full-throttled peak at season seven.

How true-blue train driver became a TV star

Bernie Baker stars in the TV series Railroad Australia.

Fan reactions still surprise Bernie Baker.

Conviction for Snapchat body shaming of elderly woman

Dani Mathers was arrested after snapping a photo of a naked, elderly woman in a US gym and posting it on social media. Picture: Supplied

Model convicted for secretly snapping and posting a naked gym pic

What's on the big screen this week

 Kaya Scodelario and Johnny Depp in a scene from Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales.

JACK Sparrow faces an old foe and Sam Worthington stars in The Shack

How Toowoomba house prices compare in Australia

For sale sign in front of home.

Here's what $700,000 will buy you in Toowoomba, Brisbane and Sydney

One of Maryborough's most historic homes is still for sale

FULL OF HISTORY: Trisha Moulds is owner of the historic Tinana state known as Rosehill. The beautiful home is currently for sale.

It has been the scene of both joy and tragedies over the years.

The face of the Sunshine Coast's overpriced rental crisis

Alyx Wilson had to rent a $385 unit in Currimundi because the market was too competitive for cheaper rental housing. She is now renting a room from friends who own a house in Currimundi, and says its much more affordable.

Young people feel the strain in competitive, expensive rental market

WATCH: Take a tour of a tradie's dream home

5a Bruce Hiskens Court, Norman Gardens, going for $720,000. INSET: Lea Taylor.

Huge block with potential for anything

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!