I lived on the Sunshine Coast for 12 years, and I never even meant to move there, or stay there long. I was at uni on the Gold Coast in 2002 and my mum had just moved to the Sunshine Coast. I visited a few times, and ended up packing my things and hanging out for a bit in between uni semesters. Three years later I met a boy, and we got married, and I stayed.
I stayed, and became a connoisseur of all things in the Maroochydore area, haha. There isn’t a Thai I haven’t tried.
Now, I am not a beach girl. Sunshine, yes, sand, no. Sometime over the years I sort of got used to it but it wouldn’t be my first choice. The kids love it though, and seeing as the husband has saltwater in his veins and feels like the world isn’t right unless he can go surfing, he was there every day. I used to walk along either this beach or the river at Cotton Tree almost every day, rolling a pram sometimes, just strolling others. It’s a beautiful view. Alexandra Headland has the nicest view (as above) and as a local, you will always run into someone you know along the walk.
Alex beach was also our closest, so we’d walk there in the afternoons and evenings.
For beaches to play at, I love Mooloolaba beach, and Noosa beach. They’re both pretty protected, so the Noosa waves are very mellow, and the Mooloolaba ones are a bit bigger and a bit more fun. Not that I get in past my knees anyway. I know when I’m out of my element!
The Mooloolaba beach park is good for kids, and always pretty busy. There’s plenty of barbecues nearby, and the Surf Club next door has great views and cold beer. #Priorities.
Cotton Tree is on the Maroochy River, which meets the sea so you can either hang on the quiet riverbank, or walk across the sand to get some waves. I spent a lot more time here, and it’s still one of my favourite places to go. I went yesterday, and strolled along the water, chatting in the sunshine.
I lived along the river, on Duporth Avenue for five years. I got married on this river, got drunk in the river, and got fit along the river footpath. Cotton Tree park is super-nice for families, and I’ve accidentally been in plenty of people’s wedding videos as I strolled past. We even had our wedding photos done here, it really is awfully pretty.
The park is great for kids, too, and the footpath always has a thousand kids on scooters having the time of their lives. And the occasional Rollerblader unsure of what decade they’re in.
If there’s one thing I did on the Sunshine Coast, it’s eat. You better believe I’m eating twice as much now I’m in Melbourne, because suddenly my choices just expanded 15o million percent. I like to eat, dammit!
My favourite fancy restaurant is Little Humid, in Noosa. It used to just be called Humid, but it’s changed a bit and I haven’t been to the new place, but it was far and away my favourite (I had a couple more, but they closed down). They could make anything on the menu vegetarian, not just have one or two token dishes. They had a whole menu, and were super-happy to change whatever you wanted. The service is impeccable, and the food is even better.
For chips on the beach, the Mooloolaba Spit has plenty of options, but I love the chips from Surfcoast Seafood, eaten straight out of their packet at Alexandra Headland beach. The beach kiosk at the Alex Surf Club has awesome toasted sandwiches and does pretty good surfside breakfasts (I used to indulge after Friday morning yoga) and coffee. They’ve newly opened the Bluff Bar, which is a great place for an afternoon drink in great weather with an even nicer view.
If you’re at Sunshine Plaza (you and three-quarters of the Coast), the vegetarian sushi at Cherry Blossom Tree is probably some of the best I’ve ever had. Do not miss the Teriyaki Tofu meal, I get it every single time. I think they coat the tofu in the sauce, then deep-fry it, then sauce it again. Sitting there chatting to one of my friends, I was trying to figure out HOW they made tofu taste so good. The sushi maker behind the counter heard our conversation, winked, and said “we give it a hug before we cook it”.
I love the buffet at India Today, Hathi Indian has the most incredible interior and great food, and Rangla Punjab was our first choice for takeaway. Som Tam has the best Thai (I had my bachelorette party dinner there), and I like Thai Seasons and Siam Thai.
The butterscotch pancakes at Cafe By the Beach in Caloundra will blow your head off. Fully recommended.
Also, please go to Lefty’s Restaurant in Maroochydore. Make sure you chat to Lefty himself. Leave confused and amused.
Mooloolaba Pizzeria is awesome at 2am.
For tea and cakes, the Silva Spoon is the nicest place in Cotton Tree, Cotton Tree Seafoods has great chips, and Nude Deli Cafe has great lunches. For breakfast though, for old time’s sake, we like to go to Mojo’s Cafe. When I first started dating my husband, he used to take me to this cafe that he and his friends always went to called Loftees. It started when they were young, and they’d go there for $3.5o breakfasts after a surf. When we had a share house down the road, we’d all go on a Saturday or Sunday morning and I’d get the scrambled eggs that cured all ills. We’d have a huge table of 10 or so, because usually we had friends staying (mostly bands on tour camped out in our living room) and everyone always loved it. It’s legitimately expensive there now though, so don’t go expecting breakfast for under $5 like we used to get.
The Hinterland also has great food, I loved Poet’s Cafe because it was so pretty, Monica’s for their haloumi and pumpkin salad, and the Montville Pub for the atmosphere, beer garden, and good food. Montville in general is pretty cool (I take you through a little trip here), It’s the hinterland town I like the best. I also don’t miss Maleny Cheese, if I can help it.
There’s a lot of boutique-y type things, being such a beachy tourist place. And I’m not into beachy tourist boutiques mostly because I would look like a legit idiot in that kind of getup. But I never fail to poke my head into Alterior Motif in Cotton Tree mostly because I think they have the best fashion store on the Coast, and partly because its owner, Penny Lane, (yes that is her real name her mother gave her) is an old friend. It was after a show I modelled her collection that I got stuck into the champagne and gave my now-husband my phone number. One thing led to another and we’ve been together nine years now. Penny lent me the dress I was wearing at the party where we met, and thought the story was so cute she let me keep the dress.
I’m not into shopping much, but I do truly love the Duporth Book Exchange. I’ve made plenty of purchases there over the years (and swapped a few too! Twilight went straight there, blecch) mostly because it reminds me of my Pop’s house (his looked exactly the same, like he’d constructed his entire house out of books), and it looks like what I imagine the inside of my brain to look like. Smells just like old books too, which I love.
I also like Erbachers for fruit and veg, Get Fresh Cotton Tree for deli goods, organic fruit and veg, and specialty goodies. Fisherman’s Road markets for plants, fruit and veg, trash and treasure (and cheese/olives when the good cheese guys and olive guys are there), the Big Pineapple Markets, and the Yandina Markets are great (I gave a peek here – and check out 40 weeks pregnant me the day before Smalls was born, awwww).
All roadside stalls are awesome. They’re mostly in the hinterland, but I’ve never been disappointed.
The Mooloolaba esplanade is good for roaming, to get a coffee or an icecream.
The Kawana pub is nice for an afternoon drink and perhaps a pizza. The hinterland in general is so nice to drive through, but don’t miss Mountain View Drive for … mountain views.
The Duporth Tavern is also a great place for a drink and maybe to watch some football. Say hi to my mate Bruiser if you see him there. I think he’s in the Pokie room.