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The Sunshine Coast of Queensland

Jenny from Australia

Queensland's Sunshine Coast offers such a diversity of attractions and stunning natural beauty that you really need to set aside at least a week to explore this tropical paradise.

There are so many reasons why this is one of Australia's most popular car-hire destinations. With some of Australia's best beaches and rivers, tropical rainforests and camping sites, there is something here for everyone. The climate is one of the best attributes of the Sunshine Coast, being mild in winter and having an average sunshine rate of seven hours in summer. There is no wonder people flock from around the world to visit its beaches, mountains and towns.

If you are driving from Brisbane, the route takes less than two hours, and the scenery is stunning along the Bruce Highway to the coastal towns, with the impressive Glasshouse Mountains looming in the distance, and rows upon rows of towering pine trees lining the roadside.

Before you reach the Coast, you might want to stop at some of the many attractions which are scattered along the highway. These are a little tamer than the Gold Coast theme parks but just as unique and educational.

Steve Irwin's Australia Zoo has become world famous, and is located at Beerwah about an hour north from Brisbane. Just follow the Bruce Highway until you reach the soon-to-be-named Steve Irwin Way. The variety of over 550 animals at Australia Zoo is amazing and you will be captivated by the displays and demonstrations running throughout the day.

You also can't forget the pineapple and tropical fruit plantations which have made this region famous.The Big Pineapple, located near Nambour, is hard to miss and was one of the first attractions in the region. It also features Australia's largest macadamia nut factory. Entry is free and there is ample parking. Before you leave, make sure you try one of their famous banana splits.

The Deer Sanctuary and the Super Bee are also well-known attractions located at Forest Glen, further along the Bruce Highway.

Just before the Maroochydore exit, you can't miss the Ettamogah Pub (also known as Aussie World), as it has grown into a tourist attraction of its own. Including bull rides, pub meals and 30 rides and games, plus a myriad of souvenir shops, this venue is worth visiting for the ultimate Aussie experience.

Underwater World, located at Mooloolaba, is Queensland’s largest aquarium, with over 25,000 different sea creatures on display. The seal and otter shows are always a favorite with locals and tourists.

Maroochydore is one of those lazy towns that help you ease into holiday mode and put the brakes on for a while. Bring your fishing and beach gear as you will be spending a lot of time by the water. Cotton Tree Beach is very popular - it is located right next to the Maroochydore River and the Cotton Tree Camping grounds.

Noosa is the tourist mecca of the Sunshine Coast. With brilliant white beaches and tourist shops lining the famous Hastings Street, plus perfect weather for most of the year, you will be relaxed in no time. There is every type of accommodation available, from luxury to economic. An unforgettable resort is Villa Alba in theNoosa Valley, if you are looking for some luxury and pampering.

Cooloola National Park should be on your itinerary, also, with excellent camping grounds, pretty rivers, sandy beaches and walking trails making this a hidden treasure of the Sunshine Coast. It is also known as the Great Sandy National Park.

Just south of Noosa are the famous Eumundi Markets which are open to the traveller throughout the week. There are local tropical fruits available plus the famous arts and crafts.

The Sunshine Hinterland, with breathtaking views and arts and craft shops, is a direct contrast to the brilliant beaches that line the coast from Caloundra in the south through to Madjimba further north. Montville and Maleny are popular for their scenic beauty and restaurants. Situated on the Blackall Range and located close to an hour from the beach, the panoramic views are truly exhilarating. You will need time to park your car and take in the views which sweep down to the beaches and beyond.

Kondalilla National Park, located 2 kilometers north of Montville, is worth a visit, especially for the beautiful scenery. There is a 2 kilometer circuit which ends with the majestic sight of the Kondalilla Falls.

There is something in the Sunshine Coast for everyone. Whether you are a surfer, photographer, wildlife enthusiast, or just need a holiday, you will be back again and again.

Author: Jenny Brewer is a travel agent whose passion is writing. After spending her leisure time writing children's stories, she now enjoys writing about travel destinations. Discovery Rentals (Australia Car Rental)

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