Solar Nights at USC

 

University of Sunshine Coast (USC) has come alive with a trail of magical lights this Christmas.

A free event, it runs for 10 nights only – from 14-23 December 2018 and is fun for everyone.

There’s the rainforest walk…

The giant sticker wall…

And so much more to look at.

Oh, and all the displays were designed by USC staff…pretty cool, hey?

It’s not on for long, so if you’re on the coast, why not duck over for a look…6.30-9pm each night (weather permitting) at USC Sippy Downs – but only until December 23, 2018.

 

 

One Tree Hill, Maleny

This is arguably Maleny’s most photographed paddock – it’s also probably it’s most generous.

One Tree Hill, with its iconic single tree and magic views over the Glasshouse Mountains, is a favourite with wedding photographers. Before you go tearing up there though, this is private property and a working farm. I took the pic above from outside the fence on a weekday when the traffic was sparse.

The Woods family first came to this gorgeous spot in 1917 and have been generously sharing the view with others for the last 20 or so years – but you must request permission before entering the property.

Where is it…

Between 308 & 349 Mountain View Road, Maleny. If visiting Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve drive further down Mountain View Road southwards. You’ll see One Tree Hill on your left. Note: you can’t park on that side of the road.

The rules…

If you want to use the spot for photography, you need to make a booking ahead of time and make a small donation of $50. Every single cent goes to local community charities such as The Men’s Shed, the Maleny Historical Society, Busy Needles, Maleny Senior Citizens, the Naval Cadets and the Maleny Show Society.

Mrs Woods – 07 5494 2115 (One Tree Hill) – Mountain View Road, Maleny

 

20 things to do on the Sunshine Coast this Spring

The birds and the sun are waking earlier and the days are getting longer. In a couple of weeks the rest of Australia will be winding their clocks forward for the start of daylight saving and those of us here in Queensland who work remotely back to Sydney each day will be cursing the time difference.

For those of you reading this on the other side of the world, Queensland (where I live) and Western Australia don’t do daylight saving – even though the rest of Australia does. It’s something to do with how the curtains will fade, the chooks will go off the lay, and the cow’s milk will dry up. Of course I’m being facetious, but you get the idea.

Anyways, it’s Spring – and it’s pretty close to perfect. The weather is fabulous, the ocean is bluer than blue and you can still get a carpark at the beach. Once summer hits, and brings with it heat, high humidity and summer holidays, it can be bedlam here.

To make sure I don’t miss one glorious minute, here’s what’s planned:

  1. Continue to walk the beach most weekday mornings.
  2. A road trip – we’re heading up to have a look at Bundaberg and Bargara. Bundy rum anyone?
  3. A romantic foodie weekend in Melbourne. Yes, I know, we’re leaving the sunny coast for a few days, but Melbourne is always a good idea.
  4. Hit the beach. Enough said.
  5. Fish and chips on the beach at sunset.
  6. Buy loads of mangoes and make yummy things with them – or buy loads of mangoes and eat them.
  7. Continue to buy, cook, and eat local produce. We’re spoilt for choice up here.
  8. Try the farmer’s market at Timari Village and Noosa.
  9. Plant a vegetable garden. I’m missing having herbs at the back door, so I’ll plant some. I also want to have a go at growing some more tropical plants – such as ginger, garlic, turmeric, galangal or lemongrass. As an aside, there’s a papaya tree growing on our verge.
  10. Chill out on a Friday night at one of the street food markets – Marcoola, Ocean St or Timari Village Market.
  11. Continue our search for the ultimate beer garden. The research is a bugger.
  12. Speaking of which, check out Copperhead Brewery at Cooroy and Rick’s Garage at Palmwoods.
  13. Add to my list of fabulous places for breakfast on the Sunshine Coast.
  14. Drop 8 kgs – see how I just snuck that one in? I need to lose about 30 kgs, so 8 will be a start.
  15. Do some of the walks in Noosa National Park before the heat and the summer people hit.
  16. Do more of the Point Cartwright to Caloundra walk – again before the heat hits.
  17. Fire up the barbecue (grill) and pizza oven and eat outside lots more.
  18. Get a good start on Christmas shopping at the arty markets around the coast eg Peregian Beach, Sunshine Coast Collective, Eumundi, Cotton Tree, or Caloundra Street Fair.
  19. Get an early morning photo of the boathouses along the Maroochy River.
  20. Make like a tourist (man, we are sooooo local these days) and do a Maroochy River or Noosa Everglades cruise.

 

Caloundra Street Fair

If you’re into street markets, this is a good one. Apparently it’s been voted best street market on the coast. I’m not sure about that, but it is certainly the largest. As an aside, I’m not counting Eumundi as a street market – it’s in a class all of its own…

Anyways, every Sunday – from 8am to 1pm – the main street of Caloundra is closed to traffic and 200 stalls move in selling everything from arts and crafts to produce to plants to clothes to fresh food to…you get the idea.

These were the biggest dream catchers I’ve ever seen!

I’ve seen some of the stalls at Eumundi, so if you’re staying around Caloundra and can’t make it up to Eumundi on Saturday, this is a good alternative.

If you’re after something to eat, there’s plenty of food on offer, and music while you eat it.

We chose instead to wander the couple of blocks down to Bulcock Beach and had fish and chips overlooking  Pumicestone Passage.

Bliss.

When?

Caloundra Street Markets are on every Sunday from 8am-1pm

Where?

Bulcock Street, Caloundra

Dog friendly?

Leashed only…

Parking?

There’s plenty around the side streets.

More information?

If you want more information, check out their website or stay up to date with their Facebook page.

 

Marcoola Night Markets

Ok, right at the outset I’m going to apologise for the photos in this post. We’re still a little too used to eating a tad later than is fashionable on the coast and as a result, it was pitch dark when we arrived. Plus, it’s winter.

I promise I’ll go back when the days are longer and the light is better. Besides, there are too many other stalls I want to try food from!

Having said that, this is a fabulously laid back way to put a full-stop under your working week.

From 4pm each Friday night a vacant block in the middle of town is transformed with fairy lights into an international food court…but in a very good way.

And the cuisines? Too many to mention.

We shared a serve of tempura crab

and then went with the naked souvlaki

and Mexican.

As for dessert? The sweet tooth in my family chose the oreos cheesecake. Yes, really.

As for seating, there’s a long table up the centre of the block that you can crowd around. Other than that, pack a picnic blanket and take your food into the park or onto the beach.

If, like us, you’re feeling that this night could only be more perfect if there were craft beers or a glass of wine to have with your food, then head across the road to Little Boat Cafe. Their bar is open on Friday evenings – but it’s bring your own food.

There’s music, a great family feel, and plenty of good food. In all, it’s a perfect way to end the week.

When?

Fridays 4pm – 8pm

Where?

10 Lorraine Ave, Marcoola

Parking?

Yeah, can be a challenge. Head to the side streets.

More information?

Their website is here, or keep up to date with their Facebook page.

Come fly with me…

It’s noisy up here, but through our helmets we can hear the chatter of firstly the Caloundra Air Controller and later the Sunshine Coast Control. The plane rises and falls gently as the wind catches her and moves her – and us – about. It’s as if we’re riding the swell of the wind.

Below us the ocean sparkles in the sunlight. We look for whales but can see none.

We’re flying in a Waco open cockpit biplane – and the experience is about as far from an economy seat on a Jetstar flight as it’s possible to get. It’s flying with the wind in your hair, flying when it was really special, flying with more than a touch of 1930s glamour. It’s flying with the birds.

This “bird” is beautiful – sleek and smooth. Rodney, our pilot, tells us that she’s affectionately named Marilyn – a blonde, curvy American. The seats are upholstered leather – like an armchair – and it’s much warmer and more comfortable than I thought it would be.

Before we took off Rodney pointed out the different indicators and the pedals on the floor – which we were told not to touch. He also showed us where the compartment was for the breakfast carrier, or sick bags, in case we needed them – which we didn’t. The original use for these would have been to carry a businessman’s lunch or flask, I suppose.

This joyflight was a combined birthday present for Miss 19 and I. We chose the Caloundra Classic to Mooloolaba flight – a route that took us along the beaches of Caloundra, up the coast and over the Mooloolaba Spit, and turning around at the Maroochy River mouth before heading back.

Although we didn’t choose the aerobatics package, along the way Rodney tossed in a couple of sharp turns and “wing overs” which were enough to get our hearts raising.

Take off and landing (an old fashioned grass landing) was smooth, and the flight itself fabulous – the coast really is even more beautiful from up high.

The verdict?

A nostalgic trip back to a time when flying was romantic – and a flight to remember. From up here we got great views of the Glasshouse Mountains, Bribie Island and the Pumicestone Passage, and, of course, the fabulous Sunshine Coast through to Maroochydore.

How much?

Flights are available from $298 – and best part is that 2 of you can go up for that price.

What about the knees?

I was worried about getting in and out of the seat – and of stepping on the wrong part of the wing and causing damage. I needn’t have been concerned. Even with my dodgy back and knees it was all ok – and they use a step ladder to climb up and in.

How squishy?

Yeah, it’s a tad squishy, but if you’ve flown Jetstar lately… Seriously though, I wouldn’t want to fly for hours like this, but it’s surprising how much legroom you have. I, however, needed a booster cushion to be able to see out.

Did we feel safe?

Completely so.

More information?

You can find more information here. Fighter Pilot Jet Flights run biplane scenic flights from Caloundra Airport and Brisbane.

Maroochy Bushland Botanic Gardens

These are not your average Botanical Gardens. Aside from the Sculpture Garden, there are no manicured lawns and exotic flowering plants. Instead, what you have is bushland – a place to breathe, and wander, and relax, and remember what it’s like to reconnect with nature after a hard week in the office where you’ve been thinking too much. That last bit came out loud, didn’t it?

Why come? Aside from the breathing, relaxing,  reconnecting, and grounding part? The bush walks, of course – gentle enough for all levels of fitness, short enough to fit into a busy day, and interesting enough to make you think you’ve been in the bush.

Lagoon Circuit

This track takes you on a round trip around the lagoon.

It’s about 1.2kms – or thereabouts – has a bit of up and down, but is an easy walk. The track is dirt, but well maintained – although I imagine there could be some slippery parts if it’s been raining. There are a few stairs, so I wouldn’t recommend this path for wheelchairs or prams.

There are viewing platforms at a couple of points around the lagoon, and on a clear day the reflections are worth a picture or three.

or more…

Fern Glade

The Fern Glade is another short walk – about 900m, on a fully accessible concrete path.

A few degrees cooler than the bush track, I’ll be keeping this little oasis in mind on a hot summer’s day.

Sculpture Garden

Another 900m on another fully accessible path, it’s worth a wander.

Facilities…

There are plenty of picnic tables, but no barbecues – you can bring your own, if you want. Oh, and there are no rubbish bins, so make sure you bring something to take your garbage home in. Inconvenient yes, but it’s all about not interfering with the natural feeding patterns of the animals and birds that live in the gardens.

Yes, there are toilets.

Accessibility…

Aside from the bush tracks, there are other accessible paths in the gardens.

Dogs…

No dogs are allowed in the gardens.

Admission…

The gardens are open every day and admission is free.

More information…

The gardens are located off Tanawha Tourist Drive. You’ll find more information here.