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 a 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 Market

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.

Coast Walk: Point Cartwright to Kawana

Followers of my Instagram page know that I like me a good sunrise, but there’s something about seeing a sunrise from a lighthouse that feels like you’re really making an effort to see the sunrise if you know what I mean.

It’s something I’ve been meaning to do for months – catch the sunrise from Point Cartwright. I’ve also been meaning to do the first leg of the Point Cartwright to Caloundra coastal pathway – just as far as Kawana, anyways. Plus, I’ve been wanting to try the breakfast at One on Balsa, so why not combine all three? Now that’s what I call multi-tasking.

Start and Finish…

We parked up near the lighthouse – mainly because the pathway starts at the Lighthouse, but also because it was still dark when we arrived. You could, however, park at Balsa Park and walk beside the river and then up to the Lighthouse – see this post for more information.

We waited for sunrise and then started walking.

Distance…

It’s just 3kms from the Lighthouse to Kawana Surf Club. From here you can keep walking – the path goes all the way to Caloundra. We turned around and retraced our steps for a total of 6kms.

The path…

The path is wide and paved the whole way – aside from some boardwalk near the lighthouse.

It’s fully accessible for prams and wheelchairs. The only obstacles are the early morning runners. Other than that, it’s a little up and down in a few places, but nothing steep. Besides, with this view, the steps just fade away.

Dog-friendly?

On a leash, absolutely. There are also plenty of exits down to the beach, so check the signage at each if you intend letting el poocho off to run.

Toilets?

Yep, there are some at the Lighthouse, at Buddina Beach, and at Kawana near the Surf Club. There’s also a really well-equipped outdoor gym at the Surf Club.

Coffee and food?

I’m glad that you asked. We rewarded ourselves with breakfast at One on Balsa at Balsa Park. The outlook is fabulous – across the river to the yachts and the fisheries at Mooloolaba. This morning there was a group of intrepid over 60’s doing tai chi. You could almost touch the serenity.

One on Balsa

But back to One on Balsa….

They have an extensive juice and smoothie menu, but we settled on a fresh orange juice and a restorative coffee.

As for breakfast, I chose the breakfast bruschetta – essentially an avo smash with bacon and fabulous tomatoes – and Miss 19 went for an acai bowl.

I have a theory that acai bowls were invented not for their superfood status, but for Instagram. These things are seriously pretty and it seems that half the cafes on the coast use them to hero their social media accounts. Anyways, Miss 19, who is a self-confessed expert on acai bowls, declared this a really good one. Apparently, the difference was in the depth of banana, and the use of great rather than ordinary granola. Served in a bowl deeper than it looks in the pic, she said it was full of yummy surprises.

I’ll be back for some of the lunchtime salads – maybe when I do the next leg of the path…

Maleny Show

‘Ladies and gentlemen, you’ll need to go a long way before you see jumping as good as this.’

‘And look at the condition of the ground – you don’t get it better than this.’

‘No, you don’t – you’re in Maleny now. It’s doesn’t get any better than this.’

The ground announcers weren’t wrong – it doesn’t get much better than this.

Besides, what’s not to like about a show?

There’s food, and animals, and rides, and showbags, and ring events. There are also substances masquerading as food (dagwood dogs, I’m looking at you…) but we can forgive that. There’s the CWA tent, woodchopping, singers performing both kinds of music – country and western – showjumping, and so much more. Being a country show, you can even look at agricultural supplies and tractors – if you’re that way inclined.

We wandered through the vegetable displays, the baking, the art, and the fabulous produce that the schools on the Sunshine Coast are growing. There’s really something so wonderful about seeing the numbers of entries and the efforts the entrants have put into their offerings. I was, however, concerned that there were prizes given for the best chokos…my memories of them from childhood were not good!

We watched the judging of the dairy cattle, were crowded in the poultry shed, and sat and watched the showjumping while enjoying a fabulous lunch from the Mexican Cantina – the TS Jalopeno (supporting the Navy Cadets). This burrito bowl was more than I could eat, and was great value at $8. Yes, you heard that right. They even had little tables decorated. Very pleasant indeed.

Sure, you can blow a fortune on showbags and rides and crap food, but you can also have hours of fun for not a lot of money – and some really really good food as well. I wish that we’d seen the Black Angus Burgers earlier – and the swim club was selling roast dinners piled on plates for only about $12 (or was it $15?). I was also really tempted by the bahn mi and green papaya salad on offer at the Vietnamese food truck.

Anyways, Maleny Show is on the first Friday and Saturday in June. Go to the show website for more information – and details about park and ride.

Eumundi Markets

Make it, bake it, sew it, grow it. A simple philosophy and one that has seen Eumundi Markets grow from just a few craftspeople into a must do – and not just because you have visitors from interstate/overseas in town.

The original markets have been going since 1979 and still holds to the locally made mantra. These days, there’s also a sustainable and green element to it, with a no plastic bags policy.

As far as I’m concerned, the best part of the markets is getting there early for breakfast. I’m on a mission to try something different every visit – and there’s certainly plenty to try.

This time I chose the brekky bahn mi from the Asian Street Food stall. I also sampled some chicken satay spring rolls – for something a little different. Others in our party tried the fried Hungarian bread with nutella and banana, and the french crepes.

There’s plenty to see, listen to, buy and eat…so I’ll let the photos tell the story.

How to get there?

Eumundi is 20kms west of Noosa in the gorgeous Sunshine Coast hinterland. Just follow the signs on the Bruce highway.

For more information, check out the website.

The Imperial Hotel

Coast Walk: Mooloolaba to Cotton Tree

Cotton Tree

With paths available all up and down the coast, covering a little extra distance than usual was also not difficult. Like this one: the coastal path from Mooloolaba to Cotton Tree. I started at sunrise and was back at the surf club at Mooloolaba for morning coffee with hubby.

How far?

I started the walk down near The Spit, so it was just over 10kms return. from the Esplanade it’s 4.4kms each way.

How hard?

Aside from the headland between Alex and Mooloolaba, this is a flat, very easy walk.

Why do it?

For the scenery. On a nice day, the beaches are fabulous- and on a moody Monday morning in the middle of winter, it can feel like you have them to yourself.

Coffee?

Absolutely- each of the surf clubs has a coffee cart or kiosk. Plus there are plenty of little places like this one that you walk past.

Toilets?

Available at each surf club.

Accessibility?

The path is wide and paved the whole way- making it accessible for wheelchairs and prams.

Dogs?

Leashed only. Don’t forget to pick a plastic bag up from the dispensers along the way…

Want more?

Each Sunday the main street in Cotton Tree is closed to traffic and a well worth a look at market moves in.

Alternatively, why not break your walk at the halfway point and stop for breakfast? Cotton Tree has plenty of great coffee shops to choose from.

Cotton Tree

Mooloolaba Sea-Life

We’ve been coming to Sea life (or Underwater World, as we’ve always called it) since Miss 19 was Miss still in a pram. It’s become a tradition – one of the first things we had to do each time we came to the coast.

But it’s been a few years since we’ve been here and, well, the otters have gone – and I can’t seem to find out why. (If you know, please tell me).

Other than the missing otters, Underwater World still delivers.

There’s still the ocean glass tunnels with the massive gropers, rays and reef sharks.

There’s still the billabongs and the river zones, the seahorses and pacific reef. And there’s still the seals – watching their antics is worth the price of admission alone. Make sure that you time your visit for the twice daily shows.

The touch pool out the front is still a source of wonder for little kids, but at the moment it’s also serving as a nursery for a clutch of baby turtles. They’ll be grown in the aquarium until they’re 15cm long and have a fighting chance in the ocean (did you know that just 1 in 1000 sea turtles survives to maturity?). The turtles are tagged, released, and their travels tracked. With luck, they’ll survive to come back to the beach of their hatching to lay their own eggs – many years from now.

The jellyfish are also pretty incredible. Coincidentally, I heard a podcast only the day before we visited Underwater World that was talking about how jellyfish are both an early warning system on an ecosystem that’s failing – and the cause of a failing eco system getting substantially worse. They’re fabulously interestingly weird creatures – and extremely photogenic.

Worth a visit?

Absolutely. Buy your tickets online to save queues – particularly on weekends and at school holiday time.

Underwater World is also the perfect rainy day school holiday activity – not that it ever rains here on the Sunshine Coast…well, hardly ever…

Whale-watching at Mooloolaba

There’s a flat part to the water – completely glass-like. It looks almost like an oil slick, but it isn’t. It’s a “footprint” left behind when a whale dives – as the up-thrust of its tail drives water to the surface.

See the footprint in the bottom right

It’s just one of the ways that we know there are whales around – another are the blows…and they’re all around us.

We’re on Whale One, about 11- 12 miles off the coast of Mooloolaba and we’re excited. In fact, even the crew is excited. Today is a good day – there are plenty of whales about and they’re having fun.

Miss 19 and I don’t have a great record with whale watching. We had 2 attempts in Kaikoura – both times the cruise was cancelled due to bad weather – and another off Auckland where we saw nothing nada zilch. It happens – and when it does, it’s best just to enjoy the sights and experience of the cruise.

This time we’ve timed (accidentally) our whale watch experience to coincide with the peak time of the Humpback whale’s northern migration – and these guys have the energy to burn. Given that they won’t eat again until they’re back in Antarctica later in the year, they probably have more energy now than they will have on the return journey. I guess every road trip needs some fun, and this one – to the Barrier Reef and then back again – is longer than most.

Leaving from the Wharf at Mooloolaba, we cruised up the river – past some multi-million dollar properties – to where the river meets the ocean at the rock wall. On the way out we passed a trawler heading back in with their catch. ‘There’s plenty of them out there,’ the deckie called.

 

From here things got choppy – and more than a few people were pleased to have taken the precaution of sea-sickness tablets. Miss 19 and I, however, were completely unaffected. The crew kept coming around to check on everyone and hand out bags where required.

As we motored out to the main whale highway – an area anywhere between 8-12 miles off Mooloolaba – Shorty, our skipper told us more about the whales and their behaviours. Migaloo, the famed white whale, had been seen off North Stradbroke a day or so earlier and was rumoured to be in the area, so Shorty told us about the day he spent almost 3 hours with Migaloo back in the late 90’s.

At about the 10-mile mark we saw our first blow – and then another. From this point, it just got better and better as we witnessed breach after breach and a couple of corkscrews. We even saw a rare double breach – where 2 whales came out of the water at the same time. Sadly I don’t have the photographic proof, but it was epic.

 

As we idled in the water – Shorty explaining how far we needed to stay from them to guarantee their safety and that of any newborns – the whales came to us. One went under the boat, surfacing on the other side so we all had a good look at her. I got so carried away with pointing and cheering that I couldn’t take photos. Thankfully Miss 19 took over and I have her to thank for all the pics in this post.

 

The pictures tell just a small part of what was a completely awesome and breathtaking experience. Just fabulous. Oh, and we didn’t catch up with Migaloo – although we did come across a gorgeous dappled (probably) female that got us awfully excited for a little while.

 

Want to know more?

Whale One runs two cruises a day during the peak whale-watching season – each lasting about 3 hours. They also have a speedboat – the Wild One – which gets you to the whales quicker. Those tours last 2 hours.

Don’t forget, whales are wild animals and as such their behaviour can’t be predicted – nor can sightings. The brochures might show breaches, but this sort of action isn’t guaranteed. Whale One has a very good strike rate – check out their Facebook page for the daily action – but even so, we got extremely lucky.

You can book cruises on their website.

Update June 2018 – Whale One is now powered by Sunreef. All contact details remain the same.

 

Buderim Forest Park and Serenity Falls

I’ve been bookmarking pictures of Buderim Falls (or “Serenity Falls”) since before we moved to the Coast. The pictures on Instagram showed a lush rainforest with a relatively short (hello, I’ve seen the size of those falls in New Zealand…just saying) waterfall into a beautifully lit turquoise swimming hole. Of course, I was keen to go!

There are two entry points to Buderim Forest Park – and two ways to get to the falls:

The lower entry is at Lindsay Road near Harry’s Restaurant. The track from here takes approximately an hour return – longer with stops. It’s boardwalk for approx 600m and then bush track. Apparently, the track gets a tad “rugged” and the website says it’s not great for those with “walking difficulties or a low level of fitness.” I’ll try that way next time. There’s apparently barbecues and picnic facilities here.

I went with the entry closest to our house – the one at the base of Quorn Place. There ’s a good amount of parking here and well-maintained barbecues and picnic tables for when you’ve finished the circuit.

The circuit track itself is quite short – less than a kilometre return. It begins with a relatively steep downward bush trail. My knees aren’t great  – and I’m petrified of being the big fat lady falling down the hill, so I took it quite slowly and it was absolutely fine.

About 100m down there’s a fork in the park. I took the option of heading through the open forest so went to the right, crossing a short bridge and walking through the edge of the forest. With the sound of the trees, the birds and the tinkling of the water below, it’s just beautiful in here. It’s also hard to believe that we’re pretty much in the middle of Buderim.

From here there’s another short and steep-ish downhill scramble to the bridge above the falls. The bridge was built offsite and lowered into place by a hovering helicopter. #funfact

You can walk down into the swimming hole and around behind the waterfall, but when I was there, there was a proper photographer with a proper kit set up down there – and ruining my photo (see the main shot below).

The falls themselves weren’t at full flow today – we haven’t had rain in a long time – but it’s still beautifully serene down there…get it? Serenity falls? Oh, never mind…

After a short piece of boardwalk, it’s all uphill from here to get back to the carpark. But it’s do-able, it’s only 300m (or so), and there’s a viewing platform part of the way up that you can catch your breath at.

Accessibility

The path from Quorn Close is not accessible for prams or wheelchairs.

Dog-friendly?

Sorry, no, not this one. There are no dogs allowed in the forest park.

Toilets

Yes, at the entrance.

How hard is it?

It is quite steep downhill to start – which means it’s quite steep to come back up. You step down from rock to rock – so it can be very slippery after rain. The path itself is in pretty good condition. The steep parts are over and done with quickly and the distance is short so anyone with moderate fitness can do this one. Just take care after storms when there can be debris over the path as well. Don’t try this in thongs/ jandals/ flip-flops

Can you swim in the swimming hole?

People do – I’ve seen the evidence on Instagram. The creek passes through suburbia and some stormwater drains to reach the falls, so…well, I’ll leave that to you.

Want to know more? 

Check out this page.

 

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.