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 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.


For more information on all the attractions of the Sunshine Coast, see

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

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

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

Caloundra Cruises - visit

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

Drop-in centre could help troubled youth

ENOUGH: Trevor and Kerry Wone would like to see the community working together to overcome the problem youth violence on the streets of Bundaberg.

"We want to get these kids off the streets”.

End of an era for Eidsvold Station

MOVING ON: Sally and Anthony Coates saying goodbye to Eidsvold Station, the property they've lived at for decades.

Anthony and Sally Coates set to leave Eidsvold Station.

Aussies carve watermelons as Halloween becomes 'Aussie'

It is no longer something that Americans do. It is here to stay

Local Partners

Drop-in centre could help troubled youth

A COUPLE desperate to solve the problem of youth violence are starting up a not-for-profit organisation to push for a drop-in centre in the Bundaberg CBD.

Foot stomping, eclectic gig coming to Bucca

GIG: 8 Ball Aitken will play at Bucca Hotel this weekend.

Blues artist plays at Bucca Hotel

WATCH: NASA space station is live, see the view from above

In this picture taken from NASA's International Space Station from April 2015, the SpaceX Dragon is captured with the 57.7-foot-long Canadarm2 robotic arm before its installation to the Harmony module.

See the world from a new perspective as space station passes Rocky

Queensland's oldest pipe band needs your support

ALL THINGS CELTIC: The Bundaberg Caledonian Pipe Band is coming to the Moncrieff.

"Keep Bundaberg's Scottish band entertaining for many more years”

RECAP: The Bachelorette S2E12 - the finale

Georgia Love pictured in a scene from The Bachelorette finale.

GEORGIA chooses Lee and leaves Matty J heartbroken.

The Bachelorette finale: Georgia declares her love for Lee

Georgia Love with The Bachelorette winner Lee Elliott.

MATTY J left heartbroken in emotional grand final.

Buy your own brothel: Scarlet Harem for sale

OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS: The Coast's first brothel, Scarlet Harem at Kunda Park, is up for sale.

Coast brothel madam sells up

Tom Cruise credits success to Scientology

Tom Cruise

Tom Cruise credits his success to Scientology

Hacksaw Ridge leads AACTA Awards nominations

Andrew Garfield and Teresa Palmer in a scene from the movie Hacksaw Ridge.

MEL Gibson's wartime drama opens in cinemas next week.

ABBA to reunite for virtual live experience


ABBA have confirmed they are to reunite - in virtual reality form

Drop in rental vacancies for Bundaberg

ALL OVER: The decline was across the state.

Encouraging signs for market

6 houses in Gympie under $200,000

$170, 000, 9 Norman St, Gympie

These Gympie houses are perfect for investors or first home-buyers

Tough times in CBD: Woolies says goodbye Ipswich

Woolworths in the Ipswich Mall.Photo: Rob Williams / The Queensland Times

The last day of trading will be January 1

Look at me! Kath and Kim home up for sale

Kath and Kim from the iconic Aussie TV series.

'Crack open the Baileys and grab a box of BBQ Shapes'

How to fit 100,000 new homes on the Coast

Property, real estate, housing, suburb,  August 2016

Fitting 2m extra people in south-east Qld in 25 years a balance

Hinterland horse stud passed in for $8.25 million

UNREAL: This Maleny estate is incredible.

12-bedroom hinterland horse stud still available