Maroochydore, Mooloolaba and Caloundra
The sadness of leaving a place you love is only curtailed by the joy of arriving in the next. This is what we had to tell ourselves as we drove sullenly out of Noosa and joined a beautiful coastal highway heading south. We skipped breakfast and made an early start to make the most of a few stops en route to Maroochydore.
Straight out of Noosa we passed through a series of quiet coastal suburbs, each as wonderfully serene as the last. We chose to stop at Peregian Beach, a particularly stunning belt of sand which dazzled in the morning sun. It was nice, as always, to blow out the morning cobwebs with a blast of ocean air.
Our next stop was the bustling coastal town of Coolum, where we grabbed some coffee and cooked ourselves a greasy stove-top breakfast overlooking the ocean. It wasn’t our most iconic breakfast pit-stop and our proximity to some public toilets wasn’t to be desired. But we could see the ocean and we certainly weren’t going to pay for any parking.
To make amends for our artery clogging breakfast stop we decided to walk to the peak of Mt Coolum, from which we’d heard the views were great. At only 1.6km we envisaged the walk to be pretty gentle and so set of at a canter, practically skipping up the first section which was as smooth as a snooker table.
However breakfast regret soon kicked in when the smooth became rocky and the walk became a climb. We sweated our way to the top, overtaken numerous times by active wear toting mountain goats. But once at the top, our valiant efforts where rewarded with remarkable views and a certain pride that neither of us vomited our eggs and bacon.
Our base for the last stretch of the road trip was Maroochydore, and more specifically, Cotton Tree Holiday Park. Once again we found ourselves shoved in to some dark corner away from the huge antenna, fancy BBQ, go-go gadget caravans. But aside from the small trek to the toilets, we really didn’t mind. Our spot under a cluster of shady trees, was a stone’s throw from the beach. We spent the afternoon relaxing at the campsite before being treated to a dramatic sunset scene over the beachy peninsular.
The little expanse of coastline which makes up the southern part of the sunshine coast consists of two other notable towns. Mooloolaba and Caloundra. We spent only an afternoon in Mooloolaba, which seemed to be the glitzy older sister of Maroochydore. As we wandered along the busy promenade, dwarfed by high rise apartments and overcome with boutique shops. It wasn’t really our scene, but we thoroughly enjoyed the walk along the coast to the Alexandra Headland which gifted us spectacular views of the coast leading back towards Maroochydore.
As the sun set, back in Maroochydore, we wandered along the Esplanade from the caravan park to Ocean Street, a vibrant hub of bars and restaurants in the centre of town. After our typical hour of comparing menus and painful deliberation, we settled on a South American Bar called Machu Pichu. In their cosy courtyard we sat outside under heat lamps and were treated to an amazing tapas style meal washed down with cold bottles of Aguila.
On our last full day on the road we drove south to Caloundra, the southernmost community on the Sunshine Coast. We were blessed with a beautiful, breeze-less day and promised ourselves to enjoy it by doing precisely very little. Parking the van at the south end of Shelley Beach we proceeded to stroll along the beachfront, looking for a spot of our own to relax. Parts of the spacious promenade where bustling with families but as we kept walking along the shoreline we came across a sun drenched patch of grass which looked out over the clear coral sea.
On a little strip of grass, under the shade of a leaning palm we found our spot. Sitting on our little blanket overlooking the shallow tide we let the day pass us by. It was the perfect place to end our trip and the perfect time to look back and relive our adventure. We ached again for the warm sunshine of the north and marvelled at the beauty of the tropical landscapes we’d experienced. We laughed at our packing incompetence on our trip to the Whitsundays and shivered at the memory of the stormy days spent locked inside the camper eating cereal and praying for the sun. We recounted our campsites, the scenic breakfast stops and the welcome routine of watching the setting sun.
When all was said and done the real magic of our trip was experiencing it together. It was the compromise, the sleepless nights, getting up to watch the sunrise and drinking cheap wine by the camping stove. Those where the memories we would treasure.
There really is no better way to travel the East Coast than by the squeeze of your own accelerator. Whether you do it by yourself or with others, the freedom you get by travelling at your own pace and overcoming your own daily obstacles is what makes the trip so memorable.
We said goodbye to Hermes our trusty Spaceship Van that had carried us over 2000km from Cairns to Brisbane. We also said goodbye to the sun, as we departed for Melbourne we offered ourselves up to the gods of winter and could only pray that we’d be hitting the road and riding of in to the sunshine again soon.
Day 13-15 – 137km
Highlights – Climbing Mt Coolumn, Kings Beach Caloundra.
Where to Eat – Machu Pichu (Maroochydore)
Where to stay – Cotton Tree Holiday Park