You could call it a bushwalk, but that doesn’t sound half as much fun to an excitement-seeking little person as a ‘hiking adventure’. It’s all how you sell it. Especially if the destination is exciting like a mountain peak, a waterfall or even an ice-cream shop. The Sunshine Coast region is lucky to have lots of ‘mini mountains’ and other equally as exciting hiking destinations for mini-adventurers.
With spectacular views and short but sharp climb, Mount Coolum is an obvious winner. The 1.6km return hike to the 208-metre-high summit is steep but totally doable for kids that enjoy a challenge and have a couple of easier walks under their belt.
Slightly North West of Coolum, Mount Ninderry is another favourite with families. At 308 metres high it’s taller than Mount Coolum but the elevated carpark means you’re already part way up before you even start walking. The 1.4km return trip will test little legs but there are lots of spots on the way up where you can sit down on a log to rest and take in the view. You can take your four-legged friend on this one as well which the kids would love.
If your adventurers are very small, Emu Mountain at Peregian is a gentle way to get them hooked on hiking. The 1.1km return walk will take your hikers up a gentle slope to the top where they’ll be rewarded with amazing views up and down the coast.
Buderim Falls (otherwise known as Serenity Falls) is another hidden gem on the Sunshine Coast. Tucked away in the heart of Buderim Forest Park, these little-known falls make for a beautiful discovery at the end of the short 350-metre walk from the top entrance off Quorn Close. If you’d like to stretch the walk out a bit, you can start from Harry’s Lane off Lindsay Road and enjoy the 600m boardwalk through the forest before you ascend along a trail to the waterfall.
If your junior hikers are up for a longer adventure, the Noosa National Park Coastal Track is hard to beat. You can start from the carpark in the National Park at the Noosa end (off Park Road) or begin your journey from Sunshine Beach just south of Noosa. The full loop is around 10.8kms in total or you can just go as far as your little hikers’ legs will travel. If you want to just do a shorter hike, start at the Noosa end so you can get to the main lookouts more quickly. But if you want to do the full circuit, it’s fun to start from Sunshine Beach so that your hikers can ‘climb’ up to their destination and you can reward them with an ice cream at the Kiosk Cafe next to the Park Road carpark.
TIPS for hiking with kids:
Pack some ‘scroggin’ (otherwise known as trail mix) for everyone to munch on as you hike to keep the energy and spirits high.
If the family budget allows, invest in a hydration pack for your little hikers (you know those backpack style water packs with a bladder inside and a long hose with a valve at the end to drink from). It will make them feel like true adventurers and the novelty should last for at least a few treks and by then you’ll have the hooked. Be warned though, they’re so much fun to use that your kids will be extremely well hydrated so you may have to factor in a few more wee stops than usual!
Rock Pool finding time
If your little explorers are keen to do some rockpool hopping, it doesn’t get any better than Point Cartwright at Buddina. This little-known rock-strewn beach is wedged between the point and the mouth of the Mooloolah River. To get there, park in the carpark at the end of Pacific Boulevard and then follow the paths through the parkland and down onto the beach.
The rocks at the base of Alexandra Headland are also well worth exploring. You can get to them from the southern end of Alexandra Headland Beach or the northern end of Mooloolaba Beach.
The beaches around Caloundra’s headland are also a paradise for little explorers. From the northern end of Kings Beach right around to Shelly Beach.
You could even do a bit of brushing up on your marine biology before you go so you can look like a total legend when you start identifying the slippery, slimy critters you spy.
Time for a Skate Park
Beaches, surfing and skate parks. You almost can’t have one without the other. It’s fair to say that skate parks are a kid magnet. Whether your kids are just starting out or little rippers, there’s a skate park on the coast with their name on it. For an awesome free day out, why not plan a road trip up or down the coast checking out some epic skate parks along the way? Your kids will think you’re the coolest.
Here are just a few of the best Sunshine Coast Skate Parks worth trying out:
Alex Skate Park – this huge skate park just near the surf club at Alexandra Headland has something for everyone with a couple of decent bowls and some fun street elements.
Nambour Skate Park – This place is a destination in itself so it’s well worth the side trip from the coast. This colourful, plaza-oriented park has lots of interesting street elements. Check it out at 18 Matthew Street, Nambour.
Coolum Skate Park – this super-popular skate park sits right beside the ocean in Tickle Park and boasts a massive U-shaped main bowl, smaller bowl and street elements.
Peregian Beach Skate Park – the highlight of this park is a 7ft deep main bowl along with some tech elements and a block for the street skaters.
Sunshine Beach Skate Park – with a vert ramp, bowl and street elements this park is a hidden gem. You’ll find it at 6 Girraween Court Sunshine Beach.
How about Hunting for bait
If the kids are asking to go fishing, don’t waste your money on fresh or frozen bait. The free and much more fun option is to find your own bait. You might almost forget that you were even going fishing at all.
On the Sunshine Coast you can search for yabbies, beach worms and even pippis. Just make sure you know the limits put in place by the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries. Generally, any species without a specific limit is subject to a possession limit of 20.
If you’re on the hunt for yabbies, borrow a yabby pump and head for spots with sand flats at low tide with small holes. The North Shore of the Maroochy River is perfect. Beach worms can be found on any surf facing beach. There’s a bit of an art to finding them but there are lots of tips online to help you out. Pippis can also be found on surf beaches if you know what to look for. Get the kids hunting for small rises (about the size of a 50 cent piece) in the hard sand between the high and low tide line. Or in ankle deep water, wriggle your feet side-to-side until you feel a hard shell, then just dig them out. Pipis are great for catching whiting, bream and flathead. Beach worms and pippis have a possession limit of 30 in Queensland.
Find a New Beach to discover every day
Of course, heading to the beach is the most obvious free activity on the Sunshine Coast. But which one? If your kids are little groms and love a wave, you can hit any of the well-known beaches along the Coast. But if you’re looking for calmer water for littlies to paddle in and interesting features like rockpools to hold their attention, here’s a few of the most kid-friendly spots on the Sunshine Coast: Caloundra’s Bulcock Beach is one of the most popular beaches for families on the Coast. This wide, protected beach sits at the entrance to Pumicestone passage and overlooks the northern tip of Bribie Island. It’s the perfect storm for families with calm water for safe splashing, a patrolled section for swimming between the flags, a boardwalk for walking and fishing, grassy areas with picnic tables, plus a string of cafes across the road for a quick coffee or the essential fish and chips.
A little further south around the bend in the passage is Golden Beach. This long beach offers lots of lovely nooks amongst the trees to settle in for a while and play. This place has an old school beach holiday sort of vibe that makes it a favourite destination for families year after year.
Mooloolaba Spit just to the south of Mooloolaba’s main beach is a beautiful, casuarina-lined, crescent-shaped stretch of beach with gentle lapping waves. Park near the end and you can also explore Point Park and take a walk out the rock wall as far as you can go then head over to the Mooloolaba Fish Market for freshly-caught fish and chips.
Cotton Tree at the Mouth of the Maroochy River is another much-loved family spot where you’ll see kids on kayaks, paddleboards and inflatables splashing about to their hearts content.
If you want to take your four-legged fur babies along too, Stumer’s Creek just north of Coolum or Doggy Beach on the river mouth at Noosa are great areas for the whole family to stretch their legs and play. With sparkling stretches of shallow water for frolicking, shady spots for relaxing and plenty of sticks, these spots can be even more fun than the traditional beaches.
Kings Beach free outdoor public pool
This pandanus-fringed, free public ocean pool at the eastern end of Kings Beach has all the resort vibes but without the price tag – especially if you can nab yourself a spot under one of the permanent white sun umbrellas. Clean ocean water is filtered and continually pumped into the swimming enclosure which includes a 25-metre lap pool, children’s swimming and wading area and even a ramp into the pool providing easy access for wheelchairs.
While you’re at Kings Beach, the kids will love to have a run around the plaza where they can dodge or more likely be drenched by the waterspouts shooting up into the air. Don’t forget to pack an extra set of clothes.