Travel Itinerary – Sunshine Coast & Fraser Island

Recently, I had opportunity to travel to Sunshine Coast & Fraser Island for 5 days during spring (early October). This was a perfect choice to relax and cruise conveniently where crowded beaches and buildings were unheard of in Queensland’s naturally refreshing Sunshine Coast

Understanding how tricky it can be to plan your trip in Sunshine Coast, get inspired by reading Sunshine Coast & Fraser Island experience trip

Day 1:  Sunshine Coast (Australia Zoo & Dining Experience)

My flight to Gold Coast was a 7 hours flight on Scoot. I took this shot inside plane using a newly released Samsung phone.

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Ironically, this was the time when Note 7 before announcements of faulty batteries. Upon my flight arrival at Gold Coast airport the next morning, I left for Sunshine Coast which is approximately 2 hours of driving from the airport.

In case you’re wondering, Sunshine Coast is known for small beach towns and resort areas along the coast, situated approximately 100 kilometres north of Brisbane.

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I visited the Glasshouse Mountains Ecolodge, my tour was led bt Mystic Mountain Tours.  Our breakfast was a hosted morning tea close to nature environment. I was told that this accommodation comes from restored train carriages.

You’ll feel rest assured that they have a large variety of accommodation suitable for singles, couples and groups. This relaxed lodge is 6 km from the Glass House Mountains Lookout and 11 km from the Australia Zoo.

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Not only you will find funny puns like this signboard, you will also learn how unique this eco-friendly accommodation is from the moment you look out your terrace. Loving Aussie culture! Actually, that was when I realized I was being surrounded by rainforest right in the heart of the Glasshouse Mountains.

The remarkable Glasshouse Mountains are a series of steep sided volcanic plugs over 25 million years old. You can climb, walk around or simply gaze at them from the front entrance of the Ecolodge.

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From the lodge at noon, Con-X-ions gave us some local tips as they transferred us to Australia Zoo, one of the most popular attractions on the Sunshine Coast. This Australia Zoo, owned by Terri Irwin, the widow of Steve Irwin is by far not just another zoo compared to others where I had been to. Imagine what a great time you will have, you have super friendly staff throughout your tour and you can also see animals in their natural habitats set in a way that’s easy to spot & immediately spot the animal in it. You also have chance to get up close with several animals to interact with them by patting and taking some pictures with them. Here’s two for you if you’ve always longed to cuddle a koala

I really enjoyed my time here, this zoo has over 1,200 native and exotic animals, a line-up of interactive animal encounters, an action-packed 24-hour wildlife hospital and one amazingly adventurous zoo crew. There was never a dull moment at Australia Zoo. The croc show is a must see for anyone deciding to visit this zoo. Enjoy the Wildlife Warrior Show, where your staff swooped and perform jay snapping action such as provoking dangerous saltwater crocodiles in the Crocoseum! Lookout up above you as well, you will catch the thrilling free flight birds as they fly right over your head, this is just one of the free fascinating wildlife shows daily (1st & 2nd picture from left)

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My beef brisket in Korean sauce! Let’s EAT????

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This was the best dessert I ever had so far! Thai style sticky black rice, pumpkin ice cream, pandan sponge, coconut, pandan meringue and peanut butter crumb! IT WAS SUPERB! I’m pleased to be able to squeeze in a good dining place for afternoon lunch after exploring nature and wildlife side of Sunshine Coast.

So, where exactly is this? It’s set next to Gardners Waterfall in a stunning rain forest setting, just three kilometres east of Maleny on the Sunshine Coast Hinterland is Spicer Tamarind Retreat. This onsite restaurant specializes in innovative modern Asian cuisine, every dish has the harmonious balance of Thai flavors: sweet, sour and spicy – that will surely leave your mouth watering and your stomach begging for more! You’ll also appreciate the Tamarind’s ever-changing menu and perfectly matched wines, it make this a true gourmet destination for both in-house guests and the general public alike.

A very fulfilling meal and dessert.. Cheque, please!

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Our next transfer stop was Spicers Clovelly Estate for supper.  This restaurant was designed with luxurious comfort as top priority, resembling a subtle blend of the traditional and the modern, featuring elegant, contemporary French furnishings in harmony with entertainment technology. The food served was everything else!

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By the time it was evening I checked in to Newport Mooloolaba Apartments. and gosh! This was the view from my room (1st image – far left). I immediately fell in love with this ‘Golden Hours’ colours

This Newport Mooloolaba Apartments provide accommodation in 1, 2 & 3 bedroom self-contained apartments and studio suites. And because it is set in a high-rise building overlooking the Coral Sea, you’re just 2-minute walk from Underwater World SEA LIFE Mooloolaba and 9 minutes’ walk from Mantra Mooloolaba Beach! I spotted yet another spectacular sunset view from my room (2nd picture from left), and captured a different angle of landscape from another room looking out to the port (3rd picture from left)

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By the way, this was the sunrise seen from my room before 5.30am!

Day 2: Sunshine Coast (Surf Culture & Noosa)

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I was all set to for my next destination at 7.15am. It was a short stroll passing by a a mall along the River Esplanade road to The Surf Club Mooloolaba for breakfast and surfing tour.

Being involved in this experience was both motivating and insightful, I was taken behind the scenes ‘Aussie Surf Culture Beach Tour’ with Live It Tours to learn important skills of Australian surf lifesaver. The team adapted their training to suit our group.  As a participant, I learned several crucial skills on the go such as surfing skills, heading towards rescue tower and simulating life rescue mission in action. There’s SEALIFE Mooloolaba closeby which is a 3-mins walk. where you get to enjoy over 14 talk feeds and presentations including three famous seal shows and unique experiences to get up close and personal with marine life.

At noon, I visited The Ginger Factory, that opens daily with free admission in quest of discovering story of ginger from paddock to plate and see how Buderim Ginger became the largest processor of ginger in the world. My next activity was exploring Noosa National Park with guided walk to Noosa Main Beach then. Noosa National Park encompasses an area of more than 4,000 hectares and it’s extremely important for nature conservation and is home to several rare and threatened species. It’s actually one of Australia’s favourite National parks and you can easily access by foot from local areas. No trip to Noosa is completed without a trip to Noosa National Park.

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I was busy whale watching here – until I realized it’s the Humpback Whale! I was so lucky to get a sight of them – about four humpback whales and it was 300 meters away from me (the secret to this shot: zoom lens). I checked in to Noosa Residences after that for overnight luxury accommodation, just a 3 minute walk from Hasthings Street, Nossa’s main beach and Languna Beach. These houses have been designed to capture the best of Queensland coastal living with rainforest, ocean and hinterland views.

I went for stroll to Noosa Jetty via Hastings Street during the evening. A good number of places to check out in this area! As one of Australia’s best loved eat-streets, Hastings Street promises year-round alfresco dining, leisurely surfside lunches, and innovative fare created by some of the country’s best chefs. No one is in a hurry here, the dress code is casual, day and night, and the warmth of the sun and gentle ocean breezes. You can say it’s a sort of place to relax, unwind and simply watch the world go by. Noosa Head, on the other hand is one of the world’s most sought-after holiday destinations, and with good reason: it combines all the finer things in life with stunning beaches offset by the beauty of Noosa National Park, all in one compact area you can explore by foot.

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My personal favourite was enjoying a sunset cruise with The Noosa Ferry Cruise Co at Noosa National Park. I sat back and relaxed while we glided amongst the yachts of Woods Bay, past the fine waterfront homes of Noosa Sound before taking in the sunset view.

Yes, a paradise all of its own!

I alighted at Noosa River for dinner at Noosa Boathouse Bistro and Bar. Located directly above the Noosa River, this bistro offers an idyllic venue for anyone who wants to combine the beautiful surrounds with an extensive menu and attentive service. The waterfront setting ensures that dining here is the sort of relaxing experience that exemplifies the laidback Noosa lifestyle.

Accommodation: Noosa Residences

Day 3: Sunshine Coast (Great Beach Drive) 

I departed for Rainbow Beach with a private charter tour along the Great Beach Drive with Australian Sunset Safaris early in the morning. This Great Beach Drive is situated along Sunshine Coast & Fraser Island, a destination where you can escape the bitumen highway and drive along white sandy beach surrounded by the sparkling Pacific Ocean and Australian bushland.

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That was the four-wheel drive (4WD) by Australian Sunset Safari that I rode on in the afternoon. It took us along the pristine sandy beach from Noosa North Shore to Rainbow Beach.

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I managed to climbed up to this very spot for this breathtaking aerial view to the point I actually surprised myself! ???? It was a clear blue sky at about 11am. Simply fell in love the spectacular ocean view!  (1st picture from left) As you move closer to the beach, you can feel vibe of the Australian lifestyle  (2nd & 3rd picture from left). Spot laid back locals doing some fishing and walking their pet dogs by the beach. You’ll also experience animals and nature up close everywhere at Rainbow Beach!

Heads up, these pictures were taken using my reliable Panasonic Lumix underwater camera

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Once the beach has warmed you up nicely, it’s a good time to experience the Dolphin View Kayak Tour

Very excitedly ready for mine, thanks to Epic Ocean Adventures! All the needed equipment and safety/instruction briefing were conveniently set up by the staff on the beach.

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Here’s a sneak peek of guided kayak tour around the headland taking in nature views and local marine life. And if you are lucky, you will be able to spot large Bottlenose dolphin pods, Humpback whales, turtles, manta rays, sting rays or even soldier crabs!

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I enjoyed a guided sunset walk to Carlo Sand blow with our Destination Gympie Region host in evening. This was the Carlo Sandblow Rainbow Beach just 2km away from rainbow beach. I snapped a picture of the sunset view, it was simply one of the best I have seen recently! ???? It was indeed a great spot to catch the sunrise or sunset. This unique Carlo sand blew “moonscape” sand mass, covering over 15 hectares while overlooking everything that lies ahead of the towering colored sands of Rainbow Beach!

The sight of the unspoiled beaches, towering coastal sand cliffs and coloured sands overlooking beautiful rolling surf was truly remarkable

Accommodation: Rainbow Ocean Palms resort

Day 4: Fraser Island (Pipis, Indian Head, Lake Mackenzie)

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It is about time to tell you about on Fraser Island – World Heritage Listed with the largest sand island in the world and the only place on the planet where rainforests grows on sand. From the Sunshine Coast you can catch a car ferry and explore the World Heritage-listed Fraser Island.

I got ready for departure to Fraser Island and had a wonderful morning experience on the way to Fraser Island. You will notice how people from all around the world travel to Fraser Island just to dip their toes into the crystal clear water and gorgeous white sand.

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First thing I did on Fraser island was to look for Pipis! We found oh so so many!

Pipis can be caught all year round, simply head down to the beach and dig away into the wet sand with your feet. Once you feel a bump in the sand (1st picture from left), you can dig out a pip just under the surface. The trick is to find a second pipi to easily crack it open. You’re all good remove the pipi from its shell after cracking it open. I tried it, the pipi tasted like ‘LALA’ (don’t they almost rhyme?) but it tasted fresher! And we ate it raw ???? 

There are two naturally occurring baits on Fraser Island, pipi’s which are easy to find and live beach worms which are a little trickier.

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After exotic food adventure, comes the real trekking adventure! I trekked my way up the Indian Head – a popular spot with a spectacular view of Fraser Island! No wonder it was marked as one of Fraser Island’s landmark It took me approximately 45 minutes trekking to the top of the cliff with some steep and rocky tracks to follow! It wasn’t easy as there were a lot of big rock slope, surprisingly I made it among the first few.

Just make sure to stay low when decending the and you should be fine like us!

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Photography tip / debate from this one? Having people in the picture is not too bad as it emphasizes mood of your picture

A very rewarding walk indeed! I was mesmerized with the amazing landscape from the 50meter cliffs below.

You also have opportunity to spot sea creatures from the view of the headland. Turtles, stingrays and sharks are seen daily and from August to November Humpback whales frolic around the headland!

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Lake Mackenzie, the most visited natural site on the Fraser Island, known to be a perched lake made up of pure rainwater sitting on top of compact sand and other organic matters. It is no surprise that this lake is one of the cleanest lakes in the world, where the only pollutant in the clear blue water is the sunscreen.

I enjoyed a dip at Lake McKenzie ???? Never have I felt skin so smooth now and I had a great time doing foot scrub as well

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So.. It might come to point where you get curious about ariel view of Fraser Islands. The best way to see an island – Fly over it! It’s an great opportunity to go on an scenic flight over Fraser Island (this island itself is actually 3 times the size of Singapore). My trip was made possible thanks to Air Fraser Island

You can see the view of Fraser Island’s airport in picture above!

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Our young yet professional pilot who made it all looked too easy!

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Truly spectacular view over Fraser Island! Spot butterfly lake, you can only see this little beauty only if you fly over the island!

We continued to fly over the largest sand island in the world with rainforest (that grows on sand), more than 100 freshwater lakes, sand blows and 120 kilometres of beach. One of the best scenic flights I’ve ever had. I say it’s quite a paradise for boating, fishing, swimming, bush walking, 4WD and simply enjoying the magnificent, natural beauty of this island

Accommodation: Kingfisher Bay Resort & Village, situated north of Sunshine Coast and is the gateway to Fraser Island

Day 5: Fraser Island (Kingfisher Bay & Mantra Hervey Bay.)

6.45am:

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Ooooo hooo… finally my mushroom breakfast ???????? always looking forward to this in any Australia trip ???? a simple mushroom feast will keep me happy the whole day.

I had my breakfast at Maheno restaurant in the resort, overlooking the main pook and natural window lakes.Transfer from resort to Kingfisher Bay Ferry for Mantra Hervey Bay!

Mantra Hervey Bay, Fraser Coast is one of the best places in Australia for whale watching. Enjoy sweeping views over the Marina and out to Fraser Island, or to get up close and personal with whale watching tours departing just outside the resort. A good opportunity to experience once in a lifetime watching these majestic creatures migrate north.

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I paid closer attention to Australia’s nature with Bush Tucker at Kingfisher Bay Resort & Village! Looking closer, I learned how the native Butchulla people survived and thrived on Fraser Island! On this guided walk, I discovered a variety of bush foods growing in the resort grounds.

You know what they say about grass being greener on the other side. You can discover abundance of iconic wildflowers and native birds and wildlife nesting and feeding in the bush just around the resort.

The Pandanus gemmifer – great if u want to detox (6th picture from left to right). Meanwhile, there’s one called a Banksia, an Australian wildflower that resembles flower spikes and fruiting “cones” and heads (4th picture from left to right)

Cafe Baleana for lunch, it was a walking distance from hotel

This Hervey Bay cafe caters for all tastes and all dietary requirements, offering selections from an extensive menu from the freshest to the finest ingredients that the Hervey Bay and the Fraser Coast has to offer.

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Spectacular whale watching begins in Hervey Bay!

I crossed the street to Great Sandy Straits Marina for whale watching experience

Each year between July and early November, have the opportunity to marvel at the mighty humpback whales Hervey Bay as they take time out from their annual migration for a bit of R&R in the protected waters of the region!

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At Hervey Bay – spotted view of spectacular jetty and also this ‘bird’ kingfisher ? Left me wondering if it was thinking or watching

I walked back to Mantra Hervey Bay to head back to hotelin the evening

I did a short walk to Smokey Joe’s Cafe for dinner at 6.45pm, an exciting entertainment concept started in USA back in early 1940s and 50s. This cafe was a diner frequented by recording executives and talent scouts, where upcoming hopefuls were always keen to take on the stage. This is to give an impromptu performance in hope that someone in the audience would ‘discover’ them.

As an audience, you will enjoy this ever-changing array of live entertainment never before offered in Hervey Bay in elegant atmosphere.

Day 6: Lady Elliot Island

I went back to Cafe Baleana to enjoy breakfast, surprisingly they open this early in the morning!

7.15am – Off we hop along being transferred to Fraser Coast Airport on a mission to explore Lady Elliot Island for a full day of adventures

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8am – Time to fly from Hervey Bay to Lady Elliot Island

Lady Elliot Island is known as a true coral cay island located at the southern tip of the Great Barrier Reef and just north of Fraser Island. In fact, this island is regarded as one of the best diving and snorkeling locations on the Great Barrier Reef. Mainly because it is famous for its unspoiled coral reef and amazing array of spectacular marine life.

I really love this island very much. To put it bluntly, it is great especially when you just want that “nature getaway”. Do note that network is not available here, so be prepared to be out of contact for some great moments

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Our glass-bottom boat heading out for snorkelling

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I was all geared up to do reef walking, discovering what’s beneath me while shooting pictures to show you some corals. I was happy to catch a live sea cucumber, a creature without a heart and brain ???????? It may not look attractive, but I’ve always love how it’s served in restaurants. I also found a shy octopus hiding inside corals

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Spotted different variety, forms and colors of beautiful corals as I snorkeled. As I went lower and digging in, I’m seeing more corals like these ones.

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You’ll see some variety kind of adorable birds, some loving couples cozying up to each other up in the branches!

I departed from Lady Elliott Island by evening and enjoyed a scenic flight to Gold Coast Airport. You can check out Burleigh Beach if you have some free time and catch sunset views. Dinner is recommended at Rick Shores for those who love Pan-Asian flavours & fresh locally sourced produce and looking to dine in one of Gold Coast’s most iconic locations.

Accommodation:  Oaks Calypso Coolangatta situated just across from the beach

Final Thoughts..

Sunshine Coast’s beaches were lovely, the wildlife experience was unique and buildings such as cafes and shopping were boutique style around Mooloolaba. Places like Noosa, Hervey Bay and Fraser Island and Lady Elliot Island were suitable to explore coastal side of things just when I thought I had already seen it all!

My experience was very unique because they emulates everything natural and each visit was spectacular in their own way. Complementing this view by going scenic flight with Air Fraser Island was simply perfect. Most importantly, this trip shaped my experience with gorgeous ladies and dedicated hosts all whom I had pleasure to traveled with. Even though you realized that your trip has ended, what’s left behind is the start of new friendship formed among everyone!

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Highlights of this trip includes a Scenic Flight – Great Barrier Reef Day Tour and Admission to Australia Zoo! Click here for MORE DETAILS!

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