As I was out riding on Saturday afternoon (I’ve taken to stealing Miss SY’s beach cruiser bike while she’s otherwise occupied … and this time she was out in the surf), it dawned on me on this glorious autumn day that it was indeed the anniversary of my arrival on the Sunshine Coast – 23 years ago.
That’s a lifetime ago.
I was almost 23 myself. While you’re doing the maths, here’s a visual.
I was but a baby in this game they call adult life and had a baby face to match. I was still being asked to show my ID before getting entry to Friday’s nightclub at the Wharf. Ridiculously, I was not happy at such requests. Now, I almost beg anyone to ask, flashing my licence around before they even get a chance to clock my wrinkles and wave me through. Not that I frequent nightclubs … but, you know, if I did.
In April 1990, I moved into an apartment with an ocean view, just down the road from where I live now. My flattie was a girlfriend – a teacher – who I’d met when we were both working our first jobs in Maryborough (a couple of hours’ drive north of the Coast).
All these years later, that girlfriend’s son is a very good mate of my youngest son. They’d be besties if they went to the same school. It’s the kind of full-circle story that makes the world go round.
We lived the life. We embraced all that the Sunshine Coast offered.
We power-walked, swam or popped on our fluoro leotards to do a class at Tri-Fitness at Alex Surf Club each morning AND night. We each put in weekly the princely sum of $25 to shop for groceries. We ate healthily and handsomely on brown rice, chicken and vege stir-fries.
And in case you’re wondering. No, this did not equate to creating a surfer girl’s body on my part. Damn thyroid was doing its thing back then too. I just didn’t know it.
Don’t think going to a Hoodoo Gurus concert at Stewarts Hotel while sick with glandular fever helped set my immune system on the right path either.
Anyhoo, just like the Sunshine Coast, I’ve grown up a lot since those days. The reminiscing of the glory days flows easily as this will be my last year living on the Coast. At the end of the year we are moving to Brisbane.
I know. The opposite of a sea change. What do you call that?
For our family it will be a GOOD move. No more commuting for Mr SY and no more me being the only hands (and taxi) on deck in the mornings and evenings. It’s been five long years of this scenario and with the teens both studying in Brisbane next year, it’s time.
Yes, we will miss the beach lifestyle. It’s in us. I love the water. Always have.
And there’s something very, very special about this part of the world.
So, in honour of my celebrating my 23rd and last year on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, I thought I’d share my Sunshine Coast top things to do.
1. Have a long lunch at The Boat Shed. There was not much at Cotton Tree – except the pool and the caravan park – when I arrived. Cotton Tree is all kinds of beautiful and it’s my favourite place to hang out. It’s where the Maroochy River meets the ocean and the views north are to Mount Coolum. On the river, there used to be a boat hire kiosk. That kiosk, in a genius move in 1997, became a riverfront restaurant, anchored by the feel of the old kiosk and a massive Cotton Tree, which my girlfriends and I like to call The Tree of Truth. What is said under The Tree of Truth stays under The Tree of Truth :). Other restaurants we love include The Prickly Pinata (Cotton Tree), Ba Vigo (Cotton Tree), Spice Bar (Mooloolaba), Sakana Sushi Bar (Mooloolaba).
2. Enjoy fresh food served up with a difference. Cafes can look and offer the same but some of my favourites on the Coast offer so much more. Try the Silva Spoon (Cotton Tree) for some of the yummiest baked goodies you’ll find – plus a huge selection of teas. For good food served with a hint of goodness, try Get Fresh Cafe (Cotton Tree). Everything they serve up can be created at home using produce from the foodstore of the same name next door. New at Alexandra Headland is Elliott’s Fine Foods. The husband and wife team has worked at some of the Coast’s best restaurants – now they offer spectacular coffee, breakfasts and lunch – plus Friday and Saturday night dinners from their own venture. This chocolate and raspberry tart is just a tease of what they offer.
3. Shop at independent stores and boutiques. In 1990 there was little on offer except small boutiques when it came to fashion shopping. Maroochydore had The Big Top Shopping Centre and Sunshine Plaza was known as The Sands Shopping Centre (and was way smaller) but apart from that, it was all about the strip shopping along the Esplanade at Mooloolaba or in Hastings Street, Noosa. And I very much embraced it. Those hubs still remain but Buderim’s main street offers a great browse, as does Cotton Tree. I covered off on some of my fave stores in the segment I did recently with The Great South East. I’d like to also add Soul Diva Boutique, Buderim (for on-trend lifestyle clothes for a relaxed Coast life).
4. Go for a bike ride or walk from Cotton Tree to Mooloolaba. I’m biased. This is the area of the Coast I first fell in love with as a child holidaying with my grandparents (who retired to the Sunshine Coast in 1979). I know there are so many beautiful spots in this region but it’s this part that has my heart. We live a 10-minute walk from this stretch of beach. And once you reach it, you can ride or walk in either direction with plenty of places along the way to take in the view or stop for a bite to eat.
5. Indulge at a spa. I really don’t get to do this enough but the Sunshine Coast is well served by spas. What was the Hyatt Regency Coolum opened Australia’s first day spa here in 1988. I worked briefly in PR there in the early ’90s and it was my first “taste” of such indulgences. Let’s just say, it only took one facial to have me hooked. Clive Palmer bought the property in 2011, ousted Hyatt in 2012 and it’s now known as Palmer Coolum Resort. I haven’t been back to sample the spa since that time so can’t vouch for it (I wrote this post not long before it changed hands). I also love Stephanies Ocean Spa (Noosa Heads) and Ikatan Balinese Day Spa (Doonan, just outside of Noosa).
This is by no means an extensive list. It’s SO hard to play favourites.
Now, it’s over to you. If you’re a Sunshine Coast local or have visited here, please share your favourite places to go and things to see in the comments below.