Mooloolaba may be best known for its 100 kilometres of pristine white sand but there are plenty of other things to see and do nearby, from climbing the second highest rock in the world and swimming with sharks to riding a world famous vintage roller coaster. Even better, Mooloolaba weather is generally pleasant throughout the year, although you’ll probably find it too cold to swim in winter. Here are some suggestions for things to do at Mooloolaba, whether you’re in town for a week or visiting for the day on a cruise ship.
Aussie World adventures
Rollercoaster aficionados come from around the world to ride the Wild Mouse at Aussie World, an original wooden coaster from the 1930s. Don’t be fooled by the lack of scary looking loop-the-loops or the cute red carriages which look more than a little like roller skates. This type of coaster is renowned for its small cars which are capable of handling hair-raising sharp curves and generating serious screams. After a clickety clackety ride to the top of the first incline the entire ride relies on gravity, sending the cart ricocheting around a series of s-bends that have been known to make macho-looking dads squeal even more loudly than their kids.
It’s a rollicking ride with rolling loops near the end producing negative vertical G forces which make it feel like the car is about to fly off the track (everyone squeals during this bit). Riders emerge from their shiny red car grinning from ear to ear and most run back to the end of the queue to ride again. The Wild Mouse is just one of the many rides at Aussie World, a family-friendly fun park which is easy on the wallet compared to the big Gold Coast theme parks. If you’re travelling with under 14s and feel like some fun, you’ll definitely find it here.
Mount Coolum walk
It may not be quite as big as Uluru but at over 200 metres high Mount Coolum covers an area of approximately one kilometre and is officially the world’s second largest rock. Climbing the isolated volcanic dome takes an hour return although rumour has it that super fit people have run up the mountain in eight minutes. Those who make it to the top are rewarded with 360 degree views of the Sunshine Coast’s beautiful beaches and surrounding hinterland.
Saltwater Eco Tours
Saltwater Eco Tours combines dreamtime legends, ancient traditions, beliefs, stories and the lifestyle of the Sunshine Coasts first eco-custodians, the Saltwater People, with an engaging dash of humour. A 100 year old gaff rigged ketch, Spray of the Coral Coast, adds an extra touch of magic to this three hour cruise which skips a well-rehearsed tourist spiel in favour of information delivered with heartfelt passion and knockabout charm. The guides’ enthusiasm for sharing their culture and the stories of the Kabi Kabi people is contagious and the scenery and sunset at the mouth of the river is superb.
Mooloolaba Sea Life aquarium
Grey nurse sharks glide silently past, huge manta rays create shadows overhead, schools of red emperor shimmer in the distance and two sawfish named Black and Decker earn gasps from the crowd. With more than 50 species of fish in 2.5 million litres of water, there’s a lot to see at the Sea Life Mooloolaba aquarium where an ocean tunnel gives visitors a magical look at the under-sea world. Adventurous visitors can even go swimming with the sharks.
Sailing on the Maroochy River
The nearby Maroochy River is a favourite locals’ recreational area and the ideal spot to get out on the water. If you feel like relaxing, take a trip with Cruise Maroochy Eco Tours past the river’s many islands and through the rainforest. You’ll see bright blue kingfishers flitting through the trees and hear kookaburras’ laughter fill the air. More than 44 percent of Australia’s bird life can be found here along with plenty of wallabies and kangaroos. Keep your eyes on the sky to spot whistling kites which have a wingspan of over one metre and a distinctive whistling call. When the weather is good the cruise stops for a guided walk along the boardwalk and the chance to explore the surrounding wetlands.
Ginger Factory at Yandina
The Ginger Factory at Yandina is the world’s largest ginger factory and has been a popular stop-off for tourists for over 40 years. It’s rather quaint but that’s part of this attraction’s charm. Factory tours are a must do and the coffee and baked goodies at the laidback on-site cafe are excellent. Not surprisingly, there’s a focus on ginger-flavoured treats but the gift shop also offers honey tastings and a bee keeping show to entertain visitors plus there’s a cute little cane train which tootles around the nine hectare property. The Ginger Factory is a particularly good option for a rainy day as most activities are undercover.
The waters around Mooloolaba are renowned for their excellent fishing and offer everything from ocean catches like black marlin to bream and flathead in the Maroochy River. Surrounding reefs have mackerel and yellowfin along with plenty of reef fish like snapper and coral trout plus you can usually pick up small pink squid north of the Mooloolaba river entrance. Most of the best fishing spots are either in the river itself or a few kilometres out to sea. Swan Boat Hire has loads of fishing gear for rent or you can bring your own. If you’re planning on casting a line in the river, fishing kayaks offer a relaxing alternative to hiring a boat. If you don’t any luck catching a fish, you can enjoy a seafood lunch at the Mooloolaba Surf Club.
Mooloolaba BBQ Boat hire
If you prefer to be captain of your own vessel, it’s hard to beat a BBQ Boat. These motorised pontoons are easy to drive and something of an institution on the Sunshine Coast. Grab some homemade burgers or fish and chips from the takeaway shop next door to Swan Boat Hire or cook your own lunch on the boat’s BBQ. There’s picnic table seating for up to 12 people, water on tap and an on-board toilet. Other hire options include snazzy little runabouts for more serious boaties and canoes, kayaks and aqua bikes for the kids. Even better, you don’t need a boat license for any of them.
Disclosure: The writer travelled to the Sunshine Coast as a guest of Visit Sunshine Coast.
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