One of my happiest early memories is of holidaying on the Sunshine Coast, sitting in a strawberry patch at my Uncle’s sprawling Nambour farm stuffing my three-year-old face with unabashed joy. Now with own kids in tow, we visited the Sunshine Coast to make some new, though slightly less fruity, memories.
Running late for the airport is not the most relaxing of starts for a family getaway, I have just discovered the hard way. Note to self: The time it takes to get to the airport when toting a two small kids is exponentially longer than when travelling solo – in future allow extra travel time then add 30 minutes! Thankfully, just fifteen minutes after arriving on the Sunshine Coast, we find ourselves relaxing into a huge three bedroom waterside apartment at Twin Waters, arguing with our excited pre-schooler over who is getting the big room with its enormous bathroom and private balcony (a fight that mummy and daddy were always going to win). Though top marks to the Grand Mercure Apartments Twin Waters for the strategically-placed toy panda that welcomes our son to his room – a factor that may have had more effect than our negotiation skills.
Nestled between a patrolled surf beach, picturesque saltwater lagoon, and the Maroochy River, these apartments offer ideal family accommodation in luxurious style. And for us, the convenience of our own kitchen, separate rooms for parental peace and quiet and the all important TV and DVD player for a tired tot to slob in front of after a busy day of adventure proves the difference between a good and a great holiday.
Our apartment has an enormous balcony, complete with barbecue and dining table, overlooking the lagoon and neighbouring Novotel Twin Waters Resort. There are pools, parks and lagoon areas dotted around the complex to keep families amused and if that isn’t enough the Novotel also welcomes Grand Mercure guests to enjoy many of their facilities..
This is no small thing as those facilities include a patrolled beach, expansive swimming pool, kayaks, Segways, golf course, kids club, boutiques, tour desk and a choice of dining options from bar food and takeaway to fine dining.
And there’s the fabulous Lagoon Day Spa where this mummy escapes tofor a some much need ‘me time’, leaving Daddy to entertain the kids. For those with daughters a tad older than mine, the spa’s Little Miss Precious package and Teenage Mini Treatments make for a lovely mummy and me experience.
The Sunshine Coast is renowned for its beaches, from excellent surfing beaches to safer patrolled family beaches. Coolum, Sunshine, Mooloolaba, Caloundra, Noosa and Kings Beach are just a few of the spots offering excellent swimming and facilities. Our accommodation is just a few hundred metres from the white sands of stunning Mudjimba Beach where my kids spend hours playing happily. in the sand. That is until the temptation and convenience of the Novotel’s safe sandy beach, resplendent as it is with overwater trampoline, kayaks and dozens of buckets and spades, proves too much for our sand-loving son (and his caffeine-loving dad!)
No family trip to the Sunshine Coast would be complete without a pilgrimage to Australia Zoo and ours doesn’t disappoint. Bindi and Bob themselves are here coaxing crocs in the Crocoseum and there are ample opportunities for getting up close and personal with the resident wildlife, including some lovely lady elephants. Kids rule at Australia Zoo and while baby Marlo snoozes happily oblivious to all the wonderful wildlife, Rafferty certainly lords it up as we tow him around the zoo in a rented trolley, stopping to view the animals at his bidding and to hand-feed the farm animals and kangaroos.
His lordship really thinks he’s hit the royal jackpot on the way back to Twin Waters with a pit stop at Sunshine Castle in Bli Bli. The Norman-style castle, complete with moat, drawbridge, turrets and towers, ignites little boy fantasies of knights and dragons (though pillaging the gift store of its toy swords and costumes appears to be the biggest hit).