Mooloolaba – Years ago, Kiwis flocked to flock to Surfer’s Paradise on the Gold Coast for a winter’s break.
It was about the easiest place to get to for a couple of warm weeks holiday. Well move over Surfer’s. Make way for the Sunshine Coast, and, more specifically, Mooloolaba, about two hours’ drive north up the M1.
Magical Mooloolaba is quintessentially the perfect spot to relax and escape from winter, especially for South Islanders. Just over the road from the beach are all the shops, cafes, bars and restaurants. The sentinel of the resort is one of the best of hundreds of surf lifesaving clubs in Australia.
From the club’s terrace bar / restaurant the beach gleams under the pulsing sun and sparkling sapphire water beckons swimmers, surfers, bodyboarders, body surfers and casual waders who are always under the watchful eye of lifeguards – between the flags.
Snorkelers would love it. We saw jet skiers, sadly because of their noise pollution, and even those seeking junk food recreation, albeit at the high end, can dive and mingle with sharks.
Mooloolaba’s name is thought to have derived from either the Aboriginal word mulu for snapper or from mullu meaning red-bellied black snake.
The beach area was so lovely to enjoy because of the beautiful manicured sand near the surf club and clean shower and toilet facilities. There is a calm vibrancy to the area. Our last two days there, the temperatures hit 31cdeg – at the very start of September.
I loved the big well-formed wave swells which were not dumping and were invigorating for fun body surfing.
We spent half our holiday at a nice Airbnb on the Sunshine Coast which just felt more upmarket compared to run-down areas of the Gold Coast. Twenty years ago, tourists flocked to Surfer’s Paradise and Broadbeach as an edgy haven with heaving night clubs. It had one of the first Hard Rock cafes about. Today the café looks dusty and grungy. The shine has gone off it.
On the Gold Coast, we set up base at the Sheraton Grand Mirage, for the first and last time. The resort is a testimony to the 1980s vision of the infamous Christopher Skase who later became one of his country’s most wanted fugitives, after his business empire crashed spectacularly and he fled to Majorca, Spain.
Unfortunately, this little piece of paradise right by the beach is now quite tired and so much maintenance is desperately needed. The one upside was the buffet breakfast and excellent staff offering so many food choices of food.
Such as: bacon, eggs, croissants, buns, vegetable strudel, ice creams, baked beans, yoghurt, Asian soup, dumplings, melon, kiwifruit, banana chips, juices, pasta bake, eggs benedicts, or eggs anything, potato curry, poppadoms, hash browns, pancakes, berries, pine nuts, spreads, toast, smoked fish, tomatoes – and more.
New Zealand has always been a constant and reliable source of tourism dollars for the Gold Coast, but China is emerging as the largest market with more than 300,000 visitors a year.
But the sub-tropical Sunshine Coast is clearly more appealing. It’s even worth the few hours walk to experience the panoramic views from the top of nearby Mount Coolum.
For ethical reasons, we steered away from theme parks, including Australia Zoo in Beerwah which is the home of the Crocodile Hunter.
The Gold and Sunshine Coasts are destinations where coastal beauty are the main attraction. The Sunshine Coast benefits due to more untouched beauty alongside a less-developed array of built-up areas to come out slightly in front.
If you have kids, take them to the Gold Coast theme parks like Dream World, Sea World, Wet ‘n’ Wild, Movie World and WhiteWater World.
While the Sunshine Coast generally makes for better mature living and relaxed travel, the Gold Coast’s hustling of activities and attractions is more appealing for much younger people, who tend to get bored.