Queensland is said to be 'beautiful one day, perfect the next.' In keeping with this theme, the 'Sunshine State' prides itself on more than 2,000 kilometres of fabulous beaches and coastal hotspots. One of these highlights is Mooloolaba, located along the Sunshine Coast, about an hour's drive north of Brisbane.
Mooloolaba is a 'frolic in the surf and sun' escape for Brisbane-ites, and its population swells considerably each weekend and on school holidays. However, it's not a quiet hideaway by the ocean. While very much maintaining its own identity, Mooloolaba is, along with the neighbouring Alexandra Headland, a suburb of Maroochydore. The three seaside areas sit next to each other -- the centre of Maroochydore being the third area -- and it's hard to tell where one ends and the next starts. The combined population of all three numbers in excess of 60,000, and this brings with it a co-existing blend of tourism and urban living.
Mooloolaba is very much the tourist hub of the three and The Esplanade, with an abundance of restaurants, cafes and shops overlooking one end of Mooloolaba Beach, is the focal point. Mooloolaba's prime location makes it an excellent launching pad to all sorts of attractions, such as the world-class Australia Zoo, the Glass House Mountains and the Sunshine Coast hinterland and its quaint towns.
For cruise travelers, Mooloolaba has only been a port of call since August 2014. However, its long history as a tourist destination means there is a calm confidence in its treatment of visitors. It might be a small town by the ocean, but for a holiday it is top notch on many levels.
Cruise ships moor between half a mile and one mile off Mooloolaba and tender ashore. Mooloolaba Beach is a surf beach, so tenders enter a channel -- the entrance to the Mooloolah River and a canal system behind Mooloolaba -- and passengers disembark at The Wharf.
The sub-tropical climate means the sun can have a bite, even if it's cloudy and the sea breeze feels so lovely and cool. In the warmer months, it's best to wear a hat (preferably wide-brimmed) and sunscreen (at least SPF30+). To be extra careful, wear a long sleeve, light (cotton) shirt.
The 'loo with a view' is a public amenity overlooking the beach on The Esplanade near Brisbane Road. Despite the name, you don't go to the toilet to look at the view. The view occurs after you've 'been' and walk out onto the large deck area, which overhangs the sand. It's one of the best-known landmarks in Mooloolaba because so many people use it as a meeting point.
Currency is the Australian dollar. Visit www.xe.com for current exchange rates. There is an ATM (ANZ bank) where cruise ships dock at a complex known as The Wharf. There are also many other ATMs located along The Esplanade: CBA, NAB and Westpac are all together opposite the Sunshine Coast Car Rentals office in the arcade at Zanzibar, just after Brisbane Street. A Bank of Queensland ATM is situated on The Esplanade heading away from Zanzibar.
English is the main language spoken. In a tourist hub such as Mooloolaba, you can expect the Aussie locals will say "g'day" and "no worries," although you'll hear "good afternoon, ma'am/sir" in some of the more upmarket retail outlets.
The Sunshine Coast and beach living go hand in hand so ‘beachy' fashions are a big part of life there. Numerous boutiques line The Esplanade (at Second Avenue), and several can be found at The Wharf (Parkyn Parade; 61 7 5444 8088). Situated between these two locations is up and coming designer Natashya Manfield (Shop 2, 1 River Esplanade; 61 7 5444 0614). For blokes, Mooloolaba also has plenty of places to buy T-shirts or a pair of boardies.
An icy cold beer is the drink of choice in this sunny part of Australia. The Sunshine Coast Brewery is a family-owned business that offers a range of 10 beers, including ales, bitters, 'smoked' beer and even a hot chili beer, which can be bought in various establishments around Mooloolaba. Among them are Taps (The Esplanade and Brisbane Road; 61 7 5477 7222; open daily, midday to late), the Mooloolaba Yacht Club (33-45 Parkyn Parade; 61 7 5370 1700; open daily, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.), Lemon & Thyme (2/7 Venning Street; 61 7 5452 6939; open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner), Augello's (The Esplanade and Brisbane Road; 61 7 5478 3199; open daily, noon to late) and Fish on Parkyn (25 Parkyn Parade; 61 7 5444 4711; open daily, except Christmas Day and Boxing Day, for lunch from 12 p.m. and dinner from 6 p.m. to late).