Sunday, 1 June 2014

Rambling Around the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

Sunrise in Moloolaba, from our apartment
I love the Sunshine Coast north of Brisbane.  You have probably already gathered this from previous posts when I have talked of travels there with friends and family.  This May my sister-in-law and I decided that the onset of winter in New Zealand was a great time to take a break in the sun before settling in for the wintry haul towards summer. Our location of choice was Mooloolaba, ideal for its ready access to some delightful small towns in the surrounding area, its  long, golden surf beach and  vibrant mix of cafes, restaurants and enjoyably browseable shops, oh, and the all important supermarket for supplies.

Mooloolaba Beach

Our accommodation, at Osprey Apartments was spacious with two good sized bedrooms, two bathrooms and panoramic views up and down the coast line and across the surrounding countryside. We judged it to be perfect and happily settled in for a week's stay which seemed initially to stretch ahead forever but passed by all too quickly. As luck would have it we had 7 perfect sunny days with temperatures in the mid to high 20s. 

This was a relaxing week with plenty of time for reading, walking, hanging out and swimming. Nevertheless we still had time to visit many of the area's attractions, which I have already written about, and happily discovered a couple of new ones.

Spirit House Cooking School, Yandina

My sister-in-law is an excellent cook and a keen foodie.  When she discovered there was The Spirit House Thai cooking school in Yandina, half an hour from Mooloolaba, she was keen to visit and, as a lover of Thai food, so was I. It took us a wee while to find but we eventually  pulled into its small, unremarkable car park.

It was a thrilling and delightful surprise therefore to enter through the traditional Thai gate and discover an authentic, tropical, Thai garden, complete with pools, waterlilies, carp and statuary.  I was enraptured, never mind the cooking school, I was in heaven.

We wandered the gardens for a while, me furiously clicking my camera, before entering the cooking school, a long low building nestled amongst the trees.  The school holds daily cooking classes on a wide range of themes, from BBQ cooking to Asian Banquets and Traditional Thai.  The classes are $150A, are popular and usually booked out and include a meal of the food cooked, with a glass of wine, at the end of the class. There is a stunning restaurant in the grounds also.  Having been to Thailand on several occasions I could not shake the thought that I was back there.  We spent some time looking through the shop on site and both agreed that if we had had the time we would have loved to take a class there.

This is a major ginger growing area and just around the corner is the Ginger Factory which processes the ginger for sale.  The factory contains a theme park which includes tours of the factory, an old cane train for rides through lushly planted gardens, rides for the children, shopping and regular free entertainment.  It was late in the day when we arrived so we just looked around the shops and slurped on divine ginger and golden honey ice creams, the ice cream, honey and ginger all made on site.  The Ginger Factory looks like a fantastic place to take children for a day out.  Prices for rides were reasonable and access to the shops and gardens are free.  I'd happily go back there another time.

Colonial Cottage, Buderim
 I had passed through the small town of Buderim three years ago and liked the look of it so was more than happy to go and have a proper look. It is a growing and desirable  residential town with a population of around 40,000, a pleasant climate and views from it's mountain side location out to the coast. 

The main street is blessed with attractive unique stores - no chain stores, thanks very much!  We both loved the handcraft shop with its gorgeous selection of hand knitted and smocked baby clothes - very tempting but we managed not to succumb - and a group of happy chatty women  gathered around a large table enjoying a quilting bee. We found an excellent delicatessen where we bought supplies for dinner and had lunch at a lovely café run by 40s something women who seemed to be in a great muddle but produced delicious food.

After lunch we made our way to the town's colonial cottage, originally owned by one J K Burnett and built in 1880 from pit sawn cedar and beech.  There we met the delightful, voluntary guide, Joan, a bubbly, enthusiastic woman who we took to be around 80.  You would never know it, though, she was so full of life.  She told us she was a widow, who had retired to Buderim from Sydney and had never been happier.  Her life was full of activities, voluntary work, U3A (University of the third age), craft activities etc.  Such a happy, inspiring person, she made our day.  The cottage was a pleasure to look through, too, as a glimpse into the hard colonial life of early Australia.

So there you have it.  A week passes all too quickly and soon we were homeward bound with a bag full of good memories.
 I must also comment that we found every Australian we met to be friendly, helpful and chatty.  Good on you, Aussies!