The Sunshine Coast is home to many beautiful locations. From rugged rocky coastline to stunning sandy beaches, through to the lush green hinterland, our small piece of paradise has an endless array of places to enjoy. Add to this the glorious weather that our summers are known for, and you have a delicious recipe for the perfect picnic.
To celebrate the season, we have put together some of our favourite scenic locations that are off the beaten track.
What are you waiting for? Dust off that picnic rug, grab a basket and enjoy a packed lunch (or sneaky cocktail by dusk) with your loved ones.
LOCATION: Chambers Island, Maroochydore
This not-so-secret gem of an island is located a hop, skip and jump away from mainland Maroochydore. You can access the walkway to the island from Bradman Avenue and you will be on the sandy beach within minutes. Or, if you are feeling game, toss the picnic basket into a kayak and paddle on over.
There are plenty of trees to provide shade, lovely grassed areas, and a number of permanent picnic tables to use.
Quiet and away from the hustle and bustle, Chambers Island is also a beautiful location to watch the sunset.
LOCATION: Lake Dunethin, Maroochy
You will be spoilt for choice if you head off the beaten track towards this quiet lake. As you approach, veer right at the fork in the road and drive along Dunethin Rock Road. There, you will find yourself at the base of the rocky boulder.
The Sunshine Coast Council’s Adventure Sunshine Coast lists Dunethin Rock as a landmark tourist destination. Meaning ‘place of swimming trees’, its name reflects the region’s timber-logging past when logs were rafted down the Maroochy River in the 1860s to this point, and then loaded onto boats bound for Brisbane sawmills. Suitable for all levels of fitness, it’s a short hike to the boulder. Lay your picnic rug atop the rock and take in the sweeping views across the river, cane fields and mountains.
If laying low is more your thing, follow Pearce Drive and head towards the nearby Scouts’ campgrounds. In the early 1900s, the lake, which forms part of the Maroochy River trail, was used for a water sports festival.
Tucked discreetly behind dense trees, opposite the campgrounds, this section of the lake is known to few. The pontoon is the ideal base to watch as the golden sun fades.
LOCATION: Monash Park, Golden Beach
Where, you ask? This relatively unknown beachfront location provides plenty of space for kids to run and play, while you drink in those aqua-blue ocean views. Boasting both sandy and grassy areas for a picnic, Monash Park is tucked away from the main swimming and recreation areas. It’s great for a mid-morning or lunch-time picnic. Be warned, there can be a few midges around at times, so take some bug repellent.
LOCATION: Emu Mountain, Peregian
This is one of our favourite Coast locations for a dawn breakfast. Watch as the sun rises and paints the sky in tones of gold and blush. The summit forms part of Noosa National Park and the walk itself is about 1.1 kilometres return. The path, which is suitable for children, is littered with vibrant wild flowers. Yellow and brown dwarf banksias, vivid pink wallum boronia flowers and white fluffy Hubbard’s wattle grow freely. Also known as Mount Peregian (which is the Aboriginal word for emu), the top of the summit provides spectacular panoramic views from Noosa in the north to Maroochydore in the south.
If you are not an early morning person, that’s okay – Emu Mountain also provides a pretty stunning sunset too.
LOCATION: Maroochy Regional Bushland Botanic Garden, Tanawha
Tranquil and beautiful, this lush green garden is not short on pretty picnic spots. Tables are scattered throughout the park, while patches of grass stretch everywhere you turn. A favourite among tourists and locals alike, the garden can become quite busy on the weekends, but thanks to the wide open spaces and hidden nooks and crannies, visitors can enjoy a sense of separation.
We will let you in on a little secret … this is our favourite spot to set up a picnic lunch! Make your way across the bridge over the fern glades. When you reach the open lawns, turn left and continue beyond the toilet block. Here you will find a spacious and secluded grassed area, as well as a shelter.
If you are an art buff, you will enjoy settling in under a tree in the sculpture garden, located on the opposite side of the grounds.
Family-friendly tip: the garden is home to hundreds of fauna species, in particular an array of pretty birds. The Friends of Maroochy Regional Bushland Botanic Gardens have a great online resource you can access to help identify bird species: friendsofmaroochybotanicgardens.org.au/birds
The Nature Agents of Discovery app is another fun way to encourage young ones to interact in their environment. The aim is to solve the agent mission. Challenges are hidden throughout the gardens and unlock via GPS as you walk.
LOCATION: Third Bay, Coolum
The lesser-known Third Bay at Coolum Beach is a wonderful location for a romantic afternoon picnic. Sheltered and offering stunning ocean views, the rocky enclave is accessed by an easy 85-metre trail through the Yaroomba-Coolum Foreshore Bushland Conservation Reserve. Sit and watch as the fishing boats bob around, or take a walk and explore the rocky environment and small pools. This is yet another great location to watch as the summer sun dips behind the ocean.
WHAT’S IN YOUR HAMPER?
The Sunshine Coast is home to hundreds of producers and foodies who offer a fresh and fabulous selection of picnic delights. From farm-fresh fruit to locally made chocolate, and roasted coffee and distilled gin, there really is something for every palate. Browse local independent grocery stores to discover what’s on offer, or visit the markets to snap up fresh-baked goodies.
The Coast’s own high tea and picnic hamper queen, Aimee Russell of Aimee Provence in Buderim, says picnics involve planning. She says it is a great idea to create a list of what you will need, including rugs, glasses, plates, cutlery, drinks, games and, of course, the star – delicious food.
Here are her top picnic tips:
- Choose a dry, flat surface to set up your picnic.
- Keep your food cool until you are ready to eat.
- Break the rules – include unusual combinations of foods on your plate, or eat dessert between courses.
- Theme – are you celebrating a special occasion? Do you want flowers or decorations?