There really are so many things to love about the Sunshine Coast. Our beaches are pure magic, the dining scene rivals that of the big cities and our hinterland couldn’t be more lush. We know we have it good, and we love it.
Something else I personally love as a mum to two energetic kids is the array of options we have when it comes to parks, walks, trails and playgrounds. So we want to share a few of them with you too.
Right at the very start of the Sunshine Coast, almost hidden away yet just a hop, skip and jump from our iconic Australia Zoo, is Skippy Park.
Named after the kangaroos that used to (and still do) frequent the area, Skippy Park is a multipurpose space in Landsborough catering to just about everyone. The park was designed to preserve the current natural environment and has four zones: creek gully, palm gully, mountain ranges and foothills, all designed for natural play.
Kids will love it for the playground and multitude of bike and scooter tracks, plus families can relax with a picnic or make use of the gazebos and electric barbecues for a good, old-fashioned cook-up. You can even bring your four-legged friends if they stay on their leashes.
Location: 321/335 Old Landsborough Road, Landsborough
Treehouse adventure playground
Heading towards the coast to Aura, the City of Colour, you will find park after park after park, all designed with families in mind. In fact, this area claims to have a playground of some sort every 400 metres.
One of the more recent is the Treehouse Adventure Playground. A beautifully designed 12-metre metallic tree adorned with brightly coloured birds, butterflies and leaves forms the centrepiece of a five-metre-high state-of-the-art climbing frame with two elevated wooden ‘treehouses’ linked by a tunnelled rope bridge.
But it doesn’t stop there. Kids will love the rope bridge to traverse, climbing bars to shimmy up, and a rope ladder that leads to three different tunnel slides with a choice of heights. Little kids won’t miss out either with a toddler and bird’s nest swing just for them.
Oh, did we mention the playground’s art installation in the form of a 9.5-metre-high, vibrant pink tree featuring bicycles instead of branches? The best part is Mum and Dad can grab a coffee or lunch across the road at Stockland Baringa then sit in the shade and watch, while the younger members of the family are entertained for ages.
Location: Lukin Terrace, Baringa
Baringa Skate Plaza
Once you have had your playground fix, chuck on the roller blades, whip out the skateboard and glide on over to the Baringa Skate Plaza, a state-of-the-art skateboard park a few hundred metres down the road.
The plaza was created to be the civic square’s focal point and was designed in co-operation with Convic, known for epic youth spaces and skate parks. It is a concrete playground shared among the kids getting out and having a bit of fun, and the pros carving it up on the many ramps and trick stations.
Complete with shaded areas, plenty of tables and public toilets, you could easily let the day roll on by (get it?). Side note, Baringa Skate Plaza hosts several skateboarding festivals, complete with food trucks, dance classes, live music and more throughout the year.
Location: Edwards Terrace, Baringa
Happy Valley Park
Let’s go beachside now, shall we? After all, the sand and surf is what the Sunshine Coast is all about. And with that in mind, imagine yourself sipping a coffee or snacking on some hot chips looking out to the ocean as your little ones play and play some more.
Welcome to Happy Valley Park.
Designed to replicate a lighthouse complete with a connecting bridge to the lighthouse keeper’s cottage, this playground has multiple structures to keep young ones (and the young at heart) amused. There are sand tables and activity panels, a rock climbing wall, tunnels, net climb, two slides, art panels, talk tubes, a (pretend) fish and chip shop, spinners, swings and even a pirate ship.
The best part is once you’re done playing, you can hit the beach for a refreshing dip to cool off.
Location: Esplanade Bulcock Beach, Caloundra
Whipbird Village and Walk
Moving up the Coast, we come to Whipbird Village and Walk, an almost magical space at the Maroochy Regional Bushland Botanic Garden in Tanawha. It is an enchanting, wonder-filled and interactive space designed for exploration, discovery, make believe and with nature play in mind.
All the equipment is built from trees and natural things – from tree stump stepping stones to a cubbyhouse built from branches. The Whipbird Walk next to the playground is an easy stroll that leads you through wildlife sculptures and a bushwalk as well as a sensory section.
When it comes to the gardens, you will find a magnificent 82 hectares showcasing plants native to the Sunshine Coast with an open forest of eucalypt, a creek-side rainforest, tranquil lagoons, and rocky and palm-filled gullies.
A fun addition to this gem is a small children’s library, making this the perfect place to explore, play, wander, create, relax, or even read.
Location: 51 Palm Creek Road, Tanawha
Dick Caplick Park
Talk about prime location, Dick Caplick Park is right on the edge of the famous Eumundi Markets, so it is an ideal ‘break spot’ when visiting the many stalls with the kiddies in tow.
Making the most of the beautiful tree-filled environment, the playground has been built both beneath and within the large, shady fig trees that grow there. In fact, the central feature of the playground, a timber fort with rope bridge that is suspended between two trees, has literally been built around one of the trunks.
A crowd favourite with the smiling youngsters is the multi-coloured train with its different carriages, compartments and an array of tunnels and hidey holes to climb through. Combined with the oh-so-popular park go-to’s – swings, rocking animals, see-saws and spinners – the playground also features a giant spinner and climbing ball.
Hot tip – grab some yummy food and fresh juice from the markets or one of Eumundi’s delicious eateries and let the kids run wild.
Location: Main Street, Eumundi
Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve
Let’s go back inland now to the beautiful Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve, with 55 hectares of subtropical rainforest overlooking the Glass House Mountains. A remnant of the rainforests that once covered the Blackall Range, the reserve is a living museum of diverse plant and animal life.
Start off at the Rainforest Discovery Centre where kids can let their inquisitive side go wild pressing buttons, opening cupboards, looking through magnifying glasses and microscopes, discovering the beauty of the reserve. Then,
head to the Glass House Mountains viewing platform.
But that’s just the beginning. You can get a bite to eat at the Mountain View Cafe or pack a picnic and use the many facilities on site before or after you meander down the trails to witness an abundance of many flora and fauna species. If you’re lucky you might even catch a glimpse of the rainforest wallabies or the endangered Richmond Birdwing Butterfly.
And, as with all good family spaces, the kids can finish the day on the playground as the parents have a well-deserved rest.
Location: Mountain View Road, Maleny