Category Archives: South East Queensland

Relax and recharge in Mooloolaba

We’re pretty lucky here in Brisbane to have two nearby coasts with beautiful beaches. Unfortunately it be difficult to find time to visit, but it’s important to remember the amazing locations we have right on our doorstep. So when I saw that Easter was early this year and my work project was pushed out, I jumped at the chance to back some of my annual leave onto the Easter break. This gave me 17 luxurious days off for the cost of only nine leave days.

After spending a few days up in Mackay visiting my parents, we decided to spend a week in glorious Mooloolaba – one of the more lively locations on the Sunshine Coast.

Getting around

The Sunshine Coast isn’t the easiest place to get to without a car, however if you’re coming from Brisbane public transport is workable. Once you’re in Mooloolaba, there’s buses that travel between the towns, otherwise if you’re staying on the Esplanade like we did, most things in the area are within walking distance.

Where to stay

You’ll be spoilt for choice accommodation-wise at Mooloolaba, with many self-contained apartments right on the esplanade looking over the water. It can be noisy on Friday and Saturday nights though with restaurants spilling over with weekend visitors. If noise bothers you there are hotel options a street back or towards the quieter ends of the esplanade, alternatively you can always request a upper level apartment.

View from Mantra Sirocco

We stayed at Mantra Sirocco with a spectacular seventh floor view in a two bedroom self-contained apartment. All rooms have ocean views and if you’re staying for longer than a weekend, a self-contained apartment is the way to go. There’s also a grocery store one street back within walking distance.

Things to do

Beach

Mooloolaba Beach

One of the major reasons to visit the Sunshine Coast is purely for the beach! There’s plenty of surf and swimming locations (swim between the life saving flags for safety) and you can also hire boats, jetski and other water sport equipment.

If you’re looking to change up your beach location, there’s plenty of others up and down the coast, two of my favourites being Dicky Beach and Shelly Beach.

Underwater World

Underwater World Sea Life

If you’re into education and looking at pretty fish and seals, Underwater World Sea Life is a great place to visit. Weekends get pretty busy, but during the week it’s less hectic. They also have shows throughout the day and a cafe on site if you need a break part way through your visit. It’s bigger than it looks, so take some comfortable walking shoes.

Hiking

Point Cartwright

Point Cartwright

If you’re staying in Mooloolaba, Point Cartwright is the closest walking track, stretching out to the lighthouse point with ocean on one side and river/habour on the other. This is an easy walk for all  abilities and the top gives you beautiful views back to Mooloolaba Beach.

Down on the harbour is One La Balsa Cafe, conveniently located at bottom of the hill with views over the harbour and La Balsa Park. The cafe serves breakfast and lunch, making it the perfect way to start your morning and to reward yourself for your bit of exercise.

Buderim Forest Waterfall

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A 45 hectre rainforest filled with walking tracks, bridges, waterfalls, rivers and plenty of bird life, Buderim Forest Waterfall is challenging enough to get your heart rate up. There is a short walk from Quorn Close entry that brings you out to the falls and then you can loop back around. Or there’s a longer walk which will bring you out to Harry’s Restaurant.

The walking tracks are probably suitable for most fitness levels, but there are stairs at some sections and most of the path is natural, so good walking shoes would be advised.

Kondalilla Falls

About a 30 minute drive inland to Montville, is a beautiful rainforest trek at Kondalilla Falls. There are different walks to suit your fitness level and timeframes and also a picnic area and facilities for when you’re done.

You’ll be able to see a variety of native animal and plant life if you keep your eyes peeled. And if you feel like more than a picnic, Elements on Montville Tea House is just a short walk up the road and serve both lunch and delicious buttermilk scones.

Mount Coolum

Unfortunately it was pouring with rain the day we wanted to climb Mount Coolum, so I can’t testify for this one myself. But it gets good reviews as being a solid 30 minute walk with 360 degree views, along with other local walks.

Where to eat

You’ll be spoilt for choice on the Mooloolaba Esplanade for places to eat. Here are some of my favourites:

Augello’s

If you love Italian (and I do), you can’t go past Augello’s. They’re right on the corner so you get a view of all the foot traffic and also the ocean. The service is really friendly and fast, there’s a great selection of wines and you’ll want to come back more than once because the menu choices all look so good (we went back twice).

Hot Pipis

Don’t underestimate this little pocket rocket, it packs a punch when it comes to tapas food. They’ll tell you it’s small serves of everything, but the servings will definitely leave you feeling full and in need of nap. Hot Pipis has a lot going for it with it’s ocean views, comfortable atmosphere, good food and friendly staff. The lunch crowd on weekends will be enough to convince you to give them a try.

Lemon and Thyme

Looking for a simple but good breakfast? Lemon and Thyme won’t disappoint. It has a bit of a focus on the healthy and organic, but it’s really good simple foods. We ate here for both breakfast and dinner and were very happy with both the food and the price.

Do you have a favourite Sunshine Coast location, restaurant or hiking trail? 

Food Tales, Esk

Esk region

Because I’m still on leave and jazzed on this food buzz I seem to be on at the moment, I decided to jump in the car and head to Esk for the Food Tales session run by the State Library of Queensland and the Queensland Writers Centre, two organisations close to my heart.

Each regional centre session was hosted by a food writer and basically created a lovely discussion about the group’s experience with food. I did not realise before attending, that each of us would have to share a food tale. Nervous as I was, I had a lovely time with the ladies (and one gentleman, who make himself scares after the scones and before the tale sharing portion of the event) of Esk. Some of their stories were funny and vivid and I got some great recipes I can’t wait to try!

The point of Food Tales is for people to logon to the website and share their food story and the website becomes a collaboration of recipes and stories and an experience for those who have a soft spot in their heart for food and cooking.

Olive oil field trip, South Burnett region

South Burnett Reion When I woke up to the rain this morning my heart sank a little. I was scheduled to go with Fino Foods and Clovely Estate to head out to the South Burnett region to see how olive oil is produced.

But I’m now on the bus and already the sun is peeking out from behind the clouds hinting at the possibility of a beautiful day. As expected, the bus is full of chefs and media pros and I can’t help but feel a little out of place. But when Sally from Taste Trekkers jumps on the bus she immediately looks for me and provides a friendly welcome and a chat. The bus is only half full so everyone seems content to have a seat to themselves. It might be anti-social, but I’m glad I can just sit and watch the scenery roll passed.

I’m writing this on my iPhone using Notes – the first time I’ve ‘written’ using my phone. I must say it means I get less weird looks than pulling out a pen and paper.

After a brief stop in Kilcoy, we move on to head up the range and the scenery opens up to rolling autumn coloured hills and farmland laced with grape vines.

Olive oil processingIt is a good three hours on the bus, but when we made it to Clovely Estate we were treated to a quick tour of the olive oil ‘refinery’ – I use the term loosely since there is very little processing or refining in the olive oil process.

The harvested olives are pressed, left to settle and then bottled almost immediately – there are more steps to the process, but basically olive oil has very little process to it’s creation.

The olive oil we use in our kitchens (at least the producers who play be the rules) does not have any preservatives or additions to it’s silky yellow shine. In fact it comes out quite cloudy on first press, it’s not until the sediment settles naturally that the clear light oil we use every day becomes like those bought on supermarket shelves.

Although, experts tell us that not all olive oil is good and large quantity of those that make it to supermarket shelves are not as advertised – mostly international products that are blended oils or promote themselves as extra virgin olive oil when they’re not.Freshly pressed olive oilWe’re also told not to be fooled by the idea of ‘light’ olive oil, ‘light’ simply means it’s a light colour, not that it’s low fat – commonly associated with food products in today’s weight-conscious society.

The rest of the afternoon we were treated to lunch, cooked on the open fire by Michael from Fino Foods and supplied with delicious wine by Clovely Estate. I wasn’t expecting a lot of a Queensland wine producer, we are relatively new to the wine making business, but I am pleasantly surprised by the quality and have since visited their cellar door in Red Hill to purchase a few bottles. Highly recommended if you get the chance.

Some facts about olives and olive oil:

  • All olives are green.
  • They’re picked at 10% colour change.
  • Extra virgin olive oil is 100% olives and extracted naturally, there’s no salt or preservatives added and has less than 0.8% fatty acids.
  • Olive oil should be stored in a cool dark location and in small containers – it has a short shelf life.
  • Olive oil is settled, but not filtered.
  • The leaves of the olive trees also contain oil, but it’s not a high quality.
  • While olive trees will technically ‘grow anywhere’ they will not always bare fruit. The trees must be pruned and grown in the right way to produce a good olive.

Want to know more about oil? The ABC has a great article that breaks it down for you.

Pre-lunch deliciousness

Polenta and rabbit

Clovely Estate wine

Olive treesView more of my photos from the field trip on my Flickr page.