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Australia's Nature Coast

Australia’s Nature Coast

Located around an hour’s drive north of Brisbane (or a short flight from Melbourne or Sydney) is Australia’s Nature Coast. The region encapsulates both the Sunshine Coast and Fraser Coast into one world-class nature destination where you can swim on uncrowded beaches, unencumbered by a wetsuit, 365 days a year. 

This area is famous for being rich in natural beauty and of great ecological importance and contains more than 200km of pristine beaches, calm rivers and protected waterways, 47 state and national parks, including the World Heritage-listed Fraser Island (K'Gari), which is the largest sand island in the world. It is also home to the only place in the world where two UNESCO Biosphere Reserves (the Great Sandy and Noosa Biospheres) sit side by side. Throughout the region the subtropical rainforest found in this area spills down onto golden coastlines peppered with relaxed and clean hamlets which slide delicately into their natural surroundings.

Top things to do on Australia’s Nature Coast

There is so much to do on Australia’s Nature Coast that it can be tricky to know where to begin. Here we've put together a flavour of the kind of experiences that you can enjoy in this magical part of Australia's East Coast.

Marvel at the majesty of the Glass House Mountains

The spectacular National Heritage listed Glass House Mountains are 13 peaks that emerge dramatically from a coastal plain on the Sunshine Coast, near Beerburrum State Forest. Due to the sudden rise of these rugged peaks from the plain below, visitors adventurous enough to explore this rewarding area will be treated to stunning vistas stretching for miles over the surrounding lush farmland. The Mount Ngungun summit walking track offers some of the best views, but make sure you take plenty of water.

Glass House Mountains drive

Glass House Mountains panorama

Bathe in the pristine Lake McKenzie on Fraser Island (K'Gari)

K’Gari, pronounced “Gurri”, is the aboriginal name for Fraser island (K'Gari). K’Gari literally translates as 'paradise', and it’s not hard to see why this 75-mile-long island off the coast of Eastern Australia is a world-renowned outdoor adventure and ecotourism destination.

Perched on Fraser Island (K'Gari) is Lake Mckenzie, well known for having some of the purest waters and sands on Earth. Being a 'perched' lake, the water here is fresh and contains only rainwater, no ground water or streams flow into it. As such it is beautifully clear, visitors can open their eyes underwater and look across into the emerald expanse of the lake. The white silica sand at Lake McKenzie is just as pure as the water, adding a perimeter that is not just beautiful to look at but, also, luxurious to walk on.

Aerial view of Lake McKenzie

Lake McKenzie beach

Cruise or canoe the Noosa Everglades

One of only two everglades systems on earth, the Noosa Everglades is an untouched wilderness area that supports an astounding variety of flora and fauna, including an astonishing 44% of all Australia’s bird species. The area is one of Australia’s best-kept secrets; explore it by boat on a scheduled cruise or blend into the serenity in a kayak or canoe. 

The Noosa Everglades is fondly referred to as the River of Mirrors' due to its magnificent reflective and pure waters. Its breathtaking beauty and tranquility attracts nature lovers, twitchers and photographers from around the world. The area is perfect for a paddle. Whether it’s in a single or multi-person kayak or in a Native American-style canoe, it's a stunning place to glide through tranquil mirror-like waterways and explore serene picnic spots.

Canoeing in the Noosa Everglades

Aerial vista of the Noosa Everglades

Visit the southernmost tip of the Great Barrier Reef - Lady Elliot Island

Australia's Nature Coast spans Lady Elliot Island - a coral cay located at the southern tip of the World Heritage Listed Great Barrier Reef, a sanctuary for over 1,200 species of marine life and is known for its abundance of manta rays, turtles, amazing array of spectacular marine life and unspoilt coral reef. Just a 40 minute flight from Hervey Bay is a internationally recognised as environmentally sensitive.

Aerial View of Lady Elliot Island

Turtle at Lady Elliot island

Embark on an adventure on the Great Beach Drive

What better way to experience some of Australia's best coastline than four wheel driving along them? Wind the windows down  and breathe in the fresh salty air of the Pacific Ocean on a once in a lifetime journey along the Great Beach Drive. This spectacular driving route begins on the Sunshine Coast and is the only place in the world where two UNESCO Biosphere Reserves sit side by side - the Great Sandy Biosphere and Noosa Biosphere. Keep and eye out for whales, sting rays and turtles. 

Continue the Great Beach Drive from Rainbow Beach via the Innskip Point barge and onto Fraser Island (K'Gari). The island has a 75-mile beach that serves as a highway; rent a 4X4 and take to this sandy highway to visit spectacular landmarks such as the aforementioned Lake McKenzie, the coloured sands, or Indian Head viewpoint – where you can clearly see sharks and turtles out in the surrounding waters. If you are lucky enough you may even be able to spot one of the island’s native dingoes.

Aerial vista of the Great Beach Drive

4X4s on the Great Beach Drive

Swim with the whales or join a whale watching cruise

Although there are some spectacular photographs available, nothing can quite prepare you for coming close to a leviathan of the deep. The opportunity presents itself at Hervey Bay, an area of calm water three hours’ drive north of Brisbane, where humpback whales frequent every year on their migration from Antarctica to the Great Barrier Reef as they teach their young calves to be independent adults. Alternatively, it is also possible to see and even swim with these incredible creatures from Mooloolaba and Hervey Bay. Ask your Travel Expert about arranging a tour to discover these magnificent mammals.

Swim with the whales

Whale-watching tour

Enjoy the laid-back beach lifestyle

In Australia’s Nature Coast you will never be short of fantastic beaches; expanses of clean, gleaming white sand fringe gently lapping sparkling water all along the coastline. Take to the road to find a secluded patch of sand or visit one of the popular beaches with excellent facilities and nearby restaurants. From Caloundra with its Pumicestone Passage and Kings Beach in the south, through Mooloolaba Beach and Noosa Main Beach (these Sunshine Coast beaches featured in TripAdvisors Top 10 beaches two years in a row) and to Rainbow Beach, you'll never be short of pristine azure sandy waters on the Sunshine Coast.

At Rainbow Beach you can take advantage of the opportunity to visit Carlo Sand Blow - a remarkable wide sand half-pipe that emerges dramatically from the surrounding bushland and offers breath-taking views and a truly exquisite sunset experience. Alternatively, enjoy the sunset from Hervey Bay, which offers one of Australia's longest and safest family–friendly swimming beaches,17km of waterways protected by Fraser Island and perfect for jet skiing, stand up paddle boarding and sailing.

Carlo sand blow

Surfer at the beach

Cuddle a Koala at Australia Zoo

Made famous by the Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin, Australia Zoo is the most interactive conservation destination on the planet. Get up close to animals including wombats and kangaroos, see world famous crocoseum, cuddle a koala and observe wildlife warriors in action - at the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital.

Cuddling with Koalas at Australia Zoo

Robert Irwin at Australia Zoo

Sample some of the fresh local cuisine

With such a favourable climate and beautiful natural environment Australia’s Nature Coast is a fabulous location to sample some delicious local produce. From tasting some fresh-off-the-trawler seafood on the beach, grilled carefully over hot coals and accompanied by delicate accompaniments to being guided through a thoughtfully crafted tasting menu by Michelin star chefs, there is something here for every taste.

Boardwalk dining, Noosa

Sunset dinner, Mooloolaba Beach

Where to 'shop, dine and stay' on Australia's Nature Coast

The best places to base yourself whilst in Australia's Nature Coast is in the accomodation hubs - Sunshine Coast Hinterland, Mooloolaba, Noosa, Rainbow Beach, Hervey Bay, Caloundra and Fraser Island. Within these places you will find a variety of accomodation options to suit every taste and budget. 

Foodies who want to explore the area in more depth will be delighted by the Noosa Food and Wine festival (occurring in May), Hervey Bay seafood festival, the Sunshine Coast Curated Plate festival (both occurring in August) and Relish Food and Wine festival occurring on the 1st June celebrating regional produce from the Fraser Coast. 

You'll be spoilt for shopping options on Australia's Nature Coast from the trendy beach boutiques of Noosa to the artisan jewels of Eumundi Markets (Wednesday and Saturdays) - Australia's premier artisan market with live entertainment and an ever evolving collaboration of talented local creatives. 

Eumundi Markets

Prawns at Hervey Bay seafood festival

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