Cooran

About three kilometres from the Bruce Highway, Cooran is one of those country towns that offers more than you might think. Close to the Sunshine Coast towns of Pomona, Nambour, Cooroy and popular surfing beaches at Noosa, Cooran is a pretty hamlet in a lush valley. However, for those touring the Sunshine Coast from Brisbane, which is less than two and a half hours drive away, there is much more to discover about Cooran than just its beauty.

Overlooking Cooran are the Cooran Tablelands and Mothar Mountain State Forest areas that have walking tracks and swimming holes. Take care, as access to these often requires a four-wheel drive. From the Cooran Tablelands Lookout, the scenic view along the Sunshine Coast is magnificent.

In addition, for lovers of the bush, the Noosa Trail Network includes trails around Cooran. For example, Trail two of The Scenic Trail is 26 kilometres one way and starts at Tablelands Road, Cooran and moves along to the Cootharaba Views Lookout. This trail takes approximately five hours to complete on horseback and two days to walk one way. There are four lookouts along the trail, providing fantastic views of the hinterland and coastal areas. Be warned, the steep hill climbs along the trail require courage and a high level of fitness. Locals say it is worth camping overnight at either Middle Lookout or Cootharaba Views Lookout and leave a car at each end of the trail.

If curiosities get the blood flowing, then look at Cooran Lagoon, not far from the train bridge on James Street. When it was full, local Aboriginals used the lagoon as a source of Water-lily bulbs and mussels for food and called it Guran. In 1870, the lagoon was also the site of the Half Way Hotel, on the original Tewantin-Gympie Coach route. Sadly, only a faded plaque marks the site now.

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Hope Island

Hope Island, Gold Coast Area
You would expect anticipation to be fairly high when travelling to a place called Hope Island and this destination doesn't disappoint. But rather than being named after the positive emotion, it actually borrowed its name from a colonial aristocrat Captain Louis Hope who was granted land at the mouth of the Coomera River in recognition of his sugar industry contributions.

Scottish Prince Dive Site

Southport, Gold Coast Area
Free Entry
The Scottish Prince, 800 metres off the Gold Coast’s Southport Spit, features the wreck of a three steel-masted, 64 metre iron barque ship. The Scottish Prince sank as it was sailing from Glasgow, Scotland to Brisbane with a cargo of whiskey, mousetraps, linen and other assorted cargo, with only the hull of the ship remaining.

Biggera Waters

Biggera Waters, Gold Coast Area
Beautiful Biggera Creek lent this suburb its name which is famous for its heritage-listed "land's end" site, but there is nothing final about a visit here. Those searching for a sedate spot in the northern part of the coast will adore a trip here, opposite the bustling Broadwater and the sizzling Gold Coast Spit and across from Wavebreak Island.

The Spit

Main Beach, Gold Coast Area
“The Spit” is the northern most section of the famous Gold Coast stretch of beach incorporating Main Beach and Surfers Paradise all the way south to Coolangatta. As the name suggests, The Spit extends into the seaway and is the gateway between the Gold Coast Broadwater and the open ocean.

Oxenford

Oxenford, Gold Coast Area
It's difficult to believe but this rather unassuming suburb, which lies just off the Pacific Highway between Brisbane and the Gold Coast, is home to some of the best movie-making facilities in Australia.

Southport

Southport, Gold Coast Area
If you squint into the sunshine and cast your mind back a little over a century, you can almost picture the Southport of old, one of the Gold Coast's earliest and most fashionable seaside destinations.

Pine Ridge Conservation Park

Runaway Bay, Gold Coast Area
Free Entry
Discover one of the last remaining wallum banksia stands on the Gold Coast in this small park featuring banskia woodland, heath and paperbark swamp forests. While dune vegetation on the Gold Coast has all but disappeared due to urban development, the remaining patch of wallum heath protected in this small park is culturally important to the Kombumerri-Ngarangwal people.

South Stradbroke Island

South Stradbroke Island, Gold Coast Area
Step aside Gilligan. Should you ever find yourself stranded on South Stradbroke Island or 'South Straddie' as the locals like to call her, then you can count your lucky stars. For you are visiting a Gold Coast destination as pretty as Ginger and as down-to-earth as Mary Ann.

Gold Coast Oceanway

Main Beach, Gold Coast Area
Free Entry
Even die-hard Gold Coast fans may not realise this but there is an official section of the coast known as the Gold Coast Oceanway, a 36-kilometre network of pathways which connects The Spit at the north to Point Danger in the south.

The Seaway Dive Site

Southport, Gold Coast Area
Free Entry
The Seaway is the most popular shore diving site in Queensland, and is found at the mouth of the Nerang River at Southport. There are several different areas that can be dived at The Seaway, with the Short Pipe and Sand Pipe area the most popular, and the easiest to access.
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