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Great Sunshine Way

The South East Queensland Country covers five regions that are not more than 250 km from Brisbane and the coast, exude a rural charm, are known for small art galeries and museums and have lovely hiking areas as well as an up-and-coming wine industry. The new Great Sunshine Way is eminently suited to exploring the area.

Of course every one of the five regions also has its own charm, and the Greater Brisbane Country has numerous national parks, enticing markets with fresh produce from the region, as well as traditional festivals.

Northwest of Brisbane there is South Burnett with its inviting eucalyptus and pine forests. In one of the rural towns the Kingaroy Peanut Festival takes place every year.

The hinterland of the Sunshine Coast is to the north of Brisbane and enchants with its parks, forests and small (but superb) cheesemakers, boutiques and art galeries.

The Southern Downs and Granite Belt are to the southwest of Brisbane. In these extensive flatlands the clock still ticks a little slower, while rose gardens, vineyards and orchards are tended with great care and rodeo shows remind one of the pioneering time.

Only 90 minutes from Brisbane there are wonderful views onto the coast from the hilly region of Toowoomba and the Darling Downs. Toowoomba becomes a sea of flowers during the Carnival of Flowers. During the rest of the year clean mountain air, comfortable bed & breakfasts, the hiking area of the Bunya Mountains with its dense rain forest and picturesque waterfalls, as well as rural boutiques, pubs and cafés ensure a congenial atmosphere.
Fraser Coast
The main centre of the Fraser Coast is Maryborough mit the special charm of a sugar cane town. The Heritage Walk or alternatively the Heritage Drive gives one a good overview.

Hervey Bay is regarded as the whale watching capital of Australia. Here sightings of the majestic humpback whales are guaranteed on the daily boat cruises from August to October. In August the town celebrates the beginning of the whale watching season with colourful fringe events, a boat parade and a fireworks display in the evening.

The ferries to Lady Elliot and Fraser Island also depart from Hervey Bay. With a length of 123 km and a width of 14 km Fraser Island is the world's biggest sand island and the only place where all the vegetation grows on sand. The largest part of the island is covered by grasslands, shrubs, eucalyptus trees and acacias. Palms, prehistoric ferns and huge kauri figs make up the rain forest. Small wonder, that the Australian Aborigines named the island K’Gari (Paradise), and that UNESCO made this pearl a World Heritage Site.

Die great diversity of the island can be explored either on foot, with one's own overland vehicle, or on a guided tour. Multi-coloured sand formations, the Maheno shipwreck as well as more than 350 different species of birds and mammals, including wallabies, possums, dingos and tortoises are on the programme. The fifty fresh water lakes, covering up to two square km, that are spread across the island, are also unique. The most well-known of these are Lake McKenzie, Lake Wabby, Lake Birrabeen (the biggest lake of the island) and the largest sand dune lake of the world, Lake Boomanjin. The many fresh water streams, such as Eli Creek and natural pools, such as Champagne Pool invite one to go for a swim.
Sunshine Coast
The Sunshine Coast begins an hour by car north of Brisbane and extends for ±60 km between Caloundra and Cooloola. The climate is mild all year round and the unspoilt beaches, lakes, rivers, mountains and rain forests of the coastal area, as well as the dramatic backdrop of the Glasshouse Mountains exert a magical attraction on local as well as foreign tourists.

Among the most popular coastal towns are Caloundra, Mooloolaba and Mudjimba. Noosa, that is often called the St Tropez of Australia, is also a small jewel. Here one can stroll along the beach promenade past smart boutiques, cafés, bars and restaurants on Hastings Street, go canoeing or kayaking in the Noosa Everglades, learn to surf in a single day or observe koalas while hiking in the nearby national park.

The Glasshouse Mountains, ten strangely shaped mountains of volcanic origin, that according to legend embody the petrified souls of Aborigines, also lend themselves to hiking and rock climbing.

An excursion to the Australia Zoo, home of the famous crocodile hunter, Steve Irwin, with 550 typically Australian animal species, should also not be missed.

Apart from that one should plan a visit to Eumundi, where the farmers, winegrowers, and artists of the region gather every Wednesday and Saturday to sell their products and creations under the motto: Make it, bake it, grow it or sew it.
Gold Coast
The Gold Coast to the south of Brisbane (within easy reach by Airtrain) is the most popular holiday destination of the east coast. The 57 km long sandy beach is especially popular with surfers and other water sport enthusiasts. Golfers can choose from several world class golf courses and the hearts of shoppers also beat faster on the Gold Coast.

At night one can visit the numerous restaurants, night clubs and bars in Surfers Paradise. Here one should definitely take in the view from the highest residential building of the world (80 floors). The 322.5 m high Q1 offers a 360° view from the Observation Deck on the 77th and 78th floor. From here visitors can see the ocean lying directly beneath them, the endless white sandy beach, the sykline of Surfers Paradise and also the green hinterland of the Gold Coast.

In the verdant green of the hinterland, about one hour from the coast, one finds Australia's largest protected sub-tropical rain forest in the Lamington National Park. Just like this park, the Springbrook National Park is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here hikes lasting several days can be undertaken and numerous animals, such as koalas, kangaroos, many bird species and one of the largest glow worm colonies in Australia can be seen.

Across the largest protected waterway of Australia one can reach Moreton Island as well as North and South Stradbroke Island - three natural paradises off the Gold Coast.
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