I'm a freelance writer, living in the Mooloolaba area, and enjoying the chance to promote its attractions.
Published November 11th 2012
The barbecue trail
Barbecue, Barbeque, Bar-B-Q, BBQ or Barbie? What's Aussie for this great tradition? Wikipedia says it's a matter of heritage. The Oxford dictionary favours 'barbecue'. Good-o. It derives from 'barabicu', Caribbean native language for 'sacred fire pit' for grilling meat. Gr-eat! Many Sunshine Coast parks have electric BBQ facilities, free to the public. Each BBQ is a one metre square and high, solid brick or metal bench, mounting one or two hotplates. Mooloolaba has some locations whose charms make them worth a visit.
Alexandra Headland, southern side
Charm 1: Ocean views. The BBQ is a two hotplate bench on a concrete deck near the headland's sea-cliff. It looks out to the Pacific horizon, and southwards, gives panoramic views of Mooloolaba Bay's shipping and beach, across to the Mooloolah River mouth and Point Cartwright headland. Charm 2: Protection. The BBQ is under an unwalled tin-roofed shelter, so there's shade. It's cool, too, in the generally present sea breeze, but which sometimes can be strong. Charm 3: Facilities: Fixed metal tables and benches are close by to the BBQ. One is covered, two are not. Taps and bins are handy, as are toilets and parking. Charm 4: Surrounds. There are grassy slopes nearby, and pathways to the beach below. Of course, only one BBQ stand means users may need to wait for a turn at the hotplates.
On the northern side, just past the crest of the hill is another BBQ. It has much the same charms as its southern cousin, but here, Charm 1 is a northern ocean view to Mudjimba Island and Point Arkwright headland. Charm 2, protection, is that the BBQ is housed on the north side of a wooden shelter. Interior partitions 'quarter' the shelter and give protection from a prevailing wind. Charm 3: Each has its own wooden table and bench, which is good for a little 'privacy'. There are neither toilets nor handy paths to the foreshore which lies hidden beyond the bushes on the cliff. Traffic noise from the nearby road can intrude.
Charm 1: Picturesque beach frontage. Three double hotplate BBQs stand on the foreshore, a stone's throw away from the main beach area. Mooloolaba Bay, north and south, and the ocean horizon are the uninterrupted vista. Charm 2: Protection: The three BBQs stand adjacent to each other under one long tin-roofed shelter, itself covered by Casuarina trees. Great shade all day long. Nor'easter onshore breezes arrive unimpeded, giving cool, but sometimes blustery conditions. Southerlies are blocked by the highrises across the adjacent esplanade. Charm 3: Facilities. Fixed metal table and benches are plentiful, both near and away from the BBQs. Taps and toilets are handy. Charm 4: Surrounds. The beach is immediately adjacent, a children's playground is either side of the BBQs, and parking and shops are 50 paces away. Of course, many charms attract many people, so getting parking and an unclaimed BBQ may need patience.
Charles Clarke Park (opposite Mooloolaba Wharf Marina)
Charm 1: Picturesque river frontage. Two separated BBQ stalls with double hotplates stand in the verge strip facing the marina at the Wharf complex. While the food sizzles, you can enjoy the nautical lines of the nearby yachts and launches, and further away across the river, speculate on the luxury houses of Minyama Island. Charm 2: Protection. Each BBQ is under an un-walled shelter, generally near shade-giving trees. Resort buildings, across the road, provide protection from westerlies, though easterlies and southerlies can sweep in across the river. Charm 3: Facilities. There is a combination of metal and wooden table and benches under un-walled shelters near each BBQ. Taps and bins are handy. Toilets are at the park's southern end, easily walked. Charm 4: Surrounds. The park is flat and grassy. The southern end has a small sandy shore for a swim in the river. There's a small, simple children's playground. Parking is close by, whilst just around the corner are the shops of the Wharf and Mooloolaba.