School holidays are just around the corner … again … so why not bookmark a couple of treasure hunting or sightseeing days - of BIG things on the Sunshine Coast. It's totally fun to pretend you're a Tour Guide and of course, the children will love getting out and about exploring the new, the quirky and the … BIG!
The best thing of all is that to view the Sunshine Coast's BIG things is FREE and one doesn't have to travel to Woop-Woop* to have some outdoor adventuring fun.
An original swinging sixties icon, The BIG Shell has held its present riverside location in Tewantin for six decades - that's sixty years! The BIG Shell is actually part of an entrance to a unique seaside experience for the whole family - a Tropical Lifestyle Store that sells the wonders of the sea, in a riot of colour and abundance. Shells, coral, vintage items, collectables and of course, all things coastal.
The BIG Shell is open Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays from 10am to 4pm; and is closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
2. BIG Child Oceanside Village Park, corner of Kawana Way and Lake Kawana Boulevard, Birtinya
The six metre iDIDIT sculpture of a child doing a handstand stands proudly outside the Sunshine Coast University Hospital, a magnificent rust-coloured steel piece of artwork created by Maleny artist, Russell Anderson. The playful and totally unique iDIDIT sculpture, bubbles with youthful energy, and is the latest 'kid-on-the-block' to the Sunshine Coast's list of BIG things to see.
iDIDIT child sculpture in Birtinya
Experience the fun aspect with children and compete with a handstand next to the BIG Child sculpture to really appreciate the sheer size of this fabulous piece of art. Just make sure you don't visit on watering day as the automatic sprinkler system is totally oblivious to fun-loving visitors.
3. BIG Chair Maleny Botanic Gardens & Bird World, 233 Maleny-Stanley River Road, corner of Mountain View Road, Maleny
0400 091 731
Okay, I fibbed! A little white fib really that all the BIG things are free to access - I've discovered that to get a photo with the BIG Chair, visitors need to pay an entrance fee into the Maleny Botanic Gardens. But, if you are looking for an absolutely unforgettable experience with the children, a visit to Maleny Botanic Gardens & Bird World is the perfect day out!
What a fabulous setting for a photo with the BIG Chair! Image: Maleny Botanic Gardens FB
Maleny Botanic Gardens is a privately owned garden, comprising almost eighteen acres of gardens set on a 110 acre property overlooking an artistic backdrop of the iconic Glass House Mountains.
In addition to these spectacular gardens, visitors have the opportunity to participate in fully guided Aviary Tours, with four walk-through aviaries boasting more than seven hundred native and exotic birds from all around the world. There is nothing quite like getting up close and personal with gorgeously plumed birds of a feather.
Just look at those spectacular gardens! Image: Maleny Botanic Gardens FB
Pack a picnic, Maleny Botanic Gardens & Bird World is open 9am to 4.30pm, seven days a week, every day of the year except on Christmas Day. Alternatively, Maleny Botanic Gardens & Bird World's newly-refurbished cafe' promises the perfect panoramic destination for morning coffee; an afternoon Devonshire tea or a delicious lunch.
Visitors can't miss the very yummy-looking oversized strawberry at the entrance to Strawberry Fields in Palmview on the Sunshine Coast.
The yummy-looking oversized strawberry at Strawberry Fields
There is nothing quite like being outdoors on a warm and sunny wintery day, picking your own strawberries; enjoying a picnic lunch in fabulous gardens or immersing yourself in all things strawberry at the Strawberry Fields Cafe. Tempting mouth-watering home-made ice cream, chocolate-dipped gourmet strawberries, parfaits and pancakes will prove irresistible for any family member.
Strawberry Fields is open seven days a week from 8am to 4pm with the good news that this year's strawberry picking is well under way.
5. Matilda, the BIG Kangaroo
1516 Bruce Highway, Kybong
'Come a-waltzing Matilda with me' (Slim Dusty). Oh, Matilda, with the fabulous most enviable eyelashes, was specifically built to be the mascot for the 1982 Commonwealth Games, held in Brisbane. Matilda could turn her head, her ears could wriggle and she could even wink and blink those enormous lash-tipped eyes of hers. Matilda's pouch doubled as a door, which opened during the Commonwealth Games' ceremony to allow twenty children, dressed as joeys - baby kangaroos - out for a trampoline display.
Come a-waltzing Matilda with me! Image: Puma Energy via www.abc.net.au
Today, the thirteen metre tall Matilda is enjoying the quiet life, away from the spotlight, at a Matilda Fuel station in Kybong, south of Gympie. If it sounds like quite a trek to visit Matilda, a day out to enjoy the Mary Valley Rattler in Gympie, could add more bounce to the adventure of meeting this six tonne marsupial, that captivated the hearts of millions, more than thirty-five years ago.
6. BIG Pineapple
76 Nambour Connection Road, Woombye
The Sunshine Coast's tourism and food icon, the BIG Pineapple has had a makeover! This sixteen metre fibreglass pineapple structure historically attracted more than one million visitors a year. Today the BIG Pineapple is standing tall and proud - and well it should, with a glistening coat of new paint as well as being THE focal point of a grand approved tourism master plan for this region of the Sunshine Coast.
The BIG Pineapple is standing tall and proud with a glistening coat of new paint!
The no entry fee BIG Pineapple is open every day from 9am to 4pm. The heritage-listed BIG Pineapple Train operates every day, departing every half hour. This fun-loving train explores the rainforest, orchids, bamboo forest as well as passing by the neighbouring zoo. The BIG Pineapple Train's rate is only $5 per person.
Wildlife HQ Zoo relocated to the BIG Pineapple in 2014 and is the proud home to more than two hundred species of Australian and exotic animals. Up-close-and-personal photos can be booked with monkeys, meerkats and even red pandas.
The Zoo is open every day from 9am to 4pm, excluding Christmas Day.
With such a big selection of activities at the BIG Pineapple, families are guaranteed a fabulous adventuring day out.
7. BIG Macadamia
76 Nambour Connection Road, Woombye
The BIG Macadamia has undergone its own rejuvenation and today still stands proudly next to the BIG Pineapple. The BIG Macadamia has been put to good use as the reception area and safety instruction area for the new Tree Top Challenge Adventure Park in Woombye.
8. BIG Barrel at Maleny Mountain Wines
787 Landsborough-Maleny Road, Bald Knob
Then it's open, then it's not! On our most recent visit, the eight-metre high BIG Barrel was having its own makeover and appeared to be temporarily closed. 'Closed' hopefully means there are no other tourists around, giving selfie devotees the fabulous opportunity to take the perfect non-photobombed pic.
This wine barrel-shaped building is usually home to Maleny Mountain Wines.
9. BIG Harp
926 Maleny-Montville Road, Balmoral Ridge
The BIG Harp is 'missing in action'
Missing in Action! Disappointingly, the BIG Harp is no longer resident at Balmoral Ridge on the Maleny-Montville Road. I did manage to capture a photo of this gigantic musical instrument (before its disappearance) to prove that it was actually a BIG thing once upon a time.
10. BIG Pelican
Apex Park, 180 Gympie Terrace, Noosaville
Affectionately called 'Pelican Pete' by the locals, the BIG Pelican was created in 1977 to be part of the Festival of the Waters street parade. The Council's emblem at the time was a pelican. This larger-than-life pelican was a huge success and was later featured on postcards and other tourist material as 'Percy the Pelican', believed to be named after Mr Percival from Storm Boy, a book by Colin Thiele.
Located on the foreshore of the Noosa River, the BIG Pelican still serves as a topic of much discussion as to whether IT's a girl or a boy. The pelican's prominent eyelashes surely indicate that its gender is that of a girl, but … with names like Pete and Percy, who knows!