Once upon a time, there was a beautiful kingdom nestled in the southern corner of a great state. Most of the people who lived there thought it was just a plain and ordinary region. Little did they know, you can't have a kingdom without castles. And this kingdom had at least four.
By Kgbo - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=72428944
Nestled in the Sunshine Coast hinterlands, Sunshine Castle already sounds like a Disney destination. Originally built to display fairy tale dolls and displays, the sprawling stone palace now serves as a monument to history, both local and global.
The most castle-y castle on the list and the biggest in Australia, Sunshine Castle channels the Middle Ages with a throne room, dungeon, and Medieval dress-up box. Its former life as a toy museum is evident throughout the hallways, where visitors can explore extensive toy displays and fairy tale dioramas, including displays from the original Fairytale Castle. There is also an onsite toy store.
While Sunshine Castle might sound like a children's paradise, big children might also enjoy watching re-enactments at the weekend markets or a (k)night-time dinner and show.
They say a man's home is his castle and this was literally the case for Brian Rumble when he built Castle Rumble. The Gothic/Medieval property in Waterford features turrets, ramparts, and a dramatic driveway flanked by pillars and stone lions. Inside there are historical knick-knacks and art studios to explore.
Castle Rumble was closed to the public in 2020 due to the pandemic. Keep an eye on the Facebook page to learn when it will re-open.
Despite its very castle-like aesthetic, Macadamia Castle could also be considered a 'Big Thing'. The faux-Medieval leviathan in northern New South Wales was purpose-built to promote macadamia nuts and other local produce and even has its own Big Thing - a giant knight between Ballina and Bangalow - that serves as a highway billboard.
By Stuart Edwards - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=19370648
While Macadamia Castle is free to enter, the adjoining Adventure Playground comes with an entry fee and provides a range of activities for children including a petting zoo, mini-golf and treehouse playground. If you're feeling peckish, Cafe Maca showcases local food, even providing a 'food miles' guide that shows how far the food has travelled. And of course, there's an onsite nut bar with flavours to suit every palette. Wasabi or pesto, anyone?
Tranquillity rules at Crystal Castle, a crystal supplier turned public attraction. As you would expect, crystals feature pretty heavily here - the site has some of the largest crystals in the world including the Dragon's Egg, an amethyst cave you can sit in.
But there's more to Crystal Castle than the name alone would suggest. The grounds feature about half a dozen gentle bushwalks that take visitors through manicured gardens and sweeping views. There's also a labyrinth, crystal gift store and cafe selling organic, vegetarian treats.
Do you know of any other castles hidden in southeast Queensland? Let us know in the comments below.