Summer is here, warm and balmy days, a perfect time to get out into the great outdoors and enjoy the sun-kissed days and scenic spots that we have on the Sunshine Coast. To make life a little easier, I've compiled a list of the fourteen best spots (perceived by me) for that family outing, family picnic or family BBQ. For ease of reference I've chosen to do them alphabetically.
Parks from A to C
Ben Bennett Bushland Park
Queen Street, Caloundra West
Recreational Trails - which one to take? - Image: Elaine de Wet
You'll find Ben Bennett Bushland Park in the heart of Caloundra, one of the few remaining remnant bushland areas, with a number of varying ecosystems including the rare coastal lowland vine forest just waiting to be explored.
With six self-guided trails available for the walkers in the family - maps are available at the Queen Street entrance - one can enjoy trails ranging between 800 metres and 1100 metres through this nineteen hectare park.
It's dog-friendly ensuring the whole family can enjoy the outdoors, with plenty of parking available at the Queen Street entrance.
Buderim Forest Park Lindsay Road, Buderim
Large grassed park at Lindsay Road entrance - Image: Elaine de Wet
This is a secluded oasis on the northern side of Buderim, less than a kilometre from the Buderim Village. Walking trails have been developed from two entry points - the lower entry is off Lindsay Road via Harry's Lane, while the second entry point is via Quorn Close, which comes off Lindsay Road at the top of Buderim.
The perfect place to picnic is at the lower Lindsay Road entrance with a large grassed park, electric barbecues and picnic tables. One can spend a day quite happily here, wandering along the elevated wooden boardwalk (ideal for strollers and wheelchairs) through the rainforest and criss-crossing Martins Creek at various intervals.
Buderim Falls aka Serenity Falls - Image: Elaine de Wet
If one continues the walk past the boardwalk you will reach the Buderim Falls (unofficially named Serenity Falls), which used to be a favourite recreational place for the region's indigenous people.
This is a special little place right in the heart of Buderim.
Buderim Lions Park
Burnett Street, Buderim
South-facing and hinterland views - Image: Elaine de Wet
On entering Buderim Village from the top of the 'mountain', Buderim Lions Park is hard to miss - it will be on the right-hand side of Burnett Street. One is greeted with spectacular south-facing and hinterland views of the Sunshine Coast from Buderim Lions Park.
BBQ and picnic shelters - Image: Elaine de Wet
Tourists and locals love this park with all its features, including a large playground for the children, a barbecue area and toilet facilities. Parking, alas, is only street parking, so is in short supply and there is very little shaded area. So, slip, slop and slap and you'll be ready to go. Or, perhaps you could be enticed to an early evening picnic and barbecue and feel the breezes on top of Buderim 'mountain'.
Buderim Village Park
Intersection of King Street and Gloucester Road, Buderim
Stunning views to the Pacific Ocean - Image: Elaine de Wet
Sensational panoramic views of the Glasshouse Mountains and the Pacific Ocean are a huge hit for visitors to Buderim Village Park.
A three plus hectare green space with paved walkways through the immaculate gardens gives the littlies plenty of space to run, while you can sit back and enjoy the sheltered picnic areas complete with barbecues. Buderim Village Park is lit at night, so the family can take advantage of the night breezes while enjoying a picnic under the stars.
Currimundi Lake and Surf Beach has to be one of my all-time favourite destinations. There is just so much to do, whether you're an aqua sort of person or prefer terra firma, with your feet firmly on the ground, this Lake and Surf Beach has it all.
It's an excellent family destination, with shaded picnic areas, barbecues, shaded beach spots and all the sports one can manage in a day. Currimundi Lake, with its tranquil waters lends itself to teaching the littlies to swim or just to float around on a floatie.
Golden sands of Currimundi Surf Beach - Image: Elaine de Wet
A not-so-busy picnic area on the southern side of the Maroochy River with spectacular views of the local mountains ranges, including Mount Ninderry.
It's a great spot for the avid fisherman in the family offering a choice of either fishing in the lake itself or from the banks of the Maroochy River. It has a sheltered picnic area to set up for the day, camping at Lake Dunethin Scouts, paddling, boating, a jetty and a boat ramp - a case of 'everything under one sky' so to speak.
Looking towards picnic area - Image: Elaine de Wet
For the more adventurous in the family a climb up Dunethin Rock to enjoy the natural beauty of the surrounding area and to listen to the birdlife which is abundant in this area - a must-do adventure waiting to happen.
Eric Joseph Foote War Memorial Sanctuary
Foote Avenue, Buderim
Gazebo perfect for picnics - Image: Elaine de Wet
One of Buderim's best-kept secrets, this nine hectares on the eastern slopes of Buderim is an oasis of fauna and flora. Participate in one of the six walking trails ranging from easy to difficult or just relax in the gazebo in the picnic grounds and immerse yourself in the sounds of nature. With over eighty recorded species of birds in this haven, you are sure to hear a multitude of bird calls.
Electric BBQ's are available, along with tap water, picnic tables, toilet facilities and an expansive grassed area to toss a blanket down and enjoy the surrounds.
Throw a blanket down and immerse yourself in the sounds of nature - Image: Elaine de Wet
The main entrance to the Foote Sanctuary for cars is located on Foote Avenue, just off the Buderim-Mooloolaba Road and has ample car parking spaces available.
Jack Harrison Park on Wappa Dam
Wappa Park Road, Kiamba
Extra-large undercover picnic areas - Image: Elaine de Wet
A picnic here would be perfect after rain (which is in pretty short supply on the Sunshine Coast at the moment), but would afford one the opportunity to view the spectacular sight of the dam spilling.
Wappa Dam is a natural sanctuary for native wildlife linking to the Mapleton National Park. Unfortunately, our furry family members will have to stay home to look after the house for a visit here, as every precaution is taken to protect the local residents.
Tranquil 'get-away-from-it-all' nature escape - Image: Elaine de Wet
Another one of my absolute favourites, this is literally your one-stop venue for all things outdoors plus the added bonus of being in a stunning location.
Sheltered picnic and free barbecue areas, playground facilities for the family and even a sandy beach in the swimming area. The exuberant members of the family can paddle, bush walk, mountain bike or horse ride. Non-motorised craft are permitted on the dam so Dad can go out and toss a line in, while the family enjoy the natural bushland surrounds of the very scenic, wildlife abundant, Maddock Park on the Ewen Maddock Dam.
Maroochy Bushland Botanic Gardens
Off Tanawha Tourist Drive, west of Buderim
Enjoy the Scupture Gardens - Image: Elaine de Wet
We recently had our grandson's 3rd birthday party at the Maroochy Botanic Gardens and these spectacular Botanic Gardens constantly leave me awe-struck. Enjoy a picnic or birthday party under one of the sheltered picnic areas, complete with tables and chairs. Take a meander through the immaculate gardens along paved walkways and enjoy the Sculpture Garden depicting a lot of the Australian fauna. Benches are provided in strategic spots so one can sit back and just revel in the natural sounds of the bush.
A fully operational Arts and Ecology Centre is available for viewing.
Entrance to the Arts and Ecology Centre - Image: Elaine de Wet
Visitors are welcome to bring their own barbecue equipment. Plenty of public parking and toilet facilities all ensure that a full day out can be enjoyed in these well-frequented gardens.
Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve
So much space to run and play - Image: Elaine de Wet
Nature's own art gallery, this is fifty-five hectares of subtropical rainforest overlooking the Glass House Mountains National Landscape.
For a gold coin donation you can enjoy a relaxing walk along one of the many well-signposted tracks and enjoy the diverse plant and animal life. Look out for the pademelons hiding in the bushes or just enjoy the cacophony of bird song that surrounds you. Wheelchair and stroller-friendly walks are available too.
Don't forget to check out THOSE views - Image: Elaine de Wet
A large very popular picnic and barbecue area adjoins the Scenic Reserve. I would suggest an early morning visit to ensure you get parking, if a weekend visit is on the cards. A playground for the children will keep them busy while you get the family day underway.
Don't forget to check out the views before you leave this little slice of heaven.
Parks from N to Z
Noosa Botanic Gardens
Lake MacDonald, QLD
Take in the awesome beauty around you - Image: Elaine de Wet
We truly are blessed on the Sunshine Coast with all the spectacular locations that we have for picnics. Noosa Botanic Gardens overlooking Lake Macdonald is another special destination. Plenty of walkways to amble through the gardens and enjoy the birds on the water, the 'slitheries' on the ground and take in the awesome beauty of these gardens.
Our furry family members are permitted, on a leash, with doggy litter bags provided throughout the Gardens.
I'm not sure that there's enough to keep one busy the whole day at Point Perry Lookout, but it's a sensational spot to stop off for a picnic and take in the magnificent surrounds of the ocean north and south. Undercover picnic spots are available, and, if you're anything like me, you could probably spend the whole day being mesmerised by the ebb and flow of the ocean.
This probably wouldn't be your first choice of stop to have a family picnic, but if travelling on holiday from Brisbane or even travelling from up north and you happen to be on the Bruce Highway, this would be a great spot to take that 'coffee break' that is advocated when driving. Throw a blanket down under the impressive age-old trees, let the children stretch their legs in the playground and throw a few snags on the barbie. This would be a great time to re-check your routes and ensure you're on the 'right' track.
If notů..you'll be right on the doorstep of the Glasshouse Mountains Visitor and Interpretive Centre where the enthusiastic volunteer staff will happily point you in the right direction. There is lots of visitor parking and public toilets, so you'll be ready to roll after a break in this tranquil location.
Memorial Plaque at Settlers Rotary Park - Image: Elaine de Wet
With school and Christmas holidays just around the corner, why not try for a different location every day, or one a week - you're sure to be able to cover them all. If you have any favourites that I haven't mentioned, please let me know in the 'comments' section.