Independent and FREE - 2021 Best Online Publication

Bounce into the school holidays with these fresh and fun ideas

Independent and FREE – 2021 Best Online Publication (Qld Country Press)

Bounce into the school holidays with these fresh and fun ideas


'Holiday at home' ideas to entertain the kids on the Sunshine Coast

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The pandemic has thrown up plenty of challenges for parents near and far.

From home schooling and easing the disappointment of cancelled sporting competitions and events, to the working-from-home “closeness” that can feel a little too close at times, mum and dad (as well as grandma and granddad) don’t need the added pressure of finding ideas to entertain the kids for two weeks of school holidays.

But it is what it is. So, here’s some fresh “holiday at home” ideas and others that simply provide a breath of fresh air. They are either free or won’t break the bank and just might put the smiles back on everyone’s faces.

Don’t forget: it’s only 13 weeks and one day to Christmas Day 2021, so it’s all downhill from here for the final term to the Christmas-New Year break.


The Mary Valley Rattler’s very own super hero, Steam Man.

The Mary Valley Rattler’s own superhero Steam Man will ride on special services over the school holiday period. The attraction will operate extra diesel services on Mondays (September 27 and October 4) and steam train services on Fridays (September 24 and October 1) to provide a trip back in time by rail through picturesque Mary Valley.

Leaving Gympie Station at 10am, the trains will travel to Amamoor, crossing over bridges and through the lush landscape. Passengers disembark at Amamoor and will see the steam engine being turned around on the historic turntable before returning to Gympie at 1pm.

Breakfast, lunch and snacks are available at the station’s Rusty Rails Café.

Children’s tickets are $35, adults $65 and a special family pass is $175 (2 adults, 2 children).

Then on October 2, the Mary Valley Rattler will celebrate three years since returning to the rails in 2018 with special departures.

At 9am, the steam service will offer a premium birthday experience including morning tea and lunch (adults from $125, children from $60). At 9.30am, another steam service will take off (adults from $65, children from $35), followed at 10am by a special rail motor service (adults from $55, children from $30).

Bookings are essential on the website or on 5482 2750.


The Upland Track Falls at Maroochy Regional Bushland Botanic Gardens. Picture: Greg Miller

Teens can hone their orienteering skills with “the great botanic race” at Maroochy Regional Bushland Botanic Garden. Grab a map at the entrance and explore the gardens on this self-guided orienteering challenge. Kids will need to find mapped points to solve the puzzle along the way. The botanic garden is in Palm Creek Rd, Tanawha.


The virtual reality experience at Bankfoot House.

The new virtual reality experience at Bankfoot House Heritage Precinct in Glass House Mountains is a history lesson the whole family can enjoy, offering a personal tour around the oldest house in the area. With spacious grounds, stunning views and large games to borrow, Bankfoot House is also a great place to picnic. It’s open Wednesday to Sunday, 10am-3pm. Visit the Sunshine Coast Council website.


The Rock Face at Sunshine Coast Recreational Centre, Currimundi.

Fun and safe rock climbing is as close as the Sunshine Coast Recreation Centre, Currimundi. Champions and novices alike can challenge themselves and see their confidence surge to new heights as they take on The Rock Face. The 10m high, covered rock wall boasts various climbs and degrees of difficulty, as well as crack-only climbs and overhangs for the experienced climbers.  The automatic belay systems and staff on hand help put participants through their paces from Mondays to Saturdays during these school holidays. But bookings are essential for the session times on 1800 753 732.


Feeding the Little Blue Penguins.

Everyone loves watching the cute Little Blue Penguins at SEA LIFE Sunshine Coast. And visitors now have the opportunity to interact with them much more closely. Guests aged 13 and over can stand in the water while the penguins swim around them, hand-feed the little fellas and take a behind-the-scenes tour of the penguin zone. During the school holidays, you can book this close encounter from Thursday to Monday at 2.30pm. As another special treat these school holidays, SEA LIFE Sunshine Coast is helping Paw Patrol’s Ryder on his mission to locate all of the missing pups and young visitors can help find them in the lead-up to the cinema release of Paw Patrol: The Movie. Visit the SEA LIFE website.


Aquaduck in Mooloolaba. Picture: Visit Sunshine Coast

Aquaduck has spread its wings and made a splash in Mooloolaba. Queensland’s favourite amphibious vehicle has been operating since 1996 and recently expanded operations to include the Sunshine Coast. The one-hour sightseeing tours explore Mooloolaba and the Mooloolah River by land and water, taking in the scenic surf views from the bustling Esplanade before splashing in for a cruise through the canals and waterways. Highlights are Point Cartwright, the popular Mooloolaba seafood markets and the sprawling mansions of Minyama Island. The tour guide and Aquaduck captain will explain the history of the region and share stories about the original owners, beach culture, local produce and wildlife. Visit the website for more.


Next Level high ropes course at Sunshine Plaza.

Maroochydore’s Sunshine Plaza is so much more than shopping and now takes visitors on a zipline through Australia’s highest ropes course. The Next Level course is built above Cornmeal Creek which runs through the centre of the shopping complex. You’ll be flying in the air over seven circuits across four levels of difficulty, including 145 aerial obstacles. The course has more than one kilometre of ziplines, with the longest spanning 135m. Or simply take the 22m high viewing platform for 360-degree views over Maroochydore, the new CBD and Cotton Tree, which can be done as a separate activity to the high ropes. Visit the Next Level website.


Oggy E-Scooters.

From sunrise to sunset, you can scoot around the suburbs, beach and canal paths on Oggy E-Scooters. Oggy electric scooters is a Sunshine Coast-based, family-run business changing the way we travel over short to medium distances.  The ride-share electric scooters have hire options available from locations in Mooloolaba and Birtinya. Riders must be over 18 to create an account, but can take up to two minors aged 12 or more with them on a ride. Visit @oggy.scooters on Instagram or head to the website.


Loads of fun at The Big Boing.

The Big Boing – the Sunshine Coast’s first trampoline park – will put more than just a spring in your step. You’ll believe you can fly through the air, rebound off the walls and slam dunk like a pro. The indoor park at Innovation Parkway, Birtinya, has more than 50 interconnected trampolines just begging for all the family to try. You can also challenge your friends on the Ninja course, dodge a ball, practise your aerial tricks and jump, jump, Jump. Bookings are essential, due to some big groups booked through the holidays and limited numbers due to COVID restrictions. A café is on site. See the website for more details.


Ninjas in the making.

Tap into your inner Spider-Man or death-defying ninja with Queensland’s biggest ninja gym. Synergy Performance Institute’s multi-million-dollar,  custom-built fitness, health and wellbeing centre at Forest Glen is home to a range of fitness classes and an open-floor gym, complete with Ninja Jungle. The centre had various courses for different ages and skill levels. Throughout the school holidays, pay $30 for three consecutive sessions. Learn more on the website


For those wanting a breath of fresh air away from the confines of four walls at home, head to Sunshine Coast Council’s Adventure Sunshine Coast website for more than 200 free adventures covering walking, cycling, paddling and riding trails across the region for everyone from toddlers to grandparents. Or simply lace up the hiking boots and try some of these wild, adventurous and not-so-taxing walks for varying levels of fitness:

Hinterland Great Walk

Let’s bring out the big gun: the 58km Sunshine Coast Hinterland Great Walk. This is a challenging, four-day trek through warm subtropical rainforest. Walkers are rewarded with tall open eucalypt forest and majestic waterfalls in secluded areas of the Blackall Range with bush campsites. Day visitors can access short, half-day and full-day walks within the route.

Mt Ngungun summit

Walks in the Glass House Mountains are rewarding, including the one to the summit of Mt Ngungun. Picture: shutterstock

The summit walk – a 2.8km return, well-defined and graded track with some steep sections – is popular for its spectacular close-up views of nearby Mt Tibrogargan, Mt Tibberoowuccum, Mt Coonowrin and Mt Beerwah. As well as the 360-degree views, you’ll no doubt spot plenty of wildlife along the way.

Mt Ninderry

You’ve conquered Mt Coolum, strolled Noosa National Park and enjoyed the cool surrounds of Kondallila Falls. So why not try lesser-known Mount Ninderry (304m) – between Coolum and Yandina. The rewarding 1.4km, relatively easy hike takes just over 30-40 minutes from the car park. And at the top, two viewing platforms on either side of the mountain offer awe-inspiring views over the coastline and Mount Coolum to the east, Yandina farmland and the Blackall Range to the west.

Wild Horse Mountain lookout

The Wild Horse Mountain lookout in the Beerburrum State Forest is seen by thousands of motorists and passengers on the Bruce Highway each day. But this round fire tower, named after the wild brumbies which roamed the area, remains a tranquil place. The 1.4km return walk is over a bitumen path from the car park. At 123m above sea level, the lookout has 360-degree views over the vast Pumicestone Passage, coastal plains, Glasshouse Mountains, pine forests and Bribie Island.

Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve

Breath deeply at Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve. Picture: Visit Sunshine Coast

The “living museum” that is Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve in Maleny is an immersive experience with one of the most impressive views of the Glasshouse Mountains at its entrance and picnic areas. The Rainforest Discovery Centre takes visitors on a journey over boardwalks and well-maintained paths into 55ha pristine subtropical rainforest with a peak canopy of 440m. Hug the massive red cedar trees, stare up at the strangler figs, quietly observe the red-legged pademelon marsupials and listen for the howling of a green catbird or the deep, reverberating canopy call of the wompoo fruit dove.

Surf club to surf club

The walk between Mooloolaba and Maroochydore surf clubs has amazing coastal views. Picture: Facebook

Morning, noon and night, the scenic coastal pathway between Mooloolaba and Maroochy surf clubs is packed with walkers, joggers, skateboarders, prams and rollerbladers. They’re all taking in the ever-changing view of Pt Cartwright’s lighthouse and water tower, the Mooloolah River mouth and Mooloolaba Spit, surfers at the Alex Bluff and in the Pocket, Mt Coolum and Old Woman Island, and yachts, trawlers and cruising vessels in the distance. The 25-minute, 2km, one-way route between The Club Mooloolaba and central Alex Surf Club (for a well-earned coffee at the kiosk!) is good to stretch the legs. Or cover the full power walk between Maroochydore and Mooloolaba over 7.4km return.