Queensland's Sunshine Coast is known for its beautiful weather and fabulous beaches. But there is more to do here than swimming, fishing and sunbathing. If you want a fun July holiday that will appeal to kids of all ages, here are nine places that are sure to please.
The best part is that they are all within driving distance of The Point Coolum Beach, one of the most popular resorts along the Sunshine Coast.
1. Kenilworth Country Foods Cheese Factory
Situated in the upper Mary Valley behind the Blackall Range, Kenilworth is known for its spectacular scenery and homemade cheeses. The drive is just 50 minutes from the coast, with scenic roads wending through forested hinterlands.
At the Country Foods Cheese Factory, guests can watch how cheese is made and sample gourmet cheese, ice cream and yogurt. Nearby attractions include the Kenilworth Homestead, which features horseback riding, canoeing on the Mary River and panning for gold.
2. Ginger Factory
Just 18 km east of Coolum Beach in the hinterlands, the award-winning Ginger Factory offers a day of fun for the whole family. The facility offers tours to see how ginger is grown and produced, an extensive botanical garden and a children's playground.
Take a ride on the historic cane train, see how bees make honey, enjoy fresh ice cream and have lunch in the café as part of a satisfying day.
3. Aussie World
Just a half-hour ride south from Coolum Beach along the Sunshine Motorway brings you to Aussie World, a theme amusement park in Palmview. Water rides, roller coasters and slides are among the 30 attractions that all can enjoy.
Besides the rides, the park includes mini-golf, crazy mirrors with wacky reflections and Professor Bogglesworth's Illusionarium that takes you through a mind-boggling "multiverse." Tickets can be purchased online at discounted prices.
4. Bellingham Maze
Bellingham Maze at Tanawha is one of the Sunshine Coast's iconic attractions. This star-shaped maze of native lilly pilly shrubs teases your brain as you try to find your way to the tower in the centre. The park also offers an 18-hole mini-golf course, several mini-mazes and a café that serves lunch, all nestled into the scenic tropical rainforest.
Discounted tickets are sold online. The park is closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays during school term, but is open every day during school holidays.
5. Maleny Botanic Gardens and Bird World
The 14 acres of the Maleny Botanic Gardens sit on an escarpment within more than 100 acres of tropical rainforest with views of the Glass House Mountains. Stroll along 6 kilometres of pathways with peacocks and swamp hens.
Ponds, waterfalls and an aviary are part of the attractions. An animal enclosure is home to both native and exotic animals including alpaca and sheep. Enjoy lunch in the gazebo café overlooking the gardens.
6. Mount Ngungun Summit Walking Track
Located in Glass House Mountains National Park, Mount Ngungun is a volcanic remnant rising 253 metres above sea level. The 2.8 km track to the summit is easy enough for all levels of hikers. The track varies from soft grass to stepped inclines and passes through several environmental zones with native trees, flowers and shrubs.
At the peak, visitors have a 360-degree panoramic view of other volcanic peaks and the Sunshine Coast. There are drop-offs along the cliff edges, so be sure to watch the little ones. Bring your own water.
7. Big Kart Track Go-Karting
Big Kart Track is Australia's largest commercial karting track. The full-length track accommodates up to 50 karts at a time. A smaller track lets kids under the age of 12 demonstrate their racing skills. Double-seater karts are available for adults to drive and let the younger ones enjoy the thrill of racing. Single karts are available for experienced young drivers.
The facility includes the Pit Stop Café, video arcade, viewing deck and concession shop with racing accessories. The track is open every day, with longer hours on the weekends.
8. La Balsa Park
La Balsa Park at Buddina on the Mooloolah River is a great spot for fresh air, ocean views and fun activities. The park features barbeque grills and sheltered picnic facilities, two playgrounds, exercise equipment and a running circuit. Drinking water and toilets are also on the site. Watch boats come in and out of the harbour or launch your own craft from the boat ramp. Plenty of parking provides easy access to the park and waterfront.
9. Maleny Dairies
Maleny Dairies is a third-generation, family-owned dairy farm specialising in high-protein, high-butterfat Guernsey milk. Visitors can tour the dairy to see how milk is produced from cow to bottle. Known for its Gold Top label of milk with the cream on top, the farm also produces full-cream milk, low-fat milk, yogurt, custards, flavoured milk and cream.
A large grassy area is an attractive romping place for kids to play. Take a tractor ride through local farmlands. The dairy's Milkbar serves snacks and hot and cold drinks. Maleny Dairies is closed on Sundays.