Known for its lush landscapes, rich produce and fresh seafood, there’s a reason the Sunshine Coast has been dubbed Queensland’s ‘sunshine pantry’.
With whipped cream-coloured beaches, sparkling waterways, verdant rainforests and sprawling, heritage-listed national parks, the Sunshine Coast is one of the most stunning regions in Queensland. Alongside this natural beauty, Sunshine Coast food boasts an impressive century-long history of gastronomic offerings, from Cobb & Co-era pubs and local craft breweries to juicy pineapple plantations and hilly dairy farms. So if you’re after a foodie getaway combining incredible landscapes and fresh local produce, make time for these five epicurean experiences.
Dine on the famous Mooloolaba prawn.
Join a tour to taste Indigenous cuisine
The Traditional Owners of this region – the Gubbi Gubbi (Kabi Kabi) and Jinibara peoples – gathered food from the highly fertile soils and beaches, foraging everything from fresh and saltwater fish to dugong, yams and Davidson’s Plums. Another local delicacy has traditionally been the bunya nut, which tastes a little like a chestnut.
To sample the tasty native ingredients of the area, join the informative Saltwater Cultural Tour with Saltwater Eco Tours, where you’ll explore the Mooloolaba canals while feasting on native canapes, seafood and signature cocktails aboard the heritage-listed Spray of the Coral Coast. Tuck into native bush spice prawn skewers, slow-cooked kangaroo tacos and beetroot tartlets with macadamia and lemon myrtle while learning from Traditional Custodian Aunty Bridgette Chilli.
Sample tasty native ingredients.
Stop into a historic pub on the Sunshine Coast
The Sunshine Coast is Australia’s craft beer capital, with 23 local breweries calling the area home. The local pubs have been serving up chilled beer for over a century, so when you’re in need of a cold one, take your pick from venues like The Imperial Hotel in Eumundi, which has been around since 1911 and now features an onsite microbrewery.
Check out the onsite microbrewery at The Imperial Hotel.
Or stop by the historic Yandina Hotel, established way back in 1887; if you have the time, stay a night or two and experience the same wide balconies and views out to Mt Ninderry that attracted visitors during the gold rush days. Meanwhile, the family-friendly Woombye Pub has transformed itself from ageing Queenslander to a bright, modern eatery with an indoor/outdoor play area.
Stop by the historic Yandina Hotel.
Visit the iconic Big Pineapple
Australians have a special love of big things. There’s the Big Merino in NSW, the Big Koala between Melbourne and Adelaide, and, of course, the 16-metre Big Pineapple on the Sunshine Coast, celebrating one of the area’s most popular crops.
Visit the iconic Big Pineapple.
Pineapples were first grown in this area in the early 1900s, and they ignited such excitement that a Pineapple Festival was held every year for much of the 19th century. It drew huge crowds, culminating in the crowning of the famous Pineapple Queen. Since then, the spiky, sweet fruit has become a symbol of the fertile soils and long warm days that the Sunshine Coast enjoys almost year-round.
Pineapples have become a symbol of the fertile soils.
Dine at a dairy cellar door
Considering the lush hills, countryside and rich soils of the Sunshine Coast, it’s not surprising that dairy farming has a long history in the region. The first dairy farms started popping up at the turn of the century, taking advantage of the perfect conditions and creating some of Australia’s best produce. It’s a tradition that’s carried on today, with dairy farms now becoming a beacon for food-centric tourists.
See the dairy farms that supply the Sunshine Coast.
From unique rural stays to farm cafes, tasting the region’s best dairy offerings is now easier than ever. That’s something that fourth-generation dairy farmer John Cochrane is passionate about. Cochrane owns Kenilworth Dairies, which features a cellar door serving up not only cheeses, yoghurt and mousses, but also a huge variety of relishes, jams, hot sauces and more from the surrounding region. Drop by next door to Poppa’s Cafe and share a cheese-tasting plate, but leave room for the homemade ice cream (you can’t go past the mango and ginger flavour).
Stop by Kenilworth Dairies for cheese, yoghurt and mousse.
Taste Sunshine Coast seafood
With the lapping waves of the Pacific Ocean meeting the beaches of the Sunshine Coast from top to bottom, seafood is a key ingredient in the local diet. One of the most common catches in this region is the beautiful snapper fish, with some even reaching 1.3 metres in length! The season is roughly November to January, but snapper can be caught all year long in deeper waters. The Sunshine Coast is also famous for the Mooloolaba prawn, caught in deep waters and perfect for barbecues, seafood dishes and salads, as well as coral trout, reef cod and parrot fish. Keen amateur anglers can test their skill (and luck) fishing off the beaches, lakes, rivers, estuaries, creeks and dams of the region.
Meet the people behind Sunshine Coast food.
No foodie visit to the Sunshine Coast is complete without a visit to the Mooloolaba Fish Market, which sells freshly caught seafood every day. The 36-birth marina is also home to The Deck on Parkyn, which serves up fresh seafood overlooking the markets and Mooloolaba’s trawling fishing fleet – one of the largest on the east coast of Australia.