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With a number of exciting projects in the pipeline for 2020, including the expansion of Sunshine Coast Airport to include an international-capable runway, the Sunshine Coast is one of Australia’s most desirable destinations for the coming decade.

On the menu in 2020 is Australia’s pioneering food and lifestyle festival – The Curated Plate – which will return to the Sunshine Coast this August. Enjoy once-in-a-lifetime dining experiences that showcase the union between local produce and chef expertise, set against the region’s picturesque surrounds.

From new accommodation options to eateries, travel news and exhilarating events, the region is poised for a momentous year ahead.

Here, discover the new offerings making the Sunshine Coast the destination of choice in 2020.

What’s new in: FOOD

The Curated Plate returns in August 2020

The Curated Plate will return to the Sunshine Coast from 6-9 August 2020. Showcasing the union between local produce and chef expertise, the four-day culinary festival will feature once-in-a-lifetime dining experiences and bespoke events, held in the picturesque surrounds of the Sunshine Coast. The full festival program will be announced in March 2020, with the program of events to take place across the region, from the lush hinterland to the shores of Mooloolaba Beach, involving a diverse range of local producers (with a focus on Indigenous foods), businesses and restaurateurs that will continue to raise the profile of the Sunshine Coast as one of Australia’s premium ‘foodie’ destinations. Presale tickets for The Curated Plate email subscribers going on sale 17 March, and general public tickets on sale 19 March.

Introducing the new look Noosa Eat & Drink Festival

Noosa Food & Wine Festival has undergone an exciting evolution with a name change in 2020 to the Noosa Eat & Drink Festival. Festival Director Sheridah Puttick said the name change better reflects what the festival is all about, with Noosa home to a range of breweries, craft distilleries and coffee roasters. Also new this year is the Festival Village location, which will move from Lions Park to the Woods at the end of Hastings Street, providing the opportunity to create more sub precincts and activations. “The new look Festival Village will be completely different from past events but will combine Noosa’s favourite restaurants with local artisan producers, world-class chefs, the best in Australian wine and drinks, interactive masterclasses and live entertainment with lots more in the works,” Ms Puttick said.

Innovative night market coming to the Sunshine Coast

When it opens in early 2020 in Birtinya on the Sunshine Coast, NightQuarter will offer a unique blend of street food, community and culture. The shipping container urban playground night market will focus on shared eating, shared experience and shared conversation for families, couples and everyone who enjoys good food and good entertainment. NightQuarter Sunshine Coast will include a vintage fairground wonderland, an enchanted garden and a focus on sustainability and inclusion, and the ever-evolving festival will offer a kaleidoscope of different experiences, flavours and sounds every weekend.

NEW! Malt Shovel Taphouse

Malt Shovel Taphouse has everyone buzzing with excitement. Described as an emporium of beer, the newly opened Malt Shovel Taphouse host’s an impressive range of 16 thirst-quenching, cracking and flavour packing craft beers on tap. With live music, bespoke events and family entertainment, the venue is already becoming a must visit for locals and visitors alike.

NEW! Banana Bender Pub opens at Aussie World

Aussie World – the Sunshine Coast’s own theme park – has opened the doors on their completely revamped venue, the Banana Bender Pub (pictured left). Featuring a uniquely Australian theme, the Banana Bender is home to a new beer garden, menu and redeveloped exterior including wrap around balconies.

NEW! Savvy Squire opens at The Wharf Mooloolaba

The Savvy Squire is the only spot on the Sunshine Coast where you can taste the full range of James Squire Brews on tap. The venue was recently opened at The Wharf Mooloolaba offering an urban industrial fit out, views of the marina and breathtaking sunsets.

NEW! Rooftop Bar and Garden

The newly opened Rooftop Bar and Garden – located in the heart of Maroochydore next to the vibrant Ocean Street precinct – has everyone talking, and for good reason. With ocean views, cascading indoor greenery and the most refreshing drinks menu, this bar will become a crowd favourite in no time. Here they boast a curated list of cocktails, beers and wine, and have a delectable lunch menu that includes a plant-based section and weekend brunch menu.

NEW! Happy Turtle Café opens at Happy Valley

A beautiful, locally painted container café has opened in the picturesque location of Happy Valley, Caloundra. Happy Turtle Café has a focus on sustainability, local and community involvement and seriously good coffee and food.

What’s new in: ACCOMMODATION

Spicers Clovelly to open NEW luxury suites

One of the Sunshine Coast Hinterland’s most luxury estates, Spicers Clovelly, is expanding on its boutique offerings with the opening of ‘Montville House’. Scheduled to open in 2020, Montville House is ideally positioned to take advantage of the breathtaking views and surrounding greenery of the estate. The two-story provincial style building will house up to 12 guests with six guest rooms and a communal guest lounge. The Montville Suites will be charming and relaxed, with the same French-inspired luxury Spicers Clovelly is renowned for. Located in the charming Hinterland town of Montville, Spicers Clovelly is also home to the hatted Long Apron restaurant, which delights diners with their modernist approach to French cooking.

Camp Croc Hunter to open at Australia Zoo

Queensland Tourism Industry Development Minister, Kate Jones, has announced that it will partner with Australia Zoo to build an $8 million wildlife camping experience, called Camp Croc Hunter, which is expected to lure more than 39,000 visitors to the Sunshine Coast each year after it opens in 2020. The new initiative will provide a wide range of accommodation options, with 108 sites for tents and caravans as well as permanent glamping-style tents and eco cabins. The camping village will be supported by a cafe, reception, entertainment and pool area, amenities blocks, covered cooking areas, school camp facilities and a mountain bike course. Camp Croc Hunter will open in 2020 to commemorate Australia Zoo’s 50th anniversary.

Novotel Sunshine Coast Resort’s refurbishment

Novotel Sunshine Coast Resort, formally known as the Novotel Twin Waters Resort, has undergone a $2 million refurbishment which has breathed new life into the complex, transforming two spaces – the hotel lobby, plus a new look SOLA bar and alfresco deck overlooking the resort’s outdoor pool and famous lagoon. Designed by Medhurst Architects and Aplus Design Group and styled by Anna Roberts, the updated spaces have been inspired by the naturally refreshing features of the Sunshine Coast’s surrounds, flowing seamlessly out to the resort’s outdoor pool and private lagoon. The refurbishment follows the opening of the purpose-built Sunshine Coast Convention Centre at Novotel Sunshine Coast Resort in May 2019.

Mooloolaba Beach Holiday Park $3.8 million redevelopment

Located just steps away from the iconic Mooloolaba Beach, Mooloolaba Beach Holiday Park has reopened to the public after undergoing a $3.8 million redevelopment. The redeveloped Mooloolaba Beach Holiday Park includes 59 large sites all with improved access, new amenities including a camp kitchen, landscaping and improved connections to the beachside boardwalk, which is part of the highly-utilised coastal path network on the Sunshine Coast.

Culgoa Point Beach Resort’s ‘Oasis of Relaxation’

Culgoa Point Beach Resort’s new oasis of relaxation is now open and ready for guests to enjoy. Central to the design is a brand new solar heated 20 metre lap pool encased by granite decking and lush tropical landscaping. Alongside the pool, the sun lounges and pool furniture provide the ideal spot to while away the holidays. Separated from the main pool by giant granite steppingstones, the large wading pool is designed with family fun in mind. The fitness conscious will be drawn to the modern gym that overlooks the main pool and is conveniently located adjacent to the sauna and outdoor showers. With a beautiful outlook and dappled afternoon shade, the generous sized spa will be enjoyed by all guests.

Mercure Sunshine Coast Kawana Waters

With Queensland’s Sunshine Coast earmarked as one of Australia’s major growth hotspots, Accor are wasting no time jostling for prime position by announcing they have acquired Best Western Plus Lake Kawana Waters and rebranded it to Mercure Sunshine Coast Kawana Waters. Built in 2015, Mercure Sunshine Coast Kawana Waters is located in Oceanside, a masterplan development by Stockland. Set on the waterfront, the hotel offers 81 spacious suites spanning four floors, with a full restaurant and bar, two separate yet adjoining function rooms (that can be combined), and ample car parking. The hotel is just one hour from Brisbane Airport, and 20 minutes from the Sunshine Coast Airport.

What’s new in: ATTRACTIONS

Snorkel or Scuba Dive Mudjimba Island

Sunreef Mooloolaba has launched snorkel and scuba dive tours to Mudjimba Island, located 1km off the Sunshine Coast. The shallow waters surrounding Mudjimba Island, ranging from 5-14m, are home to green sea turtles, corals, rays, reef fish, crayfish, wobbegong sharks, a variety of nudibranch species, cowrie shells, and more. Marine adventure experts, Sunreef Mooloolaba, offer half day snorkelling or scuba diving tours of this unique environment. Snorkeling tours (from $79pp) includes boat charter, in-water snorkel guide, mask, snorkel fin, wetsuit hire and snacks. The scuba dive experience (from $99pp), requires an open water dive certification and includes boat charter and snacks.

Mary Valley Rattler launches Tasting Train

The Mary Valley Rattler has been restored to its former glory, relaunching to the public in late 2018 to take passengers back in time on scenic journeys through the Mary Valley. In November 2019 the Rattler launched a new ‘Tasting Train’ experience, highlighting the Mary Valley’s renowned food produce. The weekly service runs every Tuesday and includes tastings on board the RM 76 railmotor, The Red Rocket, and local food showcased at the various stops along the way. Gympie Region Food Ambassador, chef Matt Golinski launched the Tasting Train on 12 November. Local produce features prominently on the Tasting train’s menu, including Kenilworth cheese, Lemon Myrtle macadamias and local meats.

Carbon neutral seaplane experience

Paradise Seaplanes owner and pilot Shawn Kelly said their post-world war Wilga Warbird (PS104-80) seaplane – affectionately known as Willy – is the only commercially-operated seaplane between Port Macquarie and Gladstone, and the only seaplane of its type in Australia. “She may not seem environmentally friendly thanks to her 9-cyclinder radial engine but we are very proud to be Australia’s first carbon neutral Seaplane operation. We purchase certified carbon credits to offset all our flights but even before that Willy’s impact is minimal,” Mr Kelly said.

Penguins at SEA LIFE Sunshine Coast

The Sunshine Coast is now home to a colony of little penguins, with an interactive new exhibit launched at SEA LIFE Sunshine Coast. The Little Blue Penguins zone has been designed to closely resemble the natural habitat. The colony will be ambassadors for their species, playing a significant role in communicating SEA LIFE Sunshine Coast’s conservation values. Guests can learn about the lifecycle of a Little Penguin, what they eat, and how and why we can help protect them in the wild.

New street art trail shows off Caloundra’s edgy side

Downtown Caloundra is emerging as an urban creative hub. With new works appearing regularly, a self-guided map has been produced allowing visitors to see acclaimed works of art along a 1.7km walking trail. Start from the Caloundra Regional Gallery and view the conventional art and regular feature exhibitions before wandering up through Lamkin Lane and then down Bulcock Street to discover the first set of street artworks, many with powerful themes and stories of the coastal community’s heritage. The trail map is available here.

NEW! Wellness Happenings at Ikatan Spa Noosa

Voted Best Wellness Spa in Australia in the 2020 Luxury Travel Guide, Ikatan Spa Noosa is a must visit on the Sunshine Coast. Recently added to their spa menu are Wellness and Wellness Experience Packages, inviting guests to arrive early and consult with a therapist about how they’re feeling and what they need, allowing Ikatan Spa to tailor the most effective body treatment. Ikatan Spa will also introduce Wellness Happenings events in 2020, including sound healing, sound bathing, full moon meditation and celebration, yoga and mindfulness.

Reach new heights with new ropes course

New challenge activities at Alexandra Park Conference Centre will take school camps and team building to another level, with a low and mid ropes course added to their onsite high ropes course and climbing wall. Located on secluded bushland opposite the Alexandra Headland Surf Club, Alexandra Park Conference Centre offers fully catered re-furbished and air-conditioned accommodation, an event and conference centre and activities.

The Big Pineapple’s $115 million refurbishment

One of the Sunshine Coast’s most iconic tourism attraction – the Big Pineapple – will soon return to its glory days following approval of a $115 million renewal project. The approved master plan will focus on a combination of eco-tourism, agribusiness, supporting local producers, as well as providing entertainment opportunities, outdoor educational facilities and accommodation. The Big Pineapple precinct is home to the newly opened TreeTop Challenge and Wildlife HQ, and from 2020 visitors will be able to climb The Big Pineapple.

Expansion for Sunshine Coast golf course

One of the Sunshine Coast’s most picturesque golf courses – the Maleny Golf Club – has raised its game, with the public golf course now boasting an 18-hole course with completion of the final six holes. Innovatively designed by golf architect Graham Papworth, the course takes full advantage of its spectacular natural assets, like the gentle rolling hills and expansive pastures. The latest works include new tees, fairways, greens and critical plantings for holes 1 to 7, 17 and 18. Sunshine Coast Council chipped in $450,000 to drive construction of the latest stage of works, combined with assistance provided to the Maleny Golf Club Association from the Federal Government through Sport Australia ($200,000) and the Queensland Government ($100,000).

What’s new in: EVENTS

250th Anniversary of the European naming of the Glass House Mountains by Captain Cook

This year marks 250 years since Lieutenant James Cook named the Glass House Mountains in 1770 as he navigated up the east coast of Australia. The Glass House Mountains are actually remnants of volcanic activity that occurred about 25–27 million years ago, as the volcanic mountains cooled, stunning vertical columns emerged. Long before white settlement, the Glass House Mountains region was a special meeting place for Aboriginal people to gather for ceremonies and social activities. Events were planned for times of the year when local food sources were abundant, like the bunya nut festival. The Glass House Mountains remains a place of spiritual significance to local Aboriginal people – with several sites still considered sacred. The ideal place to discover both the Aboriginal and European stories of the Glass House Mountains is at the Glass House Mountains Visitor & Interpretive Centre.

Sir Elton John on the Sunshine Coast!

Sir Elton John’s Farewell Yellow Brick Road global tour has already been hailed as one of his most “energetic, dazzlingly-original and joyful celebrations”, and this March he will bring his tour to the Sunshine Coast for his last ever Queensland performances. The performances will be held at Sunshine Coast Stadium on March 3 and 4.

A-Grade Rugby League clashes coming to Coast

Four National Rugby League heavyweights will do battle on the Sunshine Coast this year. The Cronulla Sharks will tackle the North Queensland Cowboys under the new lights at Sunshine Coast Stadium in Round 10 of the NRL season on Saturday, 16 May. This will be followed up with the South Sydney Rabbitohs playing the New Zealand Warriors in Round 22 on Saturday, 15 August. The Sunshine Coast will host two NRL premiership fixtures at Sunshine Coast Stadium in 2020 and 2021 under commercial partnerships with the Cronulla and South Sydney clubs.

Reconnect with Pilates Retreats

Inspire Balance Pilates Health Retreats has launched on the Sunshine Coast, inviting guests to switch off from modern life and reconnect with themselves. Sunshine Coast Pilates instructors Libby Mason and Narelle Jones were inspired to launch the business after experiencing firsthand the benefits Pilates can have both physically and mentally. Guests can expect silent walks at sunrise, Pilates, a massage treatment and workshops designed to inspire a healthy and balanced life. The Autumn Pilates Day and Wellness Retreats will be held in March 2020 in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland.

Test your stamina with Swim The Island Mudjimba

Ocean swimmers are invited to take part in the Swim The Island Mudjimba event, new to the Sunshine Coast this April. The event will take swimmers from Mudjimba Beach 1.5km offshore to swim around Mudjimba Island off the Sunshine Coast. The event will be held on Sunday, 5 April.

Holden Women’s State of Origin coming to the Sunshine Coast

The 2020 Holden Women’s State of Origin will be played in Queensland, with Sunshine Coast Stadium announced to host the representative fixture in 2020. It will be the first time Queensland has hosted the highly-anticipated match under the official Holden State of Origin banner. The previous interstate women’s clash was played as the ‘Women’s Interstate Challenge’.

What’s new in: TRAVEL

Sunshine Coast Airport’s new international runway to open in May

This May, Sunshine Coast Airport will open a new international-capable runway, opening the region up to new domestic and international markets.

Direct Air New Zealand flights extended

Air New Zealand will increase flights to the Sunshine Coast in a deal that will bring around 9000 extra tourists and inject more than $11 million into the local economy over three years. The new flights will extend the existing seasonal service by two months, with Air New Zealand’s direct flights between Auckland and Sunshine Coast now set to operate for six months a year from April to October.