Visit Popular Local Spots Close To The USC Sunshine Coast Campus

There are many local, but also popular spots just a short bus ride or drive away from campus. Our USC Sunshine Coast (Sippy Downs) campus is lucky to have a bus stop right on campus, and only a 5 minute walk away from our student accommodation options UniCentral, Varsity and The Village.

We have listed some of the most popular spots below that our students often visit when living close to campus:

1. Mooloolaba Beach

If you want to hit the beach, you can take the 615 bus from USC which will take you approx 15 minutes to Mooloolaba. This is a popular spot for students who wants to soak up some sun on the beach but also for students who like to go for walks along the promenade and even do some shopping. Mooloolaba has some great local shops, cafes and restaurants. Not to mention, if you walk towards the Mooloolaba Spit in the arvo, you might be able to see an amazing sunset.

2. Cotton Tree Beach & Holiday Park

If you prefer to avoid some of the more popular, busy beaches, you may want to stay on the bus a bit longer after Mooloolaba and jump off at Cotton Tree, just 5 minutes down the road from Mooloolaba. Cotton Tree Beach is located just to the left of Alexandra Headland, a popular surf spot for many students and not to mention locals. Cotton tree is the perfect spot if you would like to try out Stand Up Paddle Boarding or Kayaking. There are also heaps of cosy local shops along the promenade and we can recommend checking out Cafe Envy that offers locally sourced dishes, in addition to organic coffee and smoothies. If you’re lucky, you might even be able to spot a couple of pelicans who like to enjoy their time down at the beach.

3. The Glasshouse Mountains

We of course won’t forget to mention the beautiful Glasshouse Mountains, located a short 25 minute drive from campus with a car. You will have a lot of mountains tracks to choose from including some of the more popular ones such as Mt Beerwah, Mt Ngungun and Mt Tibrogargan. The Glasshouse Mountains have a lot of history behind them, and we would definitly recommend booking a tour with some local aboriginals, also known as storytelling, as they have a lot of interesting stories to tell which you can read more about here.

4. Noosa National Park + Champagne Pools

Photo: Ali Hannah

A bit further away from USC but also only a short 40 minute drive you’ll find the beautifucl Noosa National Park. This National Park is a favourite amongst the locals mostly due to the prime surf that it provides, especially in the mornings and afternoons. If you’re lucky you might spot a koala on your way to Champagne Pools, an absolute must go-to if visiting the park for the first time. The whole walk around Noosa National park is approx. 5.4 km and you can choose to start at Sunshine Beach and walk all the way to the main street in Noosa, Hasting. We recommend checking out Betty’s Burgers and some of the local Noosa shops while you’re there.

5. Mt Coolum

On the way back from Noosa and approx. 30 minutes from campus you’ll find the popular mountain Coolum. While most people will choose to follow the public walking track that has been set out and recently refurbished, there are a couple of additional but rarely used tracks that are for the more adventurous and experienced climbers. Interestingly, one of these tracks will lead you to two of Coolum’s caves. The trip to the caves starts at he same main track however if you wear off to the left it will take you to the first larger cave which is more of an overhang and is regularly used by rock climbers. This makes for a spectacular waterfall in the wet seasons and well worth a visit.

6. Double Island / Fraser Island

If you have the option to rent a 4WD while you’re here we would definitely recommend you to put some time and money aside to explore Double Island, just a short 5 minute ferry ride from Noosa North Shore. Double Island stretches all the way up to Double Island Point (well known spot for prime surfing) and Rainbow Beach, where you can further (if you’re an adventurous type) take the Mantra Bay ferry over to Fraser Island. Double Island is perfect for a short day trip however we recommend to spend at least 2 nights (camping or housing accommodation) at Fraser to experience most of what the island has to offer. Recommended spots to visit is Lake McKenzie, Eli Creek, Maheno Wreck and Champagne pools. You may also want to drive further north to Sandy Cape if you have some spare time.

We hope you enjoyed reading about some of the more popular places visited by locals and students, and don’t forget to tag us using @USC.International and #USCInternational.

Martin Stadlmayer from the University of Applied Sciences Upper Austria studying a Diploma in General Studies at USC Sunshine Coast

1Hello, my name is Martin and I’m from the University of Applied Sciences Upper Austria. I’m studying Mechanical Engineering and I will complete my bachelor next year. Why I choose Australia? Because it’s one of the most beautiful countries in the world. We are three mates form Austria who decided to study on the University of Sunshine Coast (USC). Studying at USC is a one in a lifetime opportunity. The moment when I arrived in Australia, I felt in love with it.

Locals and Living

3The Australian people are one of the nicest and helpful people I know. Everyone wants to talk to you, we have received a lot of good advice from local people. We rented a house near the beach directly on the Mooloolaba canal, so we spent a lot of time fishing there. The location was perfect because we had just 5 mins to walk to the beach, so we had the opportunity to surf a lot. With the car we only need 10-15 mins to drive to the university.

4WD in the Glasshouse Mountains

2The Glasshouse Mountains is a perfect spot to hike, and get your 4WD stuck on the off-road tracks… First few days after we got our car, we tried the easiest off-road track. Three naive European guys who think they can handle this…. but glasshouse mountain showed us we can’t. We got stuck late in the afternoon in the middle of nowhere without a mobile phone reception and without water. Also, we had no recovery gear to get us out of the hole by ourselves. After a long time, a nice dude passed us with his motocross. He offered us his help, so he went back and got his truck to pull us out with the winch.

Double Island

4Double Island is a beautiful destination to surf and camp. You have the chance to camp directly on the beach and enjoy the sunrise from your tent. In my opinion, there is nothing better than waking up to a sunrise on the beach. There are also dolphins and whales, sometimes they swim near the beach so it’s easy to see them. There is a beautiful lighthouse on the Double Island Point from there you have an amazing view to rainbow beach and Noosa north shore.

– Martin Stadlmayer @stadii

Exploring Double Island with Thomas & Auriane from The School of Industrial Biotechnology (EBI) in France

Forecast announced a sunny weekend, as usual for more than 300 days a year on the sunshine coast. We decide, after 3 weeks in Australia, to organize our first “true” adventure. A few researches quickly led us toward the Great Sandy National Park, 150km North of our position.

This 200 000 km2, including the famous Fraser Island and Rainbow beach, seems to have the features that appeals to us: adventure and discovery.

Order of operations is as follow: departure at dawn on Sunday, followed by a visit of Rainbow Beach (1) before exploring the northern part of the park for the rest of the day. We would return on Monday morning, after a night at Teewah Beach (3).

Map
A map of the park. In green, our planned trip.

I) Rainbow Beach.

After two hours on the road, we finally arrived at our first checkpoint: Rainbow Beach. Named this way due to its coloured sand dunes, holding various minerals, the city has only been accessible by road since 1969, allowing the tourism market to develop.

Carlo Sandblow
A view on the peninsula from Carlo Sandblow.

After a small stop at the main beach, we head out South-West towards Carlo Sandblow. From there, we went on a small hike in the rainforest. The forest came to an end. Before us, a breathtaking view. Hidden in the centre of the forest was an enormous sand expanse, stretching across hundreds of meters, reaching to the sea.

Carlo sandblow 2
Carlo Sandblow, a sea of sand overlooking the ocean.

From this point of view, we see our next destination: the lighthouse on the northern peninsula of the park.

Back at Rainbow Beach and after a quick fill up of the gas tank, we drive to Freshwater Road, our entrance point in the Park.

II) Access to the beach and the lighthouse.

We enter Freshwater Road, an asphalt road relatively wide to our surprise. However, after only a few hundreds of meters, we end up on a three meters wide gravel road, still two-way.

We make halt, deflate the tires and go into 4WD mode. Relatively easy at first, the road was changing in front of our eyes to a path across the rainforest. The nature taking back what was hers as we advanced, we discover with apprehension and excitation an Australian speciality: off-road driving.

Turns become hairpins, slopes become steeper and steeper and the track, first made of dirt and rocks, turns into loose sand. Over weighed by our gear, Jerry (our Nissan X-Trail) does not yield and takes on every obstacle with success.

After roughly 10 km and half an hour in this jungle, we finally arrive at the Day Recreation Area, where we stop to deflate the tires even more.

At a few dozens of meters lied the much-wanted beach. Getting back on board, we head up towards the beach.

What a feeling. Stretching as far as the eye can see, the sandy expanse offered a breathtaking view, without anything to spoil this instant. To our left, the sand dune. To our right, the turquoise water of the Pacific Ocean. The hard sand was holding the car’s weight, providing an unmatched feeling of softness (it feels like we are in a softener ad).

4wd
Auriane & Jerry at Teewah beach.

A few kilometres brought us to the northern end of the beach, at the foot of the lighthouse. The incoming tide leads us to park as far as possible of the ocean, in a soft sand. After nearly getting stuck in the sand, we notice immediately that our Nissan X-Trail is the smallest vehicle on the beach, pale in comparison of the Jeep and Land Rovers.

After a quick lunch, we put on our backpacks on and follow the track leading to the lighthouse. The open view offered us the best sight of the day when whales appeared, blowing and jumping out of the water for several minutes.

Coming back down on the beach, we encountered a turtle which was diving under the incessant waves to feed.

turtle
A turtle under the waves.

Leaving this idyllic place, when now head out south, along the never-ending beach. After roughly fifteen kilometres, we catch sight of the entrance of Teewah Beach, where you can camp for the night. More than ten kilometres in length, the area shall be our anchor point for the night. After exploring the beach in all its length, we decide to stop under the trees lining the beach.

We are alone. The sound of the waves and wind for only company, we admire the sunset feet in water.

The night falling quickly, we prepare Jerry for the night. The bed is already set, we only need to install makeshift curtains to the windows and a mosquito net to the sunroof.

Then came the time to prepare dinner. The gas cooker boils a pot of water for our three-stars meal. Nothing innovative: a bag of pasta and a pot of bolognese sauce do the job.

The day was long, Auriane went to bed, but it is out of the question for me to sleep. The Great sandy National Park enjoys near-total darkness, with very few light pollution, allowing me to capture the totality of the night sky. My schedule for the night is tightly packed: five different targets will demand a constant work from 6pm to 3am, leaving me about two and a half hours of sleep.

The gear up and running, I start to image nights capes in the hope to pay homage to the beauty of the place.

Thus, I decide to target a part of the Milky Way, which is invisible from the northern hemisphere, rising above the forest. Later, I would target for a few dozen minutes the Eta Carinae Nebula Complex along with the Southern Cross constellation.

starts

11pm. The moonless night should be inscrutable to the eye. In reality I can see pretty well. The Milky Way along with bio luminescent algae in the ocean gives of enough light for the human eye to see, allowing for movements without headlamp.

It is in this kind of environment that visual observation makes perfect sense. Once my eyes accustomed, I can resolve the gas clouds in our galactic core, various star clusters and even some nebulae.

Then came the moment I was waiting for. The most important target of the night was here: a conjunction between Jupiter and the Scorpius constellation. The camera is configured to automatically take sixty exposures, totalling roughly one hour of data integration. I take advantage of this time to sleep for a while.

stars
Jupiter and the Scorpius constellation.

I go on the other targets with the same scheme, in the company of the crabs that live on the beach, before finally going to sleep at 3am.

5:30am. The alarm clock goes off. We get up with difficulty in order to witness the sunrise. The scene is breathtaking. The few clouds on the ocean multiply the beauty of the dawn. We are still alone, and the view induce our minds into thinking we are alone on a desert island.

tewaah

7am. After the breakfast, we tidy up our gear and prepare for the return to Sunshine Coast.

This time, Auriane drives on the forest track. Once on the rainbow beach road, I nickname her Sébastien Loeb (in reference of the nine-time French rally world champion) for her driving style and quality as well as her precision in difficult parts of the track.

Once the tank filled all the way up and the tires inflated, we leave the park, happy to have lived such an adventure.

Thomas.

Check out Thomas’ full travel blog HERE