By Jill Varley

Australia ZooAuguring well for the Sunshine Coast is the news that Qantas will reintroduce its Sydney flights after an absence of almost a decade. It means customers are now able to book straight through into the Sunshine Coast from anywhere in the world with Qantas and Emirates, thus opening up business, tourism and business events opportunities.

Sunshine Coast Destination Ltd (SCDL) ceo Simon Ambrose described the reintroduction of Qantas services as great news.

“It gives us the opportunity to attract one of our biggest interstate markets from Sydney straight into the Sunshine Coast. It also means we can plan ahead to attract major conferences and events.”

Sunshine Coast services will start with a leisure-based schedule on 21 December to meet Christmas and school holiday demand. Business flight timings will get underway from 8 February 2016.

Spoilt for choice

One hour north of Brisbane, no trip to the Sunshine Coast would be complete without a visit to Australia Zoo. Apart from the infectious enthusiasm of the staff, the cuddly koalas, waddling wombats, slithering snakes and the other 1200 animals, this interactive zoo with its own Wildlife Hospital and Animal Rescue service looks after and funds a variety of conservation projects. It also offer plenty of venues for animal encounters, team building activities and catering options.

A short drive from Australia Zoo is Aussie World and The Pub. This theme park, with a capacity to take groups from 15 to a maximum of 4000, has a newly renovated event space  – The Shed – with space for up to 1100 cocktail-style. It also features a mini golf course, a variety of event spaces and more than 30 rides, making it ideal for a fun night out with the troops.

Beyond the known

Noosa may be the most recognisable sub-region of the Sunshine Coast with its Sheraton, Peppers, Sebel, RACV and Outrigger resorts, however the region’s lesser known areas have as much to offer at very favourable price points. 

Caloundra for instance has the Sunshine Coast’s oldest and largest venue, Event Centre, with an indoor flat floor space of 1432sqm making it able to cater for events for up to 1800 guests. Key improvements over the next two to three years include new seating in the Main and Playhouse Theatre, an upgrade of air-conditioning and improved disability access.

Caloundra is also home to Rumba Beach Resort with 65 luxury 1, 2 and 3 bedroom apartments and suites overlooking the tranquil waters of the Pumicestone Passage protected from the ocean by Bribie Island.

Follow around the bay to Golden Beach and metres from the water is the four-star Oaks Oasis Resort, Caloundra. Set amongst 10 acres of gardens, lagoon and a water park, it recently completed a multi-million dollar renovation. Four air-conditioned conference rooms can accommodate up to 250 people.

In Maroochydore, Novotel Twin Waters Resort, a hot spot for conferences, has ten purpose-built function rooms for up to 1400 delegates. It recently hosted a four-day event for a major retail sports group, with the 600 delegates using the resort’s new team building activities area – Corporate Xperiences, while Summersault Productions set up a 350sqm big top marquee in a newly cleared 1000sqm event space.

Head for the hinterland

Twenty five minutes from the region’s coastal resorts in Yandina is the Spirit House, a must on the team-building menu. In a Thai jungle setting this legendary Cooking School caters for everything from learning Stir Crazy Thai dishes to BBQ ‘Dude Food’. Classes take a minimum of 16 and a maximum of 18, while cocktail style corporate functions cater to maximum of 30 people at $120pp, for a duration of three hours.

Also in Yandina is The Ginger Factory where ginger has been processed since 1942. A working factory and a theme park, it is available for functions and dinners after hours.

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