The Sunshine Coast is an aptly named 100km stretch of beachside cities stretching from Caloundra to Noosa Heads. Besides the odd patch of high-rises and commercialised resort attractions, the Sunshine Coast puts the brakes on the late-night hedonism of the Gold Coast and Brisbane. There are great beaches with golden sand and uncrowded surf all along the coast. Outdoor activities abound, from hiking to windsurfing, and everything in between.
Caloundra is an unexceptional city surrounded by good swimming and surfing beaches. Kitesurfing is popular just south at Bulcock Beach and Moffat Beach has good waves. About 30km north are Mooloolaba, Alexandra Headland and Maroochydore, a strip of towns known for fishing and surfing, as well as shopping and luxury resorts. North of that is the quieter expanse from Coolum to Peregian Beach, with beautiful and secluded shoreline. Noosa is more of a five star resort town, and has high prices and sizeable crowds. But it still boasts some lovely natural wonders at the coast and inland, including the Teewah Coloured Sands accessible by four-wheel-drive on the beach.
Buses run frequently between all of the towns on the Sunshine Coast so it’s easy to get around. In the hinterland are the Glass House Mountains and the Australia Zoo, Steve Irwin’s famous wildlife park. Many travellers use the Sunshine Coast as a home base when trekking through the hinterland or travelling to Fraser Island.
The Sunshine Coast has a reasonably good local bus service with buses running up and down the coast with connecting services to inland centres like Nambour, Cooroy and Eumundi.
There are also train services linking towns on the Sunshine Coast hinterland with Brisbane. Trains run as far north as Gympie North with stations in Cooroy, Eumundi and Nambour.
Fares are based on a zone system with eight zones in south east Queensland including five zones in the Sunshine Coast area, with Caloundra in zone 5, Mooloolaba in zone 6 and Noosa in zone 8. A single trip within one zone is $4.60 with a paper ticket and $3.20 with a go card.
A single ticket allows you to transfer to other modes of transport within a two-hour period.
|Zones||Fare (paper ticket)||Fare (go card)|
|one zone||$4.60||$3.20 peak ($2.56 off-peak)|
|two zones||$5.70||$3.90 peak ($3.12 off-peak)|
|three zones||$8.60||$5.96 peak ($4.77 off-peak)|
|four zones||$11.40||$7.85 peak ($6.28 off-peak)|
|five zones||$15||$10.32 peak ($8.26 off-peak)|
|six zones||$19||$13.09 peak ($10.47 off-peak)|
|seven zones||$23.60||$16.28 peak ($13.02 off-peak)|
|eight zones||$28||$19.32 peak ($15.46 off-peak)|
Sunshine Coast bus and train fares
If you’re only on the Sunshine Coast for a day or two you can buy paper tickets to get around, however the go card ticket is better value if you’re planning on spending longer on the Sunshine Coast.
The go card is an electronic smart card ticking system (similar to the Oyster card in London, Octopus in Hong Kong, Myki in Melbourne and Sydney’s Opal card) that works out cheaper than buying paper tickets. Like smart cards used in other cities, you top up your go card with credit that is used to pay for your travel and you need to touch on at the start of your journey and touch off at your destination in order to calculate your fare. You can purchase go cards from around 625 locations throughout Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast including any train station and many convenience stores (such as 7-Eleven). The go card system can be used on buses and trains on the Sunshine Coast and it works throughout southeast Queensland (that is on the Sunshine and Gold Coasts and also in Brisbane).
When purchasing a new go card you need to pay $10 for the blank card in addition to the credit you need to load on to it. Because of this, it is not always the best option if you’re only in town for a day or two.
The seeQ card is another alternative to the go card that is aimed at tourists visiting southeast Queensland for three to five days. The seeQ card works throughout the Brisbane, Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast.
The seeQ card gives you unlimited travel buses, ferries, trains and trams in Brisbane, Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast for three or five consecutive days and also includes discounts at many tourist attractions in southeast Queensland. A three day seeQ card costs $79 and a five day card costs $129. Like the go card, you need to touch on and off when using this pass.