Thursday, September 11, 2008

Sunshine Castle

How do you top the Big Pineapple? This is a question the Handsome Australian and I went to sleep asking ourselves last night. How on earth were we going to deliver that same kind of excitement and kitsch value to our children once again? Had we set the bar too high for ourselves too early in our holiday? After all, we still have four or five more days left here on the Sunshine Coast. We just weren't sure what today would bring. I tossed and turned all night in my bed as I worried about how to top the Big Pineapple (not really, I tossed and turned all night because I kept being woken by some silly kookaburras that were calling out at random times during the night. Don't they ever sleep? I love nature, I do, but not at 1am and then at 3am and then again at 5am).

So a bit tired from a poor night's sleep, I had to rely on the Handsome Australian to come up with a plan to woo the children today. The Handsome Australian is a good "go to" guy. He always has a plan. It's the same plan every time, but he has a plan. His plan is usually as follows, "Let's put the kids in the car and go for a drive." If you ask him where we're going, he won't know. He'll simply reply, "We're going wherever the road takes us." Nice. He's a philosopher too. Haven't I mentioned that? Yes, he's a catch ladies, but don't get too excited because I've already nabbed this keeper! Besides, if you don't like long car drives to nowhere, then the Handsome Australian really isn't the Handsome Australian for you.

We had the pool debate with the four year old again and finally convinced her that she could enjoy some much needed pool time later in the day. We got the kids buckled in to their car seats and we set off--destination unknown.

To be fair, the Handsome Australian did have the bones of a plan put together. He said we should drive down to Mooloolaba on the Bruce Highway (which runs inland parallel to the coast) and then make our way back up towards Noosa on the road which runs along the coast so we could take in the views and maybe have some lunch near the water.

So this is what we did. We stopped first in Mooloolaba which is home to Underwater World. Underwater World is apparently an aquarium. I say apparently because the Handsome Australian reckons it didn't rate highly enough to deserve a visit and so we skipped it. Fair enough I suppose. Why would you want to go somewhere as interesting and potentially educational as an aquarium when you could go somewhere much more promising like, I don't know...a Big Pineapple perhaps? Don't try to make sense of the Handsome can't. Believe me, I've tried for years.

So we skipped Underwater World, but did manage to have lunch at the Wharf in Moolooaba. We dined at the Hog's Breath Cafe (more on that later) and then we kept on driving up the coast back towards Noosa. The kids were just starting to get a bit cranky in the back seat and I was starting to question the Handsome Australian's plan for the day when, on the horizon, we spotted something majestic sitting atop a hill. I couldn't believe my eyes...there along the coastal highway we were traveling on (David Low Way to be exact) was a castle.

When our princess obsessed four year old spotted it, she was bouncing up and down. "Stop the car Daddy! Stop the car! I want to see the castle! I want to see the castle!" Her younger brother who copies everything began to make similar demands. So pull over we did.

We had no idea what we'd find inside. The sign read, "Sunshine Castle" and it promised everything from a doll museum,to armoury displays to model train exhibitions and the list went on and on. The kids were beside themselves with anticipation. The place wasn't overrun with people. In fact, we saw only one other family there. We were greeted by a friendly woman at the front counter who explained the admission prices to us. It cost us $29 AUD for 2 adults and 1 child (the little one is young enough to still get in most places for free--lucky him!)We were offered funny little dress ups--viking sort of hats or plastic armour of sorts to help us get in the spirit of things. Our 4 year old vetoed these costume items and deemed them "too silly" to wear (which is funny considering she spends most days running around in ballerina tutus with fairy wings attached). We were then instructed to cross the bridge over the moat and begin our self guided tour of the castle.

The castle itself was actually quite large and had quite a few towers you could ascend using fairly narrow spiral staircases. There was a dungeon downstairs that was a bit creepy, and scared the pants off the four year old. The Handsome Australian and I had a good laugh as she shrieked with fear at the bloodied dummy that stood in the corner locked in chains. Poor darling, she'll never visit a dungeon with us again. (This is the photo of the Great Hall in the castle...perfect for your next wedding or function. What? You can't see yourself getting married here? It's a CASTLE!! Come on!)

The views from the top of the towers were great. You could see the surrounding area quite well. The water on one side and cane fields off in the distance on another.

The kids weren't that interested in the views, they just liked running around the castle and the adventure of discovering it for the first time. None of us knew what was lying around the next corner. It was like a bit of a maze.

Along the way on the inside of the halls there were displays of dolls dressed in clothing from different countries. There were also scenes of different fairytale stories like Alice in Wonderland, The Wizard of Oz and many others. Most of the displays were functioning, but some needed work and according to the Handsome Australian, "it all needs updating". The model train exhibition kept our youngest busy. He loved pushing the buttons to make the lights go on and off and make the trains stop and go.

All in all, the castle was a hit with the kids. They especially liked being able to choose something from the special treasure chest on the way out. The woman who was working there explained a magic fairy had cast a spell on the treasure chest that only allowed it to stay open for 7 seconds, so you needed to choose your treasure quickly. When opened, the treasure chest revealed a bounty of lollies. You didn't have to ask our children twice--they both snatched their treasure before the lady could count to two!

So you just never know what you might find on your drive to nowhere with the Handsome Australian. He might just deliver you to the doorsteps of a castle, you just have to roll the dice to find out!

No gargoyles here. Just a menacing T-Rex guarding the tower of this castle.


kristin said...

How fun - a castle AND a giant pineapple all in one vacation! I did see a giant Paul Bunyan this summer; a highlight. One year I want to do a summer road trip of visits to giant things! Nice to see you back on the blog. I need to post something new to mine...maybe you've inspired me. We'll see! :)

Annelise said...

How random is that TREX?? That totally cracked me up! As for the kookaburras that takes me back to girl scouts and my selling enough cookies to earn the much coveted kookaburra stuffed animal. Quite smart of the lady to make the 7 second rule...errr..I mean spell. I wonder how long it took to come up with that plan! I bet no long. Not as comical as the TREX but running a close second was the Great Hall. HAHAHA, tell the handsome one that it was updated...back in the day the Great Hall did not have the same tables and chairs. They made it modern, and maybe...just maybe...they did it just for him!