There’s so much to love about the Sunshine Coast that I can understand why some people who’ve travelled to our region for a ‘sea-change’ might not want to share the secret with the rest of the world.
But there was a powerful message from the Future Sunshine Coast event this week that highlighted we can have progress and remain a truly unique and desirable destination at the same time.
Let’s face it, Captain Cook was so captivated by our distinctive landscape that he named the Glass House Mountains as he sailed past, way back in 1770. Even then the region had a lot more going for it than just the beaches many of us believe are the best in the country.
In fact, we held a 10thanniversary event for the Glass House Mountains Visitors Centre last week which both celebrates the area’s incredible natural beauty and its significant Indigenous heritage.
There has been a lot of ‘noise’ over the past few years about change in the Sunshine Coast. In some cases, a small minority have tended to drown out the overwhelming majority.
No one wants to “pave paradise and put up a parking lot”. Our overwhelming strength is our natural beauty – from the Noosa biosphere in the north to the unmatched spectacle of the Glass House Mountains and Pumicestone Passage in the south, and to the region-defining Blackall Range and Hinterland in the west.
None of that is going to change. No one wants it to change. But you can also have sensible development in between.
Can any of you recall when the last international hotel opened on the Sunshine Coast? Probably not, because it was over three decades ago – not because we are the ‘ugly duckling’ of tourism, but rather because we have been constrained by roads, rail and runways – and, in some cases, a sense of negativity.
That’s fortunately changing. Governments are addressing the rail and road blockages, while Sunshine Coast Council has had the foresight to construct a new runway for the Airport so that we can better connect with the rest of Australia and the Asia Pacific.
Many long-term residents of the Sunshine Coast will remember when their children had to leave the region because there were few jobs, let alone local career opportunities. Perhaps there are newer arrivals who aren’t so concerned about that, but I think virtually every family on the Coast will welcome the idea that their children can have a bright future – right here.
This was the overwhelmingly positive message of the Future Sunshine Coast event. The Sunshine Coast can remain a highly distinctive destination, with an emphasis on its outstanding ‘liveability’, while at the same time embrace sustainable tourism and economic development. That’s what I call good news.