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Landmark’s comeback is coming to fruition

The Big Pineapple development project will see the tourist attraction brought back to life


Landmark’s comeback is coming to fruition

It’s one of the region’s most challenging and inspiring planning opportunities – how can this iconic destination be re-positioned to again become a major business hub and tourist attraction? Journalist Roxanne McCarty-O’Kane meets with Jim Costello of the Big Pineapple Renewal to find out.

The long-awaited rejuvenation of the Big Pineapple site is set to be unlocked through a whole-of-site masterplan. The plan includes new land-use approvals that will see the iconic tourism destination freed for a new lease on life.

The large 169-hectare site is currently a mix of tourism and rural zones and the result of a three-year, million-dollar master planning process and extensive consultation has seen the development of a whole-of-site plan to ensure a sustainable future for one of the Sunshine Coast’s most famous destinations.

Big Pineapple Renewal project director Jim Costello says an application to introduce new uses across the site was made in August and he expects to hear the outcome in the coming months, following further community consultation.

The Big Pineapple was built by the Taylor family of Nambour in the early 1970s. At its peak in the late ’80s, it attracted 1.2 million visitors a year, making it the most popular tourism destination in Australia and cementing the pineapple as an iconic brand.

Mr Costello says there is still a lot of nostalgia linked with the 16-metre tall structure and the site’s history and his company has created a vision to lay the foundations for the attraction to again become a world-class destination.

“The point of difference will be to leverage the Big Pineapple’s strong brand and history to a focus on the combination of eco-tourism, agribusiness and supporting local producers, as well as providing entertainment opportunities, outdoor educational facilities and accommodation,” he says.

“The scale of the site is unique and we needed to work sympathetically with the existing topography and vegetation. Our vision will see only four per cent of that site with built form.”

The site is already home to the Wildlife HQ zoo and the Big Pineapple Music Festival. Early activation includes plans for  boutique food and beverage offerings in the former Sunshine Plantation building as well as a weekly farmer’s market in the car park.

The latest addition, TreeTop Challenge, will soon be under construction in an area already zoned for tourism and will welcome adventure enthusiasts with 100 outdoor challenges in mature tree stands when it opens in early 2019. Mr Costello says the masterplan includes six complementary precincts.

The Big Pineapple will be the centrepiece for precinct one, which will be dedicated to food production and food-based tourism and include an interpretive centre, food market and food and beverage offerings, future hotel or resort, as well as the TreeTop Challenge.

Precinct two is in the northern-most section of the site. It will be dedicated to nature-based tourism including eco retreat cabins, a restaurant, a wellness spa centre and event space.

Precinct three is where the current carpark is on the southern side of Nambour Connection Road. This will become a food and tourism hub, an incubator for businesses as well as supporting medium-scale food production.

Boutique food tourism will again be supported with a major tenant and a wholesale fresh produce market with an agribusiness and tourism business centre.

Precinct four will include a 9.6-hectare travel centre dedicated to a Big 4-style holiday park with cabins, tent and RV facilities and amenities.

Precinct five, which already accommodates the Big Pineapple Music Festival, will remain a natural amphitheatre event space that can cater for up to 20,000 people.

Precinct six, which is untouched bushland to the south-west of the festival site, has potential to become another nature-based tourism area dedicated to outdoor education and school camp ground also equipped with camping and RV facilities and amenities.

The Sunshine Coast Food Agribusiness Network (FAN) – the peak body for local agribusiness – is already a tenant at the Big Pineapple, as is organic coconut yoghurt producer COYO.

COYO’s CEO, Andrew Eves-Brown, says his company could base themselves anywhere on the eastern seaboard, but they remain committed to growing their business in the region.

“The Big Pineapple’s vision for agribusiness, food-based tourism and other complementary uses is closely aligned with our values and we look forward to contributing to and benefitting from the re-emergence of the Big Pineapple.”

Mr Costello says COYO will occupy a new 2000 square metre building in the former macadamia nut processing facility on site.

He adds, “The Big Pineapple is a significant part of the identity of Sunshine Coast hinterland towns and we are committed to returning some grandeur and pride in one of our most famous tourism icons”.

To follow the progress of the Big Pineapple renewal, visit

fast facts

• Six precincts will be developed in the 169-hectare site
• It is projected to reach more than 600,000 visitors a year
• The project has a construction value of $116.2 million
• It’s expected to have an economic value of $80 million
• The project will generate 813 construction jobs and 890 operational jobs, with more than 100 jobs already created.


Roxy has been a journalist for more than a decade and joined the MWP team at the end of 2016. She is a chocolate-powered writing machine who loves to engage with the Coast community, uncover untold inspirational stories and share information that can help people.

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