I first went to Noosa from Byron Bay, about ten years ago. Byron was a hard act to follow, and Noosa failed. Since I've lived in Brisbane, less than a couple of hours' drive from Noosa, it seems as if everybody goes there fairly regularly – during school holidays, showing visitors the Sunshine Coast, taking a break with friends – and everybody loves it. I had to have another look.
Noosa is like nowhere else I've been to in Australia: it has very many roundabouts and no traffic lights. So, my kinda town perhaps. It also has no high-rise buildings, so the view from our Noosa Crest apartment on Noosa Hill was spoiled only (slightly) by the mass that was the Sheraton. The apartment was spacious and well-equipped and the garden outlook very pleasing. The complex also has its own private boardwalk down to within a couple of minutes of Hastings, avoiding main roads and parking problems.
Noosa is a collective term, not the town's name. There are three parts to it: there's Noosa Heads, centred on Hastings Street –with its pricey boutiques and smart restaurants – and Main Beach, which is small by Australian standards and crowded on sun-filled days but not others.
Hastings Street has changed, I'm sure. It's greener and traffic-calmed and much quieter and more pleasant to wander along than I remember.We kept returning to the same 'cafe with the fountains' that I'd been to years ago. I like continuity.
Then there's Noosaville on the Noosa River, which has a less exclusive feel about it despite being full of people who like messing about in boats. And Noosa Junction which, as you might guess, is the gas-station and cut-price end of town. It takes a while to become orientated because, Australian signage being typically sporadic by nature, all the roundabouts look the same and the town is widespreading.
To the southeast of Noosa Heads are the Eastern Beaches, the closest two of which are Sunshine (below) and Sunrise. These are what you'd expect of a quality Sunshine Coast beach: big enough waves for those who want action; and beautiful, largely deserted sands for those who like to bake peacefully with a book. Sunshine enhances the experience, of course.
To the east of Noosa Heads is Noosa National Park (Headland section). Go to the end of Park Road and choose your walk from several track options with the help of smiley ladies in the information centre who will even point out a dozing koala above the parked cars before you set out.
It was pouring with rain, and the forecast was not good, but we were not to be deterred.
The Coast Track skirts charming little bays – Tea Tree, Granite, Winch Cove and Picnic Cove – and passes gently over headlands such as the Boiling Pot and Dolphin Point (alas, no...).
Green and granite
Tree with a hole
At the end of the headland are Hell's Gates. It was so windy by this point I feared for my safety and would not venture any nearer the edge of the cliffs than this tree, which I clung to. I couldn't keep my camera steady either, but my friend fared rather better (below but one).
Just beyond the point was Alexandria Bay (below), around which the Coast Track continues towards Sunshine Beach, but we turned off on to Tanglewood Track to head back to where we'd started, a round trip of 7km.
Tanglewood Track wends it way through eucalypt woodland and then rainforest, and is described as 'one of the park's more isolated inland walks'.
There were so many things that caught my eye, I got into trouble for dawdling.
Squiggly signature tree
Caped lizard with lunch
Noosa is a good point from which to visit the Cooloola region (see Return to Rainbow, February 2011), and Fraser Island, and it's within easy striking distance of Brisbane. I have to confess to changing my mind about the place. So much so, in fact, that I'd quite like to extend my property portfolio with a beachside weekend hideaway, rather like ex-PM Kevin Rudd has just done.