Having really enjoyed an all to brief stay in Brisbane it is time to get mobile again and travel on to the next destination in our tour of the Australian East Coast. Relief for Lyn as there is no more flying until we return home at the end of March.
So off to the Avis office (just round the corner from our hotel) to collect our Vauxhall Astra sized hatchback for our first “Road Trip”. As usual the staff were friendly and very helpful. We found that they had upgraded us to a Holden VX 6. Holden is the Aussie version of Vauxhall/Opel in Europe and this car is a Vauxhall by any other name. However it has a 2ltr V6 petrol engine with some good gizmo’s like Satnav, Cruise Control and push button start (no ignition key). I almost forgot the best gadget, a HUD. For those not blessed with a Fighter Pilot for a mate a HUD is a Head Up Display. This projects a digital display image on to the windscreen of your current speed, outside air temperature and displays from the Satnav when you have to turn. Not seen it before in a car but a great idea. Most cars here are automatic and this one is no exception but as well as the “D” setting on the selector, this one also has an “S” setting, which I am not allowed to test. I am guessing the S is for Speedy or Sport mode!
Me and the car in front of a Hawker Hunter at the Queensland Air Museum. More of that later
So on the road. Satnav got us out of Brisbane on to the “Bruce Highway”…..yes it is really called the Bruce highway, north to our first destination, Noosa Heads on the Sunshine Coast. First thing you notice is that everything is metric. Distances are in Km and the speed in KPH with a max of 110 on motorways, oh and the speed cameras are a nice shade of battleship grey so they are harder to see. The journey took about 3 hours and I have to say the driving standards here are so much better than UK. Drivers are polite, there is no road rage (well we did not see or feel any in town or outside) and there is respect for other road users, including cyclists, who get priority everywhere in town.
Our apartment sits on a hill above Noosa Heads, in the woods or rain forest as they insist on calling it. It is spacious, well equipped and in a complex with pool and lovely gardens. There are two balconies, one off the lounge and one off the main bedroom. Early morning is very quiet, the dawn chorus features the usual birdsong and the noise that the kookaburra makes which is so recognisable yet indescribable. The complex also has a large gated underground car park so there is no on street parking. Access to the town (Hastings Street is the main bit…in fact the only bit!) is via some steps, well about 250 of them actually, which is fine walking down but a test coming up. So that’s the Estate Agents spiel done.
Noosa is described in the Lonely Planet Guide as a “…swanky resort town with a stunning natural landscape of crystalline beaches and tropical rainforests” Well it is all of those. Noosa Heads sits on a headland at the mouth of the Noosa River. This river is fed by Lake Cooribah to the North and the village is sandwiched between two halves of the Noosa National Park. Lake Weyba sits to the south. Noosa Heads has one main street, Hastings Street which sits back from the beach but runs parallel. There are boutique shops, souvenir shops, cafe’s, restaurants, both reasonable and expensive (nothing’s cheap here) and as we expected now, plenty of coffee shops to try out.
Smart apartment complexes and the odd hotel discreetly line the beach front but from the beach the view of these is obscured by palms and other large trees, comfortable with growing on sand. Backing on to the street, these places house many of the shops, restaurants and cafes described above. Hastings Street is a dead end but runs into a series of paths through Noosa Woods and roads leading to car parks. These paths lead to some beautiful beaches and eventually a headland or spit where the Noosa river meats the Pacific Ocean. It is truly an idyllic spot. The colour of the river and the sea has to be seen to be believed.
Clockwise from top left: Noosa Heads Main Beach, Us discovering paradise on earth, The best estuary view in the world, Lyn looks out to sea, Looking towards the North Shore
A large part of the western end of the sandbar is given over to a Doggy Beach, where locals and holiday makers can come and exercise their pooches without fear or evil eyes from the rest of society (for those who know us best, big tick for Noosa!). The large beach area is flat calm and shallow so dog and owner can play on the beach, swim together and be happy. AND it is clean, very clean. No poo bags spilling out of overfilled bins and the pet owners are grateful and respectful of the area.
Doggy Beach looking both ways.
One thing we have noticed here and in some other parts of Eastern Oz, the day starts early. We have been out early here (6.45am) to exercise on a run/walk, to find cafes already open with customers sat in the shade drinking an early coffee or eating breakfast. Today (Sunday) we were out early (for us) for our exercise to see traffic queuing to get to the car parks close to the beach and by 7-30am the beach was crowded with sun worshippers and surfers, grabbing a quick wave or three before repairing to the nearest cafe for a hearty breakfast. Then it’s back to the beach/surf board for more activity. Even the Life guards who staff the beach are on duty by 7am (probably earlier) having already determined the safe areas to swim and set up flags accordingly.
Panorama of Noosa Main Beach at 7-30 on Sunday morning.
If, like us, you are not keen on sitting or lying on a beach for 8 hours a day there are plenty of walks in the Noosa National Park. Coastal walks, Rainforest walks are all well marked out and are very photogenic. The only limitation is your stamina in the high humidity and temperatures of around 34 deg.
Scenes from the North Coast walk from Noosa Heads.
There is also the whole of the Sunshine Coast to explore by car as well as the mountain Hinterland to the west. We will try and provide an insight to both
To the south of Noosa Heads are number of towns and villages with a stake in the Sunshine Coast. Names such as Sunshine Beach, Sunrise Beach Castaways Beach and Marcus Beach all lie between here and the first town to the south, namely Peregian. Less commercialised that Noosa so fewer tourists but a beach that is a kite surfers paradise and a wide open expanse of sand. The town has an air of “what might have been”. It seemed run down and a bit lifeless – only one coffee shop, the Aussie versions of Charity shops known as thrift shops. More on Noosa and the surrounding area to come.