It’s been ages since I and my wife have spent any real time in Noosa, so when recently looking for somewhere different to go for a weekend away, Noosa seemed like a novel alternative to our usual country pubs. Making the Noosa decision was the easy part, as after a few minutes on the web it appeared that everybody else had, had the same idea, however a little perseverance saw us book into Mantra French Quarter on Hastings.
Our trips away are a little different to most as our preferred transport is aboard a motorbike, a BMW R1200 RT to be precise. It has taken us as far afield as Tasmania and Wilpena Pound in South Australia, so taking the quickest route, via the boredom that is the Pacific Highway, was never on the cards. Our plan panned out to include a run out to Dayborough, before heading up and over Mt Mee to Woodford and up to Maleny.
It was at Maleny that I finally punched Noosa into the GPS to find the quickest route.
From Maleny our GPS plotted a very interesting course via the Maleny Montville Road, before ushering us down a very steep decent along the Palmwoods Montville Road. A road I can’t remember ever taking before, so that was welcome. Being winter the views from the high roads along ridgeline were spectacular, in parts we could see the sun glinting off the ocean along the coastline. If you are ever seeking a small country village for an afternoon drive, try Palmwoods, a truly delightful little town full of old world country charm.
We hit Noosa around mid afternoon and found our overnight destination fairly easily, once we acquainted ourselves with the strange roundabout and carpark at the entrance of Hastings Street of course. I always get a kick out of walking into upmarket hotels dressed in my bike gear as you do get the most peculiar looks. After checking in we unloaded the panniers and headed up to our room to freshen up before reintroducing ourselves to Noosa once again.
Wandering along Hastings Street it became quite apparent that during our absence there had been a bit of a shift in the place. I remember thinking the last time I was there that Noosa, and probably Hastings Street in particular, had lost some of its laidback north coast charm. Things were just a bit too busy… a bit too flashy perhaps. Our walk along the street reconciled any fears I’d previously had as we found it to be quite chilled, yes it’s still quite a place to be seen, but let’s face it that’s why you love it.
After doing a little more window-shopping than I wanted, we settled on dropping into Aromas Café for a well-earned beer. I think Aromas stood out to us as they had set their tables and chairs up, out front of the restaurant, in a very unusual manner. Each table for two had both chairs set facing the street. It dawned on us as soon as we sat down that this was to allow us both a full view of the street’s passing people parade that is so Hastings Street on a warm sunny afternoon. From European backpackers, to young couples herding their small children along, to our southern cousin’s escaping the depths of their winters, they were all there for us to see. Fabulous fun.
We had about a half an hour to kill before meeting up with my niece who works locally for a drink before she headed out for a night out with her girl friends, so we decided to take a walk along the beachfront.
There is something truly magical about that stretch of beach off Hastings Street. Even though the ocean was like a millpond, its azure blue colour was breathtakingly beautiful. To the north it was clear enough to make out the sandy cliffs of Forty Mile Beach, to the south the first of the headlands climbed high into the waning afternoon sky. Whilst there weren’t too many actually in the water, there were some brave souls, but many more were happy just to be sitting on the beach taking it all in. Café latte in hand of course.
Dinner was never intended to be a big deal so we decided to go back to Aromas, which had shown us a warm welcome and ice-cold beer. That was without doubt our best decision of the weekend. On first glance and thankfully the menu wasn’t too complicated, there is nothing worse than having to wade through long menus when you’re not in the mood, in fact our waitress’s delightful pre-order chat had us both fixated on the specials of the day.
My wife and I ended up sharing a plate of soy-glazed grilled prawns on a simple fresh Asian green salad that was spectacularly punctuated by pickled ginger. We both went for seafood main courses; Janet her usual favourite salmon, whilst I targeted the Barramundi. Two glass of wine later and our meals arrived. The lapse in conversation said it all as we savoured the intricate flavours of our dishes, all of which culminated in us both suggesting that it was the best food we’d had at a restaurant in a long time.
Our adventurous trek to Noosa and the sea air had done its trick as we made our way back along Hastings Street to the apartment. Which is when it really struck us. Every tree along Hastings Street was lit up like a Christmas tree with fairy lights. Not an easy task to get right, or to maintain I would imagine but one that magically transformed the streetscape adding a rather festive air. I don’t do Christmas lights but this was stunning.
The next morning, whilst Janet slept in a little longer, I set off to take advantage of the early morning light to shoot some images of the beach and views between the old Pandanus along the boardwalk to Noosa National Park. The people of Noosa have definitely got a fitness thing happening, dozens of people of all ages were out walking, jogging and even ocean swimming as the sun rose above the headland.
After a leisurely breakfast at the café le Monde, another great fresh food treat I might add, it was back on the bike for our trip home. And yes it was back through the mountains of the Hinterland, but not before cruising south through Sunshine Beach, Peregian and alike along the coast road before heading west from Maroochydore to make our way to Landsborough and the more interesting way home.
Noosa had not disappointed. In fact it had rekindled my love of the place in a new way, rather like meeting an old friend and finding that the time had made them even more interesting. Yes it has grown up, yes it’s a lot more sophisticated but it would stand comparison to any beach destination in the world, and it has managed to do it all whilst remaining true to its Sunshine Coast character. Which in my book is a very good thing indeed.