It’s spring and this writer’s fancy is turning to thoughts of love … and history, nature, crime and intrigue. Yes, it’s that time of year when ‘Reality Bites’ – and I’m off to the best little literary festival around. I have been every year since its humble beginnings seven years ago in the Noosa hinterland.
For four days I’m going to indulge myself totally in concepts, lessons, passions and information. If you haven’t seen the program yet, check out the Reality Bites website or find a copy at the Noosa Visitor Information Centre in Hastings Street, Noosa Heads, and take your pick of the choice morsels of literary delicacies on offer. If you can’t decide, just grab a festival pass and make your mind up on the day.
The festival starts on Thursday 23 October with a series of workshops. This year I’m taking one by poet and master of words, Mark Tredinnick. Reality Bites workshops are a favourite of mine: for a fraction of the price of a big city event I can learn from the greats of the craft and travel no further than Cooroy Library, so close to Noosa Heads.
This is the first year that the bulk of the festival is being held in beautiful historic Eumundi, with sessions split between the gorgeous Green Room (upstairs in the Lionheart Hotel) and the School of Arts, five minutes’ walk away past Eumundi's high street.
Spend Friday getting into sessions about Real Love and adding to your library at the festival bookshop, then linger for fabulous food from the Green Room kitchen and sip a glass or two of red and experience the Poet’s Speakeasy.
On Saturday you’ll need to hit the Eumundi Markets early because festival sessions begin at 9am. If you miss Maxine McKew’s literary lunch this Friday at Noosa Springs, Saturday is your chance to join her (pictured left) for a champagne breakfast and hear what she has to say about our education system. I’ll be having coffee in the Green Room, hearing what John Birmingham has to say about self-publishing. I’m also eager to hear his discussion later that day with Domenico Cacciola, the decorated ‘straight cop’ from Queensland’s pre-Fitzgerald era.
Locals welcome visiting authors on Saturday night when festival organisers also award their annual True Story Award, listen to invited guest Keelen Mailman (pictured right) give the festival address, then we get stuck into the great food and conversation, swap ideas, and party on.
The event finishes on Sunday 26 October with another day in which we are spoilt for choice. I’m looking forward to Remembering Madness, when ABC Local Radio's Mary-Lou Stephens talks with Mandy Sayer, Kristy Chambers and Will Elliot about their experience of pervasive mental illness. After that I'll indulge in some sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll with veteran music journalist Toby Cresswell who will be Talking Smack with rock journalist Andrew McMillen.
If pertinent issues and beautiful words excite you, there’s nowhere better to be in the last weekend of October. I can’t wait.
Package tickets and online savings are available till 22 October, but you can buy tickets at the door from $20/$15. For more information visit the website realitybitesfestival.org or call the box office on 07 5447 7063.
Tanya Overson is a Sunshine Coast-based writer. In 2009, Nen, the first book of her fictional trilogy, was short-listed for the Arts Queensland-funded Regional Writes manuscript development program.
One of Noosa’s major annual events, the Noosa Jazz Festival kicks off next Thursday 4 September in the riverside Noosa Heads Lions Park for 4 days of great music with Vince Jones, Steve Clisby, Emma Pask, Grace Knight, Gallapagos Duck and dozens more. It’ll be one big picnic with croquet on the lawns, river cruises, Legends Series, Tastings on Hastings and a great atmosphere.
Legend James Morrison is in Noosa during the festival, appearing at lunch and dinner shows at berardo’s restaurant & bar in Hastings St, and there are side shows in venues including Rococos, Noosa Springs Resort, RACV Noosa Resort, Cafe le Monde, Miss Moneypenny’s, Noosa Blue Resort and The J.
Running at the same time is the Noosa Jazz Party for lovers of classic jazz at Bicentennial Hall, Sunshine Beach each night from 4-7 September. Some of Australia’s best jazz musicians come to Noosa for this event for nightly jam sessions and dancing – New Orleans in Noosa, Bob Barnard, Dan Barnett, Jo Bloomfield, John Braben, Geoff Bull, Nigel Date and Paris-based jazz singer Tricia Evy.
This Sunday 31 August is Opera in the Amphitheatre in a Greek-style amphitheatre on the shores of Lake Macdonald, Corooy, about 20 minutes from Noosa. It’s set in the Noosa Botanic Gardens and is a stunning outdoor setting to hear songs from popular opera, musicals and Italian songs, presented by Operatif.
Also this weekend is the sold-out performance by Katie Noonan at the historic Majestic Theatre in Pomona in the Noosa hinterland. The Majestic, Australia’s longest continuously operating movie theatre, brings excellent acts to the region and regularly screens silent movies.
If you prefer great Aussie indie music, the countdown’s on to the first all-ages Originals Music Festival on Saturday 13 September at Noosa AFL Grounds, Noosaville with Ash Grunwald and Scotty Owen and Andy Strachan from The Living End, Sticky Fingers, Kingswood, Bonjah, OKA and more. It’s brought to you by East Coast Originals who also present the monthly Peregian Originals (second Sunday of each month) and Cooroy Originals (fourth Sunday of each month) outdoor concerts, with a great line-up of original live music each time.
Rock and Roll Outlaw Angry Anderson headlines the live music line-up at the Noosa Country Show (12 and 13 September) with an Allstar band featuring some Party Boys and Mondo Rock bassist Paul Christie. The Noosa Country Show, with side show alley, Grand Parades, animals, craft, fireworks, rodeo and more, has a 2-day entertainment line-up.
For country music lovers, the Gympie Music Muster, just 40 minutes from Noosa, has great music, food and camping this weekend in Amamoor Creek State Forest Park. There’s a bus from Noosa and you can see artists including Kasey Chambers, Josh Pyke, Adam Harvey, Russell Morris, Sara Storer, Brian Cadd, Glen Shorrick, Lee Kernaghan and dozens more.
There are plenty more venues and cafes with a great variety of live music each week, including Cafe Le Monde; Bohemian Bungalow and Imperial Hotel (which recently hosted Australian indie legends Ed Kuepper and Steve Kilby) in Eumundi; Noosa Heads, Sunshine Beach and Coolum Beach surf clubs; Noosa Yacht & Rowing Club; Harbour Wine Bar at Noosa Marina; KB’s; Noosa Beach House; Dragon Bull Restaurant and berardo’s restaurant.
So if you like great music with a beautiful view or cool atmosphere, make sure you check out live music in Noosa each week.
Warming up our wintry nights this week is the Noosa Long Weekend Festival, a favourite for lovers of music, cabaret, theatre, dance, food, comedy, literature, history and visual art. They say there’s something for everyone and with more than 200 international, national and Sunshine Coast performers in Noosa for some mid-year fun in the sun (and performing), and more than 80 events over 10 days, you would be hard-pressed not to find something that appeals.
From Cats to cocktails, prawns to politics, teddy bears to tea, burlesque to ballet, Fleetwood Mac to free heritage walks and Phantom to photography, the program really has it covered.
Opening night last Friday was, as usual, a hoot, with the Queensland premiere of Forbidden Broadway Greatest Hits – Volume One. I’m not usually a big fan of musicals, so a show that toasts and roasts the best of them could have gone either way for me. It was great fun as the four fantastic performers parodied everything from Liza Minnelli to Mamma Mia, Les Miserables and Gerschwin ... I loved hearing what the Cats performer’s next role is ... (insert howl here!)
We’re half-way through the 10-day festival which finishes this Sunday 27 July with the Festival Wrap Party at Outrigger Little Hastings Street Resort and Spa – four hours of festival highlights and live music for $25. Catch the free shuttle bus leaving The J car park every 15 minutes from 11.30am-4.30pm.
There’s still plenty more to see and do including Supper Club with Rhonda Burchmore at Berardo’s Restaurant; Ali McGregor's show Alchemy on Saturday night; the risque burlesque Diabolique at Noosa Arts Theatre on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights; Prawnissimo Promenade progressive lunch at Sunshine Beach; forums with political and media commentators; and Queensland Youth Orchestra 2 at Bicentennail Hall on Saturday.
Sing along to your favourite Fleetwood Mac songs as popular festival performer and ambassador Catherine Alcorn (pictured) brings her show Go Your Own Way to The J Theatre on Thursday 24 July - it's a comical celebration of the life and success of “the other woman” in Fleetwood Mac, Christine McVie. CLICK HERE for a sneak peek at the show.
The free Heritage Walks in various villages in the Noosa region are popular each year - still to come are walks through the historical town of Eumundi (Thursday 24 July), Cooran (Friday 25 July), Cooroy (Saturday 26 July) and Kin Kin (Sunday 27 July) – all in the Noosa hinterland.
A bonus for anyone who’s attended any festival events is the Up The Lazy River promotion – just present your performance ticket and receive great discounts or bonuses at participating restaurants along Gympie Tce, Noosaville, and soak up the gorgeous river views. Also make sure you try at least one of the six Cocktail Capers created especially for the festival by some of our favourite Hastings Street venues - my favourite so far is 10 Hastings Street Cafe’s Hang 10 cocktail!
The festival has also added a splash of colour with the gorgeous Hastings Street tree lit with special red festival lighting, and a fabulous street parade that kicked everything off last Friday, featuring the 22-piece Unusual Suspects who also entertained the opening night crowd with their Balkan Gypsy music.
And for some great candid shots of festival performers from the past 13 years, make sure you see the retrospective photographic exhibition from long-time festival photographer Barry Alsop from Eyes Wide Open Images – free in the foyer of The J Noosa, 10am-4pm every day.
For the full program or to purchase tickets to Noosa Long Weekend Festival events, please see noosalongweekend.com.au
Some were regular visitors to Noosa, some hadn’t been here for some time, and for others, it was their first time to Noosa.
From food, cocktails and accommodation to Noosa National Park walks, shopping, spa treatments, cooking classes, beach yoga, sunsets and breakfast right on Noosa Main Beach (pictured), one thing they seem to have in common – they all loved their trip to Noosa!
Here are links to just a few of their stories and photos that having been lighting up the blogosphere...
Styling You: Sunshine Coast Top Things to do.
Baby Mac: Great Day in Noosa.
Mr and Mrs Romance: The Ultimate Winter Getaway and Romance Recharge.
The Noosa Festival of Surfing earlier this year brought back great memories for New Zealander Leigh Vercoe who is quite possibly Noosa’s biggest fan. Leigh (pictured) and her family, including her three children aged 10, 2½ and eight months are regular visitors to Noosa, and we caught up with her on a recent holiday to find out just why she loves Noosa so much.
What first enticed you to visit the Noosa region?
I first came to Noosa three years ago to visit friends who were here for the Noosa Festival of Surfing. I had always holidayed on the Gold Coast before that but I’ve never been back there since! I was hooked on Noosa from the get-go.
This is my second trip back to Noosa since then – I holiday here as much as possible. We even lived in Noosa for 6 months before we had to go back to New Zealand to sell our home but we hope to move back to Noosa soon.
What made you fall in love with Noosa?
The great service that you receive everywhere is incredibly refreshing – people seem so happy in their jobs.
The Noosa Festival of Surfing is also a big drawcard for me – I love catching the Noosa Ferry to Hastings Street when the festival is on. The atmosphere is unreal!
Do you ever explore the Noosa Hinterland?
We have gone on several day trips around the hinterland and it’s a beautiful region – so close to everything but you still feel like you are a million miles away.
Where is your favourite place to stay in Noosa?
We’re staying in a holiday home this time but I also love staying at Coral Beach Resort in Noosaville – it’s fantastic and so central to the river, restaurants and shops which is great for the whole family.
What are you favourite Noosa spots?
There are so many! I love the Noosa Marina Markets on a Sunday morning. In terms of dining, my favourites for brunch and great smoothies are Café Vin Cino at Noosa Marina as well as Raw Energy along Gympie Terrace, Noosaville. For larger meals you will most likely find me at Noosa Heads Surf Life Saving Club, Bistro C or the Rump House Restaurant at Noosa Marina.
What else do you enjoy in Noosa?
We’re going to visit Australia Zoo and are heading to Aussie World – the kids can’t wait!
I log into the Noosa surf cams when I’m back home to see everyone out on the beach and in the glistening water – and it’s only 8.30am! It always makes me wish I was back in Noosa.
Watching the XXXX Summer Beach Bar taking shape on Noosa’s Main Beach this week for the Noosa Festival of Surfing which gets under way tomorrow brings back great memories of last year’s festival fun. Come this weekend, we’ll be there again for the best view in town of world surfing champions, old-school longboarding, watermen, surfing dogs, groms, stand-up paddling and plenty more. And with two major Coral Sea low pressure systems looking set to dominate swell conditions over the first two weeks of March, contestants are in for a great ride.
The Noosa Festival of Surfing, with more than 500 entries from around Australia and overseas including USA, Mexico, Portugal, France, Canada, Indonesia, Japan and New Zealand, is the world’s biggest surfing festival, and sitting on the rocks at First Point or at the beach bar is the best seat in the world for those eight days (that’s a big call but there’s always something so magical about this event).
Surfing legends in town include world champions Layne Beachley, Tom Carroll, , Rabbit Bartholomew and Wendy Botha, shaping gurus Bob McTavish and Simon Anderson, and Hawaii’s 1970s superstar Nancy Emerson.
The Backpacker Challenge this weekend has brought novice surfing backpackers to Noosa to learn to surf in the perfect, safe conditions.
From backpackers to bow-wows, the surfing dogs workshop is at Dog Beach, Noosa Woods from 8am this Saturday 8 March. The “best in show” will take to the waves at First Point from 2.30pm on Saturday in what is always a favourite spectator event.
So grab your spot on the rocks of First Point or at the Beach Bar and enjoy the action – see noosafestivalofsurfing.com for daily schedules. If you’re not in Noosa this week for the festival, there’s four hours a day of live action webcast through Swellnet.com
It’s the last day of summer and while some of us are wishing we’d spent more time on our tans or perfecting our surf stance, there’s still plenty of sunshine left in Noosa.
I always wish there’d been more time for swimming and sunset drinks at the beach after work (after all, it’s been 8 days since my last swim...) but it’s almost like an endless summer here in Noosa, so no complaints at all.
The swimming all year round in Noosa is beautiful, winter days are gorgeous with crisp blue skies and clear waters, and all the activities you love in Noosa in summer are just as great at other times of the year: stand-up paddling, kayaking, boating, sky-diving, beach horse riding, surfing, bike riding, bush walking, kite surfing and climbing a hinterland mountain!
Speaking of surfing and Endless Summer, can you believe the movie of the same name that many people think is the best surf movie made is 50 years old? One of the original stars, U.S. surfer Robert August will be a special guest at this year’s Noosa Festival of Surfing on Friday 14 March for a 50th anniversary screening of the movie that follows two young surfers around the world in search of the perfect wave. He’ll do a live narration for the free screening on the beach at First Point, Noosa Heads from 6.30pm.
There’ll be more about the Festival of Surfing next week but the world’s biggest longboard surfing festival is going to be a week of amazing surfing and fantastic spectator action – from dogs to beginner backpackers and world champions to groms.
So make sure you head out see the last sunset of summer and have a toast to bring on autumn!
It’s hard to pass by a gorgeous beach, great coffee and cocktails, restaurants with killer views and a cool surfie scene – that’s why Sunshine Beach, just on the southern side of Noosa National Park headland and a few minutes from Noosa’s Main Beach and Hastings Street is a locals’ favourite. Our guest blogger from “After L Comes ...” recently visited Noosa from Canberra and also fell in love with Sunshine Beach, among other Noosa favourites...
After a massive year my soul, body, mind and spirit were in mega need of a big fat break. Two weeks in Noosa ended up being just what the doctor ordered.
The in-laws booked a pet-friendly house a walk from Sunshine Beach, which is right next to Noosa. We were blessed with perfect, sunny weather and spent most of the time at the beach, eating or sleeping. Here are some of the highlights for this Canberran:
More chilled than its neighbour, Sunshine Beach is a gem surrounded by mansions and apartments tucked between the trees. The best part for animal lovers is the dog-friendly section up the north end - paradise of friendly pooches, families, warm water and happy vibes. Further down the beach is the patrolled area with access from the strip of yummy cafés and restaurants. The Surf Club has a killer view from the ocean on the deck and serves affordable feeds. For a special treat check out Embassy XO for yummy dumplings and Chinese inspired food. Embassy XO's service and interiors are both lovely.
I was lucky enough to catch up with a life-long friend during my stay at Sunshine Beach. As our holiday house was packed to the rafters, we escaped for a night down the road to Dolphins Beach House. For $90 a night we got our own private room with ensuite, flat screen TV, air con and balcony. This establishment has a tropical and colourful charm with a killer location. Highly recommend this place if you are after an affordable stay.
Noosa Main Beach
This is what all the fuss is about. You can spend a whole day here, sun baking, swimming, making sandcastles, perving, surfing, eating, drinking milkshakes, shopping in Hastings Street and exploring the National Park. It is so darn pretty and full of life. You may come across a celebrity or two and will leave dreaming of lottery wins so you can relocate. I also recommend doing a cruise along the Noosa River to check out the man-made beauties competing against nature for the biggest jaw drops. You might even see Richard Branson on his island.
Famous for the huge markets and hippie charm, Eumundi is a short drive from Noosa and the perfect way to spend a morning and lunch. The markets are held on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Try to get in early because traffic and parking can be hectic. For brunch I recommend Bohemian Bungalow for its quirky atmosphere and delicious vegetarian and organic dishes.
4WD at Noosa North Shore
For adventurous types, go 4WDing and camping along Noosa North Shore. I had a great time driving along the beach – such a great experience with the stunning ocean on one side and the coloured sands on the other. So there you have it, some tips if you ever find yourself experiencing Nirvana in Noosa!
Read more from After L Comes ...
Australia’s Best Job in the World – Queensland Park Ranger winner Elisa Detrez has just finished her six-month stint travelling around, exploring our natural wonders and sharing her experiences with the rest of the world (and getting paid to do it!). Elisa loved her job so much that she will now remain a life-long tourism ambassador for Queensland. She chose to spend her first Aussie Christmas in Noosa with her family where they discovered the wonderful mix of nature, wildlife, style and good food.
Thanks to Elisa, here's a taste of her experiences during her Noosa holiday.
Enjoy the Aussie lifestyle – beach, barbecue: Noosa is right on the beach but lies also on the Noosa River. Here you have the opportunity to kayak or stand up paddle gently on the river, enjoy a barbecue or a picnic and then go for a play in the surf breaks in the afternoon in one of the beaches around the town.
Experience a laid back lifestyle centred around pristine beaches, freshwater rivers and lakes. Meet friendly people, go fishing or simply relax on the beach.
Finish the day in style by boarding the sunset ferry cruise and enjoy a perfect pre-dinner experience.
Learn to surf Noosa: One of the Australian clichés is surfing and Noosa is actually the perfect place to give it a try and stand up! Learn from a former world surf champion, Merrick Davis and you will be sure to have fun!
After your class, enjoy a beer and a nice lunch with the best beach view in town at Australian Surf Life Saving Club of the year, Noosa Heads Surf Club.
Beautiful National Park: Noosa National Park is the most popular and visited in Queensland. Follow a choice of easy and moderate tracks that take you around the headland following the coastline through rainforest and open woodlands.
Expect spectacular views from the several lookouts along the way such as Boiling Pot and Hell’s Gate. Adorable wild koalas frequent the gum trees along the walk so observe carefully and you may be lucky!
Out to sea, you could also spot rays, sea turtles, dolphins at sunset and humpback whales during their migration. A walk you will remember!
Best youth hostel in Australia: If you are a backpacker travelling the country, don’t look any further for a place to stay in Noosa, book at Halse Lodge! Only 100m from the main beach, Halse Lodge is a typical Queensland house. The staff are cheerful and here you will be warmly welcomed. Enjoy a nice dinner on the terrace or simply a fresh beer!
Shop and dine in style: To all the shopping lovers, you will adore Hastings Street! From surfers to high class clothes, it’s a pleasure to stroll around. Allow some breaks and taste the ice creams … Nitrogenie for the most curious, Gelatissimo or Copenhagen.
The street is also full of nice cafes ... on the beach, cosy or more laid back, you will find your favourite place.
Finish the day by dining out in one of the chic restaurants. Italian, seafood, Japanese, fine dining … the most difficult is to choose one!
CLICK HERE to read Elisa’s full blog about her holiday in Noosa.
My dream is that one day I will be so organised for Christmas that I can spend the last couple of days beforehand just soaking up the wonderful atmosphere in Noosa – the gorgeous weather, sparkling ocean, beautiful Christmas lights, the buzz of shopping and the sipping of cocktails to celebrate the festive season ... one day.
With summer holidays in full swing here in Noosa, there are plenty of people doing just that already and I’ll be joining them very soon. With so much outdoor fun – beaches, fishing, kayaking, surfing, stand-up paddling, kite surfing, national park walks, boating – you might wonder how you’ll fit it all in. Even with the relaxed pace, somehow you manage to find time, in between waterfront breakfasts, relaxed lunches and fine dining or fish and chips at the end of the day.
Make sure there’s still time for holiday fun with Christmas Eve carols at Peregian Beach, festive feasts on Christmas Day, and New Year’s Eve fireworks at Noosa Marina – see our Noosa Festive Season Guide for a great round-up of what’s on.
There’s no need to get caught up in the big, mad Boxing Day sales – after Christmas (or even before) Noosa is the ideal place to stroll around and find fantastic last-minute gifts, stock up for next year or just to spoil yourself. Our markets from Coolum to Peregian, Noosa Marina, Eumundi and Kin Kin have an amazing range of locally-made, unique and gorgeous products.
Hastings Street is renowned for its unique stores with gifts, jewellery and designs, including Hearts and Mind Art; Jive Art and Design; gorgeous jewellery from Armano Collections, Secrets Shhh and Pearls for Girls; or browse the books at Mary Ryan Bookstore Noosa.
Venture to Noosaville where you can spend the day looking through riverfront gift shops, boutiques and more along Gympie Tce and Thomas Street, including Coco & Bliss, or the Gateway Drive precinct with designer outlets including Spoilt where there are amazing bargains on jewellery, accessories and fashion.
Noosa Junction, just over the hill from Hastings Street is another favourite for locals with great boutiques and something different such as beautiful beachy gifts and shell art workshops at Tres Noosa, and gorgeous collectibles at George Magasic Antiques. If you love shells, make sure you track down The Big Shell, a treasure trove of shells and gifts in Gympie Street, Tewantin.
There’s also plenty of great surf gear from surf shops around Noosa including Classic Malibu, Golden Breed, Noosa Longboards and Noosa Surf Works.
While you’re at the markets in Eumundi, make sure you explore the wonderful, eclectic shops including Berkelouw Books in the main street before a refreshing drink or meal at the Imperial Hotel or Bohemian Bungalow.
And the best thing about shopping anywhere around Noosa, apart from the beautiful buys to take home, is that no matter where you are there’s always a great coffee or cocktail nearby to help restore your energy.
We wish all our visitors and Noosa lovers a happy and safe Christmas and holiday season.