While I am not usually what you might call a romantic, there is something special about sitting on the beach, watching a bride and groom take their vows surrounded by Mother Nature in Noosa. Most weekends on a Noosa beach there are barefoot brides, bridesmaids with high heels in hand and grooms with trouser legs rolled up.
If they are not getting married on the beach, they are having their photos taken with the stunning backdrop of Laguna Bay and Noosa National Park, or on their way to a beachfront restaurant reception. Even the encroaching tide never seems to worry the bridal party at a Noosa wedding.
One of the loveliest beach wedding scenes I've seen was at Little Cove, a gorgeous bay just to the east of Noosa's Main Beach, where the female guests had placed their bejewelled, strappy and colourful stilettos in a neat, heart-shaped arrangement on the sand while they joined the happy couple at the water's edge. Dolphins even joined the party, playing in close to shore.
I recently read that more than 60% of weddings on the Sunshine Coast take place in public spaces - I'm sure that figure is higher in the Noosa region, with the choice of locations covering beach, foreshore, river (especially Noosa Marina where the boardwalk and jetties provide a perfect setting before a riverfront restaurant reception), lakes, hinterland B&Bs and country parklands. There's even a magnificent Greek-style amphitheatre surrounded by a lake and the Noosa Botanic Gardens, complete with rose arbour - or Makepeace Island.
I must admit that most weddings I've dropped in on have a glorious sunset backdrop, although I've heard that sunrise is also popular ... and thanks to the wonderful geography of the Noosa region, there's a picture-perfect backdrop at any time of day.
If I were arranging my wedding over again (enough time has passed so the thought of it no longer ties my stomach in knots) it would have to be in Noosa and it would have to involve a gondola (did I say I wasn’t romantic?) or the Noosa Ferry or 1940s-inspired classic wooden power boat. Then there’s always a cool convertible, 1950s Bentley, limousines …
If you're in Brisbane next weekend and thinking of wedding bells, head along to the Queensland Brides Wedding and Honeymoon Expo at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre, South Bank (March 22-24), and look for the Noosa Weddings stand - you'll find out why so many brides and grooms love a Noosa wedding.
I had to laugh yesterday afternoon when we were coming off the beach all wet and sandy and found ourselves sharing the path with a bridge and groom, all dressed up and carrying their shoes in the hands.
It was, of course, Valentine's Day, so there were probably lots of people tying the knot, but it still seems bizarre when you're there in your swimmers and carrying a boogie board.
I saw some stats on Noosa weddings a while ago and while I can't remember the details, I recall thinking that it equated to one wedding per day on the beach alone, without taking into account all the venues and other locations around town.
There was a couple in the local paper earlier in the week who had come all the way from England to get married here on Valentine's Day - and the groom had never even been here before.
I can understand the attraction though, it is a beautiful place to get married and have your wedding photos taken. And probably a good way to leave some annoying relatives behind!
(Image courtesy Phill Jackson Photography)
If you're interested in art, head up to the Butter Factory Arts Centre in Cooroy before March 10 to see a touring exhibition of works from the 2011 Queensland Regional Art Awards. It features works from both established and emerging artists from regional Queensland and they're open Tuesday to Saturday from 10am to 4pm, with free entry.
I don't think I've written much about Cooroy in this blog before but it's one of the hinterland towns of Noosa and quite an appealing place, with a thriving artistic community. It also has the Noosa Botanic Gardens, which are well worth a visit, especially if you're not all that familiar with tropical plants.
If you miss the exhibition at Cooroy, there are plenty of other galleries around Noosa and Eumundi, including the Noosa Regional Gallery, pictured, (which has great programs for kids in the school holidays), located near the marina in Tewantin, and some excellent indigenous art galleries in Noosa Junction and Eumundi.
Noosa Queensland, Eumundi Queensland
In honour of the annual influx of top golfers and golf fans, the resort's spa has launched a 'Quirogolf' massage, where you get massaged by golf balls. It's supposed to provide great release, through the rolling action of the balls -and it's got to be more enjoyable than chasing them around a golf course.
The spa is also bringing in an 'oxygen bubble', which will only be available next week. The dome-style structure apparently allows you to have a facial or body treatment while breathing in 99.99 per cent pure air, free of any pollutants, bacteria or allergens.
So, there you go, everything you ever wanted to know about golf!
Noosa Qld, Coolum Qld
For a long time now, we've been watching the development of a huge African Savannah area at Australia Zoo - and finally it's ready to open.
The African area, which will be home to animals including zebra, rhinos and giraffe, will open on September 17, just in time for the school holidays in Queensland. Zoo visitors will be driven around the area in a safari shuttle, which will be included in the normal zoo entry price, and one of the star attractions will be the baby rhino in this picture. Isn't he absolutely adorable??
Gee it's been a long school term, hasn't it? My kids are really ready for a break. (And they're counting the days until they get chocolate!)
If you're heading to Noosa for the Easter holidays, can I suggest it's a great place to get some family photos done. There are loads of top photographers here and so many beautiful settings, including beaches, parks and hinterland areas.
We had some family photos done by one of the local snappers a while ago and they were mostly taken down at Little Cove, where you have the beach, rocks and views across Laguna Bay. The kids thought it was great fun and the pictures are gorgeous.
I've been getting a lot of calls from people wondering how Noosa has fared in the terrible floods that are affecting Queensland, but we have been so lucky. Noosa and surrounding areas such as Coolum and Eumundi have been relatively unscathed, with only some localised flooding and the odd road closure.
Sunshine Coast Airport and most other services have been operating throughout and the rain seems to have pretty much stopped now, so we have been incredibly fortunate.
My thoughts are with the people of Brisbane, Ipswich, Toowoomba, the Lockyer Valley, Chinchilla and other affected areas, who are facing challenges that most of us couldn't begin to comprehend. Let's hope many more people are found safe over coming days.
Did you know that Noosa has botanic gardens? (Don't worry, I didn't either for ages!)
They're on the shores of Lake Macdonald, about half an hour's drive from Noosa, via Tewantin - look for the signs on the road to Cooroy. They're beautiful tropical gardens, with lots of unusual plants, and it's a great place for a picnic, especially at this time of year.
They have outdoor concerts there from time to time - I'd love to go to one of those. You can get married there, too, if you're planning a Noosa wedding.
If you're planning a Noosa wedding, The Plantation retreat in the Noosa hinterland is hosting a 'Luxury Wedding Soiree' on July 18, from 10am to 3pm.
It will be unlike your typical wedding expo, in that you get to just relax in the beautiful surrounds of the retreat and get a taste of the food, music, styling and other aspects you could choose for your wedding.
The Plantation is near Cooroy, about 20 minutes from Noosa Heads, and caters for weddings of up to 150 people, with accommodation for up to 16. If you want to go along on July 18, send an email with your name, contact number, preferred wedding date and approximate number of guests to email@example.com.
I promise this is the last time I'll mention the Mayfiesta competition (you'll thank me if you win!), but it reminded me to tell you about Skydive Ramblers, which does fantastic tandem skydive jumps just outside Noosa.
You land on the sand at Coolum Beach, about 10 minutes south of Noosa, and if you get a clear day you can see the entire Sunshine Coast, right up to Fraser Island. I did a jump with them recently and it was absolutely awesome. You don't realise how many beaches, waterways and tracts of natural bushland Noosa has until you see it from up there.