I recently had the privilege of travelling up the beautiful Noosa River on-board The Discovery Group's boat to the Noosa Everglades - it's probably one of the best "hidden secrets" of the Noosa region.
The voyage north started at The Discovery Jetty on Gympie Terrace, in the heart of Noosaville and only 5 minutes from Hastings Street and Noosa Heads. From the moment I arrived, I was met with outstanding service from the staff and boat skipper Ben. We made our way past Noosa Marina and Sir Richard Branson's Makepeace Island, and crossed Lake Cooroibah and Lake Cootharaba, all at impressive speed.
The skipper filled us with interesting facts, information and even an old folk story which was one of the many highlights of the trip. Once we reached the mystical tannin waters of the Noosa Everglades, we were greeted with amazing views in this part of the Great Sandy National Park that teems with wildlife.
The voyage then reached the single most picturesque part of the Noosa River, the Narrows. Here are just a few of the images I captured along the way.
Looking south on Lake Cootharaba.
Between Lake Cooroibah and Cootharaba
This cheeky little dude tried to steal our afternoon tea!
The stunning Narrows, on the way to Harry’s Hut.
Moored at Harry’s Hut jetty.
Eastward view of Lake Cootharaba.
Harry’s Hut, marked by this sign on the wharf.
The way to Lake Como.
The tannin waters of the Everglades... in the Narrows.
Ahhh, what a perfect view...
The mystical Noosa Everglades in all its glory - easy to see how they earned the name ‘river of mirrors’.
The Noosa Everglades is an absolutely breath-taking place and one of only two everglades systems in the world - these are the only everglades you can swim in. If you go, make sure you take a camera and don’t forget to #visitnoosa.
There's a range of ways to discover the Noosa Everglades - from the comfort of a half-day boat cruise from Noosaville to a self-guided canoeing and camping safari.
Noosa Everglades Discovery offers a BBQ lunch cruise, afternoon cruise with pick-up from Hastings Street and Noosaville, Bar-B-Canoe day tour; and a 3-day/2-night self-guided canoeing and camping safari.
Kanu Kapers offers half, full-day and 2 and 3-day guided kayaking tours or take yourself on a 1, 2 or 3-day self-guided kayaking adventure and camp in this unspoilt winderness.
For more information please call the Noosa Visitor Information Centre on 1 3000 NOOSA (within Australia) or 07 5430 5000 (outside Australia), email email@example.com or see visitnoosa.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.
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.
The original Noosa backpackers were the surfers of the 1960s and 1970s who made their way up the East Coast and stayed to enjoy the amazing breaks off Noosa National Park – they must have felt like they had found Heaven.
Back to the awards ... travellers voted in the national awards, showing their appreciation of Noosa’s adventurous and fun spirit. They also voted the National Trust-listed Halse Lodge YHA Guest House in Noosa Heads as the Best Hostel in Queensland and Best Hostel in Australia. Dropbear Adventures which runs Fraser Island tours from Noosa was a finalist in the Best Tour Operator in Australia category.
Halse Lodge (pictured) is one of five backpacker hostels in Noosa – the others, which are also great are Noosa Flashpackers and Dolphins Beach House in Sunshine Beach, Nomads Noosa in Noosa Heads and Noosa Backpacker Resort in Noosaville.
The adventurous spirit I mentioned earlier comes in so many forms in Noosa – from swimming, surfing, snorkelling, walking and running in Noosa National Park which is only a few minutes’ walk from Halse Lodge, to abseiling Mt Tinbeerwah in Tewantin National Park, kite-boarding, kayaking, beach horse riding, jet-skiing, skydiving, hiking, sailing, mountain biking and so much more.
Australia Zoo, World Heritage-listed Fraser Island and the Noosa Everglades (one of only 2 everglades systems in the world) are right on our doorstep, and there are plenty of great places to eat, drink, party and shop, including some of Australia’s best markets.
For a taste of some of the great experiences on offer in Noosa, CLICK HERE to see the latest Backpack Noosa video, like Backpack Noosa on Facebook or see backpacknoosa.com.au
And to get an idea of why so many people voted Halse Lodge Guest House as the best in Australia, we’ll share the experience of travel blogger and Best Job in the World Travel Guru Winner Sam, from Sam’s Wanderful Life blog, who earlier this year added Halse Lodge to her bucket list. Sam, from Canada, calls the gorgeous hostel her “home away from home”:
“The hostel creates an environment for their guests that is extremely welcoming and friendly. Halse Lodge ensured that dining and entertainment throughout a backpacker’s stay was a top priority.
“I can’t even express enough how appreciative and welcome I felt here. It was incredible and I wish I could have stayed there a lot longer. The atmosphere when sitting in the common area during breakfast was perfect. The sun was shining, the birds were chirping and I was just happy.
“I couldn’t help but smile as I looked out and saw how beautiful of a view Halse Lodge had from the top of the hill. It really doesn’t surprise me that Halse Lodge has the ability to stop travellers in their tracks and convince them to stay a few extra days, weeks or months before they feel ready to leave this magical place.
“It’s a place like no other, and you definitely should add this to Your Bucket List when travelling the East Coast of Australia.”
CLICK HERE to read Sam’s full blog about Halse Lodge and her stay in Noosa.
I simply never get sick of the view from the Noosa boardwalk. On the walk to Noosa National Park from Main Beach I always stop and stare in amazement as though it's the very first time I have seen it – there are so many spectacular views.
With so much natural beauty to photograph I often find it hard to stick to the task of walking. It's hard not to feel connected to the beauty of nature when on a walk through Noosa – it truly is a photographer's paradise and this walk provides many stunning photo opportunities.
This is one of the first walks we love to bring guests from out of town on, as it wonderfully showcases the exquisiteness of the unique Noosa coastline.
Start from the boardwalk along Noosa Main Beach and check out the surfing or paddle board action at First Point. Viewing platforms along the way offer magical photo opportunities of the beach, coastline and across to Noosa North Shore.
This is also a great spot for snapping fantastic surfing pictures if the swell is running.
The walk is all the more refreshing with plenty of shade from bushes that hug the coastline.
It is perfect to do at a fast pace for fitness or as a slow meander to simply take in the gorgeous surroundings, and is a fabulous activity for the family to do with plenty of flora and fauna to spot including dolphins, whales (in season), turtles, wallabies and goanna.
While it may wear your little ones out, it isn't too difficult for them to tackle.
With stunning ocean views pretty much all the way, the boardwalk is a must for anyone who visits Noosa.
- For more Noosa favourites from our Guest Noosa Blogger Heather Woods, see My Ocean Bliss.
Even with the best coaching, dog surfing is never going to be more than a spectator sport in my household!
Tucker, my much loved arthritic corgi, is so height challenged he makes a 2ft swell look like a 50ft monster. That just about rules out the doggie surfing basics workshop at Noosa River mouth on Sunday March 10 for us but don’t let it stop you.
With a few doggie surfing basics under his collar, your pooch might be a winner in Noosa Festival of Surfing’s Dog Surf Spectacular that afternoon (click on image below for some great dog-surfing action).
Noosa Festival of Surfing is running from March 10-16 at Noosa’s First Point - that’s the spot where the surfers congregate that you can see to the right of Main Beach.
My partner, K2, is a Noosa surfer of long standing. He remembers the days when Noosa’s main street was lined with ordinary houses. True.
I think he would really enjoy the festival event, Like a Cup of Tea with God – the rich surfing history of Noosa and the Sunshine Coast, presented in words, music, movies, photographs and art.
And a surf movie on the beach? How good is that! Expect heart-stopping big wave riding on the beach screen from 6-9pm on Monday March 11 with Nightrider featuring Mark Visser, Storm Surfers featuring Tom Carroll and Ross Clarke Jones, with Mark, Tom and Ross in conversation live on stage.
They have more than a few big names signed up this year, names that even I recognise like seven-times world champion Layne Beachley, four-times world champion Mark Richards, two-times world champion Tom Carroll, world champion Rabbit Bartholomew, two-times world longboard champion Joel Tudor, world longboard champion Josh Constable, big wave heroes Ross Clarke Jones and Mark Visser and surfboard design gurus Simon Anderson and Bob McTavish.
Well maybe I don’t know about the surfboard designers…but I bet K2 does.
The world’s biggest surfboard riding event, the Noosa Festival of Surfing, celebrates its 22nd anniversary this year with more than 20 pro, amateur, specialty and team surfing events plus free entertainment on a beach stage and the surf expo on the sand.
The festival, which raised more than $8000 for Frangipani Dreams and the Noosa Malibu Club’s youth development scheme in 2012, will again donate bar profits to charity and community benefit organisations.
On-line competitor entries in amateur divisions, with age groups from under 15 to over 65 are open, along with specialty, team and professional events.
The festival expects to attract more than 500 competitors, along with up to 5000 supporters and spectators from all over the world.
Our Guest Noosa Blogger is Kerry Heaney, from the Eat, Drink + be Kerry blog.
Fun, fitness and beach are three wonderful things that go together beautifully, and here in Noosa we have them in abundance. They come together at Main Beach in Noosa this Sunday for a ripping finale to the Kelloggs Nutri-Grain IronMan series for 2013 when the iron giants face off to see who will be crowned IronMan and IronWoman champions.
It’s been a summer of amazing feats and it all comes down to the wire this Sunday. Recognised as one of the greatest IronMen of all time, six-times winner Shannon Eckstein is one victory away from breaking the event record and the odds are in his favour – he only needs to place in the top eight to take out his seventh championship.Ready to rain on his parade are Sunshine Coasters Kendrick Louis, in second place, and Ali Day not far behind. I saw Ali at a media conference in Noosa this week and he’s pumped to take out his maiden win of the series.
Also at the conference were Noosa’s Jordan ‘Magic’ Mercer and Alyssa Bull from Alexandra Headland, on the Sunshine Coast. All three athletes were eyeing off the swell that has come to Noosa’s shores this week. Naomi Flood leads the women’s series, with Courtney Hancock a paddle length behind.
Jordan (pictured right - photo courtesy of Paul Smith Images) will be in contention for another podium place this Sunday – and the Noosa spectators will be cheering her on. Jordan told us why she loves Noosa:
“Noosa Heads is a little place of paradise which I am so blessed to be able to enjoy every day of my life. Its natural beauty inspires me to live an exciting fit and healthy lifestyle. I love how Noosa has a perfect balance between relaxation and an amazing hype when it hosts world-renowned festivals all year round.
"For a professional athlete like myself, Noosa is an ideal destination for just about any training. It has amazing facilities as well as natural wonders like the National Park where I can run for hours and enjoy breathtaking views while exploring its many wonderful trails.
"It really isn't so painful training 20 hours a week and cooling off in the crystal clear ocean! I love paddling my board and ski around the famous points of Noosa. It is my favourite place in the whole world.”
And what’s great about Noosa?
"Absolutely everything! I am so lucky to live and train here. I can not imagine living anywhere else. You may think I sound a little biased but I invite you all to visit Noosa and experience it for yourself!”
The Telstra IronWoman race starts at 11.30am. The Junior series is from 12.30pm and the Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain IronMan race is from 1.30pm.
If you’re not in Noosa this weekend, see all the action on Network Ten from 1pm (AEST), with replays on One HD (check your local guide)
Tucking into fish and chips by the Noosa River with friends last week, talk turned to the best times of day. Here are some of our favourites that together would make up an ideal day in Noosa ...
An early morning run along the Noosa National Park coastal track, arriving at Alexandria Bay with the sun sparkling on the water is a stunning start to the day. I’ll take my friend’s word on this as I’m more of a sunset person than sunrise, but apparently the thing to do after an early swim, walk or run is to grab a coffee from the Sails Restaurant takeaway cart facing Noosa’s Main Beach, or head to breakfast at Bistro C or berardo’s on the beach.
We couldn't pass up the thought of shopping – step off the beach and on to Hastings Street or stroll along Gympie Tce and Thomas St at Noosaville, dotted with lovely homeware stores and boutiques.
A bucket of prawns and cold beer at lunchtime, perched on a bar stool on the deck at Noosa Heads Surf Club, looking right over Noosa beach is a favourite way to escape the midday sun.
If it’s Sunday, a drive to the Noosa hinterland is on the cards with a stop for a macaron on the way at Maison de Provence in Cooroy (Adriano Zumbo dropped in there before Christmas). If we’ve booked ahead, it’s off to a spit roast lunch at the Apollonian Hotel in Boreen Point.
Another locals’ favourite on a Sunday is the Peregian Markets in the morning (1st and 3rd Sundays), then stay on for the Peregian Originals free outdoor concerts in the park (1st Sunday of the month). On the way home, stop in at Sunshine Beach Surf Club for live music on the deck to wind down the weekend.
A list of favourites has to include ice cream – at any time of day. My long-time favourite is Massimo’s in Hastings St (pink grapefruit sorbet really wakes you up) or I head to Amo Gelato on Gympie Tce for their decadent Belgian chocolate or amazing liquorice ice cream.
As I mentioned earlier, my favourite time of day is sunset – it’s harder to decide what my favourite activity is. If we’re feeling energetic, the family heads out for a paddle on Weyba Creek – two in a canoe, one on a kayak and one on a stand-up paddle board. We count the stingrays as they flick past and glide over to watch the flying fox colony stir for their dusk departure. Weyba Creek is one of our true hidden gems – overhanging tree trunks reflecting in the waters, birds nestled in hidden passage-ways through mangroves and the old bridge from where you can catch fish from a great height.
If we’re not feeling so energetic, it’s a quiet moment with a bottle of bubbles at Noosa Spit to catch the sun set behind the mountains, or a cocktail at Season Restaurant overlooking Laguna Bay.
And for the final word: Any time in Noosa is paradise.
There is something nostalgic about traditional wooden boats and steam boats with memories of a bygone era – so I am really looking forward to heading down to the Noosa River on Saturday 27th October for a picnic with family and friends to watch the Noosa Classic Boat Regatta.
The Regatta features traditional wood motor or steam powered boats, putt putts and classic pre-70s motor boats with pre-70s power and traditional wood sail boats and really is a beautiful sight to see.
If you want to get up close, why not head to the Noosa Marina in the morning to admire the gorgeous boats before they head out for the Regatta and if you are one of the lucky owners of a classic pre-70s boat, why not register and enjoy the fun!