Noosa is a timeless destination for escapees from Brisbane, thanks to its combination of natural beauty and cosmopolitan dining and shopping. It's good for a romantic weekend, family break or for groups of friends, any time of year.
It's about a 90-minute drive up the Bruce Highway and Sunshine Motorway to Noosa Heads
, but get away early on Friday to escape the traffic if you can. If you're not in a hurry, take the Coolum Beach
turnoff and drive up the coast road for great views. It doesn't take much longer and is a good way to get into holiday mode.
When you get there
If you arrive in the daylight, you can't go past the Noosa Heads Surf Lifesaving Club
for a Friday afternoon drink. If you haven't been there for a while, you won't recognise it; they have completely refurbished it and expanded the deck so there's now no doubt it has the best view in town.
If you arrive in the dark, try Laguna Jacks (just the other side of the roundabout) for a drink instead, and save the surf club for tomorrow. Laguna Jacks is popular with locals and visitors on Friday and Saturday nights and serves good wines, cocktails and teppanyaki dishes, along with its own boutique beer.
If you want to kick on, you'll find a lively crowd back at the surf club, or a sophisticated, cocktail-swilling crowd at the quirky and exclusive Flamingo Club (phone (07) 5448 0588) think velvet sofas, chandeliers and lots and lots of pink. You'll find the entrance next to the Secrets jewellery shop in the Bay Village buzz and do your best to look cool.
Set off for a morning walk through the Noosa National Park
, keeping an eye out for koalas. You can follow the coastal path around to Hell's Gate
and the unofficial nudist beach at Alexandria Bay
or take the Tanglewood Track
across the headland and climb to the top of the hill for great views.
Spend the afternoon stretched out on Main Beach and wandering the shops of Hastings Street. The Surf Club is a good spot for lunch or try Aromas (phone (07) 5474 9788) or Café Le Monde for a casual meal.
In the evening, have a drink at Cato's bar at the base of the Sheraton on Hastings Street; people watching spots don't get much better than this. Or for somewhere a bit quieter, make your way through the Sheraton to the more intimate River Lounge and have a chat to Eric, the very French and very friendly barman.
Then comes the almost impossible task of choosing somewhere to eat. Ma Mensa does great Italian, Bistro C has excellent food and for cheap eats, try Zachary's pizza bar.
If you're up for some dancing, the place to go is Rolling Rock nightclub, upstairs at Bay Village. They have guest DJs on Saturday nights and the place is always packed.
, on the corner of Hastings Street and Noosa Drive, does a great breakfast, whether you want something healthy or a big plate of bacon and eggs. I love their bircher muesli with berry compote, or the breakfast bruschetta with mascarpone and strawberries yum.
If you can drag yourself away from the beach, jump on a ferry or put on your walking legs and head to the Noosa River for the day.
The river esplanade has a long walking and cycling track and Gympie Terrace is lined with cafes and eateries. Red Emperor (phone (07) 5449 0914) does the best fish and chips and Grind (phone (07) 5449 8833) has the best coffee.
If you have kids, keep going until you reach the "pirate playground", on the banks of the river at the far end of Gympie Terrace, towards Tewantin. It's a good place to sit and watch the boats go by while the kids wear themselves out.
Where to stay
For budget accommodation, the Halse Lodge YHA
is really well located, just behind Hastings Street, and has private rooms as well as dorm beds.
For mid-range, try the Noosa Heads Motel, which is very new and modern and located about halfway between Hastings Street and the shops of Noosa Junction.
For a special weekend, go for Netanya Noosa, which is right on the beach, next to the surf club.
What to bring home
Get yourself a new swimsuit or clothes from some of the groovy Hastings Street boutiques. Or buy a copy of the Sails Noosa Cookbook
, which you'll find in homewares stores and bookshops.
What to splurge on
If there's one thing in Noosa you should loosen the purse strings for, it's a really good meal. Noosa has some of the best restaurants in the country and it would be a shame to go home without trying one.
The enduring star of the Noosa food scene is Berardo's Restaurant, opposite the surf club (there is also a more casual Berardo's bistro by the beach). Think louvre windows, ceiling fans and immaculate white tablecloths it's ultra chic.
The food is divine, with lots of seafood and other local produce, simply cooked and elegantly presented, without too much fuss. Save room for dessert they do some unusual combinations that really work.
Got any other suggestions? Share your insight below.
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