Soaking up the rays on the Sunshine Coast
4/3/11 - 4/7/11
After camping on amazing Fraser Island for 3 days, we were ready for some creature comforts – you know, fancy stuff like hot showers and a bed. We got to Noosa after a 2 hr. drive South along the coast. It is rather difficult to arrive to a new destination in the dark (especially when the internal light in your Astra does not work- perhaps this was damage we had done as a result of driving through the flood waters in North Queensland). Marin, ever the industrious McGyver, has taken to handling this challenge by squatting outside the car and holding the miniscule Lonely Planet map in the headlights. But, she never quite got the hag of doing this in the pouring rain.
After literally driving around in circles (there are 114 roundabouts in Noosa!!) through the various neighborhoods - Noosa Heads, Sunshine Beach, Noosaville- consulting the map in the headlights several times, asking 3 different people for directions and having 2 arguments, we finally landed at our Flashpacker accommodation.
For those of you who are not familiar with the ins and outs of the youth hostel circuit, Flashpacker accommodation is one step up from backpacker accommodation. It usually means you pay about $10 more, and for this tax, you’re guaranteed luxuries like clean sheets. If you are lucky, you might have a pool or a TV in your room. Our Noosa Digs did not disappoint: king sized bed, perfect private shower, flat screen tv, private little terrace off the room, pool, bbq). Perfect for a post-camping crash.
After a good night’s rest, we spent a wonderful day frolicking on the gorgeous beaches of Noosa. We went to the Main Beach, which was filled with surfers and sunbathers. Nikki sunbathed away (shocking!) while Marin rode the waves on a boogie board she loaned from the hostel. By Australian standards, Noosa is very posh – the place to “see and be seen” according to our guide book. We were amazed that even by these standards, we enjoyed a gorgeous day on a pristine beach – no payment to enter, park or do anything else. Free luxury. Gotta love Australia.
After Main Beach we found a great beach bar and enjoyed some oysters and beers. It was nice to just sit and chill for a bit and catch our breath after all of the driving we had done.
We wandered over to Noosa Heads, one of the many Australian National Parks and took a lovely sunset stroll through the Eucalypt-covered coastline. On our walk we spotted some more surfers- they are everywhere in Noosa- and a Koala! The wildlife spotting made Marin really happy! We found a gorgeous spot to sit and take it all in. Take a look:
After one more sleep, and some delicious steaks BBQ’d in the pouring rain, we hit the road and headed toward Byron Bay. We broke up the 4-hour drive with a stop at Steve Irwin’s famous Australia Zoo.
For those of you who are not loyal Steve Irwin fans, you may not be aware that the Crocodile Hunter tragically died in an accident involving a Sting Ray a few years back. Sadly, he left behind his wife and children. The Australia Zoo has become his legacy. The Zoo itself is quite commercial (picture Disney with lots of crocs) and some of the animals were definitely depressed (Nikki has some strong feelings of dislike toward caged animals) but we did learn some amazing things about Koalas and crocodiles. Did you know that a Koala is not actually a bear? And it has two thumbs. It turns out that the Koalas are endangered and protected in the zoo- this was a bit reassuring to us. And we even got to touch a Koala – it is so super soft. his is when Nikki decided that the Koala is her favorite of the Marsupials. Marin, however, is still loyal to the Kangas!
We also went to a live Croc show where this crazy dude below put his life at risk for us, much to our enjoyment. Crocs use their tails to jump 6 feet in the air!
And there were also these cool gigantic prehistoric tortoises:
We arrived in Byron (in the dark of course, crossing back and forth through town, over railroad tracks and in search of a road on our map that did not exist in real life) to a lovely Bed & Breakfast. We were greeted at the door by Marty, our warm and wonderful host -- a theatrical Kiwi who’s travelled and lived all over the world. Some details about Marty to help you picture him: makes sweeping hand gestures when talking about the weather, walks around town and in the house with a bird on his shoulder, raises tree frogs on the porch, drinks soy milk, wears yoga pants and was so excited to tell us that our soap was some kind of organic almond mixture, not those “dreadful little bars”. This is all very normal for Byron – it’s the bourgeois hippie capital of OZ, not unlike Park Slope, except on the ocean. Nikki was psyched to return there after her visit 10 years ago to a 4-day jazz festival, when she came to “listen to music.”
Though we did not recreate Woodstock, we did have a wonderful time in Byron. Great bars, restaurants and live music to keep us jolly at night. Beautiful beaches for walks and swims, farmer’s markets, and dolphin and surfer sightings during the day. We went on one two mile run that turned into an 8 mile walk after we got lost, but we got a great tour of the Byron Cape – the easternmost point on the coast – as a result.
What a great place to end our road trip! xoxo Marin & Nik