With direct flights linking Canberra and Maroochydore, you can be on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast (aka the Sunny Coast) in under two hours. CW editor Julie Samaras recently spent a weekend there, soaking in the sunshine and taking in the sights.
Located north of Brisbane, the Sunshine Coast is renowned for its golden beaches, nature, scenic hinterland and charming towns. Perhaps the jewel in the Sunny Coast crown is Noosa, where building heights were restricted decades ago to avoid recreating the concrete canyons of the Gold Coast further south.
HOW WE TRAVELLED
Alliance Airlines: We flew direct from CBR to MCY (Sunshine Coast Airport, Maroochydore), conveniently leaving on a Friday afternoon and departing Monday morning, arriving back in the ACT around lunchtime (note: Queensland does not observe Daylight Saving Time). For a mid-week break instead, fly up Monday and back Friday.
One-way fares from $169, includes light refreshments and 20kg luggage allowance; allianceairlines.com.au
Hire car: At Sunshine Coast Airport, we rented a small automatic sedan for the weekend from Thrifty, one of several operators at the terminal.
TIP: Refuel your hire car at BP Pacific Paradise (around 1km south of the airport), where an attendant will fill your tank – putting the “service” back in service station!
WHERE WE STAYED
Peppers Noosa Resort & Villas: Surrounded by national park on the hillside above Noosa Heads, this popular, three-storey resort is conveniently located yet feels deceptively secluded. Well-appointed with a heated lagoon pool and 25m lap pool, gym and steam room, onsite restaurant and bar, complimentary parking and a free shuttle service that delivers you 600m closer to Hastings Street, the beach and national park. Our one-bedroom apartment included a kitchenette, separate living space, washer and dryer in the bathroom, and a large private balcony overlooking rainforest.
Peppers Noosa Resort & Villas, 33A Viewland Drive, Noosa Heads QLD. Reservations: 1300 737 444; peppers.com.au/noosa
Spicers Clovelly Estate: Nestled in rolling hills outside the hinterland village of Montville, you’ll find this luxurious yet inviting, French-inspired retreat. Ooh là là, c’est magnifique! The graceful French-provincial architecture of the main guest house is framed by grand fig trees, jacarandas, magnolias and gardenias. We stayed in the recently built Montville House, nearby yet separate from the main building, in a beautifully appointed suite with freestanding limestone bath and a private covered deck. Be charmed by the resident peacock, enjoy views of Lake Baroon while taking a gentle rainforest walk on the property, then refresh at the delightful outdoor pool or relax with drinks and lawn games in the alfresco dining area.
Spicers Clovelly Estate, 38-68 Balmoral Road, Montville QLD. Reservations: 1300 252 380; spicersretreats.com/retreats/spicers-clovelly-estate/
WHERE WE ATE
View by Matt Golinski: A collaboration between local celebrity chef Matt Golinksi and Peppers Noosa Resort & Villas, this spacious tropical restaurant is architecturally designed to open from floor to ceiling and offers views to the ocean from its eastern side. Delivered by head chef Andrew Wilcox, Golinski’s menu has a focus on fresh, seasonal and locally sourced ingredients, from seafood, meat and handmade tofu to greens, fruit, vegetables and herbs – think free-range eggs, eggplants, figs, Tin Can Bay prawns, cheeses, blueberries, native mint and more.
On the Friday night, we were fortunate to join Perfect Perch, a special Noosa Eat & Drink Festival degustation event (postponed from May to December due to restrictions), where four chefs, including Golinski and Dominque Rizzo, served up five delicious courses showcasing the best of the region’s fabulous produce. Every course was a masterclass in superbly balanced flavours and textures.
Dining in on Saturday and Sunday mornings, we chose from the two-course breakfast menu, which readily caters to dietary requirements and tastes – from pancakes with berries for the sweet tooth, to eggs Benedict for the more traditional and zucchini fritters or a breakfast bowl for healthier options. Our helpful waitress Rachael offered insider tips about local attractions and things to do.
View by Matt Golinksi at Peppers Noosa Resort & Villas, open for breakfast 7-10am daily, Love Noosa lunch 12-3pm, snacks and drinks from 12pm; dinner Thursday to Saturday 5.30-9pm; viewrestaurant.com.au
Noosa Boathouse: A charming glass-fronted bistro and bar floating on the river at Noosaville, about 7km from Noosa Heads, it’s an ideal place to enjoy a relaxed meal – right on the waterfront! Our corner table overlooked the sparkling waters of the Noosa River and the waterfront parklands and esplanade of the bustling seaside community. The atmosphere is casual, the service friendly and professional, and the menu has a focus on local seafood – such as Fraser Island spanner crab, Mooloolaba king prawns, Moreton Bay bugs and fresh daily catch – with plenty of non-pescatarian options and dietary requirements well catered for.
Chef’s signature dishes include Hervey Bay scallops in sea urchin butter, the slow-cooked Queensland beef cheek with tamarind dressing, and catch of the day with Thai Penang curry. Diners at a nearby table were enjoying the visually stunning Seafood Experience for Two – a three-tiered seafood tower celebrating local and Australian produce. Impressive!
Noosa Boathouse, 194 Gympie Terrace, Noosaville QLD; lunch from 11.30am, dinner from 5pm; noosaboathouse.com.au
Locale Noosa: Located on Noosa’s famous Hastings Street, this relaxed yet stylish Italian restaurant is nestled in Mantra French Quarter. (Logie-award winning actress Kate Ritchie was dining at the next table the Saturday night we ate there.)
Peruse the extensive drinks list to find cheeky cocktails such as Tequila Mockingbird and Sailor’s Crush. The modern Italian menu features a delicious selection of antipasti, pasta, main course and salad options, many of which showcase organic and heirloom produce grown on the owners’ Maravista Farm in the Noosa hinterland. The atmosphere is elegant and the service exceptional. A five-course degustation is also available (dietary requirements must be advised in advance).
Locale Noosa, 62 Hastings Street, Noosa Heads QLD; visit localenoosa.com.au for bookings and more information.
Rick’s Garage: Bought by the Jamieson family as a working garage in 2010, Rick’s sons have transformed this local icon into a destination eatery, hugely popular with motorcycle and car clubs, locals and tourists alike. On the menu is a range of generous burgers, seafood, salads and sides, Rick’s famous shakes and a great selection of beers on tap. Browse the extensive collection of 1950s Australiana motor memorabilia while waiting for your order and enjoy live music in the beer garden on a Sunday (also some Thursday and Friday nights and Saturday afternoons). The coolest joint in town. CW highly recommends Rick’s vege burger and the perfectly cooked calamari salad with a refreshing cider.
Rick’s Garage, 14-16 Margaret Street, Palmwoods QLD; ricksgarage.com.au
The Long Apron: This multi-award winning, hatted restaurant at Spicers Clovelly Estate offers a modern French-inspired menu inspired by local seasonal produce.
The elegant yet understated ambience, impeccable service and exciting dishes unite to create a truly memorable dining experience. My plus-one’s grain-fed Angus beef with hay roasted cauliflower was cooked to perfection and my marinated tempeh paired with caramelised witlof, baby carrots and chimichurri was a match made in heaven.
Representing exceptional value, we chose from the three-course menu for $85, which also includes fresh sourdough, a palate-cleansing sorbet, a delicious side with main course, and a tasty digestive tea served with a tempting selection of petit fours presented in a lidded wooden box (shades of Pretty Woman). Five-course degustation menu also available; matching wines extra.
Open to the public, you don’t have to stay at Spicers to dine at The Long Apron; bookings essential.
WHERE WE WENT
Eumundi Markets: Saturday morning we headed for the hinterland village of Eumundi, about a 20-minute drive from Noosa Heads, for the hugely popular biweekly tourist market. There were around 250 stalls operating the Saturday we visited, compared to 90 on an average Wednesday. Generously shaded by many beautiful established trees, wander past stalls selling almost everything from clothing, jewellery, artworks, candles, soaps and skincare to local ginger beer, iced lemonade and food vans selling German sausages, Mexican and Asian street food, sweets and frozen treats.
TIP: Arrive early for best parking and to beat the crowds and summer heat. Open Saturday 7am-2pm; Wednesday 8am-1.30pm.
Eumundi Markets, 80 Memorial Drive, Eumundi QLD; eumundimarkets.com.au
Hastings Street: Voted the Best Main Street in Australia, this relaxed, pedestrian-friendly strip is at the heart of Noosa Heads. From morning to night (when it twinkles with fairy lights), Hastings Street is a haven for visitors who flock to the resorts, cosmopolitan eateries, bars and designer boutiques that sit alongside day spas, surf shops, galleries and ice-creameries. Walk through to the beach and stroll along the boardwalk to appreciate the glorious seascape.
Noosa National Park: We took a Sunday sunrise walk through rainforest, woodlands and heathlands along the coastal track to Hell’s Gates, taking in stunning ocean views and leaving footprints on a pristine sandy beach. On a good day, you might spot dolphins, koalas and goannas.
Follow with a refreshing dip in the balmy, turquoise waters lapping the white sands of Noosa Main Beach.
TIP: Set off early as the park becomes busy with joggers and walkers by 7.30am on a fine weekend.
Noosa National Park; visitsunshinecoast.com/Noosa-National-Park
The Ginger Factory: This tourist attraction with working factory is home to Australia’s famous Buderim Ginger company that began during WWII and relocated to Yandina in the 1970s due to burgeoning property prices in Buderim, 20km south. One of the highlights of our getaway, we enjoyed a fascinating factory tour with our knowledgeable and affable guide, Gayle. She explained the history of the local industry and how ginger is grown, harvested and turned into tasty products – from ginger beers and cordial to confectionary and preserves, before hosting tastings of products made onsite and sharing tasty recipes and tips. Admission to the grounds, which includes acres of beautiful sub-tropical gardens, is free; fees apply for tours, train and boat rides. Open seven days (except Christmas Day) 9am-5pm.
The Ginger Factory, 50 Pioneer Road, Yandina QLD; gingerfactory.com.au
Montville: This gorgeous hinterland village about 30km from Sunshine Coast Airport features a quaint main street lined with galleries, cafes and tourist shops to explore.
HOT TIP: Be sure to check out Canberra Weekly in February for your chance to win your own Sunshine Coast getaway!