Huge thanks to Tourism and Events Queensland for providing this adventure! As always, all opinions are our own.
After the decidedly unnatural feeling of falling from the sky and landing on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, we were ready to get a little grounded.
Maybe even spend a little time communing with nature. Noosa was just the place.
Resorting to Relaxation
The area is packed full of National Parks and State Forests and our home for the next few days, the Outrigger Resort, sits right on the edge of Noosa National Park.
To shake off the remaining shakes we had from skydiving, we walked out our door and up the trail to the lookout atop Noosa Heads.
Our tranquil hike was also in hope of getting a rare peek at one of the wild koalas that reside in the park, but alas, our koala gazing was to be confined to the rescued variety we had already seen.
Our only consolation was a phenomenal view of the Coral Sea. Gee whiz, life is hard!
To complete our relaxation efforts, and reiterate just how difficult our lives can be, we stopped in at Stephanies Ocean Spa.
I was obviously in need of some sarcasm reduction, but they recommended Mineral Floatation Therapy in their mineral floatation pool. The idea is that the water’s high salt and mineral content makes a body so buoyant that it becomes almost like zero gravity. The muscles can completely relax and rejuvenate.
The freakishly buoyant Veronica reclined blissfully atop the saline solution, even nodding off for a short nap while buoyed by the mineral bath.
I, however, do not float. Never have, never will.
My experience was much more akin to a shipwreck victim desperately trying to survive by treading water for dear life than any mind-clearing Zen stress reduction therapy. I gave up and sat on the edge soaking my feet while she serenely snoozed.
Getting off the Beaten Path
The next day we continued our park explorations with Off Beat Eco Tours on a trip through Conondale National Park and Imbil State Forest.
Owner/guide, Pete Blashki, picked us up in his safari wagon and whisked us off for a bushwhackin’ romp through the hinterlands.
Along the way Pete regaled us with gems of Aussie slang, legend, and folklore.
By the time we reached the forest we learned that...
We kept an eye out for drop bears in the bunya trees!
a) Noosa is better known as Land of a Thousand Roundabouts (there are a freakishly large amount of them)
b) the roadways are filled with MAMILs (Middle Aged Men In Lycra) on bicycles
c) to be very wary of drop bears which, as near as we could tell, are some sort of mythical (depending on who you ask), giant, vicious, carnivorous, dive-bombing superkoalas.
As with the traditional koalas, we didn’t spot one.
We did, however, spot a MAMIL :)
Once inside the park we put the four-wheel drive on the wagon to the test, venturing deep into the woods on long-forgotten logging roads.
While we may have dodged the drop bears, we did see an abundance of wildlife, including an amazingly close encounter with kookaburras, and a much briefer view of a wallaby as he hopped hurriedly past us.
Periodically we got out to hike deeper into the jungle for a closer look at some of the amazing plant life surrounding us, including massive fig trees that rival the California Redwoods in size.
The trees changed drastically as we went up and down in altitude, with the figs dwelling down in the valleys with plentiful water, and eucalyptus thriving higher up.
Even in the forest shade it was getting hot, so Pete led us to an inviting stream.
After a cool, refreshing dip in the pool formed at the base of a waterfall, we were ready for a bite to eat.
As deep in the woods as we were, Pete set up a big surprise for us that could only be described as the opposite of roughing it.
Stopping in the middle of nowhere, he climbed onto the roof of the truck and produced a table, complete with linen cloth, china, silver and glassware, and a grill.
In no time at all, we were enjoying a wilderness fine-dining experience of fresh baked bread and homemade spreads prepared with ingredients foraged from the jungle, roasted veggies, sausages, and drop bear.
Perhaps we shouldn’t question Pete’s straightforwardness, but our drop bear tasted suspiciously like chicken.
Noosa: Foodie Town Extraordinaire!
Once Pete dropped us off back in civilization it occurred to us that, based on his elegant backwoods presentation, and the attention to detail we found at the little beachside eateries, Berardo's Bistro...
we had previously stopped into, food is very important to the inhabitants of Noosa. That became crystal clear later that night when we went for dinner at Locale.
As the name implies, the location is fabulous, with open sides facing the street and a garden, but that alone would not account for the popularity. Locale’s distinctive approach to Italian cuisine didn’t disappoint, with an intriguing selection of antipasti, primi piatti, secondi, and insalate.
We tried several interesting offerings, but more than anything left with the feeling that they really know their way around a gnocchi.
To Market, to Market
For a closer look at where all of this food was coming from, we stopped by the Sunday Noosa Farmer’s Market.
Browsing through the rows of booths there was an incredible abundance of fresh produce and every imaginable meat, including kangaroo.
Though we had massively mixed feelings about consuming roo; we, as we often do in our travels, found ourselves wishing we had a kitchen to stock.
But there was so much more than farm products on display. In some ways it was like a community breakfast, with booths brimming with all sorts of delectable goodies.
Baked goods were especially popular, with good ole Australian meat pies leading the way.
But almost anything out of an oven was available; we even found the fire-baked sweet rolls called Trdelník (chimney cakes) that we discovered in the Czech Republic.
There were also riots of flowers and plants, arts and crafts, herbal remedies for most any ailment, and a little music to keep things peppy.
Unfortunately we didn’t have time to dally, we had a date with a kayak and yet another National Park, so we grabbed a meat pie and figs before making tracks.
Kayaking Like (we'll with) a Champion
We followed the Noosa River to Great Sandy National Park, where we met up with former Australian kayaking champion Vivienne Golding of Kanu Kapers for a day of paddling around Lake Cootharaba and swamps, and ponds that form its everglades.
Paddling turned out to only be part of our propulsion.
We did a lot of tranquil drifting too, so as not to disturb the waterfowl, or ourselves. Then on our way back across the lake Vivienne rigged us up with a sail and we effortlessly skimmed across the water.