As I walk the footpath of Noosa’s Hastings Street, I get the feeling I’m in over your head.
Price tags have the decimal point three places too far to the right for my wallet.
On first impression, the Noosa Heads’ main drag has an international playboy feel about it – the cosmopolitan conversations and European convertibles, the deck-shoes and Ralph Lauren, the waterfront mansions and the yachts in the bay.
But mark my word, darlings, beyond the resort-wear and chardonnay lunches is a classic Australian surf town. And a darn pretty one at that.
So I’m not here to pose, or “lunch”. I’m here to surf. For a longboard surfer like myself, Noosa’s main drawcard is the easy waves that break along a succession of points, from First Point, Little Cove, National Park and Tea Tree Bay and finally Granites, all protected from the wild open seas, it’s a nose-riding playground.
Sunshine State Of Mind
Ahh Queensland. The licence plates don’t lie – it truly is the “Sunshine State”, I think, as I wear boardshorts while all the suckers in Sydney are head-to-toe in wetsuits.
It takes me a while to find my sea legs, I eventually get back into the swing of things, all the while giving my chest a well-deserved surf-waxing (yowch).
Eucalypts meet the waters’ edge. At worst they hide apartment blocks, at best they’re the cusp of the national park.
Keep your eyes peeled, for koalas call the eucalypts home, parrots circle overhead and bush turkeys scamper in the scrub.
In between waves, in the deeper water, I spot dolphins and turtles bobbing up to the surface for the occasional breather. In the past I’ve seen whales passing through the bay. It gives me an immense buzz.
For a surfer, getting in the water is as much about getting back to nature as it is about getting “gnarly in the green room, bro”.
After a couple of hours, with the sun setting, I’m suitably buggered; sun block has worn off with a decent tan coming on and my chest has less hair than a Brazilian stripper’s clear-felled jungle.
I Am Iron Man
The next morning I take to the water again, this time in a hired surf kayak. Traditionally, surf lifesavers pluck their Speedos into their arse-crack because, for some reason, it aids their cause.
I however, am not a lifesaver, more like a lifesavee, so I dismiss the self-wedging; it’ll be embarrassing when I get dragged up the beach by The Hoff.
I mount the kayak and battle the barrage of breakers I have to pass before the easy green water. I am certainly no Iron Man – I take a belting trying to get through the waves. After a few flailing attempts, my shorts have found their way up there anyway. I’m on my way, bedraggled but braving it.
I paddle parallel to the beach just past the breakers, giving me a fresh perspective on the township, before venturing along the rocks past the little coves and finding myself at Tea Tree Bay again.
Sitting on the edge of the surfers’ line-up, I paddle hard to get onto the waves. But my feeble shoulders don’t give me the strength I need.
Just as well too. After the lengthy paddle back to where I launched I attempt to ride the shore breakers into the beach. The general idea is to paddle hard, leaning forward until you feel the wave pick you up, then lean right back and ride it out without nose-diving it.
But with a snout bigger than the spawn of Barbara Streisand and Tom Cruise, my boat pretty quickly digs in and flips me like a bucking bronco.
Determined not to let it beat me, I go back out for another crack, and another, and yet another… It beats me.
While there are many fine restaurants and cafés in Noosa, most are out of the price range of the average traveller, but there is the odd spot.
Your best bet is to head to the Noosa Surf Club. The club looks out over main beach and the balcony is perfect for letting the slow life of leisure pass you by. With a cool beer in hand and a burger with fries.
I rest my weary muscles from the morning’s activities. And you know what the perfect accompaniment is to a beer? A second beer.
Once the drowsiness subsides, I grab my board and head for an afternoon surf. These can be most pleasant – nothing too strenuous as the day unwinds, just a few classic Noosa right-handers at “Nationals” as the sun sets behind the striking Glasshouse Mountains – the Sunshine Coast hinterland.
As the sky moves through the full spectrum of reds, purples and oranges, the calm waters reflect it all. I pause to take it in.
A yacht is anchored nearby, flashy hotels peered back at me in the distance as rainforest meets the lapping shoreline.
I feel rich, like an international playboy. Meanwhile, the Queen and the other heads on the few coins in my wallet are perplexed as to whether they’ll add up to a can of baked beans for dinner. But for now I am rich.
The damage & the details:
Surf lessons cost $55 and kayak tours cost $66 with Noosa Learn To Surf, Ph: 0418 787 577.
Wanting to get humped at least once while on the Sunshine Coast, Damian Hall takes a long sunset stroll and scores a surprisingly smooth, with “a gentle rocking”… ugly as hell, however.
I wasn’t looking forward to it. A camel ride had seemed like a hilariously brilliant idea in the pub the night before. But in reality, the poor mans’ giraffe looks anything but a sensible mode of transport. They look grumpier than Alex Ferguson with PMT. Plus they’re flippin’ high up.
I looked around for the crash helmets. For some unfathomable reason, they were not been issued. This is madness, I thought.
The camels would rise, releasing a “humph” or snort.
Reluctantly, I picked my beast – the friendliest-looking (it wasn’t an easy task). I got my leg over (stop it) and braced for the big up.
I was stuck briefly leaning back at quite an angle, holding on fiercely and thinking, “It’s gonna chuck me off, it’s gonna…”
Then I was up. And off.
I’m expecting it to be a rocky ride, not unlike an English Channel crossing in a hurricane. But it isn’t.
It’s surprisingly smooth, a gentle rocking that could almost lull me to sleep. They’re lethargic beasts. There’s no rush. Nevertheless, I’m still waiting, knuckles whitened, for the bastard to send me flying. But it doesn’t. It barely even snorts, or complains, or spits at me. I’m starting to wonder if it’s a fake.
I begin to change my mind about camels. I learn from our guide that the moaning camels can make as they rise is like the grunting of a weightlifter, not a sign of displeasure or dissent. I learn that camels are not generally petulant or grumpy. Sure, they might scare Carlos Tevez with their ugliness. But they’re obedient, passive, intelligent even.
As we amble along the beach, I wanted to apologise. I wanted to explain how I had judged a book by its cover. I wanted to make amends. But I could tell it still had the hump. DH
The damage & the details: camel rides with Camel Company, Ph: (07) 5442 4402. Cost from $50.