Somewhere Only We Know: Noosa

Saturday 11th January
I initially assumed that I was going to have another early start in order to get my Greyhound bus from Brisbane to Noosa however I checked the day before and it was actually scheduled for 13.45. In hindsight I could have used the time to re-explore Brisbane or to do the XXXX Brewery tour however I was feeling a bit lethargic. I checked out and waited for Lewis and Alex to arrive for breakfast as arranged. Alex arrived but there was no sign of Lewis and I spent the rest of the morning catching up on my blog and dozing off.

Unfortunately whilst I had intended to further catch up on the blog on the Greyhound bus I dozed off and woke up at one point to a view of a lovely coast before tiredness hit again. We stopped at a few places to pick up and drop off including Maroochydore before continuing to Australia Zoo where we picked up those that had been on the day trip from Noosa. The weather compared to the day before couldn’t have been more contrasting.

Most Australian coach drivers, in fact most Australians I’ve encountered so far are polite, a good laugh and overly helpful but our driver was grumpy, reminding me of a bus driver I had on the Megabus once. I guess he has to put up with backpackers on a daily basis that don’t listen but at times it felt like I was on a school trip. We arrived at Noosa Junction and he turfed everyone off and started unloading bags. My ticket was to the next stop so initially I was confused why we weren’t being dropped off at the hostels. It was however rather simple – the hostels would come to pick us up but why this wasn’t explained during the journey I don’t know.

I wasn’t the only one confused, in fact everyone was. Eventually I and 4 girls found the mini bus for the YHA and we were taken to Halse Lodge which is heritage listed and apparently the oldest wooden structure in Queensland. We checked in and were told there was a introductory meeting at 18.00 where we could introduce ourselves and get some information about things to do in Noosa. We would also get a complimentary glass of wine. It seemed a nice idea.

I quickly prepared myself and went back downstairs. The girl leading the introduction meeting was also from the UK and in fact it seemed most people were. Afterwards I started talking to a local from Brisbane about various topics including the behaviour of children in Peterborough and East London (they were a teacher who had worked in the UK). They had approached me because during the meeting I’d said I was looking to travel to Mt Tinbeerwha the following morning. They wanted to tell me the local Laguna lookout and coastal walk would be a more effective way to spend my time.

After getting a chicken parmigiana from the adjoining restaurant I started chatting to a guy from Canada and we had a game of pool and table football both of which I won. Though in a way there was no winner with the pool because there was no chalk and it was a painfully slow game to finish. I then went up to my room and realised that mine was one of the rooms without electric sockets because the building was heritage listed. There were also two girls in the room – Amy and Kirsty from Germany and when I initially opened the door I thought I had somehow unlocked the wrong room. They’d just arrived and I went back downstairs armed with a charger in an an attempt to use one of the public sockets in the lounge to charge my tablet and mobile. It was at this point I got chatting to another Canadian called Dave?

I spent an hour or so charging things so they had a bit of life in them before heading back upstairs. The girls had an early start to Australia zoo the next morning and had already turned off the light when I got back. I could have got everything sorted in the dark as I’d already unpacked but as they were still awake and reading on their iPads we turned it back on. The room was stuffy even with the window open and all 3 of us found it hard to get to sleep because there was a lot of noise coming from the beer garden down below.

Sunday 12th January
The girls alarm went off at about 5.15 or some horrendous time like that. Worse whilst it immediately woke me up both of them continued sleeping. I wasn’t sure what to do. Lie there and wait or jump around the room and shout. I had no energy to do the latter so opted to lie there. Mercifully one of them heard it and leapt out of bed to turn it off. They left and I sleepily wished them a good day before drifting back off to sleep.

When my alarm eventually went off I struggled to get going though I knew I had a lot of walking I wanted to get done before meeting Pam from my trip around America later that afternoon. I headed downstairs and was surprised they didn’t have a map of the walks around the National Park. I went to tourist information and had the same result as apparently the maps can only be issued from the entrance at the national park. I didn’t understand this because it meant without a guide or the internet you couldn’t plan in advance what to do, or even know what to expect of the scenery. Still I’m only a tourist and surely therefore the target audience but what do I know. (I never quite got used to the general backward approach in this part of Queensland towards tourism opportunities but more of that in Bundaberg).

I started by walking to Laguna lookout which had been recommended to me by the driver on the way back from Moreton Island and the local from Brisbane. I have to say I was very slightly underwhelmed as it had taken over 30 minutes to get there and there wasn’t anything to tell me what I was looking at. It was a beautiful day and the beaches below looked very inviting and I could see the distant mountains but none of it really meant anything to me. Perhaps it would have appealed more if there had been someone to share the view with or if I’d just come in the car like most and not gone to the effort of such a steep climb. I’d also just received a text from my dad saying Watford had lost. Ah.

Returning back to Hastings Street I set off towards the National Park and finally got to see my different walk options. Pam was due to be in Noosa around 14.30 and as it was still only about 10.00 I had plenty of time to explore. I opted for the coastal walk because it looked the longest and had appeared to have a bit of variety. The opportunity to possibly see Koalas in the trees and dolphins and turtles in the bay.

It started off pleasantly and the sun shone down but when I got to Tea Tree Bay the best chance of seeing a koala I realised my luck wasn’t in. The forest suddenly seemed very big, the trees tall and I’ve struggled to see koalas at a zoo when there is a sign telling me which tree they were in. With few fellow walkers around and certainly none peering up in to the canopy I reluctantly headed on.

By the time I got to Hell’s Gate the wind was blowing wildly. Peering down in to the shallow bay I saw for a few seconds a turtle being bashed around by the waves before it decided to dive under. I waited with the camera pointed for it to reappear it didn’t and then I noticed the sky had turned a ominous dark grey colour. I even felt a bit of rain. I could see blue sky in patches and had a choice. I could head for Sunshine Beach in hope the name was symbolic of its weather or head back through the forest. In the end I opted for the coast.

I started to cross Alexandria beach on the eastern side of the national park. I noticed there were quite a few tents and it was fairly busy at the southern end considering its remote location but thought little of it. I was happily taking some photographs from a distance of Lion Rocks out to see when I got that feeling that I was being watched from the distance by some of those near the tents. I carried on walking towards them along the wet sand as that was less strenous and they were soon to my right.

It was only then i realised why i looked out of place. I was the only person with clothes on. I was on a nudist beach. Now, this no doubt has you cracking your sides with laughter and or be creating a glamorous image in your mind. I can assure you it was not the latter, or not in my mind. These were not young sporty types but…well I’ve probably said enough. All I’ll say is they were brave to be swimming in that rough sea near sharp rocks. I continued head down and reached an information board near Devils Kitchen. Here I found a national park map where someone had graffitied “Please remove all items of clothing”.

The walk was now nearly over and I must have allowed my legs to relax and as I was walking up some steps I suddenly just fell over forward. Luckily I didn’t get any major injuries and I had antiseptic gel and water to wash out the wounds and a plaster to keep them covered. By now I was at sunshine beach and somewhat miraculously the sun had come back out. I travelled across the pleasant beach until i reached the Surf Rescue where the bus back to town departed from. I felt I deserved an ice cream so went to a place called Massimos which Victoria had offered as a suggestion and ordered a cup of raspberry sorbet and blueberry frozen yogurt

I arrived back at the hostel and waited for Pam and her friend Lisa. In the time i had been out walking the town seemed to have filled with cars and when they turned up a spot in the hostel car park had just gone. We drove to the national park and after doing 2 loops of the car park a place eventually turned up. We decided to do a mini walk around the rain forest before doing the section of the coastal walk as far as Tea Tree Bay.

We left the car in the national park and as we were walking in to town I heard someone call out my name. This was a bit bizarre because so far as I was aware I knew no one in Noosa other than those I was with but it turned out Konstantin from my Tasmania tour was there with his girlfriend. We had a very quick chat before we went our separate ways and eventually Pam, Lisa and I got an ice cream at a place called Nitrogenie. This was a bit more of a novelty ice cream than Massimos but it was still very nice, I opted for lemon meringue pie which even had a little top to it.

We sat and ate our ice creams on the wall whilst a nearby busker played a guitar and then headed back to my hostel to get some food. We sat outside and there was a little lizard nearby that kept trying to eat some potatoes wedges. Sadly time always passes when you’re having fun and it was soon time for them to head back and because of Queensland’s time difference it was starting to get dark anyway. I walked with them both back to the car and they dropped me back off at the hostel.

Back at the hostel I got chatting to a guy called Dave who I’d briefly met the night before when we were both trying to charge our devices. He’d been at Australia Zoo and we exchanged experiences. I then text Konstantin to find out where he was staying, having a hunch it would be the same place. It was, so after having another quick catch up in the lounge we arranged to have breakfast the next day.

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