Noosa National Park. Picture:
If you've never been to Noosa, you may be tempted to think of it as Queensland's version of "Burnside by the beach" - strictly for the gold shoe and silver hair brigade. The place where Kath and Kim's perpetually pursed-lipped shop assistants Prue and Trude go to "get off the beaten track". The kind of place that's actually pronounced "Noyssa".

But in recent years the exclusive, too-expensive-for-you resort town has undergone something of a hipster makeover, with hot bars, bearded baristas and burger joints infiltrating the main Hastings Street strip, making it the perfect destination for a cool, beachy getaway.

DAY 1 - the beach


Start your day off the Noosa way with an acai berry and chia seed smoothie and a vegan ice block at 10 Hastings (10 Hastings St), a quirky cafe and boutique hotel with a retro, Aussie beach vibe. (Or, you know, just have a coffee). A popular all-day breakfast spot, the morning crowd here ranges from young tourist families, to joggers, to surfers who've rolled in for breakfast after hitting the waves since 5am. Naturally the menu includes the ubiquitous "smashed avo" on sourdough ($15); theirs comes with Persian feta, lime and cashew pesto and house-made chilli jam.


Browse the many fashion and homewares boutiques on Hastings Street before strolling the mere 20 metres to the beach for lunch. Nab a window table at Barardo's on the Beach which, as the name suggests, is literally on the sand, and watch the surfers as you pick through a heap of juicy prawns with sweet, tart cocktail sauce ($30 for 500g) and fat, crispy chips with aioli ($8). Keep your sunglasses on and wash it all down with a glass of something French for the full "don't you know who I am?" experience. Finish with a sugar hit at Nitrogenie (5/32 Hastings St), where ice cream flavours are made fresh in front of your eyes, then flash frozen with liquid nitrogen. Flavours change daily.


Betty's Burgers, Noosa.
Picture: Petra Starke
Noosa is famed for its glorious sunset, and one of the best places to see it is on the deck at the Noosa Surf Club (69 Hastings St), gin and tonic in hand. Make sure you get there early to beat the crowd of families who descend on the place every night for schnitzel dinners. Then fall across the street to Betty's Burgers (2/50 Hastings St), a cute, American style diner serving the most delicious burgers this side of the States. Tried In 'N' Out or Shake Shack? Betty's is better. Ask for the "secret menu" to indulge in the calorific "Double Double" cheeseburger. A nod to Noosa's tendency to attract the health conscious, you can also get a "Bare Betty", which comes without the bun.

Exercise off dinner with a brisk 15 minute walk to The Village Bicycle (1/75 Noosa Drive), one of Noosa's newest bars that's already a hit with locals. Like a cross between a surf club, a beer garden and a Los Angeles dive bar, this laid-back outdoor joint is perhaps best summed up by the blackboard propped on the bar fridge which reads "Rule no 44: no dickheads". Killer cocktails, American-inspired pub grub like Baja fish tacos and hot wings with home-made cayenne pepper sauce, and an eclectic 1960s soundtrack make this a hot spot for chilling out. On weekends you can barely see the bar for the crowd of dudes in beanies and flannies, and modelish girls in sky-high heels.

DAY 2 - the park


No time for a sit down fry-up, instead head to the famed Sails restaurant (75 Hastings St), right on the sand at the end of Noosa beach, for a grab-and-go brekky of Bircher muesli in a cup with fresh berries, and a latte.

Hit the board walk and head into Noosa National Park; a 15 minute walk brings you to the starting point of several hiking trails of varying difficulty. Watch out for part-time models in Lorna Jane, and hipster dads jogging with prams who'll knock you over the unfenced edge if you make them break their stride.

Take the 7km coastal track around the north eastern tip of the park for stunning views of churning seas at lookouts with names like Boiling Pot, Dolphin Point and the particularly impressive Hell's Gate, a giant black jag cut into the cliffs that looks like something from Dante's nightmares. Part of the walk takes you along the sand at Alexandria Bay, an unofficial nudist beach where women can have a refreshing dip sans swimsuit. (Men have to be more careful - Queensland law can see them charged with wilful exposure.)

View over Sunshine Beach from Noosa National Park. Picture: Petra Starke


Finish your hike by walking to the Sunshine Beach Surf Life Saving Club (Duke St, Sunshine Beach) for a few pints of Four X and crumbed whiting on the deck. Hop on the public bus for a quick ride back to Hastings Street ($4.80/adult) and perk up your afternoon with a frozen yoghurt at Blended (Shop 4, 18 Hastings St), where you can pull your own self-serve soft-serve before adding mixers like muesli, popcorn and Froot Loops - a stoner's delight. Spend the rest of the afternoon lying on the beach.


All sexy wood panelling, banquettes and atmospheric lighting, Miss Moneypenny's looks more like a late night lounge bar than a restaurant, which isn't a bad thing, particularly when you feel like scoffing an excellent pizza to chilled out house music. Try the Di Mare ($31), oozing with buffalo mozzarella, fat prawns, squid and a half Moreton Bay bug in the shell, just begging you to scoop the sweet flesh out. Kick on down the street at Noosa Beach House, a big, breezy bar popular for its DJ-led Sunday sessions where waiters in cargo shorts and white polo shirts scurry from table to table, and young cocktail hoppers order rare tequilas, rums, gins and whiskies from barmen with waxed moustaches and man buns.

DAY 3 - the river


Get up early and drive to the Noosa Farmers' Market (155 Weyba Rd, Noosaville, Sundays 7am to 12pm, public buses available) for a pick-and-choose breakfast of local produce: Maleny cheeses, Sun Coast limes, fresh bananas and pineapples, cold pressed sugar cane juice, kombucha tea and organic gluten free everything. Grab a toasty baguette straight from the oven at the French Sin bakery stall, spread with their home-made duck or rabbit rillettes. Chomp on it straight from the bag and wonder why you ever bother eating anything else.


Sausage roll from Noosa Farmers'
Market, enjoyed on the beach.
Picture: Petra Starke
Spend the afternoon on the tranquil, shallow Noosa River learning to master Australia's latest watersport craze with Noosa Stand-Up Paddle (172 Gympie Tce, Noosaville). Or if you're anything like me, spend the afternoon falling into the river as you try to stand up on your paddleboard and repeatedly fail. For those with better balanced chakras, they also offer yoga-board classes so you can downward dog at dawn as you paddle; owner Nick recently did a Vogue photo shoot in which he pulled a headstand on a paddleboard while riding a wave.


Be torn between staring at the magical sunset and ogling some of Noosa's most expensive waterfront homes on a twilight river cruise; for just $22.50pp Noosa Ferry ( lets you bring your own booze and snacks, and provides glasses and ice. Finish your weekend with take-away fish and chips, or a picnic dinner of farmer's market goodies, at one of the many tables perfectly positioned on the hill overlooking Noosa beach for a primo view that's absolutely free.


Seahaven Noosa ( offers super stylish serviced apartments with absolute beach frontage for one of the most deluxe stays on Hastings Street. If you're one of those people who loves a beachy vibe but hates the sand and surf, you'll love Seahaven's stylish pool area: just metres from the main beach and separated by a glass fence, you can relax in one of two pools or the spa, and watch the goings-on from chlorinated comfort.

For a more affordable option try Hotel Laguna (, a newly modernised block of self-catering apartments, also on Hastings Street. Choose between a view of the river (stunning at sunset) or the street (great for people watching). Clustered around a comfortable, modern pool area that's great for families, each apartment is privately owned, so decor and amenities differ. Quiet and comfortable, and just a minute's walk to the beach - plus guests get discounts at the excellent Miss Moneypenny's restaurant, located in front of the complex.


First published in The Adelaide Review, February, 2016.