When we arrived at the Outrigger Noosa, our first thoughts were: “yeah, it’s nice, but, BUGGER – it’s a long way from the beach!” This impression was due to the fact that during daylight hours, the entrance to the resort is far from the main drag of Noosa…and the beach. But, in fact, there is an 8min walk that cuts through the village of resort properties and little patch of bush straight to the ‘Parisienne’ end of Hastings. Not bad at all. (We even got our first sighting of a koala in the wild on our walk to the beach – shame we didn’t have the camera with us!)
The apartment at the Outrigger was a pretty spot-on choice. It was a corner unit that faced a lap pool on one side and the bush-covered hillside of the national park on the other, with a wrap around verandah with opening glass walls to top it off. Sitting with the doors open on both sides of an afternoon with a glass of wine, there was no need to crank up the air-con.
This was my first visit to Noosa and it didn’t take long to fall in love with the place. The main drag is delightful in ambience – although highly developed with lush designer boutiques and many gelateries, the scale and compact nature of this street still retains a sense of the seaside country town it once was. There are cafés, bars and restaurants galore, which give an abundance of choice while still feeling intimate and relaxed with hints of a bit of glam.
The Main Beach at Noosa was expansive and offered spots for all tastes in recreation – whether it be sunning, swimming or surfing. I was very impressed by the vigilance of the life guards. And it was also great to see the training of the younger members in the surf club, as well as novices taking surf lessons…it was all going on. It felt safe to swim there, having a great family atmosphere with alert parents keeping a close eye on the paddlers and sand castle constructors.
It didn’t take long to slip into a routine of rest and relaxation, with quite a few mornings spent on the beach alternating between rays and shade, peppered with dips in the ocean and strolls along the shore, revelling in the sand between the toes. Managed to plough through a book or two under the boughs of the tree, snacking on chips, before heading out to look for another fabulous place for lunch. Massage after lunch, anyone? Mani/pedi? Yep, I could get used to this kind of daily routine!
In fact, we did very little in our week to deviate from our minimalist schedule of relaxation. In a token effort to balance the food consumption, we managed to walk to the top of the look out in the national park, which was about 1km…all up hill! The view swept out along the reclaimed land and water ways of Noosa and was the perfect spot to watch the sun dip beyond the horizon. The friends and lovers picnicking with beers and wine and snacks had obviously come prepared for some serious ‘drinking in the moment’ and making of memories.
On another outing I finally got to try paddle boarding for the first time, and loved it…and was even pretty good at it, I must say! – I didn’t come off once. Certainly gives the upper body a work out – doesn’t take much to feel virtuous in the exercise department when on holidays!
The famous Eumundi Markets managed to draw us further afield than Noosa on a Wednesday where we were faced with one of the best markets I have been to – EVER! Such a huge range of produce and food stalls, as well as the usual, vast array of clothing, furniture, toys and knick knacks, and a whole section devoted to massages and herbal remedies. Those particular tents were filling fast, with people trying to squeeze in a holiday shoulder rub, or even a full body treatment, with just a flowing, floral square of fabric between your 30minutes of bliss and the rest of the sweaty, pushing hoards checking out the price lists.
After several hours of jostling, yet making surprisingly few purchases (jewellery always packs well when wanting to fly home without excess luggage), we decided to call it quits as stall owners were starting to pack up their gear. We were happy with our minimal spending spree, and really just got a lot of pleasure out of wandering and looking (although the cheese, olive oil and flavoured Balsamic vinegar would probably not make it into the suitcase!).
Staying in Noosa for a week allowed plenty of time to check out the culinary gems on offer in the area. One of our first was The Beach House on bustling Hastings Street. This bar sits behind the Sheraton and it’s walls open to the street – the lounges providing a perfect laid back feel to be watching the world walk by, almost like you’re a foreign correspondent in an Asian city, sipping G&T as the breeze blows through the open walls. Could’ve sat there all day – the morning is a tad more relaxing than afternoon, and definitely more than evening when it is a thumping mecca of a bar scene.
We shared some scrummy tapas with friends – tostados (salsa, guacamole, smoked eggplant, corn chips), tomato sugo (tomato, capsicum & goats cheese dip with corn bread), salt & pepper squid and fish cakes. This ‘snack’ actually became lunch (due to our late emersion from a blissful night’s sleep), and was perfectly complimented by our passionfruit mojito. The bar staff were chatty, friendly and efficient, and didn’t mind at all that we needed to do a bit of emailing and net surfing while snacking and sipping – we were in no hurry to leave!
Having made a ‘hit list’ of my most desired restaurants of the area, we found ourselves visiting Noosa Wharf at Quamby Place more than once. Ricky’s River Bar & Restaurant features on many lists of outstanding restaurants in Noosa, and it did not disappoint. We had the blessing (and curse!) of an expert waiter who swept us into ordering more than we needed (not at his insistence, but by his outstanding descriptions of the delectable food that we couldn’t help ourselves – we wanted so many dishes!!). The location is delightful, and I am sure the recommended arrival via ferry (the stop is right at Ricky’s windows) is a classy way to approach, but we did a regular car transport, and began with cocktails in the bar before moving to the table (the lemon meringue cocktail was absolutely delicious!!)
We had a combination of vegetarians and carnivores at the table, and we managed to find something truly outstanding for everyone – Ricky’s does NOT do ‘mediocre’. We shared small plates of: fried goats cheese, smoked beetroot puree, organic honey, sage; pumpkin manchego caramelised onion arancini, muhammar, saffron aioli; crispy skin Ora King salmon, baba ghanoush, eggplant jam, grilled artichokes, pepitas; and wood roasted vegetable salad, saffron aioli – all exceptional in quality and flavours. This was followed by Za’atar cauliflower, charred onions, fried caperberries, toasted almonds, tahini dressing; spiced quinoa, roasted eggplant, broccolini, minted yoghurt, eggplant jam; and white Pyrenees lamb rump, nut rice, cavolo nero, pomegranate, minted yoghurt. Now, as I am one of the vegetarians of the party, I cannot personally attest to the high quality of the lamb, but I have been assured that it was ‘top shelf’ (and they didn’t stint on quantity)…but we did over indulge in the shared plates to start! There really was no room for dessert, so we passed and vowed to come back another evening just to satisfy our sweet cravings – which we did, and it was spectacular!
The other restaurant highlight of the holiday was Wasabi, featured in the publication ‘Where Chefs Eat’. More shared plate experiences are encouraged here, which worked well for us. Tempura vegetables, vegetarian gyoza (steamed dumplings with spicy ponzu dipping sauce), and Soba noodles…and I couldn’t go past some blanched and salted edamame – too yummy! We threw down some saki to accompany this feast…after the mandatory cocktail aperitif, of course! Once again, Noosa delivered in spades.
Even the restaurant at the Outrigger (View) managed to give me a lovely holiday surprise AND value for money – a Mumm champagne tasting. For less than the cost of one glass of Mumm, we got FIVE tasting glasses (which was more than enough, I can tell you!). Hanging out in the lounge area before dinner, chatting to the staff, reading our books, sipping our bubbles – it was the perfect way to finish the holiday.
I look forward to a return visit to Noosa – there are so many cafés and restaurants to re-visit, and oodles more that we just didn’t have time to fit in this all too short sojourn.