Hastings Street’s luxury boutiques, galleries, bars, and restaurants beckon many travelers to Noosa, Queensland. However, they aren’t the reason I love going there. To me, the natural attractions bordering this chic seaside town’s famous main street are far more alluring.
Closest to Hastings Street is north-facing Main Beach. Patrolled by surf lifesavers 365 days per year, this 1.2-kilometer-long beach’s typically gentle waves are ideal for a swim, beginner surf lesson, or paddleboard session. My favorite time to hit it is during the annual Noosa Dog Surfing Championship, when talented pooches and their owners display their balancing skills and special bond.
For a doggy fix any time, check out the Noosa Spit Recreation Reserve, off the western end of Hastings Street. Here, amble through the Noosa Woods to the head of the Noosa River, calling into the sheltered, off-leash dog beach on its northern banks.
The town’s most spectacular coastal walks are in the Headland section of Noosa National Park, which begins a short drive off Hastings Street’s eastern end. Park in the day-use area and immediately start scouting for koalas in the eucalyptus trees. (Tip: just look for other visitors standing still and gazing up.) Then set off on the 10.8-kilometer return via Coastal Walk, which takes in dramatic scenery such as the Boiling Pot, Dolphin Point, Hell’s Gates, and Alexandria Bay.
Make time for a gentle stroll and coffee or cocktail along the Noosa River at nearby Noosaville. But if you’re after something more taxing, make your way to 439-meter Mount Cooroora near Pomona (26 kilometers northwest). In Tuchekoi National Park, this intrusive volcanic plug’s rock scrambling summit track forms the course of the annual King of the Mountain footrace — an amazing prospect as you recognize how tough the track is when tackled slowly. From the lookout point at trail’s end, gaze east and you’ll see Cooloola Recreation Area’s coastal lakes and dunes… another haven for adventure.
The latter area, part of Great Sandy National Park, begins on the northern side of the Noosa River. Falling within it are the Noosa Everglades, a 60-kilometer stretch of pristine and sometimes narrow waterways on the river’s upper reaches. The loveliest way to explore is via kayak, for example, on one of Kanu Kapers Australia’s three-day/two-night self-guided camping trips. Beginning at Elanda Point (about 27 kilometers north of Noosa), you’ll paddle 11.5 kilometers along the tawny blue Lake Cootharaba and along the river’s “The Narrows” section to Harry’s Hut camping area. You could also paddle to one of 15 more remote sites farther upriver, but whichever site you choose, book a camping permit in advance.
From Campsite 3 (accessible via a 7-kilometer walk or 7.7-kilometer paddle from Harry’s Hut), a 12-kilometer return trail leads through Blackbutt Forest to the two-kilometer-long Cooloola Sandpatch, a massive, shimmering expanse with views of the ocean and towards Mount Cooroora.
Ending your day beside the water, watching as paperbarks and gum trees (and later, stars) gaze deeply into the lazy river’s mirror is, without a doubt, naturally glamorous.
This article originally ran in the July 2021 issue of Dockwalk.