Overnight stays: Massadi Manor, Parrearra (6 nights); Beerwah Sportsground, Beerwah; Maleny Showgrounds, Maleny; Noosa Caravan Park, Tewantin (5 nights);
Our prior but limited exposure to the Sunny Coast was filled with glowing memories. We first visited Noosa in 2014 when Liv was a wee tacker, and we rented an apartment with my sister, Kiz, and her hubby, Marcus, for the week surrounding the Noosa Triathlon, of which they partook. We immediately fell in love with the place and couldn’t wait to get back. Our next memory was for my mate Pat and his wife Kylie’s wedding at Yandina Estate last year. Another winner for the memory bank, so our expectations this time around were high, which is more dangerous than a high national corporate tax rate.
On a high from the paradise islands of Moreton Bay, we finally made it to our friend’s Nikki and Jai’s new house in Parrearra; a stone’s throw from Mooloolaba. We had been stringing them along for months, promising a visit, but our snail’s pace made it impossible to provide any sort of timeframe. Our gut had us in the Sunny Coast about a month prior to actual arrival, but Australia is so damn good 😊. They have two young boys, Oscar (almost 2), and Max (4), one of Liv’s besties (Loz and and Nikki have touted him as her future husband).
I was scheduled to fly to Melbourne for my annual Grand Prix / McNugget weekend, so the Massadis were kind enough to house Loz and Liv for six nights – legends. There they filled the days with endless kid activities, including swimming in their gorgeous pool, The Ginger Factory (apparently more fun than it sounds) and AussieWorld, which Loz described as ‘DreamWorld for little kids’. Jai played super dad one night, minding the kids while the girls hit the town town for dinner and a chick-flick. Loz described the night as funnier than a baby Barnaby due any day now, but I’ll have to take her word for it, filled with non-stop laughter. The girls had such an awesome week and Loz truely loved hanging out with one of her dearest friends Nikki and her beautiful family.
When I returned, tired yet excited to see my girls again, we jumped straight in the WomBatmobile and shifted slightly south towards Beerwah, the home of Australia Zoo.
Having thought we might have been zooed out after Western Plain Zoo and SeaWorld, we couldn’t have been more wrong. This zoo is very different, and an absolute must-do for the Sunny a Coast, and for kids. As soon as we entered we were welcomed by a number of staff holding animals to interact with, hold, and cuddle. This hands-on experience continued through the zoo and is one of the things that makes it so unique.
Beyond the interaction, it was a zoo where the animals look comfortable and happy, which sounds ridiculous. But some zoos just don’t have a good vibe like that. I remember when we visited the zoo in Paris a few years ago and you almost wanted to cry because the animals looks so sad. Australia Zoo has a conservation and education focus, and the animals seem as happy as Big Kev selling margarine, including the wild water dragons that roam the place.
The zoo tries to embody the late Steve Irwin’s personality, of which a large part lyes a deep fascination for crocs. There is a purpose-built Crocoseum, where the lunchtime show draws all patrons for what everyone has come to see – the risk of some fool being eaten by a 4 metre salty.
They put on a good show, and we learnt enough about crocs to share the shit out of us for a few months.
Finally zooed out, we continued deeper into the Sunshine Hinterland, with a stop at Mary Caincross Scenic Reserve in Maleny, recommended to us by our friend, Jess Hanna. We delved on a scenic rainforest walk with trees bigger than Trump’s ego and wallabies smaller than his undies. Topped off nicely with a spectacular view over the Glasshouse Mountains.
The following day the rain came and dampened our visit to Gardners Falls (more like Gardners Fails) made for swimming, not admiring. With that faux pa behind us we drove through the beautiful Hinterland, past the derelict and disappointing Big Pineapple, to one of our favourite places in the world, Noosa.
Noosa is Paddington and Byron is Surry Hills. Both loveable for completely different reasons. Noosa has the glitz of Hastings Street whereas Byron has the barefoot Xavier Rudd-esq busker, spending 80% of his money on weed and 20% on garlic bread. Both are amazing and vibrant places, and both places we love to visit again and again.
Once we had a rough view of where we’d be for Easter, we immediately decided Noosa was going to be it, and we made some calls to book it in, given its popularity and awesomeness. Unfortunately our first choice of caravan park at Noosaville wouldn’t answer the phone and their website said no availability, so we eventually managed to snag one of the last sites at Noosa Caravan Park, in Tewantin.
Tewantin is not Noosa. It’s about 10km from Noosa Heads and has a completely different feel. However, the caravan park was awesome, filled with more kids than a goat family reunion; scooting, skating and riding around like lunatics. It didn’t take long for Liv to befriend a few of them, sisters Summer and Molly, as she joined the ranks of their bikie gang.
We managed one trip into Noosa Heads on the local free buses while we were staying at Tewantin, where we enjoyed the beauty of main beach and Hastings Street with thousands of other Easter punters. We were quickly reminded why we love this place so much; bustling with packed cafes, shops and pubs.
Months ago we promised Liv a birthday party, wherever we were to be at the time. As the date neared we became increasingly nervous, not knowing if we would be able to provide attendance beyond mum and dad – lame! To add to the pressure, Liv continued to emphasise that she wanted “so many people” to come to her party – sheesh.
Loz is a 10 out of 10 on almost everything (she could work on her singing), especially as a supermum. She put an incredible amount of thought and effort into making Liv’s special day as special as it could be, and unicorn themed. She arranged cakes, invitations, balloons, party bags, games, and an endless supply of sugar for kids. All we needed was people… So we started walking the streets of the caravan park, handing out invitations like Jehovahs Witnesses bringing the good word of Olivia.
Thankfully the kids came in spades; sugar lures brought more kids than any fishing cast has given us bites on the trip so far. On top of that our Newy friends, Andrew and Em and their 1yo Charlie drove up from their Mooloolaba holiday for the morning, and our new friends, the Percy’s, whom we met on Straddie, came as well.
Most importantly Liv had an awesome day and met some new little friends along the way.
The sugar never ends, and Easter Sunday was the following day, where the Easter Bunny made his way to the caravan park in spades. He seemed to love the place so much he returned later in the morning and started throwing around eggs like a fertility clinic closing down sale. All the kids in the park responded like it was their last dish that created a great atmosphere.
Rissole for lunch
For lunch we were invited by a family whom we just met at the park, Shelley, Dean, Summer and Molly, to the nearby RSL. They had some other friends join too, and we had a top afternoon until Liv and I headed home in the courtesy bus while Loz stayed behind to try her hand at thieving the local Texas Hold’em crowd (seems poker is the new Bingo). She didn’t quite wipe the floor as she’d hoped – maybe next time she’ll find a way to fund another 10 years or so of travelling.
Dinner at Percy Palace
On what turned out to be our final night in Noosa, we were invited to Percy Palace for a BBQ treat. The kids left off like they’d been lifelong mates, and we had a beautiful night with some of the nicest people we’ve ever met.
Noosa Coastal Walk
We picked the sunniest day for our hike, and it didn’t disappoint. Wandering through the busy beautiful coves we fell even more in love with the town that just doesn’t disappoint. On our return trip we stopped in for a half-day beach session at Tea Tree Beach; easily one of the best beaches of the trip so far.
Noosa is the kind of place you never want to leave, but with five nights behind us, and a voice in the back of our heads reminding us we should probably see a little bit of Australia, our journey continued as we finally left the sensational Sunshine Coast.