Welcome to this week’s Postcard From – the feature where I chat to some lucky explorer about their recent travels.
This week, I’ve been chatting to Stephanie Parker, a travel addict and creator of Big World Small Pockets. Originally from Jersey, Channel Islands, but currently based in Australia, she backpacks the world on a shoestring collecting tips, advice and stories, to share with a smile.
Hi Stephanie! You’re currently based Down Under – where are you sending us this Postcard from?
I’m sending this postcard from Noosa – my current home in Queensland, Australia. It’s the place I’ve spent by far the most time since I arrived Down Under – a situation due to a number of factors, namely coast, climate and cupid!
Noosa is a stunning little town at the top of the Sunshine Coast, a stretch of white sand beach that runs north of Brisbane on Australia’s east coast. Noosa is one of the most popular destinations in the country for Australian tourists to holiday, but weirdly isn’t well known by international travellers – that is until they get to Australia!
Once you do arrive on Australia’s east coast – everyone will tell you to go to Noosa! From families to backpackers to high-end tourists everyone loves the beautiful beaches here, the plentiful watersports, the great restaurants, the stunning nature and the laidback attitude.
And I have to agree! I first arrived in Noosa in Oct 2013 and never dreamed I’d still be here, but that’s life – full of surprises! I met my Australian boyfriend in Noosa and also feel in love with this wonderful, warm sunny place where I quickly found work and built up a circle of friends. There really is something for everyone in this lovely little town on the beach.
The Sunshine Coast, eh? I’m guessing the weather’s pretty pleasant?
The weather has to be one of the best things about Noosa, especially for a cold detesting Pommie (that’s Australian slang for an English person) like me! Located in the sub-tropics, Noosa enjoys a mild year round climate with winter temperatures still averaging around 20 degrees during the day and the mercury flying up to around 30-35 degrees in the summer. It’s perfect beach weather!
Despite the fact that the scorching summer temps do bring humidity and thunderstorms, the months of September – March are best for visiting Noosa. There is a real holiday vibe to the place during this time and you’ll get to enjoy all the activities and attractions the town has to offer including great surfing and stand-up paddle boarding, sea-swimming and sunbathing, wonderful walking, awesome markets and sumptuous cocktails followed by dining al-fresco in the evening.
Sounds incredible! Which neighbourhood do you live in?
I live in a suburb of Noosa called Sunshine Beach and it’s the best! Away from the hustle and bustle of the main beach and promenade known as Hastings Street, Sunshine Beach has a more relaxed and down to earth vibe. Forget dressing to impress, Sunshine is all about bare feet and boards!
There are a number of gorgeous cafes and restaurants here, which create a real village feel and bring together a lovely local community. There’s also the great long sandy beach of Sunshine itself and, at the end of it, sits Noosa’s famous National Park. Dolphins, turtles and, during the right season, whales are always spotted here, as well as koalas and echidnas. It’s well worth checking out if you’re looking to tick some Australian animals off your ‘to see’ list!
I’d definitely recommend staying in Sunshine Beach if you’re visiting Noosa. There are plenty of self-catering options here, as well as some great AirBnb places and a lovely little hostel called Dolphin’s Beach House for those on more of a budget. Most places would be within walking distance of the beach itself, as well as the famous surf club and café/restaurant strip. The suburb of Sunshine Beach is the perfect place to relax and enjoy the Australian coastline.
What are your favourite things to do in Noosa?
My favourite things to do in Noosa are undoubtedly enjoy the beach life and holiday vibes. This regularly involves eating out at one of the town’s many restaurants, be it for breakfast, lunch or dinner. The Australians are coffee mad and, despite only being small, Noosa has some great places to get your caffeine fix. This means you’ll regularly see me enjoying an almond milk flat white in one of my fav spots – Little Cove, FOMO or Clandestine!
On a more active level, I love to SUP on the Noosa River – there aren’t too many waves here, so it’s pretty easy going and perfect for my beginner level skills! I also enjoy walking in the Noosa National Park, the entrance to which is only about a 15-minute walk along the beach from my house. Setting off early and completing the 1-2 hour long walk round to Noosa main beach from my suburb of Sunshine is one of my favourite day-off activities.
Finally, if it’s Sunday morning, there is only one place I’ll be and that’s the Noosa Farmers Market. Stocking up on my local, organic veg for the week and enjoying an incredible smoothie from the Sunshine Hotel stand, this is a super example of Noosa’s healthy living and community atmosphere.
The Farmers Market sounds awesome! Speaking of food – what’s it like in Noosa?
As a tourist spot, Noosa is famous for its array of great restaurants. Many are situated on the main strip, Hastings Street, while others dot the riverside on Gympie Terrace. And there are many options too – from top-end fine dining restaurants to casual open-air cafes; Noosa has something for every foodie.
Unsurprisingly much of the fare is based around great seafood, with calamari and local reef fish featuring highly. However there are also plenty of great Australian steaks available for the meat lovers and great vegetarian cafes for the herbivores. Most recently a raw vegan place has opened – I’m very excited about that!
In fact, this is fairly indicative of Noosa’s general food milieu, which centres around fresh, healthy, seasonal and locally-sourced grub. There is a big emphasis on gluten-free choices here, as well as line-caught fish and, as I said, vegetarians and dairy-free people are also well catered for.
Oh and did I mention you can get a great coffee here too?!
Do you have any tips or advice for anyone planning a trip to Noosa?
Definitely bring your trainers to Noosa so that you can enjoy some great walking – be that in the national park or up one of the nearby mountains (Mount Coolum and Mount Cooroora are the best) – you’ll be sorry if you miss the paradisical views afforded by these great locations.
I would also make sure you have a few extra days in Noosa so that you are able to take a trip to the nearby Fraser Island. This incredible national park is my favourite place in the whole of Australia due to its stunning scenery, super wildlife and the available adventure! As a massive sandbar, Fraser Island is restricted to 4wd drive access only, so you’ll either have to hire one or take a tour. Either way, make sure you stay overnight on Fraser to see as much as possible of this wonderful nature reserve.
Time for some questions about you now! What’s your favourite travel read?
Wild: An Elemental Journey by Jay Griffiths is an incredible book by a solo female adventurer. Shifting between autobiography, travelogue, anthropological study and spiritual enquiry, this highly sophisticated read stirs something deep inside me. Perhaps it is the call of the wild!
Finally, what do you love most about travelling?
I love that travel can give us the opportunity to see places and meet people that we never would if we just stayed at home. This presents us with a prime opportunity to ask questions about ourselves and the world, to challenge values we hold and to open our minds up to new discoveries, thoughts and dreams.
NB – all images are owned by Stephanie Parker.