Swagman #14 – Noosa and the Development of a Backpacker Town – Queensland, Australia

Swagman #14 – Noosa and the Development of a Backpacker Town
Noosa, Queensland, Australia

After the rush of skydiving had worn off, Nikki, Joe and I headed north to
Noosa where Joe would be leaving us. We dropped him off at the bus stop and
began driving around the small town looking for a place to stay. We wanted
to avoid another night in the tent, so we checked out the local hostels for
any available rooms. After moving through reception at several, including
Koalas and the local YHA, we decided to bypass Noosa Heads altogether and
head out to the seclusion of Sunshine Beach. Our first stop turned out
better than we could have hoped. There, just a short walk from the beach,
was Costa Bella, an unusual combination hotel/apartment with hostel prices.
Their high end rooms, which were gorgeous two bedroom apartments, had two
bathrooms, a full kitchen, TV and VCR, laundry facilities, and a balcony
overlooking the water for only $60 a couple, or $30 per person. With most
dorm beds selling for $18-23 a night, this is beyond a doubt one of the best
deals one can find in Australia. What is even more amazing is that Noosa is
one of the most expensive locations on the east coast, considered the
playground of the wealthy.

Our quick stopover stretched out to a three day visit with our discovery. On our
first day we walked right down to the beach after a large breakfast and laid
out on the almost secluded beach, which is just minutes from the crowded
beaches in Noosa Heads. We laid out and the sun, sweet giver of life, burned
me severely. Since Australia happens to be bypassed by the ozone layer, it
can take as little as 15 minutes to ruin the next few days of your vacation.
What’s even more fun is that if you fail to cover every inch of your body
with sunscreen you can wind up with bizarre patterns of bright red along
your body where your skin was exposed, like camouflage. Somehow I managed to
miss my entire stomach area, and had to walk around with a fashionable red
blotch between my chest and waist for the next few days.

What’s most amazing about the town of Noosa Heads and Noosaville is that
there isn’t very much to them. This seems to be the case with many of the
hot destinations along the east coast. It seems that all a location needs is
a beautiful beach, of which there are plenty along the entire coast. What
quickly follows is a few hostels to offer competitive prices and cheap food
and you have a new backpacker stop. Money comes pouring in, and in turn the
community grows. Word of mouth is passed on among the backpackers of new
locations, and each location is put down as touristy or glorified. I had
heard so much about Noosa that when I finally arrived I was expecting
something completely different. Not that I was disappointed in any way, but
these towns almost become mythical the more you hear about them when they
are really beach-based communities.

The perfect example of a town blossoming can be found in 1770 and Agnes
Waters. What is little more than two side-by-side towns barely legible on a
map are quickly becoming one of the most talked about locations on the east
coast. And for good reason – it is a small community, mostly made up of
locals, and the beaches are completely untouched and gorgeous. They would
have been difficult to access without a car several years ago, but it seems
that now many of the backpacker buses are making stops here. Nikki and I got
a late start out of Sunshine Beach, and found ourselves driving down the
road that leads to these towns in the blackest night. There were no street
lights, and we didn’t see another car for at least an hour. When we finally
arrived, there was little more that a sign that said “Town of Seventeen
Seventy” to welcome us.

We quickly found a caravan park, deemed
eco-friendly, and set up our tent in the heavily wooded area. There, we
found out that ‘eco-friendly’ means ‘home to numeorus insects of many
different shapes and sizes.’ The mozzies attacked us from the moment we
opened the car door. Our dinner was under constant threat of ants and flies
and we had to share the bathroom with insects of a prehistoric size. Now, I
always try to erase any indication that I spent the night in nature in an
effort to be ‘eco-friendly’, but I am ruthless when it comes to insects. We
spent most of our night killing the culprits who had managed to break into
our tent. When we awoke early the next morning we made the long walk through
the forest to come out onto a secluded beach. It is easy to see why the town
is becoming huge – the idea of seclusion and discovery on the renowned
‘backpacker trail’ is exciting. It was nice to enjoy the location while it
is still young, as Let’s Go Australia points out that “it’s going to be huge.”

We quickly decided on day two that we wanted a place that was more ‘Nikki
and George friendly’, so we left that caravan park and drove around the
small town until we came upon another caravan park, this one literally right
on the beach. For $18 we were given a spot, but when we tried to set up the
tent we discovered that the ground was about as giving as concrete. I
managed to bend each one of the metal stakes before we gave up and moved the
tent onto the sand, which accepted the stakes. From there we spent a full
day on the beach and drove out to some of the local trails to do some
hiking. We have now entered “Stinger Season”, which is a kind way of saying
that by swimming in the ocean you could encounter a creature that will
deliver such a powerful sting that you will die. What’s unbelievable is that
despite these warnings people are continuing to swim. In the past two weeks
several people have been stung, luckily by the less deadly creatures. But
the threat was real enough to keep us out of the water, despite the fact
that we were entering the tropics and were constantly drenched in sweat.

As day gave way to night we had a barbeque on the beach, once again battling
the insects, and at night sat on the beach with Coronas and watched a
lightening storm over the water. The wind escalated to an alarming level,
and upon returning to our campsite, in a fine mood I must add, I noticed
that our tent was upside down. Even after a few beers I realized that this
was not good, so we wrestled the tent down to it’s right position and Nikki
climbed in, laying across the tent to ground it while I scurried around the
park trying to locate the stakes that had probably flown around dangerously.
I quickly got them back into the tent and jumped in the tent, at which point
we sat on opposite ends of the tent with our arms and legs out against the
fabric walls to keep from blowing away like one giant kite.

When you’re camping in Queensland, you usually rise shortly after the sun.
First you wake up and think “Gee, it’s warm.” The next time you wake up you
are soaked in your own sweat, have kicked all of the blankets off of you,
and find that the sides of your tent feel like they are on fire. Once we had
made our way through this and the following procedure of packing everything
up we were checked out and eating breakfast in town. There we agreed that we
would bypass Fraser’s Island and the Whitsunday Islands, two of the biggest
locations on the east coast, and drive straight up to Cairns. From there we
would make our way back down, catching everything we missed on the way.