Noosa is a township (or actually a series of townships, Noosa Heads, Sunshine Beach and Noosa Heads all clustered together) located at the mouth of the Noosa River at the northern end of the Sunshine Coast in Queensland. It is a 90 minutes' drive north from Brisbane.
Noosa first came to popular notice as a surfing center in the 1960s and its surf (especially around Noosa River headland) still make it a top destination for surfers and other water sports, such as canoeing, water skiing, surf skiing, jet skiing, kite skiing and fishing.
Cruising along the Noosa River and its associated backwaters and lakes (including Lake Cooloola, Lake Como, Lake Cootharaba, Lake Cooroibah and Lake Weyba) is another great activity. Half day, six hour and full hour cruises are all on offer.
The Noosa National Park located at the headland of the Noosa River and extends for about a mile on either side. The Park includes fantastic scenery -- rainforest, heathland, hidden coves, white sand beaches -- and some excellent walking paths so you can get out amongst it all.
Noosa's main street, Hastings Street, has some great shopping for when you dull of all the great surfing and great natural attractions. In the Noosa hinterland, you can visit the Eumundi Markets which are held in the shade of huge old fig trees.
These days Noosa is not only popular with surfers and the younger crowd but also with tourists in general and with retirees, many of whom have come to live in the town. And it is a popular place to live for conservation-minded people (for more about this, see below).
The Fight for Noosa
Originally Noosa was a quiet fishing village with just a dusty road lined with Queenslander style houses. But its "discovery" in the 1960s and its subsequent development in the 60s and 70s had lamentable effects on the local natural environment (as detailed in the combative book, The Noosa Story: A Study in Unplanned Development, by Nancy Cato). As Cato wrote in her book: "Once any man sets his eyes on a pretty place in Australia, the inexorable process of uglification begins."
Fortunately, unlike in so many other areas of Queensland and of Australia, the savage battle between the developers hoping to make a quick buck (whatever the environmental cost) and the conservationists was won by the conservationists. The planned asphalt road along the coast was not built. The planned high-rise resort on the cliffs overlooking Alexandria Bay was not built (instead the area was protected for ever as part of the National Park).
In contrast to other Queensland seaside developments such as Surfers Paradise, Noosa has (with one exception) no high rise buildings. The population of Noosa has been capped at 50,000.
Local business has for the most part been converted to earning "green dollars" rather than exploiting the environment.
However, the enemies of the environment have still kept trying to have their schemes approved. The millionaire entrepreneur Richard Branson bought Makepeace Island on the Noosa River in 2003. Fortunately, the conservationalist-dominated Noosa Council forced a scaling back of his plans to develop a luxury resort on the island.
Similarly, four wheel driving was becoming ever more popular on the beach to the north of Noosa until the Sunshine Coast Regional Council placed restrictions on that activity.
Queensland: a serpent in the surf
Tourists often wreck the very thing they come to see. Richard Madden, in Noosa, Queensland, Australia, sees a rare victory for good sense over greed