A TRIP TO NOOSA
‘Oh I love Noosa’, said Becky (a friend I made travelling as mentioned in my 50 Ways to Make Friends While Travelling post, using cunning methods that are detailed in said post).
‘It’s always so relaxing!’.
It was at that moment I decided Noosa to be the perfect place to take my parents that following morning. It would be the last day of their three week trip to Australia & New Zealand and I wanted to make it special.
We were staying at an Air BnB in Brisbane so I assumed a short trip up the coast would be an idyllic way to spend the last of our time together for a while. Surely (don’t call me Shirley) we would be set for a chilled out time in paradise.
A bit of self reflection at this point may have reminded me that my best laid plans do not always go to, well, plan.
FAIL TO PREPARE, PREPARE TO FAIL
I quickly hopped on Instagram to search Noosa related hashtags to get a feel for the place. Scoping out potential Instagram pictures was also at the top of my agenda. Not only did my feed fill with beautiful pictures of sand, sea and ssssurfers (guys it’s a family holiday) but it also displayed a rather social media friendly spot called The Fairy Pools.
Thank you to @Yasminmesney for letting me use your photo. Read on to discover why I was unable to use a photo of my own.
TO BUS OR NOT TO BUS
A swift look on the Greyhound Bus website revealed that although we could get there by 9.50am the next morning, we would have to then get a return bus at 12.35pm and endure a journey lasting 5 hours and 45 minutes.
With the initial journey time being 2 hours and 40 minutes, that was a serious detour going on. It was a no from me.
Determined to find another way I started to create another plan to get us to Noosa and back within an appropriate time frame. This is when I realised that perhaps if we got a bus back from a different stop, we could find some bus times that worked in our favour.
A CHANGE OF PLAN
I quickly searched Mooloolaba (fun name alert) on the basis that I vaguely knew it was also located in the Sunshine Coast.
I must say that Australia really has the right idea when it came to naming their beaches and coastlines. In Oz you have wonderful choices such as The Sunshine Coast, Rainbow Beach, Whitehaven and my personal favourite, Wineglass Bay. Not that I’ve been to Wineglass Bay, but anything with wine in the title must be good, right? Compare that to our names back home such as Saltburn, Slapton and Grimsby and I know which I find more appealing. I mean we even have a town in the UK called Shitterton for goodness sake. No offence to anyone from Shitterton, I’m sure it’s a lovely place. I’m not trying to dump on it here. (Whee!)
Back to the narrative and I’d discovered that not only were there buses returning later in the day from Mooloolaba but there were buses connecting Noosa and Mooloolaba too.
A quick calculation in my head deduced that we could head to Noosa in the morning, enjoy part of the day there and then get on a bus down to MOO-LOO-laba (for this is how I say it in my Scottish accent). We would then enjoy a jolly afternoon before catching another bus back down to Brisbane. This would get us in at a respectable time to ensure my parents could get packed for their flight the following day.
It would be full on, yes. But still relaxing, right!
Not wanting to make a huge fudgery of this, I decided to call Greyhound to check that I had got my calculations right. Maths were never my strong point and as I explained earlier, neither is planning.
I’m good at winging it, lucking out and taking chances that usually pay off. However when you feel responsible for making sure things go well for others, relying on a wing and a prayer doesn’t feel like the best tactic.
The helpful lady who I spoke to on the phone confirmed that the journey was indeed possible. I booked our tickets over the phone and soon the confirmation email came through.
So we would arrive to Noosa, head to the National Park to enjoy the beautiful scenery and then find the Fairy Pool. We just had to make sure we were back for the bus at 12.40pm.
I looked up The Fairy Pools on Google Maps.
I wondered at that point if we should cut out the Fairy Pools altogether.
I searched them online again and it transpired that The Fairy Pools are on the DL (that’s Down Low for those of us who are not familiar with that particular acronym).
That, my friends, is why I’ve named this blog entry ‘A trip to Noosa and the quest to find a hidden secret’. No, not to make it make it sound like a Aussie version of a Harry Potter book, but because I don’t want to give the Noosa secret away so easily.
There is a reason you won’t find the Pools mentioned on the official Noosa website. It turns out that although they are located in the park and can be seen clearly in the map above, they are in an unsafe area and have already caused a number of accidents with its increasing popularity. I guess with social media (and pesky bloggers) certain secrets are not kept secret for very long.
I decided we should still visit to take a look. Although getting in them probably wasn’t going to be an option.
We headed to the local supermarket that evening to get food items for our picnic.
I need to make this very clear now. If there is one thing in life that I love. It’s a picnic.
Tomatoes, crisps, dip, hummus, bread rolls, olives, deli meats and cheese soon found their way off the shelves and into our basket. Not just any tomatoes either. We got a box of multi coloured different sized tomatoes which always makes the tomato situation much more fun.
The really relaxing day started in true form with an Uber from our accomodation in Windsor to Roma Street Station. After getting stuck in lots of lovely traffic the driver then dropped us off in a weird car park that was not very close to where we needed to be at all.
Now short on time and not wanting to delay ourselves any further we thanked the driver anyway. Let’s face it, there wasn’t much else we could do; we’re British. ‘Yeah, cheers mate for getting us vaguely near where we wanted to be!’, we said, silently in our heads.. as we got out of the Uber into the strange alleyway near all the bins. We then started pegging it up to where the station was.
Before long we were stuck near the train station barriers which were adjacent to the other end of the station which we needed access to. To get to the other side of it, it transpired that we needed some tickets even though they would be free of charge.
I quickly waved down a security man and told him we needed to get a bus, fast. He sent us back to the machine and joined us to press out a free ticket. In our confusion my mother, father and I trotted over with him to the machine and then all failed to take the ticket. Presumably we assumed one of the others had been smart enough to do that bit. We got back to the barrier without it. ‘Yeah you’re gonna need that’, he grumbled, indicating at the ticket lying at the bottom of the tray in the machine we had all just walked to and then away from. I quickly dashed back.
We quickly crossed the concourse to find ourselves stuck behind yet another gate. I started to feel like I was in some kind of ridiculously inane RPG game. Waving down another security guard, we (politely) wafted our ticket in his face. The gates opened. Level completed. Now for a super mario style race up the escalators to the Boss level. I mean Bus.
We arrived to the Bus level slightly out of breath. Being among the last to board we also ended up in seats on different rows from each other. Dad drew the shortest straw as he ended up sitting next to one of those manspreaders. You know the kind of guy who sits with his knee caps facing out and as far away from each other as possible with their crotch area all exposed.
Luckily the majority of the other passengers exited the bus when we arrived outside Australia Zoo. This included the manspreader.
A short ride later we had arrived at Noosa.
Being in Australia at the height of summer, Noosa was hot. We quickly applied sunscreen and starting making our way to the National Park.
I soon realised that my calculations on how long it would take us to get to Noosa National Park and the Fairy Pools did not allow us any time for stops. This became apparent when we had our first stop at a shop near the bus junction to buy water. It became even more apparent when we had to stop at the local cinema a few stores down because I needed the toilet.
This theme continued as we started walking towards the National Park and my parents got distracted by a second hand shop. Come on people. To enjoy this relaxing day we must stick to the schedule!
We started making our way up a rather steep hill in the melting sun towards the coast. After the incline and following the notion that what goes up must come down, we were soon walking briskly downwards on a steep path. We continued over a boardwalk, down through some forestry and then past boutique shops and cute little cafes before reaching Noosa Heads Beach and the opening to Noosa National Park.
Music played out of speakers all around us and a surf competition was taking place which added to the already rich beachy atmosphere.
Past the main beach and into the beginning of the Noosa National Park walk, we found tables dotted down the track sitting out to face the ocean. This was the perfect spot for our picnic so we wasted no time on promptly laying it out.
I was starting to realise that it probably wasn’t the best idea so thought I would be an adult for once and cut my losses. Yes I was seduced by the magical mystical sounding name and the instagram possibilities but it wouldn’t be the end of the world to miss it right?
‘I really think we should go!’, my mum stated.
As mum seemed pretty excited, I didn’t want to dissapoint. After all it was the last day of her holiday.
‘Well okay’, I concede. ‘But we have to move quick!’
‘I’m staying here’, my dad told us firmly. I think I scoffed at the time. I later discovered that he had the absolute right idea.
THE RACE IS ON
My mum and I start embarking on our epic journey to the Fairy Pools in ridiculous levels of heat at top speed over uneven terrain.
I took photograph after photograph, attempting to capture the gorgeous surroundings as we hurtled past it.
Up steep paths, past beautiful surfers and past beach upon beach with lots of people enjoying the fact that Noosa is always so relaxing.
Our pace got quicker.
Up. Down. Up. Down. Past bush and past palm trees. Barely able to take in the beach air and marvel at the surroundings. We got quicker. Our quickened pace then being followed by a need to move slower. We rushed past other people walking in all directions and even ignored cute dogs. Although there are wild Koalas in Noosa we would have had no time to glimpse one of them. We had a Fairy pool to find.
My mum came to a standstill beside me. I looked at my phone and peered at the map. It would take us another 13 minutes to get to the Fairy Pools. Then it would take another 13 minutes to get back to this point. We’d have no time to get to see them properly and we still had to get back to the bus.
TO HELL AND BACK
The next point of interest according to my map was a place called Hells Gate.
I realise now I may have spoken rather prematurely about the welcoming place names of Australia.
‘Lets just go to Hells Gate instead’, I suggested. My mum didn’t look very enticed. It didn’t sound quite as inviting as a secret Fairy Pool.
We carried on to the gate, regardless.
After taking several snaps of the gorgeous view at the Gate of Hell, which was comical to me in that we had been through it to get there, we made a started to make a mad dash back through The National Park to ensure we could collect Dad on time and then get back to the bus station.
We were lucky our scenery was so beautiful as it made the insanely rushed trek through it more bearable. I started to realise that we were going to have to sprint it all the way back to the bus stop.
Mid dash I fumbled my phone out of my backpack and started to call Greyhound. Although our bus was booked from Noosa Junction I had noticed there was another bus station at Noosa Heads which was far closer. Perhaps we could get a pick up from there instead?
Another nice lady answered.
‘Hi’, I said, panting and out of breath, ‘I was just wondering’, followed by more panting and more spluttering, ‘if we could amend where we get our bus from’.
I went on to explain that my I had taken my parents for a “nice leisurely stroll” in Noosa and miscalculated the time needed to get back.
Unfortunately although the bus sometimes does stop at Noosa Heads, it would not be on this occasion. Furthermore she would be unable to instruct the driver to wait a couple extra minutes for us. The nice lady even called the bus driver to see if he was on time. Sod’s law would of course dictate that he was. Apparently this was uncommon.
So as I’m half running, half having this phone call and half trying to figure out where we are when I realise we are nearly at the point where we had left Dad.
A SPANNER IN THE WORKS
I scan around to find him. Then I see it. Probably the worst thing that could have happened in this exact situation.
Dad had made a friend.
Sitting by a lovely elderly woman and her dog, dad is in deep conversation at the picnic table that we had sat with him at earlier.
‘Here they are now!” My Dad says cheerfully as we approach, failing to read our faces that were screaming ‘we are extremely over heated, rushed and now we have a bus to catch’.
Dad tried to introduce us to his new friend. I’m still on the phone to Greyhound and am trying to not be completely rude to the lady in front of me or the lady on the phone. In attempting this I am accidentally rude to both and half hang on one lady and half grunt at the other.
The next thing I know is that my dad’s new friend is asking us to pose for a photo to add to her Instagram. Kudos to this lady for her social media know how but really, this couldn’t be a worse time.
She snaps the pic, my dad smiling and oblivious to the situation and me and my mum forcing smiles through our pink sweaty faces.
SEE YOU NOOSA
‘Right we have to go! The bus is leaving soon’, I say, sharply.
‘What, now?’, my dad asks, surprised. ‘Yep’, I say. Bye lady. Bye dog. Lovely to meet you. I of course then patted the dog again for good measure.
We had about twenty minutes to get back to the bus on a trip that originally took us twenty five minutes. The fact that it was a huge downhill before meant that this time we would be dealing with a steep uphill. I scooted ahead with my parents following several yards behind me. Now and again I’d look behind me to see if they were still coming. They did not look impressed.
I arrived to the bus terminal with about two minutes to spare and joined the queue. My parents arrived about three minutes later.
As you can probably predict, the bus was of course late. We didn’t get to set off until about 10 minutes later. This time we all got seats.
An hour later we were Mooloolaba. Quickly learning from my lesson I suggested that instead of another wild goose chase we would simply visit the Aquarium. This would be followed by a nice drink near the beach, rather than stretching our itinitery further.
We may not have seen the Fairy Pools, we may have rushed around like crazy people but as we sat in The beach Club by a Mooloolaba Beach and sipped on some choice drinks, reflecting on the ridiculousness of the day and also the beauty of the places we had seen; we were pretty happy.
Chatting about the last three weeks we had spent as a family before leisurely strolling back to our bus turned out to be rather idylic after all.
Noosa is relaxing and I’m sure that is true for most people. We simply experienced a different side of it.
We did Noosa our way and I wouldn’t swap that for the world. Or, for a dip in the secret Fairy Pool.