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A day with little Miss Sunshine

winter 10



I PLACE MY THIRD EYE ON THE YOGA MAT, as instructed by yoga teacher Geraldine, and snort a deep breath of air. My lungs balloon to full capacity. I exhale with a hiss and stretch back into child pose. 

I’ve driven forty-five minutes from my hinterland home, rolling out of bed when the stars were still twinkling in the night sky, to attend this dawn (6am start) salutation that occurs every Friday at Sunshine Beach.   

I whisper ‘Om Shanti Shanti Shanti’ along with my fellow contortionists and finish the class satisfied that I made the effort to attend.

I’m here to explore Sunshine Beach, an uber cool coastal village that is like a secret pocket positioned between Noosa Heads to the north and Sunrise Beach to the south. The Pacific Ocean tugs like a child at the bottom of Sunshine’s skirt. She is a gatekeeper to the Noosa National Park, the shining jewel in her crown.

I meander, and in wandering I stumble across a weathered timber staircase on Seaview Terrace that is hidden, squeezed between two coastal homes.

The stairs plummet onto the beach, depositing me near a tea tree-stained, fresh water creek that seeps into the ocean. A lanky border collie greets me momentarily before doing a burn out in the sand to chase a ball – this is the section of the beach where dogs roam free. It is a happy playpen where schnauzers, boxers, German shepherds and poodles make friends with tails wagging and tongues salivating.

The waves chase my bare feet as I head north towards a set of concrete stairs that zig-zag up the headland of Noosa National Park. Ink-stained butterflies with amber spots chatter their wings between flowering plants. The scrub blankets the headland with blooming banksias, pandanus, grass trees and shea oaks. They sag across the path, threatening to erase it all together. I keep climbing, one step at a time, my own breath drowning out the strum of the ocean. Two thirty-something-year-old men in boardies and joggers pass me leaping up the stairs two at a time. They glance at their watches, beading with sweat, turn around and descend only to repeat the climb again and again. 

The stairs eventually end and a narrow smokey sand track with sleeping tree roots and smoothed rocks weaves me between trees. I stop to look up and find myself overlooking Sunshine Beach to the south, a glorious view that would put a best-selling postcard to shame. 

Wisps of clouds are strewn carelessly across the powder blue sky. Mount Coolum resembles a sleeping giant on the horizon and the towering accommodation blocks of Mooloolaba can be seen in the distance. 

Surfers bob like pieces of cork in the turquoise waters, waiting for the next set to curl and rumble into shore. Geometric-shaped houses sit cheek-to-cheek, tucked behind the dunes blanketed in vegetation. 

Walkers, runners, sun worshipers and families are silhouetted along the warm golden sands that roll through Marcus Beach, Peregian Beach and Coolum Beach, ending at Point Arkwright. Even though it’s mid week in winter, I can imagine in the height of summer there is ample beach to share with the crowds.

This is a beach that allows you the room to sprawl out with the luxury of shaking your towel and not blasting your beach neighbour with a sand storm.  

In the distance, the Sunshine Beach Surf Lifesaving Club crouches in the dunes, surrounded by Ed Webb Park, sitting on the corner of Duke Street and Belmore Terrace.

In 1981 the Sunshine Beach SLSC first opened its clubhouse doors, a rickety shoebox-sized tin shed. The club began when Sunshine Beach identity Marjorie Tripp and twenty-five local surfers joined forces to form eight patrols of five to six members each.

To this day the chivalrous men and women of the Sunshine Beach SLSC, clad in their butter yellow and tomato red uniforms, volunteer their time. Every weekend between the September school holidays and the May Day weekend they watch over bathers who float like jellyfish in the sea. The rest of the year council lifeguards patrol the open beach.

On a Sunday in the summer months more than 240 nippers scramble like ghost crabs between the ocean and sand. I imagine them lean as whippets with sun bleached hair and bronzed skin learning the coveted secrets of the ocean.

I drink in the view one last time. 

Continuing to follow the coastal track north, the sand underfoot bleaches to the colour of pearls. The path contracts like a slender ribbon passing by Devils Kitchen and Lion Rock, where it disperses into the beach at Alexandria Bay – the famous nudist beach.

For generations, barefooted surfers have trotted along these coastal bush tracks that tattoo the national park to surf the points at ‘A Bay’, a secluded, north-facing bay – a dawn surfing ritual in these parts.

I eventually find myself back on Duke Street after being spat out from the Alexandria Bay track onto Parkedge Road, one of the entry points to the Noosa National Park. 

Duke Street is compact and contained to one side, with less than 30 retailers and a predominance of real estate agencies.  

I wander past a bespoke homewares and apparel shop and a funky-designed tapas bar. Further down the street there is the essential general store, a buzzing, eclectic restaurant and at the end of the strip there is a new complex with a modern Asian restaurant and cocktail bar meets beach-style bistro meets boutique bottle shop.

At one section of Duke Street, I sit under one of the two sprawling poinciana trees that are encircled by expansive timber decks that hug their trunks. As an outsider looking in there is a relaxed, coastal rhythm to Sunshine. It strikes me as a true blue coastal village where you would know your neighbour by their first name. 

Mothers nursing takeaway coffees park their prams alongside the tree verandahs. Local kids transform into monkeys as they climb and hang off the wide, twisted limbs of an ancient fig tree.

An elderly couple dressed in matching beige hold hands to steady themselves as they take careful, calculated steps down the brick pavement. Weathered posters cling to a telegraph pole advertising live music gigs, surfboards for sale, new puppies and an art exhibition. Pushbikes lean against each other waiting for their riders.

Couples transform park benches into feasting tables, revealing gourmet delights from brown paper bags. The street is cloaked in nature with flowering paper barks, shea oaks and various mature trees.
At the bottom of the hill with a corridor view to the ocean is Ed Webb Park. Within the park, towering pine trees resemble giant scarecrows that shadow picnic benches, a playground and barbecue facilities. 

The endearing aspect about little Miss Sunshine is that her heart beats to the village drum. At its core it’s a coastal village that is surrounded by Mother Nature’s greatest gifts. 

Namaste. My spirit blesses yours. 

 
SAUNTER AT SUNSHINE AS NOMINATED BY SALT FACEBOOK FANS

Chow down on an organic beef burger with gherkins, cheese, potato skins and aioli at Mooshka restaurant. 

Go native at the clothes-optional beach at Alexandria Bay accessed via the Alexandria Bay track or the coastal track via Parkedge Road or the beach.

Visit Embassy XO’s cocktail bar with a group of girlfriends and ask for a Geisha Girl cocktail. This complex cocktail consists of fresh strawberries with a rose water vodka balanced with a herbal vanilla liqueur, guava nectar and a white jasmine tea glaze garnished with a vanilla sugar rim. Enjoy this accompanied by the lobster dumplings. 
 
Welcome the new day with an hour’s yoga workout for $10 at 6am every Tuesday and Friday at Dolphins Beachhouse.

If you like to run a seriously good circuit, start at Parkedge Road on the Alexandria Bay track and follow it until it transforms into the coastal track and then circle back on either the Tanglewood track or, if you’re feeling super fit, the Noosa Hill track.

Perch up at the groovy, award-winning Marble Bar and watch the world go by while feasting on their more-ish tapas. Try the seared sea scallops on a bed of Wakame, a Japanese sesame seaweed salad served with pickled ginger and wasabi mayonnaise washed down with a pot of Asahi beer.

Seek retail therapy at Walker & Beck, a bespoke boutique with silk and linen apparel, one-off artefacts and must-have homewares.

words kate johns photos anastasia kariofyllidis 
 

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