Noosa may only be 150km from the Queensland capital, but the route in between is packed with fun (and seriously delicious) diversions. Plan to spend a weekend enjoying sun-soaked moments with plenty of culinary diversions in between.
Wake up in your oh-so-dreamy bed at Sofitel Brisbane Central, which injects French glamour into the heart of the city. As hard as it is to drag yourself from under the covers, breakfast awaits at Suzette, the hotel’s signature restaurant and the ultimate perch for a full buffet or a la carte feast.
Once you’ve checked out and picked up your rental car for the weekend from Avis, it’s time to begin your drive from Brisbane to Noosa. No need to pack too many snacks – there are plenty of places to pause en route to refuel.
While you can reach Noosa in two hours from Brisbane, it would be a shame not to take in some of Queensland’s coastal drama. Like Bribie Island, 85km north of the capital and connected to the mainland by a bridge. On one side of the island is a marine park home to dugongs, turtles and dolphins, while mangroves lacing the shore are a magnet for crabs and all manner of birdlife.
Linger at Annie Lane café for the island’s best coffee, as well as eye-popping shakes topped with everything from doughnuts to ice cream.
The hardest decision you now have to make is – coast or hinterland? Choose the former route and you can stop off at the likes of Golden Beach (great for swimming) or Kinds Beach (amazing surf) as you head north along the Sunshine Coast. If you decide to venture inland, the hiking trails of the Glass House Mountains await – think scenic peaks rising out of the rainforest.
Based just north of Golden Beach in Caloundra, Ocean View Helicopters offers a bird’s-eye vantage of the region, taking you on a twirl along the coast before dropping you at Flame Hill Vineyard for lunch. Is there any better way to make an entrance? But you don't need a helicopter to enjoy this vine-laced patch of paradise: it's just a 40-kilometre drive northwest of Caloundra.
Once you arrive, enjoy the estate’s delicious wines (talented vintners make everything from pinot gris to shiraz) as well as a paddock-to-plate meal served alfresco overlooking the countryside.
Back in your car in Caloundra, it’s a short drive on to the Sofitel Noosa Pacific Resort, where the afternoon indulgences are set to continue. This grande dame sits pretty along Noosa’s main Hastings Street, which means the waves are just steps from where you lie at the hotel’s Aqua Day Spa. Bliss out with healing body wraps using mud from the Dead Sea, perhaps, or a hot-stone massage designed to ease car-weary limbs.
Hot tip from Cook & Creative influencer Jessica Ngyuen: The spa is a lovely place to hang out. Arrive early and bring your swimwear to make the most of the hydrotherapy facilities.
You can glide straight from the Spa to dinner at Noosa Beach House, the signature restaurant within Sofitel Noosa Pacific Resort. Cuisine here celebrates the Sunshine Coast through dishes like crispy Moreton Bay bug served with fermented chilli and slaw on a pillow-like brioche bun; braised local lamb shoulder drizzled with chimichurri; and raw Mooloolaba tuna, given a zing thanks to a soy ginger dressing, avocado purée, sesame, puffed rice and nori.
Hot tip from Jessica Ngyuen: The chef here is ex-Three Blue Ducks and is really talented. The produce used is exceptional. Try the Moreton Bay bug bun, lobster on the half shell, and butterflied prawns with miso and finger lime.
Your home base for the night is Peppers Noosa Resort & Villas, nestled within the ferns and palms of Noosa National Park. If your afternoon’s activities didn’t soothe your soul, then your room here surely will, with views extending to the ocean over swathes of green, and spaces decorated in a calming natural palette of beige, grey and pearl.
Follow the lead of locals to walk through the national park that surrounds. This slice of nature spans 2,883 hectares, incorporating Noosa headland, Lake Weyba, Peregian and Coolum. Arguably the most popular trail here is the Coastal Walk, tracing the coastline for 5.4km – you exit the same way you came in. Keep watch for koalas in the trees and dolphins, turtles and whales (June through November) offshore, then cool off with a swim at Tea Tree Bay. There’s nothing quite as restorative as that moment you duck below a wave…
Saltwater therapy complete, it’s time to drive inland to the Original Eumundi Markets. Held every Wednesday and Saturday, these are the largest of their kind in Australia, uniting hundreds of stalls selling everything from fashion and jewellery to food and homewares. Bring your stamina.
Hot tip from Jessica Ngyuen: On the way to Eumundi, stop off in Noosaville to grab a bite at Rick’s Artisan Pies & Sourdough. It’s an unassuming place next to a petrol station selling the most amazing pies with fillings like steak and mushroom, prawn and snapper, and gunpowder lamb with pineapple salsa.
As tempting as it is to graze your way around the markets, save some space for lunch just up the road at The Doonan. Set across two manicured hectares, this establishment is part restaurant, part ice-creamery, part cellar door, part pizzeria. It’s hard to know where to look and what to order, there’s so much on offer. We recommend beginning with a Mooloolaba prawn roll, followed by a fig-and-zucchini-flower pizza and Coral Coast barramundi.
Your final stop on this road trip is like Noosa in a mouthful. Visit Sunshine & Sons to sample pineapple parfait gin, dragonfruit gin and spiced rum, with each bottle distilled here dressed in packaging as colourful as the region. Pick up a bottle to take home for the ultimate souvenir.