The world's best cities for surfers: Noosa
With Julian Wilson...
From Stab issue 74:
Words by Mimi Lamontagne | Photos by Ryan Miller
Best place to go for a drink: In Noosa? Ha. I’d probably say in the late afternoon you’d go to the Noosa Surf Club. It overlooks all the points and it’s really nice and relaxing once the sun starts going down.
Best place to go for breakfast: There’s this place called Café la Monde. It’s been there forever and it’s the only place I’ll go for breakfast when I’m in Noosa. I actually live at Coolum, which is about 15 minutes away, but when the family goes up there we go to Café la Monde for breakfast. The food is good and it’s in a really good spot… on Hastings Street, outdoors and near the beach, but not too hectic.
Where to sleep: It depends. There’s actually a really cool backpackers there called Halse Lodge for the budget traveller. It’s a YHA hostel and it’s only, I don’t know, $30 if you want a dorm room. But then there are some really nice places to stay on the beach as well. I’d say the French Quarter is a really nice place to stay if you’ve got the money. It’s almost $400 a night though, so you have to be willing to spend that.
Where to surf if it’s pumping: There’s five points in the main area of Noosa and they’re all sand points so the sand changes with every swell that comes in. If the sand is good, the points are awesome but my go-to place is First Point. I grew up surfing there, I surf there whenever I’m home and it’s a really cool place to hang out. I go down to catch up with friends and just hang out – spend a day at the beach – and it’s cool because down at first point you can ride any sort of board.
Where to surf if it’s a swell that ain’t hitting the points: I surf Coolum if it’s onshore. It’s on a little bit of a point where the beach turns and it’s protected from a northerly or southerly. It’s the only protected spot to surf, where anywhere else from Noosa to Coolum is pretty much just one straight beach. There aren’t really any other options.
The main crowd: It’s a big family vibe up there. It’s essentially a family outing to go surf Noosa and hang out. There are a few hipsters cruising in at the moment, especially over the past couple of years, but they’re not the main contingent. It’s more just people riding whatever they want and hanging out. The waves are a bit softer and it’s not like you have to ride some crazy shortboard out there… there are a whole lot of longboards going around. The waves make it fun to ride basically anything out there – it’s not like the Gold Coast where it’s really intense in the lineup.
Best time of year: Christmas through April is the best. That’s prime time, summertime, and the best time of year for waves because of the cyclone swells. For Noosa to be good, you need the cyclones that come off north-east Queensland, the ones from off the top so they spin down and hit us. It doesn’t always break on the Sunshine Coast and these few months are really the only surfable times. Otherwise it’s south swells that sneak in.
Where to go to get away from the family and sit down with a drink: We don’t have many options. It’s definitely not that kinda scene. There are a few little bars… there’s a backpackers bar called the Koala bar. A lot of the locals go there because there are always tourists around, looking to party a little bit. But there’s not much – after 12am it’s done. It’s more a lifestyle thing goin’ on, enjoying the beach. There aren’t too many distractions and not a whole lot of exciting stuff happens.
What to do away from the beach: Well, the entire focus of up there is the beach but you only have to drive about 45 minutes inland and you start to hit the mountains. There are some really cool places to go and visit for hiking. But in Noosa? It’s all about the beach. The only other things I can think of are golf and shopping. There are a lot of golf courses and a lot of shops on Hastings Street. Hastings is the main drag and it’s pretty fancy… you get some higher-class shops.
Where to go for dinner: When I’m home, it’s straight to mum’s kitchen. I very rarely go out for dinner when I’m at home, because it’s so rare. There are definitely a few places to go, but I wouldn’t be the guy to ask.
Where to avoid: Nowhere. You’re pretty safe up on the Sunshine Coast. There are no real traps anywhere and the majority of people are there for holiday anyways.
Best haircut: You want a haircut? There’s a really cool spot called Captain Sip Sops in Noosaville and they carry a bunch of Thomas Surfboards. They have this shed where they make mals and shortboards, all custom stuff, and then this big area where they do barber style haircuts and just hang out.
Where to buy a board: For a custom board that’ll suit the surf in Noosa, I’d go to Captain Sip Sops for sure.
What beach to go to without surf in mind: The main beach at Noosa, for sure. The majority of the time there’s not waves up there, and there are five beaches without swell that just become bays. It’s really relaxing.
Where to go to pick up a babe: The Koala bar place is where the locals go and where the tourists are. It’s fun, for sure, if that’s what you’re into.
Biggest pros and cons: I’m always travelling so I never get sick of being at home, but I’m sure if you spent too much time up there you’d get tired of it. There’s not that much to do. But for someone like myself… I just love going to the beach and playing golf. It’s simple and I really like that lifestyle but I guess there’s not a whole lot of opportunity apart from what nature offers. The beaches are beautiful and the lifestyle is clean and good and fun but you could for sure get bored up there.
Where to go to get out of town: Maroochydore is built-up and has a bunch of shops and shopping centres. There’s some fun stuff to do there but I don’t go unless I have to. There’s a cool cable ski park there – you can ride surfboards or wakeboards, or whatever, and you hold onto this cable and get pulled around by jumps and all that kinda stuff. It’s pretty hard and it’s hilarious to watch people try.
Compared to the Gold Coast: It’s nothing like going to the Gold Coast. You relax, you unwind and you enjoy the beach. The easiest and simplest of pleasures.