Looking for something a bit more energetic than an amble or a stroll? Why not try the Noosa National Park Coastal Track - a 5.4 kilometre trail that runs from the northern side of Sunshine Beach all the way to Noosa or vice versa. The vice versa would probably be easier as you don't have a million and one steps (slight exaggeration) to negotiate from the Sunshine Beach side.
Take time out to smell the 'roses' - Image: Elaine de Wet
We parked our car at the public carpark in Seaview Terrace, Sunshine Beach and started our walk from here. The backpack was organised (thanks to hubby, who thinks of everything) with water bottles and a mobile for emergencies and off we went.
We had to get up there somehow - Image: Elaine de Wet
The first section to get into the Noosa National Park is along the beach, so take time out to smell the 'roses'. To access the Park we had to succumb to the dreaded million and one stairs, with lots of rest stops on route up (to admire and take photos of the views, of course). Luckily for us, the National Park had very graciously thought of everything and had even provided seating for all of us wanna-be photographers.
The coastal track in this section was a bit more rugged, rocky terrain through the bush. Sturdy footwear is a good idea. This section includes Devils Kitchen, a rocky outcrop which can result in spectacular waves breaking during stormy weather and Lion Rock. From this headland you may be lucky to see turtles, dolphins or whales. Even with whale watching season coming to an end, we were fortunate enough to spot a whale breaching. A monitor lizard rushed passed us, nearly scaring me to death - always a good indication that the natural bush is alive and well and healthy.
This Monitor nearly scared me to death - Image: Elaine de Wet
The next section of the Coastal Track took us down to the beach, Alexandria Bay, the Sunshine Coast's unofficial 'nudie beach' - and nope, I was totally unaware of this and definitely didn't attempt to take any 'scenic' photos here either. This stretch of coastline is relatively uninhabited but does provide one with the opportunity to remove shoes and socks for a toe-dip in the water to cool off.
The Queensland Parks and Wildlife Services has installed emergency radios all along the Coastal Track, which gives one a sense of security and peace of mind especially as we noticed that there were quite a few members of the fairer sex out and about on their own.
Views over Alexandria Bay, the unofficial 'nudie' beach - Image: Elaine de Wet
Once you've enjoyed the water and beach at Alexandria Bay, there is another set of stairs, the ideal spot to sit and put one's shoes and socks back on. This act is a necessity and has absolutely nothing to do with one perhaps needing another rest. Onward and upward to, as far as I'm concerned, the most spectacular panoramic views of this specific coastline.
Hell's Gate is on the edge of the cliff with a sheer drop down to the ocean and no barriers, so children need close supervision at this spot. Breathtaking, spectacular, awesome don't seem to be adequate adjectives to describe the sensational views from here.
Cormorants looking out for their next catch - Image: Elaine de Wet
There were cormorants on the rocks sunbathing and looking for their next catch in the ocean; and even a mermaid, looking out to sea - what a rarity? Just thought I'd drop that one in here… but, if you don't believe me, see photo below. The ocean breezes at Hell's Gate were just what the doctor had ordered and perfect timing too, especially after the second lot of stairs.
What a rarity...even a Mermaid - Image: Elaine de Wet
Picnic Cove and Winch Cove form part of the Granite Bay area, a beach which constantly changes between sand and large granite pebbles (more like granite boulders), depending on storms and tides. At high tide the beach can totally disappear. This part of the track is high above the beach with several tracks leading down to the beach for a picnic lunch or a swim. It is, however, quite isolated and one has to be aware of this when deciding to swim in this area.
The views leave one quite speechless - Image: Elaine de Wet
Tea Tree Bay is the place to spot koalas in the wild. This was a real thrill for me, as I have only ever seen them in koala sanctuaries or reserves - and we got to see two, happily sleeping in two different giant gum trees.
What's a walk without a Koala? - Image: Elaine de Wet
As Tea Tree Bay is in such close proximity to Hastings Street this section of the Track gets quite busy with holiday-makers and visitors looking for a short quick stroll from Noosa. The upside is that the Track here is paved so strollers and wheel-chairs are all able to access a section of the absolutely amazing Noosa National Park.
To finish off our extremely energetic morning we found the Information Centre and to my delight, there was a little kiosk selling refreshments, the perfect finale to sit back under the shade and have something cool to drink.
The estimated duration time to complete the Coastal Track is 3 hours for the 5.4 kilometre distance - we actually completed it in 2 hours and fifteen minutes (our time included the seated photography session on the first set of stairs and putting my shoes and socks on at the second set of stairs). I'm no expert, but feel that the level of difficulty for this particular trail would be easy to moderate - except for the stairs - so it is very do-able.