The hard shell in Noosa
Swell designs and brilliant boards on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast
ASKEW, NOOSA HEADS THE BIG SHELL TROPICAL LIFESTYLE STORE, TEWANTIN
Owner Tim Kenway is a real estate novelist who likes nothing better than those rare days when no one disturbs his creativity by coming in to buy stuff. Partner Pauline Daniel, whose own creativity is responsible for much of the recycled fabric furnishings on offer, understandably has a different view.
For more than a decade, the pair has presided over the eccentric collection of shells, beach kitsch and memorabilia, bamboo lanai furniture and surf art that fills their humble bungalow in the back blocks of Tewantin on the Noosa River. The eponymous big shell that partially obstructs entry to the shop was the handiwork of Bob Anderson, who opened the place in the 1960s when big things were the most important contributions to the Queensland tourism economy. Sadly, a concrete shell lacked the pizzazz of a pineapple, and the venture evolved into a shell shop.
Under Kenway and Daniel, the collection of more than 100,000 exotic shells has been complemented by equally extraordinary man-made collectables, reflecting the beach culture both grew up with. Kenway’s shopperstopper hot tip? ‘‘I can’t go past a whale jaw or a crab skeleton for value for money.’’ More: bigshell.com.au. Lifestyle and beachwear store Askew had its beginnings in Auckland more than 20 years ago when founders Annette Fraser and Paul Kostromin saw a gap in the market, servicing beach lovers such as themselves. At its peak Askew had five New Zealand stores, but in 2009 they closed all bar their Auckland flagship and jumped the pond to Noosa with teenaged sons Ethan and Marlon, intent on a more relaxed beach lifestyle.
Askew 2, now in Hastings Street after beginning life at Peregian Beach, carries an eclectic mix of beachhouse homewares, now augmented by 15-year-old Ethan’s surfskate-freestyle brand, Six Stitches. (The name came from a head wound his mate suffered while surfing a Noosa cyclone swell.) Although pitched at a much younger market, Ethan’s loose and casual clothing is the perfect match for his parents’ taste in furnishings, and has caught on so well with the young crew that Six Stitches now has its own sponsored surf team. More: askewnoosa.com.
WHITEBEACH HOME & LIVING, PEREGIAN BEACH
Walking into sweet-smelling Whitebeach at the Peregian village is like entering the home of a friend whose possessions you covet, except that rather than be eaten up by envy, you can buy them. And there is so much to discover in this store favoured by those who have beachhouses hidden in the grassy dunes of the northern Sunshine Coast. Owner Robyn Johnston grew up by the beach in Sydney, and her love of its natural forms has influenced her as a designer. When she made the seachange, she brought her interior design consultancy with her and now runs it in tandem with the shop.
From simple yet elegant furniture priced in the thousands to candles by Noosaville’s A Little Bit Tarty, Whitebeach is full of design surprises, such as Melanie Sharpham’s Eucalypt ceramics from WA, hand screen-printed cushions, runners and wall boxes from Bonnie and Neil in Melbourne, and old framed surfing prints from Coffs Harbour photographer Bob Weeks. Johnston’s philosophy is to buy Australian first, and mostly from individuals rather than companies. More: whitebeachnoosa.com.au.
BOOM SHANKAR, NOOSAVILLE
An unprepossessing and rather unlovely shed in Noosaville’s light industrial area is the unlikely global headquarters and original retail outlet for Boom Shankar, a fashion import house started 15 years ago by Dui Cameron. But the no-frills exterior is quickly forgotten when you check out the dazzling array of original prints on the finest Indian cotton.
The emphasis is on fashion elegance rather than Third World-made resort wear. The pieces travel well and Boom Shankar now wholesales to more than 200 stores in Australia and New Zealand, and also has a booming online business. But the Noosaville shop is the only place you’re going to see the entire collection, and low overheads mean good prices. More: boomshankar.com.au.
TIMBUKTU TO KATHMANDU, NOOSAVILLE
This purpose-built showroom, just a block back from Noosa River, boasts an extraordinary range of exotic beads, jewellery, artefacts, pottery and rugs from Africa, India and the Himalayas, the products of the owners’ 20-year search for exotic treasures in out-of-the-way places. ‘‘We’ll look for stuff anywhere, but my one rule is if the tanks are rolling down the street, we stay in the hotel until they’ve gone,’’ says Simon Manning, a former theatre production manager who, with wife Eva, first turned his passion for collecting into a business when the pair opened African Escape in Hastings Street in 1990.
The shop developed a huge following with locals and tourists enchanted by the tribal art and bead gallery, and their customers followed when, in 1999, the Mannings relocated from high-rent main street retail to the developing designer strip in Noosaville. They have one of the most compre-
hensive collections of beads, j ewellery, primitive artefacts and textiles in the country, gathered from two trips a year across the trade routes of Africa, the Middle East, India and the Himalayas. More: timbuktu.com.au.
CREATIVE ARMY, NOOSAVILLE
The 2006 world longboard surfing champion, Josh Constable, with 37 career titles under his belt, including six Australian championships, is well known in his field. What is not so well known is his artistic bent, inspired in part by wife Anna, who once was the top half of the world champion tandem surfing team. Anna has dabbled in painting for years (on canvas and on surfboards) and convinced Josh to go commercial with funky art on superbly crafted retro surfboards. The two hand on to their surfboard glasser the colour concepts that give the brand its distinctive look. The result is Creative Army, which Josh describes as a ‘‘collide-a-scope’’ of all his experiences in the waves, in relationships and in the many countries he has visited as a surfer. Each board is handmade and no two are identical, making them one-of-akind pieces of art.
Creative Army longboards and shortboards are made to ride, but many end up on the feature walls of beachhouses. By appointment only. More: creativearmy.com.au.
TWIG AND GRACE, COOROY
What began as a florist a few years back in the pleasant Noosa hinterland town of Cooroy has morphed into the creative hub of the village, with craft groups regularly taking advantage of the big old table in the coffee house for their meetings, and younger tree-changers dropping in to check out the changing selection of vintage clothes and homewares.
Owner Dezley Hughes had been in the flower business in Wagga, NSW, for more than a decade when she and her family moved north six years ago. A former second-hand dealer’s premises on the outskirts of town seemed the perfect place for her to blend her flowers with other elements of country style. Twig and Grace opened four years ago and quickly developed a loyal following.
This is a friendly, relaxed operation where you can order your flowers over coffee and cake, chat to the locals and admire the vintage pieces or furnishings by Lazybones, or Elk jewellery. More: twigandgrace.com.
top Designer surfboards at Creative Army, Noosaville above Mugs at lifestyle and beachware store Askew, Noosa Heads right Mask from Timbuktu to Kathmandu, Noosaville opposite page Twig and Grace, Cooroy, Noosa hinterland