The hard shell in Noosa

Swell de­signs and bril­liant boards on Queens­land’s Sun­shine Coast

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Travel & Indulgence - PHIL JARRATT

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

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