The hin­ter­land dis­cov­ery tour

Quaint towns and vil­lages and spec­tac­u­lar scenery are wait­ing to be ex­plored

Life & Style Weekend - - TRAVEL - BY Letea Ca­van­der

THE smoke ris­ing from the small fire in front of us made the hulk­ing and rock-strewn moun­tain in the back­ground start to shim­mer.

As the sun set, and the fire hissed and cracked and warmed our legs, Mt Cooran went from grey rock and green shrub to a black sil­hou­ette against the sky.

We were re­clin­ing in an ar­bour at The Dales Bou­tique Bed and Break­fast and look­ing at the peak of one of the moun­tains that form part of the Noosa hin­ter­land.

It was a re­lax­ing way to fin­ish a day of ex­plor­ing the re­gion. About 30 min­utes’ drive from Noosa’s fa­mous Hast­ings St a world of coun­try hospi­tal­ity awaits.

We had col­lapsed the night be­fore into a com­fort­able bed at The Dales and got to know own­ers Liza and David Hob­bins a lit­tle bet­ter over break­fast.

The cou­ple opened their home to guests about a year ago af­ter de­cid­ing on a busi­ness ven­ture that al­lowed them to work to­gether and at home.

“Guests can ex­pect com­plete rest and re­lax­ation,” Liza said. “That’s what we hope to achieve.

“We only take one book­ing party at a time ... so they’re not go­ing to run into any­one else ex­cept for us, as the hosts.”

The Hob­bins have planted an ex­ten­sive gar­den on their 1ha prop­erty at the base of Mt Cooran, and break­fast is pep­pered with home­grown pro­duce and home­made condi­ments.

Liza’s lemon and pas­sion­fruit curd was a par­tic­u­larly tasty treat that left me beg­ging for a jar of it to scoff at home.

There is much to do in the hin­ter­land and one of the eas­i­est ways for tourists and lo­cals to ex­plore it is to take part in the Noosa Coun­try Drive.

Visi­tors can make up their own route through towns in the hin­ter­land re­gion, or choose one of three set itin­er­ar­ies on­line.

Use one of the many ac­com­mo­da­tion op­tions in the hin­ter­land as a base, and then ex­plore at your leisure.


Our first stop was the Eu­mundi Mar­ket. The small town, about 15 min­utes’ drive south from Cooran, has un­der­gone a re­vi­tal­i­sa­tion and many cafes and re­tail shops line the main street.

The mar­ket, pop­u­lar with the re­gion’s visi­tors, seems to have an ever-grow­ing num­ber of stalls. Prints and other home­wares, health foods, cards and sta­tionery, jew­ellery, clothes and food are for sale.

Ac­cord­ing to the Eu­mundi and District His­tor­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion, Christa Bar­ton and Gail Perry-Somers came up with the idea of hold­ing a Euro­pean-style mar­ket in 1979.

That same year, three stall­hold­ers set up around the CWA hall. There were eight visi­tors and a turnover of $30.

Fast-for­ward 38 years and there are now 600 stalls with an an­nual vis­i­ta­tion of 1.6 mil­lion peo­ple.

Af­ter work­ing up an ap­petite by thread­ing among the stalls, we parked our­selves at the Bo­hemian Bungalow on Me­mo­rial Dr for lunch.

Selda and Ned Nolan took over about a year ago and have in­tro­duced a dis­tinct Mid­dle Eastern feel to some of their dishes, in cel­e­bra­tion of Selda’s Turk­ish roots.

They lived in Hong Kong for sev­eral years be­fore set­tling in Eu­mundi to raise their chil­dren.

“Our re­la­tion­ship is kind of based on food. I grew up in a big Turk­ish fam­ily ... and we know how good Turk­ish food can be, how good it can taste,” Selda said.

Ned, 34, an Aussie chef, brings about 18 years of ex­pe­ri­ence to the kitchen af­ter work­ing in sev­eral coun­tries.

The Is­raeli cous­cous with hum­mus and melt-in-your-mouth smoked lamb are a must-try. It is a ca­sual din­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, es­pe­cially if din­ers nab a spot on the bar seats by the win­dow so they can watch the world go by on the foot­path.

Af­ter fu­elling up, we hopped back in the car and made the Noosa Botanic Gar­dens our next stop.

Noosa Botanic Gar­dens

We half stum­bled upon the Greek am­phithe­atre in Noosa Botanic Gar­dens, in Cooroy, not ex­pect­ing to come across it so early into our gar­den jaunt.

Kids leapt down the semi-cir­cle of bench seats and a gag­gle of visi­tors (our­selves in­cluded) took cen­tre stage over an im­pres­sive star made of brick tiles and sang to an in­vis­i­ble crowd.

Through the per­fectly formed col­umns of the theatre stage the blue wa­ter of Lake Macdon­ald glis­tened in the af­ter­noon light.

We lin­gered at the am­phithe­atre, which was fin­ished in 1997, as the light changed and the lake wa­ter dulled as the sun went down.

Orig­i­nally farm­land, the gar­dens site was re­claimed by the

Noosa coun­cil in the 1950s and was used, in part, to dump rub­bish be­fore res­i­dent Ida Dun­can ap­proached coun­cil for per­mis­sion to clear it.

The gar­dens are a per­fect pit stop to let the kids run around, or buy food from the mar­kets and take a pic­nic there.

Too soon, it was time to head back to Cooran for din­ner.


Town favourite Clooney’s Res­tau­rant was pump­ing the night we dined, thanks to the monthly acous­tic night held in the town hall next door.

Per­form­ers con­verge on the hall, which in years gone by has also acted as a movie theatre and dance hall, to en­ter­tain a large crowd.

Clooney’s chef Chris­tine Jurss-Smith, 69, runs a tight ship. For­get about recipes, af­ter more than four decades be­hind the stove she makes dishes guided by her in­tu­ition.

“I like de­vel­op­ing my own dishes, and get­ting my own taste into things,” she said.

A gen­er­ous serve of lemon but­ter barra with veg­eta­bles, and a hearty size steak for him, had us rolling out the res­tau­rant door. We plunged into the crisp hin­ter­land air, which is much cooler and less hu­mid than on the coast. Re­mem­ber to pack a jumper or two as win­ter de­scends.

Cooran is named af­ter “gu­ran’’ or “ku­ran’’, mean­ing tall in the Kabi in­dige­nous lan­guage. Ex­perts say this might re­fer to Mount Cooran or to the More­ton Bay ash trees that grow there.

It is an eclec­tic lit­tle town where hip­ster meets her­itage and seems to work well to­gether.

In King St The Vin­tage Junc­tion of­fers cof­fee and a chance to sift through wares gath­ered from across the re­gion.

There is also a bit of a buzz about town as Bon­sai Brew­ery pre­pares to throw open its doors on the main street.

Kin Kin

An­other stop on the Noosa Coun­try Drive is Kin Kin.

This lit­tle des­ti­na­tion has not for­got­ten its log­ging past, with a stun­ning slab of wood tak­ing pride of place be­hind the bar at the Kin Kin pub.

The walls are lit­tered with con­trap­tions of years gone by, from wind-up sewing ma­chines to farm equip­ment crip­pled with rust.

Across the road, the Kin Kin Gen­eral Store (and also a res­tau­rant) has re­ceived a new lease on life thanks to chef Jodie Wil­liams.

Fri­day night is pizza night, and din­ers can ex­pect morsels with a num­ber of top­pings, which are given a quick blast in the out­door pizza oven.


The Eu­mundi Mar­ket is on ev­ery Wed­nes­day and Satur­day.

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