Christmas was pretty pleasant at the Opinion Dominion household, seeing relatives and friends that we haven't for some time; and on Boxing Day, heading up for a too short stay at Noosaville - that beautiful "just around the corner from Noosa" part of the world that we used to holiday in, but had given a miss for a number of years, especially the last two summers that had the horrendous weather.
It's easier from where we live to visit the Gold Coast, but (apart from that coast's rainforest hinterland areas, which are beautiful but not part of a normal beach holiday) I still say that the Sunshine Coast (the Noosa end of it in particular) runs rings around the area from Southport to the border for physical beauty. Of course, the fact that as a kid my family used to take summer holidays on the beach at Maroochydore, where camping seemed to stretch for miles on either side of the lifesaver clubhouse may influence my feelings as well. Here's how happy being at the beach used to make me:
(I feel pretty much the same about a good beach holiday 50 years later.)
But seriously, have a look at how nice the water is in these couple of photos, the first of the river at Noosaville just 30 m or so from where we stayed. (If you don't care for my efforts at producing a moving panorama effect, just click on it and see the whole stitched thing*):
(I'll slip back into nostalgia for a moment and share a photo of me at - I think - Cotton Tree near the mouth of the Maroochy River some years ago:
and as an aside, note how annoying it is that, even without eating more than before, my almost-post-middle-age torso is wanting to revert to that shape.)
Back to Noosa Heads 2012, where we still managed to find a car park in the bushy part at the end of Hastings Street provided we got there by about 8 am or after about 3.30pm:
I was extremely happy that the weather was good for the whole week this year: just one threatened afternoon storm that curtailed things a bit but that was it. South Easterly winds picked up on the last couple of days, but Noosa Heads is well sheltered from them and the surf was always gentle but intermittently large enough to be fun for people on body boards. The water seemed particularly glassy and clear and warm this year. (I have long maintained that you only have to go 20 km south of the Queensland border to find that the ocean water feels noticeably colder, even at the height of summer. On the other hand, even if you brave the potential killer jelly fish of tropical north Queensland waters in summer, they are like having a tepid bath and not very refreshing at all. Water at the Sunshine Coast is just right.)
Noosaville still has a great bunch of cafes and bars on the riverfront, although (sad to say) I don't recommend having a meal in the "French bistro" there. The owners do seem French and bake a nice croissant and assorted pastries for breakfast, but their evening meals are distinctly ordinary. [On the other hand, if you are visiting Southbank in Brisbane, I do strongly recommend French Martini on Grey Street, which we ate at before Christmas. Servings sizes are not huge, but the food was very pleasing.] Back at Noosaville, for simple takeaway, the Red Emperor fish and chip shop opposite Pelican Beach on the river continues to do excellent work feeding hundreds of people a night; Elvis's takeaway next door does decent standard burgers; many of the local pizzas are good and most of the more upmarket places also do takeaway if you don't care to eat in. It is a good place to eat.
We also hired a boat for a morning of fishing, and my son was happy to catch his first edible sized fish, a whiting. I didn't realise before that there is a stretch of the river behind a canal developed part which has a a large stretch of foreshore left bushy: if you nose your boat towards that side and don't look behind you, you can imagine for a minute that you are in a very undeveloped river:
I must have forgotten to ask for a million dollars in the end of year Gold Lotto, or maybe it was released under false pretenses.
Anyway, all in all, a very good time was had, both in 1962/3 and 2012.
* Readers who are interested in stitching photos together for a panorama, and who (like me) have misplaced software for that which came with an older camera, might be interested to note that I found Microsoft's free ICE program did the job very well. I also actually have deleted my kids from 2 of these photos using the clone tool in PhotoImpact, which has always seemed to me to be a good cheap alternative to Photoshop.