Sunny Side Opinion
It never hurts to keep searching for sunshine

Australia Series

“Of all the books in the world, the best stories are found between the pages of a passport.” - Saber Ben Hassen

Hang Noosa

Noosa: that guy at the party that would rather not be there, he'd rather be adventuring in the rain forest, surfing, or camping.  He had a man bun before it was cool to have a man bun.

You've now exited the Gold Coast and entered the Sunshine Coast.  (Can I just say I really admire whoever came up with the names of the regions of Australia?)

Although these two places don't sound like they would be all too different by their names, my time in Noosa (Sunshine Coast) was a vastly distinct experience from my time in Surfer's Paradise (Gold Coast).  That's one thing I want to convey about the amazingness of an East Coast Australia trip, each city has such a unique adventure waiting for you.

Noosa aka Noosa Heads is small town bordered by equal parts rain forest, everglades, and beach.  The best thing about this destination, in my opinion, is that it's surrounded by masses of nature that seem virtually untouched.  The lengthy beach is one of the most unblemished shores I've ever seen.  The rain forest in Noosa National Park is dense and lively, and the Everglades held brilliant wilderness.

Despite its' strong tourism industry, Noosa has a way of making you feel as though you're one of the first people to visit.  There's something really neat about feeling as though your footprints are ground breaking.  As a solo traveler, I have to admit that's one of my favorite sensations.

Instead of booking a hostel for Noosa, I decided to rough it and camp there.  I went to a bush camp called Gagaju and had the time of my life!  It was kind of free camping grounds, but as you know there's no such thing as a free bush camp, which is why I paid a $50 "National Park fee."  Still, that's a lot cheaper than a couple days in a hostel and the camp owners provided us with canoes, paddles, and a little bit of directional advice to explore the everglades.  By directional advice, I mean they suggested we "go left at the first fork and then watch out for snakes."

I spent three days exploring this waterway with strangers that I can now call friends. We were on the water for hours upon hours, sometimes getting lost, sometimes racing, and often stopping our paddles to appreciate the humbling stillness of our beautiful surroundings.

Evenings at Gagaju Bush Camp are just like you might expect, everyone helps make dinner and then sits around a fire to share stories and play party games. S'mores were involved too, obviously.

My advice: Don't pay attention to the online reviews of Gagaju Bush Camp, people gave it low ratings, complained about the bugs, and whined that the sleeping arrangements weren't ideal. Full disclosure: yes there are bugs and no there is not a Tempur-Pedic mattress included in your tent but hey, it's a bush camp! That's the point!  The scenery/experience is totally worth it, and paddling all day in the sun will exhaust you anyway, I know I slept well.

Favorite person I met along the way: Murray Sadiland, a local police officer who helped me get my bags out of a locker hire in Noosa.

So what had happened was, I stored half of my luggage in an electronic locker station at a bus stop before going to the bush camp, and when I returned four days later to get my stuff, the computer that you use to open the lockers was busted. I ended up missing my Greyhound bus because I couldn’t get my baggage out.

At this point in time my phone was dead so I couldn't call the number listed at the locker station, the only people who were at the station had left on the bus I was supposed to be on, so the only thing I could think to do was to walk to the police station to ask for help. But how was I to figure out where the station was?

Picture this: A young female with a big backpack, dirty clothes, scraped up knees,  and messy hair (from the bush camp) who is sweating profusely walks into your cafe and asks where the police station is.  It wasn't my best look.

The hostess put a hand on my shoulder and asked if I wanted to sit and have a glass of water while she called someone.  

She thought I was a runaway.

Fast forward to when I clear that misconception up and make it to the station, I meet Murray Sadiland. He actually had a master key for the lockers! Hallelujah!  We drove back to the station only to find that the lockers were so old and rusty that the key didn't work. I was so hot and tired that I was starting to say my final goodbyes to half of my stuff.

*Note: what I'm carrying with me on my east coast trip is a backpack and a duffle, these are the only things I actually posses in the world at this point in my life (I got rid of everything else I had) and I'm about to reduce what I own by another 50%.  Things are just things though, right?

"It's only after we've lost everything that we're free to do anything."

But no.  Murray broke me out state of somber in which I was trying to console myself with Fight Club quotes and said, "Hey, don't worry, I'm not gonna give up on ya mate"  He made phone calls for an hour and finally got hold of an operator that opened up the locker via internet magic. When I saw my duffle I was so relieved that I had to give Murray a big old hug.  I'll never forget how hard he worked just for me, a young naive backpacker.

Moral of the story: don't use the locker service at Noosa's bus station.

 

Elyse Snyder