I travelled around the world in a 12-week trip that started in Southampton UK and ended in Hong Kong. Most of it on segments of Cunard World cruise, first on Queen Victoria and then Queen Elizabeth. This 12-part series covers the journey, experiences and tips – one for each week of the journey. This post covers week eight which we spent in Australia, you can read the previous week seven here.
Australia (Sydney and Noosa)
Day 51 (1 March) Sydney
Having settled into the Four Seasons and venturing out to the gorgeous Bondi Beach for some beach, sea and people watching, the reality of being off the ship after so many weeks felt unsettling. We had grown used to the simplicity of life on board, where things were on tap, within easy reach and there were few decisions to be made – like where to eat.
On the positive side, we now had fast high-speed Internet access and I felt connected to the world again. Although after so many weeks of expensive and slow connectivity, I found myself staring at my devices wondering what I should do beyond the few tasks I was used to (checking email, Facebook, Instagram, downloading the Times newspaper and attempting to download podcasts). It did also mean we could FaceTime people at home and catch up.
Last night we had dinner with friends (Helen and Maryanne) at their house after strolling through the Botanical Gardens, which were about a fifteen-minute walk from the hotel. They were beautiful and well worth a visit. We also spent time at the 25-metre swimming pool and explored the city centre.
Watch my video tour and review of the Four Seasons Premier City and Harbour View room we stayed in: https://youtu.be/VTHSzX3Suq4
Day 52 (2 March) Sydney
Although Bondi Beach is usually the one in Sydney most visitors have heard of and visit, I loved Manly Beach last time and so we visited it again today. It is a 25-minute ferry (or a shorter FastCat ride) from Circular Quay and I recommend this as it provides great views of the Harbour Bridge, Opera House and Harbour.
The beach is a ten-minute walk across town and has a long stretch of sand that is popular with locals and surfers. The area between the ferry terminal and beach is full of beach wear, souvenir and fast food shops, backpacker hotels, busy bars and some restaurants – and not especially attractive. But the beach itself is wonderful. We hired chairs and umbrella, something that is not possible at Bondi. There were not many though available, as it seemed that Australians are either happy to lie in the sun on the sand or bring their own umbrella.
Day 53 (3 March) Sydney to Noosa
Today we flew on JetStar (the low-cost airline owned by Qantas) from Sydney to Sunshine Coast Airport, where we picked up our Hertz hire car and drove about half and hour to the popular holiday area of Noosa. We stayed in the Noosa Heads area at the Peppers Noosa Resort and Villas. This was a large complex of apartments on the outskirts of the Noosa Reserve. It was a ten-minute or so walk down the hill to Noosa Main Beach.
We had hired a two-bedroom apartment, as our Sydney friends joined us, and were upgraded to a three-bedroom Tree Top Villa on check in. This was a large complex set on two-levels with a garage. Upstairs was a huge open plan kitchen, lounge and dining room, separate TV room, bathroom with shower and a vast balcony. Downstairs were three bedrooms (one en-suite with bath and shower), a further bathroom (also with bath and shower) and Utility Room with washing machine and drier. There was another large balcony that two of the bedrooms opened onto. These two had double beds, while the third twin beds.
Our mid-afternoon arrival meant we only had time for a quick dip in the sea at the Main Beach and then visited to supermarket to stock up and headed out for dinner at the local steakhouse.
Day 54 (4 March) Noosa
The day was spent on the Main Beach in Noosa. A long and picturesque beach with great surf waves, although not huge they were excellent for body or “boogie board” surfing, while the real surfers used the area closer to the rocks on one side of the beach.
Take a look at a video I made of our surfing efforts at various beaches around Noosa: https://youtu.be/CjhXufkewow
Day 55 (5 March) Noosa
Today we headed a short way out of Noosa to Peregian Beach, which was about a twenty-minute drive away. The waves here were rougher and stronger, so the beach was less busy as it was not ideal for families. There were two areas designated for swimming (North and South) on this long beach that was watched over closely by the lifeguards, who spent most of their time close to the water’s edge.
I loved it here as the waves were strong but not too scary or the type that dumped you onto the sea floor. However by lunchtime the dark clouds that had built up unleashed steady rain and so, after lunch in one of the trendy restaurants (which I noted said they added 15% onto their prices on Public Holidays), we headed back to Peppers for an afternoon of relaxing and use of their 25-metre lap pool and (poorly equipped) fitness centre.
Day 56 (6 March) Noosa
In the morning we went on Jet Skis along the Noosa River. This was a fun activity as we sped around the circuit marked out for riders where we could speed along as fast as we wanted to.
Our beach day today was spent at Tea Tree Bay Beach. This was one of the beaches within the Noosa Reserve and was on the hiking path that ran from the main area of Noosa Head all around the Reserve. It was about ten to fifteen minutes walk from the parking area and was clearly a popular surfing bay with at least forty in the sea at an one time.
The beach was not monitored by lifeguards but was popular with swimmers too. We had a great time body surfing in waves that were stronger than on the Main Beach, and I could see why surfers enjoyed coming here despite having to carry their boards so far. In the early afternoon the heavens opened and rain lashed down on and off and so we finally withdrew and returned to Peppers where bursts of rain would thunder down. It was warm and the rain seemed to get harder and harder with each downpour.