Simon Holt discovers that there's a quieter side to Noosa, away from the hustle and bustle of popular Hastings St.
You've woken up in your cottage to the lapping of water from the lake below. Then, after breakfast of fruit and pastries from one of Queensland's best farmers' markets, you drive a few minutes to the river where there's an electric bike. Pedal at 50km/h with little effort as water breezes cool you down. The bike is parked, and an eco boat is there to explore Noosa's waterways, where some of Queensland's rich and famous call "holiday home". The kookaburras are singing, corks popping and backyard barbecues burning with aromas of blackened lobster. Meanwhile, you're nestled on a pillow, sipping a boutique ale to wash down cheese and crackers you've opened on your gondola-like boat. Back at the lake, you're in a part of Noosa which locals would rather keep to themselves.
Welcome to the lesser-known part of Noosa, tucked a couple of kilometres from canal-front homes and bustling boutique shopping at Hastings Street. Promotional material for Eumarella says the accommodation is just minutes from the very best of Noosa. Some might argue the point – that Eumarella actually is the very best of Noosa, and that the rest is just minutes away. Lakeside land has been nurtured for generations, and resort has been there for decades. Beautifully kept, there's a distinct Queensland flavour about the stand-alone timber cottages, the wildlife which sits in the tree alongside a deck, and the private lakeside deck from which to launch the kayak you've borrowed from the retreat.
The cottages are far from new, but the luxuries are ageless – from the fluffy towels, modern decor, fireplace and fully-equipped kitchen. The owners seem to have thought of everything and have invested heavily in updates to blinds, beds and bathrooms. The biggest point of confusion will be where to relax – on the bed, the couch, or out on the verandah. Others might be out paddling on the clear-water lake. But why bother exerting all that energy when there are platters to devour?
A weekend at Eumarella should be about discovery. Even if you've braved the knee-deep waters of the lake in one of the resort's canoes, there are other options not far away; options which will require a little less effort, and an opportunity to swap the paddle for a glass of bubbly. Electric bikes for hire from Malu Os on the Noosa River are fun, but the real treat is a couple of hours on the river in a solar-operated boat. The gondola-esque experience is best done with a beverage and pre-dinner snack. Late in the afternoon, keep an eye out for birds in their natural habitat, and Noosa's wealthy set emerging from their backyard banana lounges and swimming pools.
Pinch yourself. Eumarella is another side of Noosa, well removed from the better-known buzz of Hastings Street. Not as well known perhaps, but no less beautiful and much quieter. Cottages are spotless, and old enough to be immersed in natural surrounds. Waking up to the sunrise is one of nature's big shows. The weekend is best served up with a small dose of activity, laced with a solid nip of post-recreational relaxation. And don't forget the bubbly.
HOW TO GET THERE
The hike from Brisbane is about 1½ hours by car. You can take either the Eumundi road, or via the Sunshine Motorway. Eumarella Drive is about four kilometres from the centre of Noosa. From Eumundi-Noosa Road, turn right at the roundabout into Emu Mountain Road, and continue through the next roundabout on to Eumarella Road.
Eurmarella Shores Noosa Lake Retreat, 251 Eumarella Road, Lake Weyba Downs. Prices start at about $225 for a three-night mid-week stay. They rise to a minimum $280 on weekends. They do, however, vary considerably based on the style of cottage – up to $670 for the luxury three-bedroom lakehouse. Phone 07 5449 1738, see eumarellashores.com.au.
The writer was a guest of Eumarella Shores Noosa Lake Retreat.