Rainbow Beach, Queensland: Where the Hemsworths go to holiday

 

Ssshhh. Be vewy vewy quiet, I'm hunting Hemsworths. I took a car ferry across the Noosa River to get here; then drove my 4WD along the beach (you can come via bitumen road, but getting here by sand is way more fun). I'm close now … so close I can smell their tanning oil.

I'm at Arcobaleno in downtown Rainbow Beach, watching former pro surfer Luke Munro eat his seafood linguine. Or is that carbonara? Instagram posts reveal Munro is never far from a Hemsworth in Rainbow Beach. Tonight, it appears, Munro isn't even dining with Luke, the un-famous Hemsworth.

Hey, it's not that I'm here for the Hemsworths, okay? But I'd be lying to you if I said I'm not here for the Hemsworths. I wouldn't have heard of this sleepy little fishing/ surfing outpost otherwise. Australia's most famous siblings – Chris and Liam – and their little mate, Matt Damon, have been coming here for five years. They keep pretty low-key about it, but how low-key can you be when you have 50.5 million Instagram followers (and that's just Chris)?

That's where I come in. I've come, partly, to find them. And I've come, partly,to find out why they come here when they've got all of Australia to choose from (for no Hemsworth holiday is limited by a travel budget).

A woman at the bottle-shop tells me you can usually find them at Double Island Point, a surf-break off a grassy headland 20 minutes' south of town that you can only access along the beach. So I book a 4WD tour with Epic Ocean Adventures. Guide Luke Pettigrew tells me he's seen the Hemsworths there "plenty of times". "Locals just treat them like normal people," he tells me. "Some don't like the celebrity factor, they reckon it brings more people from Noosa. But most of us don't care."

Double Island Point is the Queensland destination Melbourne and Sydney people have dreamt about since about June 26; the sand's the same colour as a XXXX can and the water's bluer than your average lagoon. I paddle a kayak past the breakers in search of migrating whales and find four close by, and 20-or-so dolphins swimming under me off the point. But I can't find a single Hemsworth. The waves are perfect too, you'd think that would get them here. After all, this is the only Australian surf break featured in the sequel to the most iconic surf movie ever made, Endless Summer. One surfer tells me I missed Chris, he saw him last month. "He was changing out of his wettie (wetsuit)," he says. "I don't normally stare at men." (Just offshore, iconic diving spot, Wolf Rock, is rumoured to have attracted keen diver, Angelina Jolie, who arrived in Rainbow Beach via Russell Crowe's helicopter).

Town is a humble affair; it's one street sliced down the middle, with a road running perpendicular off it beside the beach where everyone's favourite restaurant is. That's the Rainbow Beach Surf Club; the steak's good, but the view's better. You can walk from town to the Carlo Sandblow. There are Instagram posts from Chris Hemsworth that show him drinking beers up there at sunset. Part of the World Heritage-listed Great Sandy National Park, it looks like a moonscape; wind's blown 15 hectares worth of sand right over rainforest. I sit on it looking out over the coastline all the way up to Fraser Island. You can access Fraser Island from town – the Hemsworths do that (I've seen that on Instagram too). I drive a few kilometres north of Rainbow Beach along a road cut through the bush to a car ferry that takes me across the passage. On the road there, I pass campsites by the road where you can park your caravan, or pitch your tent. Tiny communities of fishermen and surfers germinate here among the dunes. Local ice man Rob Gough found the Hemsworths here in April while doing his rounds. He took photos with Chris Hemsworth and Matt Damon and put them up on Facebook. They went viral.

For all the beauty around town (one cloudless morning I take a scenic helicopter flight and see 12 whales, 14 dolphins, three dugong and eight turtles), it's the simplicity of the place that gets to me. There's bugger-all to do at night but eat early, watch the stars and get set for an early start. Rainbow Beach is nothing like Byron Bay where the Hemsworths live and where I grew up, locals here prefer XXXX over $12 craft beers, and cow's milk coffees over turmeric lattes.

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Being here takes me back to the family holidays I took as a kid; when families camped, and families cooked. Is this what the Hemsworths come here looking for? A yearly journey back to before they were Thor? I don't see a Hemsworth in four days. But I'm coming back to look.

THE DETAILS

VISIT

Go kayaking and surfing at Double Island Point, see epicoceanadventures.com.au or take a scenic helicopter flight, see rainbowbeachhelicopters.com.au or a horse ride along the beach, rbhr.com.au

STAY

Look out to Fraser Island at Rainbow Ocean Palms, see rainbowoceanpalms.com.au

FLY & DRIVE

Fly to Sunshine Coast Airport with Qantas, Jetstar or Virgin Australia, hire a car and drive to Rainbow Beach via Gympie, or along the beach from Noosa's North Shore (4WD only). See qantas.com jetstar.com virginaustralia.com

The writer travelled courtesy of Visit Gympie.

See also: The ten most beautiful small towns in Australia you must visit

See also: Hate the beach? The 10 best river towns in Australia

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