Join us for a trip over mountains and on toward the sea as we explore hidden trails and all that the tourism mecca of Noosa has to offer.
Words: Adam Macbeth Photos: Tim Bardsley-Smith
For a lot of us in the southern states winter can suck a bit, right? Rolling over at 7am and dragging yourself out for a ride when the doona is SO nice and warm (and you know you have some bacon and hot coffee only half the house away) is often too much of a hurdle to overcome. And getting away isn’t that easy either. Even if you could find a location with warmer climes and great riding, how are you ever going to get the time, especially if you also have kids? If only there existed somewhere that was worth the trip, just for the riding, but ticked all the family fun and childhood memory creation boxes at the same time.
Noosa is definitely worth some investigation. To be honest it had never been on my radar at all as somewhere to travel for a mountain biking holiday, but the amount and quality of trail riding is impressive and there are also loads of opportunities for less technical, more adventurous riding - most of which kicks off less than a 15 minute ride from the town centre. Throw this in the mix with pristine beaches, great accommodation and a chilled out family-friendly vibe and you’re well on your way to selling this to the whole household.
GET YOURSELF TO NOOSA
Noosa is a piece of cake to get to by plane with our main domestic carriers flying regularly to the Sunshine Coast from capital cities and some bigger regional centres. We chose to fly in and out of Brisbane and stop off at some other trails on our way and you could definitely turn this into roadtrip with mates if you were less constrained by family obligations. If you wanted to take it to the next level you could drive there from most of the country’s east coast and ride a tonne of stuff you may otherwise never visit - but you’d want to have a solid few days for travel each way up your sleeve.
THE NOOSA LIFESTYLE
Having never been to Noosa before I had a vision of backpackers everywhere and maybe a little bit of a drunken mayhem thrown in at night like some of the other places along this part of the coast. I was completely wrong. Noosa town itself has a super chilled out vibe, as you’d expect from a place where just about everyone is on holiday. And it’s much more likely you’ll be bumping into professional people making the most of some down time than recent high school leavers from the UK. The atmosphere is one of relaxation, sophistication, peace and - especially important if you’re travelling with family - safety.
Geography wise Noosa is textbook holiday town material. We managed to get the drone out for a while, and from up high the images are postcard level gorgeous. Pristine white sand beaches where the water temperature hovers around 20 degrees and there’s plenty of natural shade surrounding pretty much the entire precinct. Want to chill under a tree and read a book while the kids run around barefoot in super shallow, no shorebreak surf and know they’re gonna be OK? Easy. But head inland just a little and the rivers, rainforests and dramatic, jutting Glass House mountains make for a wealth of outdoor exploring.
Like all holiday towns you have the full blown tourist strip and in Noosa it’s Hastings Street at Noosa Heads which hugs Main Beach. There’s bars, cafes and loads of shopping for those so inclined. Whether you want a great meal for the whole family or just to park up after a day on the bike, sip an ale and watch the extremely attractive world go by - then Hastings Street is the place.
SENDING IT IN WOOROI
Only a 10 minute drive from the centre of town, and not much more up the bike path, lie the Wooroi trails in Tewantin National Park. This network has gained a reputation as a must-ride in South East Queensland. Locals of all abilities and ages have helped make the government-funded project a success and even on a Monday morning there were a dozen cars parked at the trailhead when we arrived. Imogen Smith covered the trails extensively in AMB last year, but a lot of work has been done in the last 12 months and the trails have continued to evolve.
Spending the majority of my time riding in Sydney, the first thing that slapped me in the face at Wooroi was the flow. Oh, how I’ve missed this feeling. Pete Wilson of Trailworx has done as amazing job creating trails that will appeal to riders of all levels. At their core, however, is a huge amount of low-effort fun that will let the beginner have a great first experience, but also allow the experienced rider to hit things a little fresher, and a little harder, than they
may have otherwise.
A smooth, perfectly arcing berm leads seamlessly into a little kicker tabletop, then maybe another, and into another stunning corner and despite the relatively low elevation change the descents seem to go on forever as they traverse the natural lines of the terrain and require almost no effort to maintain speed. And that speed will not go to waste. There is more opportunity for ‘wheels off the ground’ fun at Wooroi than at any other trail I have ridden. You don’t NEED to get airborne, everything is totally rollable, but the takeoffs are beautifully shaped, the transition to landing almost always smooth and predictable and even for a bit of a crap jumper like myself it’s a confidence-inspiring place to have a crack. The climbing is similarly awesome as smooth, cambered trail snakes its way gradually back to the top of the ridge. Even those that hate climbing will be able to ride to the top of most of the trails at Tewantin while having a conversation with their mates.
Cleverly, the easiest trails are those closest to the carpark, making a casual afternoon jaunt a piece of cake. It also helps not scare off newer riders by making it a mission to get to stuff they can actually ride. Heading further out though is more than worth it, and can actually be linked back up with a very gradual, closed to cars, tarmac climb which is certain to put a huge smile on any gravity rider’s face.
Everything is signposted and it would be pretty hard to get properly lost. The entrance to the carpark itself is not that well signposted, though, and there are no toilets, but it’s just after a servo on the Cooroi Noosa Road and a quick Google will see you there without too much mucking around.
LESS TECH, MORE ADVENTURE
If a bit of exploring, and really experiencing an area from the seat of your bike, is more your thing then you will absolutely love the Noosa Trail Network. Linking together the towns of Pomona, Cooran, Cudgerie and Kin Kin the NTN was designed to give cyclists, walkers and horse riders an opportunity to truly get a feel for the area at a pace that suited them.
Made up of gravel road, forest double track, some technical 4WD track as well as mowed lanes through public land and some sneaky singletrack - linking it all together on your bike would give you about 140km of epic scenery, and a whole lot of delightful pain. It is broken down into eight recommended loops, though, the longest being 40 kilometres and there’s plenty of opportunity to easily create a route that suits your ability and timeframe.
Views abound over farmland, out to the coast and then southwest into the mountains - and mixing all this beauty with some tough riding on new trails, where you’re not sure what’s around the next corner, is a great way to truly experience the Noosa area.
A big thanks to Noosa Tourism for hosting our crew, and to Isuzu Ute Australia for the loan of the D-MAX for the long weekend of driving and shuttling up north With a Yakima CrashPad it was the ideal vehicle to get bikes in and out of as we needed. I seriously cannot wait to go back to Noosa - and given that the trail is very well set up for camping on the route, make it a bikepacking adventure next time. “
WHERE TO EAT
I haven’t been to places where such things actually come from, but the tacos at Bordertown Barbeque were absolutely nuts. As was the quintessenitally Queensland friendly service and Sierra Nevada beer on tap. That said, as you’d expect from a town that is all about enjoying your own piece of the good life, there is a lot of great food to be had in Noosa. Grab yourself some delicious fresh seafood and sit by the beach - there’s loads of great spots for picnicing along Gympie Terrace and it’s all linked up by quiet bike path. Maybe head to the Yacht and Rowing Club for a counter meal alongside locals or wander down to Hastings Street and browse some menus until something grabs you.
WHERE TO STAY
Again, the options are almost endless. From super basic motel accommodation to full celebrity-spec there is something for everyone and every budget. We had an awesome experience at the RACV Resort on the fringe of town. Plenty of room for bikes, and staff that were happy to accommodate them. And if you are travelling with family it’s probably pretty hard to beat, with super spacious apartments and a full blown kids pool with waterslides and other stuff that they totally should also have for ‘adults’ like me.
We were only in and out to ride bikes and eat food, but Noosa is the kind of place you should budget yourself some time to spend out on the water. Whether it’s fishing, kayaking, stand up paddling or something more adrenalin-fuelled like jetskiing or parasailing - the options for water based fun are numerous. There’s also a tonne of hiking, horse riding, markets and some great roads for driving, so if you want to take a bike-free day there will be no shortage of options.
Regardless of your preferred flavour, the riding is great. There’s lots of stuff for the family to do, both with you and while you’re out on the bike for a few hours and it’s not difficult to get to. Great places to stay, easy to get a good feed and the weather is amazing. I’d be willing to bet if you get the family up there once, it’ll be their idea to go back the year after. And maybe the year after that as well. Head online for more details and put the doona back in the closet. visitnoosa.com.au