With all eyes on the Gold Coast, its not that much of a leap to head a few hours up the coast to Noosa. Why? Well right now the water temp is a balmy 24 degrees celsius. In France, its currently 12. You do the maths.
Noosa Heads is a small coastal town situated on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, about 125 kilometres north of Brisbane. Noosa is famed for its stunning beaches, tourism and a planning scheme that has kept the town in a semi-developed and fairly pristine state. It is a mecca for Swedish backpackers, a haven for Australian holiday makers and for nine months of the year a fairly uninspiring place for surfers. Sure the sun is incredibly hot, the water ridiculously warm, the sandy beaches blindingly white, but the fun beachbreaks don’t exactly fall into world class quality.
However in the summer months, when intense low pressures and cyclones form in the Coral Sea, in the pristine National Park located just 10 kilometres to the south of the town a series of boulder lines reel off pure perfection. It is when this happens that Noosa comes alive, the waves and setting offering a pure vision of perfection, ranging from perfect rolling longboarding peelers to sand spitting Kirra like barrels. Its rarity only adds to its value, for if you find yourself sitting in the throat of a Boiling Pot drainer, you know you have bagged one of surfing’s most rare, beautiful and most pleasurable experiences (see Mick Smith having a ball below).
The National Park (or the Nasho in Aussie vernacular) offers five distinct pointbreaks. From the top of the point Granite Bay, Ti-Tree, National Park, Johnsons and First Point all face north, away from the predominant southeast swell, and for real surf rely on rare angled cyclone swells and long, Fiji-based easterly wind fetches. These don’t happen very often. The south swells that can light up the Gold Coast’s famed points, march straight past Noosa, swinging well wide of its groomed sandbanks. However as soon as the swell angles a more straight east, the five points roar into action, along with a guaranteed rabid frothing crowd desperately keen to suck on this rare of surfing life force.
You get to the first section, Granites by a solid but beautiful half-hour walk through the bushland of Noosa National Park. This is usually the least crowded and least spectacular of the five. The next, Ti-Trees drives long rights off a bouldery headland with some good barrels on lower tides depending on the sand set up. National Park, or Boiling Pots, is the next, best, most famous and most intense of all of Noosa’s waves. A tight, steep, gurgling and difficult takeoff zone (known as Boiling Pot) is followed by 250-500 yards of reeling, sectiony wall, sometimes running right through Johnsons bay further down the line. Finally First Point, tucked just outside the corner of Noosa’s main beach, is a perfect easy peeling wave dominated by longboards, and the site of the annual Noosa Festival of Surfing, Australia’s biggest retro surfing jamboree.
The good news is when the cyclone swells arrive they can tend to last for days, meaning by the end of the swell fatigue and surf stoke can keep the crowds to a tolerable level. Unfortunately its north facing aspect means they are open any type of seabreeze and north winds and any hint of onshore can turn perfection into mush in a heartbeat.
If that’s the case, the beaches Sunshine and Alexandria Bay offer respite, plus suck in any swell. In any case if you’ve bagged a cyclone swell maybe its time to hit one of the many packed beach bars and perhaps tell your glory stories to some of the those Swedish backpackers?
The perfect day: It’s day five of a Cyclone swell, the east-nor east swell and light south winds providing all five points with six feet of swell. Paddle fit and not sunburnt to a crisp, you paddle out at Boiling Pots on low tide dark, and spend the next two hours surfing one of surfing’s rare jewels with just 50 other guys.
Getting there: Fly into Brisbane and drive two hours north to the Sunshine Coast.
Boards: Its pure performance and tubes, and the you’ll see everything in the line-up from alai boards to 13 feet Balsa guns. Its Noosa, so anything goes.
Essentials: Loads of sunscreen, loads of patience, loads of divine dumb luck and plenty of paddling power.
Accommodation: From 5 star boutique hotels to tents in the local camping ground, there is every option for every budget.
Other waves: The Noosa main breaks provide fun beachies, but when the swell drops, like every other man and his dog, you’ll be heading to the Gold Coast to chase the Superbank dragon.