John Lennon famously wrote that “life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans”, and you may feel like that’s happening to you. Very few of us make the time to explore what’s happening beyond our back fence. John Caruso discovers the Noosa region is so much more than sand and surf.

by @JohnCaruso on Wednesday, 08 Jun, 2016

Earlier this year, thirty-eight Texans travelled from the other side of the world to visit an iconic destination in our backyard with more Americans heading over in October; over a million visitors annually turn up to Australia's biggest artisan market; and competitors from across the globe compete in one of the toughest mountain climbs in the world. If you’re a Noosa local or a visitor to our region, would it surprise you to learn that you’re only a short drive from these must-see events?


Take a short 20-minute drive inland from Hastings Street along Eumundi-Noosa Road and you’ll arrive at a town that reinvented itself as a vibrant arts and food market when the Bruce Highway by-passed the community a number of years ago. Heritage-listed fig trees and historical buildings, some dating back to 1890-1930, line the streets. Around 2,000 people make up the melting pot of artisans, tree-changers, micro businesses and young families that now call Eumundi home and twice a week and every Wednesday and Saturday the calm, peaceful streets of Eumundi are teeming with Australia’s biggest artisan market which attracts more than 1.5 million visitors every year.

Need to know

-Eumundi War Memorial Trees (Heritage-listed avenue of trees along Memorial Drive)

-Eumundi Beef (Boutique bio-dynamic cattle property, Eumundi-Kenilworth Rd)

-RV friendly town status (Eumundi Showgrounds and Eumundi Sportsground)

-Country Music Festival coming in October 2016

Must do

-Eumundi Markets, (Wednesday & Saturday, Memorial Drive & Napier Rd)

-Humdrum Espresso & Eumundi Vintage Clothing (100 Memorial Drive)

-Berkelouw Books (87 Memorial Drive)

-Artisan’s Gallery (43 Caplick Way)

-Live music at Joe’s Waterhole & Imperial Hotel (Memorial Drive)

-Dick Caplick Park (Memorial Drive)

-Discover Eumundi – Heritage and Visitor Centre (Memorial Drive)


Enjoy the spectacular view west as you take Eumundi Range Road for a fifteen-minute drive to the heart of the hinterland, Cooroy! It’s a bustling country town with old fashion values and cute awnings along the tree lined streets, proclaims Danielle Taylor from the Cooroy Chamber Commerce.

“What’s really great is that it has something for everybody and there’s fantastic retail too,” she says.

From a small slice of France with authentic French patisseries at Maison de Provence; to a local modern library that was voted one of six coolest libraries in the world; and a one-time butter factory that is now a thriving art space, Cooroy is also the starting point for the Great Noosa Trail Walk which starts October.

Named from the indigenous word for possum, kurui, the area was home to a logging camp in the 1880s with Cooroy’s first sawmill opening in 1908. Today the Lower Mill Site includes an interpretive walk through the restored boilers and kilns; and is close to the library, parkland and Cooroy Butter Factory.

Need to know

-RV friendly town

-Noosa Botanic Gardens (Lake Macdonald Dr)

-Cooroy Library (Voted one of six coolest libraries in the word, 9 Maple St)

-Historic Wimmers soft drink factory since 1910 (271 Lake Macdonald Drive)

-Heritage-listed railway station

Must do

-Butter Factory Arts Centre (11a Maple St)

-Maison de Provence French Patisserie and Restaurant (9/13 Garnet St)

-Fox and Hound Espresso (20b Maple St)

-Twig and Grace Florist and French & Gorgeous Homewares (15 Diamond St)

-Cooroy Originals (Live music, 4th Sunday of every month, Apex Park)

-Cooroy Fusion Festival (held in May)

-Great Noosa Trail Walk (Nature walk, Oct 10)


While Cooroy claims it is the heart of the Noosa hinterland, Pomona local Stephen Hilditch says Pomona is the historic heart of the Noosa Shire because the museum sits on the site where the original Noosa Council chamber was located and depicts the Noosa Shire and the area's original inhabitants, the Gubbi Gubbi people. Situated at the foot of Mt Cooroora (a solidified lava plug), Pomona was named after the Roman goddess of fruit and orchards. Pomona is and houses the Noosa Shire Museum with displays.

The historic Majestic Theatre is the oldest continuously running silent movie cinema in the world, and has been restored by the community. Originally opened in 1924, it is still playing silent movies and regularly attracts national and international visitors, including a recent tour of Texans.

If physical fitness and endurance is more your style, then you can join international competitors for a race to the top of Mount Cooroora in July for the gruelling King of the Mountain Festival.

Need to know

-Historical centre of Noosa

-King of the Mountain Festival (July 24, Stan Topper Park)

-Pomona Country Markets every second and fourth Saturday of the month, with collectibles, crafts, books, plants, organic fruit and vegetables and clothing

Must do

-Majestic Theatre (Historic movie theatre, 3 Factory St)

-Bonsai Brewhouse (18b Reserve St)

-That Place In Pomona (18 Reserve St)

-Rockin Relics Antique Barn (15 Factory St)

-Old Pomona Railway Station Gallery (10 Station St)

-Noosa Museum (29 Factory St)

-SpillDEBeans Café (12 Memorial Ave)


Heading further north another ten minutes will land you in Cooran and if you’re behind the wheel of a 4WD you’ll be able to explore the walking tracks and swimming holes of the Cooran Tablelands and Mothar Mountain State Forest.

Before white settlement, ‘Guran’ was home to the Gubbi Gubbi people and the name means ‘high up or tall’ and is the word for the Moreton Bay Ash Tree. The Cooran area was first settled in the 1860s by timber getters and by the 1920s, Cooran’s hills were home to fertile banana plantations. The discovery of gold in Gympie put Cooran on the map and by the 1930s, it was a thriving commercial centre boasting two-man police station (and jail), two hotels, large sawmill, joinery, blacksmiths, bakery, butcher, bootmaker, three churches, various stores, auctioneers and stock agents. Cooran was part of the Widgee Shire until 1909 when the shire of Noosa was formed. The first shire meetings were held in the Cooran Hall however in 1910 a ratepayers referendum saw Pomona chosen as the administrative centre of the Shire ahead of Cooran and Cooroy.

Need to know

-The original centre for the new Noosa Shire

-Heritage-listed Alfredson’s Joinery (28 King St)

-Noosa Trail Network

Must do

-Easy Cheesy (Make your own cheese, 63 Schreibers Rd)

-Clooneys Restaurant (16 King St)

-The Dales Boutique B&B (Accommodation, 3 Martin St)

-Great Noosa Trail Walk (Nature walk, Oct 10)

Kin Kin

Our last stop on this journey of discovery is Kin Kin, a short fifteen-minute drive north east from Pomona over rolling hills and creeks. Here you’ll find a gorgeous one-pub, one-shop town in lush country surroundings where a number of successful family businesses like Hello Honey, Kin Kin Essentials, Kin Kin Native bees, Mayan Farm and Kin Kin Tea thrive. It is also home to local artisans including Kin Kin Leather, with handcrafted vegetable tanned kangaroo leather products; and the multi-award winning Broadcroft Design creators of handwelded creative metalwork focusing on innovative and unique designs from planters to commercial landscape spaces and gates.

The Kin Kin General Store is home base for Black Ant Gourmet Food where you can refuel with breakfast and lunch and a wood fire pizza and curry night every Friday. If it’s rest, relaxation and rejuvenation that you’re after then you simply must check out Living Valley Springs Health Retreat. One hundred and forty-five acres of green hills, valleys and pristine countryside where the staff will pamper you with packages that last a day to an indulgent retreat that runs over twenty-one days!

Kin Kin is also close to a series of tracks and trails called the Noosa Trail Network which attracts hikers, mountain bike riders and horse riders from all over. The name comes from theAboriginal ‘kauin kauin’ meaning red soil however another source suggests it is the indigenous name for a species of small black ants that inhabit the area.

The Country Life Hotel is a traditional country pub built in 1914 and today is part pub, part museum with a brilliant display of historic photos and items from the 1900s. It was featured in the movieSilent Reach starring Robert Vaughan, Helen Morse and Graham Kennedy and has been a stopping point for a host of stars including Sean Connery and Dianne Cilento. The area is also home to the award-winning Kin Kin State School with an impressive Stephanie Alexander school kitchen garden and Kookaburra Kafe where the children grow, harvest, cook and serve a community lunch every Friday.

Need to know

-Kin Kin Creations Market (Kin Kin Oval, Sundays)

-Close to Lake Cootharaba and the Great Sandy National Park

-Heritage-listed Kin Kin Sawmill

-Noosa Trail Network

Must do

-Country Life Hotel (69 Main St)

-Living Valley Springs Health Retreat (15 Sheppersons Lane)

-Kin Kin General Store (Post Office and home base to Black Ant Gourmet, 56 Main St)

-Steve Weis Gallery (9 Gympie Kin Kin Rd)

-Great Noosa Trail Walk (Nature Walk, Oct 10)

-Harry’s Hut (Campsite, Great Sandy National Park)

-Kin Kin State School Kookaburra Kafe lunch every Friday (26 Main St)

Read more articles by @JohnCaruso

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