Welcome to our new series - Hiking Club! We go hiking so often that we thought we may as well start a Hiking Club and share the hike we do so you can also get involved. I always hike the coastal track in Noosa National Park, but for my birthday this year, I really want to go hiking with Jason. With no kids. So we organised for our lovely babysitter to mind Dusty and Celeste last weekend and set off on a 10km from Sunshine Beach, along Alexandria Bay, though Noosa National Park to the day use area at Laguna Bay, then back again. It was amazing. I cannot believe how lovely it is to actually have a conversation that isn't being interrupted by the kids. What a luxury! Life has been hectic this year and this was the first time we have truly taken time away together since we had Celeste five months ago. We both agreed we would do this every month and started making a long list of hikes and beach trips. The thought of being able to go to the beach together without the kids is almost too much to dream about - I would be able to read and lay underneath the sun in total relaxation, and Jason would be able to surf without worrying about being home at a certain time. Anyway, the first trail in our Hiking Club starts at Sunshine Beach. Read on below for all the details.
SUNSHINE BEACH TO LAGUNA BAY AND BACK
What to take:
Water, sunglasses, sunscreen and a phone (for emergencies and to take photos). I use a 2L aluminium water bottle I picked up at Gwinganna many years ago and it has a strap, which I throw over my shoulders so I can hike hands free. It's the best water bottle I've ever owned and I don't let Dusty go near it. You can't buy these ones specifically but you can find similar water bottles at BCF. Look for a bottle that has a loop on the lid like this one, then DIY your own strap through the loop and tie the ends together.
What to wear:
Sneakers are totally fine for this hike. You will be walking on sand for at least a third of the hike, so make sure you are prepared for this. If you have sensitive or weak ankles, hiking boots might be better for you. Any activewear is also fine for this hike. You don't need professional lightweight hiking gear at all. A hat is a must.
Park your car at the very end of Mc Anally Drive in Sunshine Beach. You'll see the start of the track at the end of the cul-de-sac.
#1: Alexandria Bay
The track from McAnally Drive is all sand and you are hiking your way to Alexandria Bay. For the most part, the track is shaded by native trees and ancient grass trees. It's very easy to navigate and you'll also cross a low lying timber walkway and hike up some steps as well. There are signs at certain points along the track and you want make sure you are heading in the direction of Alexandria Bay. When you reach A Bay (as us locals like to call it), you'll notice a Surf Life Saving phone tower and point of reference number for emergencies, which is 25F. Walk along the beach all the way to the northern end, and you'll notice some sandstone steps leading up the hill, which you need to take.
#2: Hell's Gates
Once you've climbed the sandstone steps, follow the gravel track all the way to Hell's Gates. You won't miss it, there are several enclaves where you can enjoy the views of A Bay from above, as well as all the way across to Noosa North Shore and Rainbow Beach. It's the most amazing spot for whale watching and sighting dolphins. Definitely take time to slow down, walk around and enjoy the views. When you're ready, follow the dirt track heading in the direction of Noosa (basically the opposite direction you came).
#3: Granite Bay
The direct track from Hell's Gates to Granite Bay is covered by native trees for the most part, so it's a nice respite from the sun. It twists and turns and gradually opens up to Granite Bay where the track is no longer covered by native trees. You'll recognise Granite Bay by all the rocks the beach and if the swell is up, you'll hear the rocks crackle and pop as the waves push them forwards and backwards. This is a spot that's on the cliff so really be careful where you place your feet as there is no fencing. A lot of people stop here to take photos because it truly is an amazing sight to see after hiking through shaded trees for a kilometre or so. Keep walking along the dirt track and soon you'll be shrouded in native trees again.
#4: Dolphin Point Lookout
The dirt tracks continues to twist and wind, and soon you'll be walking uphill and down slightly to a set of stairs. This is the point where the dirt track stops and you'll be walking on a concrete footpath. At the bottom of the steps, turn hard right and enjoy the views of Dolphin Point Lookout. There are several places to sit down on large sandstone blocks to rest, have some water and try spotting some dolphins.
#5: Tea Tree Bay
When you're ready to keep moving, follow the concrete path up a small hill, then down a larger hill. This is where you will enjoy stunning views of Tea Tree bay. If the surf is good, you'll definitely catch glimpses of surfers jumping off the rocks and into the water. Tea Tree Bay is a really popular spot for long boarders and if you have the gear and energy, a great spot to spend a day by the beach (as you have to walk in from the Noosa National Park carpark). It's worth the effort! At the bottom of this section, there are public toilets. Keep following the track and soon you'll be walking parallel to Tea Tree Bay. It's one of our favourite spots on the Sunshine Coast.
#6: Boiling Pot
Once you've walked past Tea Tree Bay, the path winds up two sections of a hill so this will het your heart rate up. Keep walking and when you make it to the top, you'll walk down a small hill and find yourself at Boiling Pot. This spot also has a couple of sandstone blocks where you can sit and admire the views looking over Noosa Main Beach, Noosa North Shore, Rainbow Beach and Tea Tree Bay. A lot of people come here for sunrise and sunset, it's one of the best, easy access lookouts in Noosa National Park.
#7: Laguna Bay / Noosa National Park Day Use Area and Carpark
Once you've stopped taking 100 photos, keep following the path down and around and soon you'll find yourself at the Noosa National Park Day Use Area and Carpark, where you'll find picnic tables, BBQs, public toilets and views looking over Laguna Bay and Noosa National Park. You've made it! You are officially halfway. Rest here for a little while then when you're ready, head back up the path and make your return trip back to Sunshine Beach.