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AS Queenslanders and interstate travellers start finalising their plans for the Sunshine Coast Pride Festival, it is not too late to book your getaway and to enjoy the best of what is on offer for the weekend event in late February.

The Star Observer did an advance trip so that you could plan yours.

Located on the beautiful Sunshine Coast, travelling to Noosa from anywhere in Australia is easy. Once settled, there are many ways to get around. Sunshine Coast Pride has different events at  Noosa, Eumundi, Nambour and all are accessible on two wheels, four, or local buses to let someone else do the driving.

The festival takes place from Friday, February 21 to Sunday, February 23 and travellers have been encouraged by sponsor Tourism Noosa to stay in the beachside hub to get the most out of the experience with shuttle buses to Eumundi.

Outrigger Little Hastings Street Resort and Spa’s general manager Niel Mason calls Noosa “Daylesford by the sea”, in a direct claim that his tourist town is as welcoming of LGBTI travellers as the inland Victorian township.

Niel Mason

Niel Mason

Mason is clearly a fan of his local area, saying: “I wake up in paradise everyday. Why wouldn’t I want to share this with the world? The LGBTI community are completely welcome here. The Outrigger Little Hastings Street Resort and Spa is major sponsor of the Sunshine Coast Pride Festival, and it is an honour to be associated with it.”

Festival organisers have a full calendar planned, starting on the Friday with the Pride Film Night and backed up by the Pride Fair Day on Saturday from 9am at Eumundi Markets – who is also a major supporter of the event.

Leaving no rest for wicked, the Reef Hotel Noosa Heads hosts the Pride After-Party on Saturday night. For those keen to keep feeling the love, on the Sunday there is Pride Chill Out as part of the Eumundi Live concert series.

Stephanie's Day Spa Floatation Therapy

Stephanie’s Day Spa Floatation Therapy

Mason is also a director of Tourism Noosa and was keen to talk about attractions and options beyond his five-star resort, stressing that there was much to do in the local area.

“There are some great local attractions, especially some wonderful dining just a short walk away on Hastings Street, plus buses and shuttles to get you around,” he said.

“But whatever you do, you must go and have a float and facial at Stephanies, located on site here at the Outrigger.”

Stephanies Ocean Spa has a mineral colour therapy floatation pool, and according to its namesake Stephanie Shepherd: “the floatation treatment is in our triple spa suite, that opens to the beautiful national park, adding to the tranquillity.”

She added: “It is perfect for couples or someone wanting a private escape.

Dry gin martini Outrigger Little Hastings style

Dry gin martini Outrigger Little Hastings style

“For Sunshine Coast Pride revellers who might be a little sleep deprived, one hour in the float can be equivalent to the six hours sleep.”

The dining options are also extensive in the area, with restaurateurs pushing each other’s quality and offerings. The Outrigger has brought its A-game, with a cleverly-designed menu at View on Little Hastings, which ranges from lighter meals –  including a beautiful scallop dish – through to a pork belly cooked to absolute perfection.

View a the Outrigger's pork belly

View on Little Hastings pork-belly

While claiming not to be a cocktail bar, and backed by an extensive wine list, the bar staff know how to make a mean dry-gin Martini, with the cute touch of tiny watermelon balls as a twist on the twist of lime.

Large resorts are notorious for poor room service and so Mason introduced a take-out style menu to be delivered to the rooms by golf-carts, meaning the decent food can be delivered hot and fresh, and bottle shop prices for alcohol means a day in-room to relax won’t break the bank.

A new entrant to Noosa’s Hastings St is Miss Moneypenny’s, which opened with much fanfare late in 2013.

The seafood platter share plate with a Mediterranean influence was deliciously prepared and the service was exceptional on a busy Saturday night. People mingled at the bar and out front as their tables were being turned over for at least the second sitting after 9pm, suggesting a big-city feel with later dining being embraced. Miss Moneypenny’s pizza also provide for some simple but tasty options.

Miss Moneypenny's Cocktails are their signature

Miss Moneypenny’s cocktails are their signature

Respected travel writer Ann Rickard has raved about Miss Moneypenny’s cocktail prowess: “The cocktail list is right up there with dazzling offerings of the kind you’d expect to find in the best bars in London or New York. Some of the cocktails are available in carafes, great for sharing, especially the Bloody Mary with vodka, quince liqueur and aperol, shaken with muddled roast capsicum, oregano, lemon and lime juices and a special spice mix, with a side of lightly fried caperberries.”

Locale, a beautiful Italian restaurant, aimed at the higher end of town, makes their pasta from base ingredients on site, and they combine modern influences to traditional Italian fare. It has been referred to as “sleek Italian by the sea” by The Australian’s Sue Neales.

If a gay or bi experience is preferred rather than gay-friendly, the Hideaway Resort is a clothing-optional option. It is the only all-male venue on the Sunshine Coast and set in private tropical gardens, with outdoor spa, saltwater pool, large sun decks and theatre room. The Hideaway also welcomes day visitors to cruise on in to use their facilities.

Mr Pickles at the Hideaway

Mr Pickles at the Hideaway

The Star Observer was given a tour of the Hideaway by ‘Mr Pickles’, who while showing the facilities simply said: “feel free to feel good in this non-judgemental (place).”  While there, Cyll Duncan and Andy Granger from Brisbane stayed overnight – and Cyll was on a mission. He proposed to Andy.

Reflecting on the weekend, Duncan said: “It was a beautiful weekend. After being welcomed by Jeff and the boys at the Hideaway, we settled in, relaxed by the pool for a few hours, with a few drinks catching the sun and cooling off. We met some great people and had a few laughs.

“We had dinner at Wasabi and, unknown to me, Andy had organised for the table to be decorated with a rose and rose petals and they bought a glass of Veuve-Clicquot. It was a perfect setting to pop the question and was blown away when Andy said yes…. all up was a beautiful weekend.”

Meanwhile, Noosa National Park features spectacular coastal scenery, bushwalking tracks and provides an important home for native wildlife including koalas, black cockatoos, ground parrots and lots more.

On the drive there or back, a quick diversion to the hinterland is worth it as there are two hidden gems in the form of Maleny and Montville.

Cyll Duncan and Andy Grainger smile after their engagement

Cyll Duncan and Andy Granger smile after their engagement

Both are the major towns in the region and are renowned as creative art centres with many well-known artists and crafts people residing in the vicinity. While there, visit Art on Cairncross  – which is a combination of the two galleries of its owners Jane Caraffi of Caraffi’s, established in 1998, and Tony Gill of Tony Gill Galleries of Montville which was established in 1995.

The gallery continues to be visited by art lovers from all over Australia and the world because of the calibre of fine art displayed including ceramics, glass and sculpture.

INFO: For a full line up of acts and activities head to the Sunshine Coast Pride Website.

Also visit: outrigger.com.au or visitnoosa.com.au.

Photos: Miles Heffernan and supplied

 The Star Observer was the guest of the Outrigger Little Hastings Resort and Spa. We are a proud media partner of Sunshine Coast Pride Festival.

 

 

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