At the tip of an otherwise peaceful Noosa National Park, the thunderous crash of the Pacific Ocean against Hells Gates is exhilarating. The view, a jagged coastline with impossibly clear sky and rugged surf beach, is still as breathtaking as the first time I saw it fifteen years ago.
It's hard to believe the entrance to this protected environment is just minutes from effervescent Hastings Street and crowded Main Beach, the key attractions in every guide-book. Overlooked by many tourists, however, this park is quintessentially Australian. A weather-beaten coastline adorned by lush rainforest and dotted with Koalas, green pythons and the famous cheeky bush turkeys. The many surfing coves attract world-class surfers as well as adorable sea turtles and the local bottle-nosed dolphin pod.
Scanning for dolphins, we make our way back to the car park. It's an easy one-hour walk downhill, made more beautiful by the setting sun which by now is sprinkling gold all over the ocean.
As we approach Tea Tree Bay, I spy a dark shadow under the sparkling water. A dolphin and her calf ascend gently. They cut through the water in unison to the soundtrack of delighted squeals from children paddling close by.
Downward to the car park, one last look at the ocean reveals a sight that never gets tiresome; The sun tips it's glowing hat to a lone fishing boat, dips it's golden mass into Laguna Bay and gently disappears.
Noosa is 1.5 hours drive north of Brisbane Airport.