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Welcome to the Noosa region, with its beautiful beaches, lush green hinterland, stunning coastal national park, pristine river, cosmopolitan lifestyle and lively calendar of events – it all adds up to an unforgettable holiday escape. With an inspiring dining scene and year-round warm and sunny climate, Noosa is the ideal place to kick back and escape from it all!
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It’s spring and this writer’s fancy is turning to thoughts of love … and history, nature, crime and intrigue. Yes, it’s that time of year when ‘Reality Bites’ – and I’m off to the best little literary festival around. I have been every year since its humble beginnings seven years ago in the Noosa hinterland.
For four days I’m going to indulge myself totally in concepts, lessons, passions and information. If you haven’t seen the program yet, check out the Reality Bites website or find a copy at the Noosa Visitor Information Centre in Hastings Street, Noosa Heads, and take your pick of the choice morsels of literary delicacies on offer. If you can’t decide, just grab a festival pass and make your mind up on the day.
The festival starts on Thursday 23 October with a series of workshops. This year I’m taking one by poet and master of words, Mark Tredinnick. Reality Bites workshops are a favourite of mine: for a fraction of the price of a big city event I can learn from the greats of the craft and travel no further than Cooroy Library, so close to Noosa Heads.
This is the first year that the bulk of the festival is being held in beautiful historic Eumundi, with sessions split between the gorgeous Green Room (upstairs in the Lionheart Hotel) and the School of Arts, five minutes’ walk away past Eumundi's high street.
Spend Friday getting into sessions about Real Love and adding to your library at the festival bookshop, then linger for fabulous food from the Green Room kitchen and sip a glass or two of red and experience the Poet’s Speakeasy.
On Saturday you’ll need to hit the Eumundi Markets early because festival sessions begin at 9am. If you miss Maxine McKew’s literary lunch this Friday at Noosa Springs, Saturday is your chance to join her (pictured left) for a champagne breakfast and hear what she has to say about our education system. I’ll be having coffee in the Green Room, hearing what John Birmingham has to say about self-publishing. I’m also eager to hear his discussion later that day with Domenico Cacciola, the decorated ‘straight cop’ from Queensland’s pre-Fitzgerald era.
Locals welcome visiting authors on Saturday night when festival organisers also award their annual True Story Award, listen to invited guest Keelen Mailman (pictured right) give the festival address, then we get stuck into the great food and conversation, swap ideas, and party on.
The event finishes on Sunday 26 October with another day in which we are spoilt for choice. I’m looking forward to Remembering Madness, when ABC Local Radio's Mary-Lou Stephens talks with Mandy Sayer, Kristy Chambers and Will Elliot about their experience of pervasive mental illness. After that I'll indulge in some sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll with veteran music journalist Toby Cresswell who will be Talking Smack with rock journalist Andrew McMillen.
If pertinent issues and beautiful words excite you, there’s nowhere better to be in the last weekend of October. I can’t wait.
Package tickets and online savings are available till 22 October, but you can buy tickets at the door from $20/$15. For more information visit the website realitybitesfestival.org or call the box office on 07 5447 7063.
Tanya Overson is a Sunshine Coast-based writer. In 2009, Nen, the first book of her fictional trilogy, was short-listed for the Arts Queensland-funded Regional Writes manuscript development program.
One of Noosa’s major annual events, the Noosa Jazz Festival kicks off next Thursday 4 September in the riverside Noosa Heads Lions Park for 4 days of great music with Vince Jones, Steve Clisby, Emma Pask, Grace Knight, Gallapagos Duck and dozens more. It’ll be one big picnic with croquet on the lawns, river cruises, Legends Series, Tastings on Hastings and a great atmosphere.
Legend James Morrison is in Noosa during the festival, appearing at lunch and dinner shows at berardo’s restaurant & bar in Hastings St, and there are side shows in venues including Rococos, Noosa Springs Resort, RACV Noosa Resort, Cafe le Monde, Miss Moneypenny’s, Noosa Blue Resort and The J.
Running at the same time is the Noosa Jazz Party for lovers of classic jazz at Bicentennial Hall, Sunshine Beach each night from 4-7 September. Some of Australia’s best jazz musicians come to Noosa for this event for nightly jam sessions and dancing – New Orleans in Noosa, Bob Barnard, Dan Barnett, Jo Bloomfield, John Braben, Geoff Bull, Nigel Date and Paris-based jazz singer Tricia Evy.
This Sunday 31 August is Opera in the Amphitheatre in a Greek-style amphitheatre on the shores of Lake Macdonald, Corooy, about 20 minutes from Noosa. It’s set in the Noosa Botanic Gardens and is a stunning outdoor setting to hear songs from popular opera, musicals and Italian songs, presented by Operatif.
Also this weekend is the sold-out performance by Katie Noonan at the historic Majestic Theatre in Pomona in the Noosa hinterland. The Majestic, Australia’s longest continuously operating movie theatre, brings excellent acts to the region and regularly screens silent movies.
If you prefer great Aussie indie music, the countdown’s on to the first all-ages Originals Music Festival on Saturday 13 September at Noosa AFL Grounds, Noosaville with Ash Grunwald and Scotty Owen and Andy Strachan from The Living End, Sticky Fingers, Kingswood, Bonjah, OKA and more. It’s brought to you by East Coast Originals who also present the monthly Peregian Originals (second Sunday of each month) and Cooroy Originals (fourth Sunday of each month) outdoor concerts, with a great line-up of original live music each time.
Rock and Roll Outlaw Angry Anderson headlines the live music line-up at the Noosa Country Show (12 and 13 September) with an Allstar band featuring some Party Boys and Mondo Rock bassist Paul Christie. The Noosa Country Show, with side show alley, Grand Parades, animals, craft, fireworks, rodeo and more, has a 2-day entertainment line-up.
For country music lovers, the Gympie Music Muster, just 40 minutes from Noosa, has great music, food and camping this weekend in Amamoor Creek State Forest Park. There’s a bus from Noosa and you can see artists including Kasey Chambers, Josh Pyke, Adam Harvey, Russell Morris, Sara Storer, Brian Cadd, Glen Shorrick, Lee Kernaghan and dozens more.
There are plenty more venues and cafes with a great variety of live music each week, including Cafe Le Monde; Bohemian Bungalow and Imperial Hotel (which recently hosted Australian indie legends Ed Kuepper and Steve Kilby) in Eumundi; Noosa Heads, Sunshine Beach and Coolum Beach surf clubs; Noosa Yacht & Rowing Club; Harbour Wine Bar at Noosa Marina; KB’s; Noosa Beach House; Dragon Bull Restaurant and berardo’s restaurant.
So if you like great music with a beautiful view or cool atmosphere, make sure you check out live music in Noosa each week.
Warming up our wintry nights this week is the Noosa Long Weekend Festival, a favourite for lovers of music, cabaret, theatre, dance, food, comedy, literature, history and visual art. They say there’s something for everyone and with more than 200 international, national and Sunshine Coast performers in Noosa for some mid-year fun in the sun (and performing), and more than 80 events over 10 days, you would be hard-pressed not to find something that appeals.
From Cats to cocktails, prawns to politics, teddy bears to tea, burlesque to ballet, Fleetwood Mac to free heritage walks and Phantom to photography, the program really has it covered.
Opening night last Friday was, as usual, a hoot, with the Queensland premiere of Forbidden Broadway Greatest Hits – Volume One. I’m not usually a big fan of musicals, so a show that toasts and roasts the best of them could have gone either way for me. It was great fun as the four fantastic performers parodied everything from Liza Minnelli to Mamma Mia, Les Miserables and Gerschwin ... I loved hearing what the Cats performer’s next role is ... (insert howl here!)
We’re half-way through the 10-day festival which finishes this Sunday 27 July with the Festival Wrap Party at Outrigger Little Hastings Street Resort and Spa – four hours of festival highlights and live music for $25. Catch the free shuttle bus leaving The J car park every 15 minutes from 11.30am-4.30pm.
There’s still plenty more to see and do including Supper Club with Rhonda Burchmore at Berardo’s Restaurant; Ali McGregor's show Alchemy on Saturday night; the risque burlesque Diabolique at Noosa Arts Theatre on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights; Prawnissimo Promenade progressive lunch at Sunshine Beach; forums with political and media commentators; and Queensland Youth Orchestra 2 at Bicentennail Hall on Saturday.
Sing along to your favourite Fleetwood Mac songs as popular festival performer and ambassador Catherine Alcorn (pictured) brings her show Go Your Own Way to The J Theatre on Thursday 24 July - it's a comical celebration of the life and success of “the other woman” in Fleetwood Mac, Christine McVie. CLICK HERE for a sneak peek at the show.
The free Heritage Walks in various villages in the Noosa region are popular each year - still to come are walks through the historical town of Eumundi (Thursday 24 July), Cooran (Friday 25 July), Cooroy (Saturday 26 July) and Kin Kin (Sunday 27 July) – all in the Noosa hinterland.
A bonus for anyone who’s attended any festival events is the Up The Lazy River promotion – just present your performance ticket and receive great discounts or bonuses at participating restaurants along Gympie Tce, Noosaville, and soak up the gorgeous river views. Also make sure you try at least one of the six Cocktail Capers created especially for the festival by some of our favourite Hastings Street venues - my favourite so far is 10 Hastings Street Cafe’s Hang 10 cocktail!
The festival has also added a splash of colour with the gorgeous Hastings Street tree lit with special red festival lighting, and a fabulous street parade that kicked everything off last Friday, featuring the 22-piece Unusual Suspects who also entertained the opening night crowd with their Balkan Gypsy music.
And for some great candid shots of festival performers from the past 13 years, make sure you see the retrospective photographic exhibition from long-time festival photographer Barry Alsop from Eyes Wide Open Images – free in the foyer of The J Noosa, 10am-4pm every day.
For the full program or to purchase tickets to Noosa Long Weekend Festival events, please see noosalongweekend.com.au