NOOSA SPRINGS IN QUEENSLAND, AUSTRALIA

Noosa is a true tropical oasis located about two hours north of Brisbane in sunny Queensland along the Sunshine Coast of Australia. Brisbane has long been a vacation mecca for Australians and more recently an international draw as well. Queensland has the fastest growing economy in Australia with a climate similar to Southern Florida. Noosa is a little bit Florida and a little bit Hawaii. Its unspoiled beaches, fancy shopping and restaurants all help make Noosa the “in” vacation spot in Australia these days.

The Noosa area is high end and its citizens and public servants have gone to great lengths to protect the environment. The beach area is large and offers excellent surfing as well. If someone planted you there you might think you were in Hawaii with smaller mountains. When you are walking on the beach you are never far from the fancy shops and restaurants of famed Hastings Street. However, because of a creative master plan, heavy foliage separates the beach from the commercial area and thus keeps views unspoiled. The Noosa River flows inland several miles and allows for great boating options.

We stayed at the Noosa Springs Golf Resort and Spa, no more than a mile or two to the beachfront. Guests can enjoy a brand new 18-hole private golf club designed by Graham Papworth. The course runs along Lake Weyba and borders the Noosa National Forest. It was in prime shape and followed a gently rolling terrain. The greens are Bermuda grass as are all Queensland courses. Water comes into play on many holes but should not pose a problem for the accurate shot. The 4th hole is an example of this at 141 meters (153 yards) all over water. Number 7 is the toughest hole on the course at 415 meters (452 yards) and a dogleg to the left. Water guards the right side off the tee and jungle on the left. The 12th hole is another strong par-4 at 406 meters. It plays downhill and again a dogleg to the left. Water guards the green on both sides. The 16th is the toughest par-3, playing 197 meters with bunkers everywhere. Overall, the course was fair and was a good test.

There are seven or so other courses in the Noosa area but this one is the highest-rated. Excellent golf can also be found at the Hyatt Regency Coolum Beach Resort where the Australian Masters is played. A reliable and thorough resource for Australian Golf is www.golfselect.com.au, which has organized and rated all the courses in the country.

Noosa Springs is brand new and designed for multiple night stays. Many of the units are two- or three-bedroom with all of the comforts of home. The clubhouse area offers a restaurant overlooking the golf course where breakfast, lunch and dinner are served. The staff is hospitable and seemed happy to be living in the Noosa area. I found them to be friendly to Americans, but probably more used to European visitors.

For more information visit www.noosasprings.com.au.

Gold Coast

The Gold Coast area is located south of Brisbane and is much busier than the Sunshine Coast area. There are many golf options with more than 100 courses in the area. You will want to check out the Coolongatta/Tweed Heads course bordered by an inland waterway just inland from the Pacific. We stayed at the new Peppers Salt Resort and Spa in the Kingscliff area. Located on the beach The Salt Resort is 15 minutes south of the Gold Coast and 30 minutes north of Byron Bay. This is on the Queensland-New South Wales border. The Peppers Salt Resort is adjacent to endless miles of quiet beaches. For more information visit www.peppers.com.au.

If you are anything like me the thought of a 13-hour flight is enough to make you think twice about making the trip. However, we had a pleasant experience with Air New Zealand. Their staff was courteous and well-trained. Air New Zealand serves all major cities in Australia as well as New Zealand. For more info visit www.airnewzealand.com.