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HEAD TO HEAD: PEREGIAN BEACH TO COOLUM

Caught Between Noosa and Maroochydore, Peregian Beach is away from everything yet at the centre of all.

Stand on the high sand dunes and you can see so much of the Sunshine Coast … Noosa Head to the north, Mt Coolum and Point Cartwright to the south.

It is this quiet, relaxed lifestyle that has been at the heart of its appeal.

The primary dunal area along the beach has been retained pretty well free from housing. 

That gives a natural feel … the way coastal development should be where everyone can enjoy the environment rather than it being the realm of a few.

This could mean development would not intrude on the landscape from anyone standing on the beach.

The foreshore at Peregian gives a brief glimpse of what it was like before European settlement.

That is how I feel as we set out on the third stage of our Sunshine Coastal Walk from Noosa Head to Caloundra Head … about 100km to be completed in sections over eight, 10 or 12 days.

Peregian Beach shopping centre

Peregian is said to mean “emu” in Aboriginal language. With the kangaroo, the flightless bird forms part of the Australian coat of arms.

It is the second-largest living bird by height, after its relative the ostrich.

The original inhabitants of the Noosa area were the Kabi Kabi or Gubbi Gubbi people, from as far north as Fraser Island, south to Pumicestone Passage and west to the Conondale and Blackall Ranges.

Lake Weyba sunset.

The forced removal of Aboriginal Peoples to settlements such as Cherbourg under laws enacted by the Queensland government in 1897 in 1897 resulted in there being very few Kabi Kabi people left in the Noosa area by the early 1900s. 

In the 1860s there was a massacre of Kabi Kabi people at Murdering Creek, near Lake Weyba. It is remembered today by the Murdering Creek Road.

It’s something we must consider and learn from. Unless we look back and acknowledge those actions of the past and confront them, then it is hard to move forward.

Yet on this, our third day of the Head To Head Walk, we set out from the foreshore park at the village shopping centre.

Peregian Beach

Some beautiful homes have been built on the strip of sand dunes wedged between the blue of the ocean and the green of the national park since the coastal highway was put through in the late 1950s.

Peregian started out as a wartime military firing range. TM Burke was granted development and marketing rights and in 1959 opened the Noosa Coastal Highway linking Coolum and Noosa Heads.

The first subdivisions and motel block were completed in 1962 and Peregian Beach started its rise as a holiday destination, surfing mecca and place to settle.

Pelican Street, Peregian Beach. Circa 1960
Pelican Street, Peregian Beach. 2020.

The essence of Peregian’s popularity then remains the same today. The beachside village centre has the relaxed, family-friendly atmosphere lost in so many other locations.

There was a swimming pool in the centre of the shopping centre, apparently designed as an attraction for the area by TM Burke.

The bowls club was up on the corner of Woodland Drive and you could always get a good feed of fish and chips from the corner shop, otherwise dinner from the restaurant in the motel fronting the highway.

View south along the coastal highway during the construction of the first section from Sunshine Beach to Peregian Beach, 1960. The 10 kilometres of road was officially opened at Peregian on 2 April, 1960. Photo: Sunshine Coast Libraries, Nambour.

There were nights that included cheese fondue, bread and good red wine.

The caravan park was regarded as being the key to how the area would develop. Ron Stanford eventually sold it and through his love of movies went on to develop the Noosa Cinema Centre.

The swimming pool had been filled in to create a village green instead of dividing the shopping centre. It was a master stroke. Boutiques and the cafe culture have flourished along with the time-honoured services such as the butcher, baker, newsagent and corner supermarket.

Peregian Beach

Yet we also saw the creation of the Peregian Surf Club. How many meat tray raffles and working bees were needed to take it from the tin shed near the creek mouth to the two-level structure that stands today at the heart of the foreshore reserve?

The design of the hotel that was built on the land just to the north of the old caravan park said much about the feel of Peregian … open, relaxed and friendly.

Now there is a new IGA supermarket next door, together with associated shops and offices.

The coastal settlement is bounded by kilometres of unspoilt ocean beach and further surrounded by national and environmental parks.

Recognisable by the cluster of tall norfolk pine trees, Peregian Beach is known for the quiet, secluded feeling, while still being in the heart of the town centre.

The attraction of Peregian Beach is timeless. Grabbing a coffee and the most delicious almond croissant is a great way to start the day.

Along the way we pass The Pie Residence, designed by Geoffrey Pie for his own young family all those years ago, won the national Robin Boyd Award in 1986 and later went on to receive the Enduring Architecture Award.

Pie Residence, Peregian Beach. Geoffrey Pie Architect Photo: Dr Richard Stringer.

The southern end of Peregian beach boasts high sand dunes and the Peregian Environmental Park.

Pitta Street is a great open beach break for surfers.

Between Peregian Beach is Peregian Mountain or Mount Emu, at 70m above sea level is one of the smallest mountains in Australia.

That title though goes to Mount Wycheproof in central Victoria at 43m.

The walk along the beach has the ocean one side and the sand dunes the other, with wind-swept coastal vegetation. Beyond that are wildflower plains and wetland areas.

Stretches such as this allow you to ease into a somewhat energetic rhythm that allows the sub-conscious to kick in.

In his book Perfect Motion, Jono Lineen investigates why walking has made us more creative, helped us to learn, constructed our perception of time, strengthened our resilience and provided a way of making sense of our life. 

Looking to Mount Coolum from Pitta St, Peregian Beach

After the tragic loss of his younger brother, Lineen experienced walking’s regenerative power first-hand. Grief–stricken and adrift, he set off on a 2700– kilometre solo trek across the Himalayas. He walked for months until his legs ached and feet blistered, and by the end of the expedition something had changed in him. He was stronger – not just physically, but psychologically and emotionally. 

In Perfect Motion, Jono Lineen investigates that transformation, and why walking has made us more creative, helped us to learn, constructed our perception of time, strengthened our resilience and provided a way of making sense of our life – and death. 

Life can only be understood backwards, a friend tells me. But it must be lived forward.

It’s from Scandanavian philosopher Søren Kierkegaard. And on days such as this it makes sense.

Sketch: Sue Needham.

That’s how I felt when my younger brother died from multiple myeloma.

I jumped in the car and drove 3400km in three days from Queensland’s Sunshine Coast to Darwin in the Top End of Australia.

It had been half a lifetime since I had worked in the Northern Territory … time to stop living off good memories and set out to create some new ones.

The on-shore breeze has picked up and the kite surfers love it.

The on-shore breeze has picked up and the kite surfers love it.

The mouth of Stumers Creek is sanded up but the waters provide a great spot for dogs to be let off the leash and escape their urban lifestyles.

The norfolk pines and fingers of beachfront apartment blocks reach to the sky, with the imposing shape of Mt Coolum looming large in the background.

One comment on “Here, There and Everywhere

  1. What an interesting and lovely town.

    Like

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