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Noosa Junction: From little things, big things grow

winter 12

“IT IS BETTER TO TRAVEL well, than to arrive.” 
So reads a little hand written sign I spy in a shop window at Noosa Junction, the vibrant village which lies over the hill from Hastings Street.
The sign is an apt saying for a town which certainly has some travel tales to tell. 
Sprung from the bush, and imbued with an undeniable community spirit, Noosa Junction – named through a competition in the local paper in the 1980s – is now a thriving business, shopping and arts precinct. 
It is strange to think that only about 50 years ago, it didn’t exist – not as a town at least.
My own dim childhood memories of this place during numerous family trips to Noosa are sketchy at best.
That’s because it was, quite literally, a junction in the bush where two dirt roads met; a petrol stop. It was the place which meant you were “nearly there”.
Today, I stop off at the Junction to learn some of her stories, and to ask the question: exactly where did she come from?
With a plan to end up in Hastings Street, I weave my way up the coast and find Sunshine Beach Road, Noosa Junction’s main street.
There is a distinct modern-village vibe as soon as I pull in.
I find a park almost right outside the earliest residence here. 
George and Jean Cookman came here for some fresh sea air in the late 1950s from Goondiwindi with their little daughter, who was asthmatic.
They built a shop and residence, where they lived and raised their four children. While George died in 1988, Jean is “well into [her] 80s” and still owns the building, which she now rents out.
She still comes to the Junction every day, she says, to “check on everything”.
 “The doctor said it would be good for our daughter to come to the coast,” says Jean. “We had the shop built, and everybody said ‘you’ll never have any neighbours’.
 “I can remember it as if it was yesterday. And my husband said ‘talk to me in 20 years time, we’ll see how many neighbours we’ve got!’ It didn’t take long before we had a chemist shop, and bakers there. And now it’s gone ahead.”
It certainly has. Strolling down the footpath I find myself continually stopping and peering into windows. An assortment of shops beckons me; a curious mixture of old and new.
Genuine op shops with retro treasures sit comfortably beside swish boutiques, shiny cafés, surf shops and galleries. There’s real personality here: a pleasant merging of past and present, rather than a clash.
One early entrepreneur who has witnessed this merging first-hand is Len Daddow, who built the Mobil service station at the Junction in 1972. 
“When I first came to the area in 1966,” says Len, “Sunshine Beach Road Junction was a dirt road.
“The only house in the street was the Cookmans’. I found a fellow who lived in Charters Towers who had ten blocks of land [at Noosa Junction]. I bought the ten blocks of land off him for $6000 in a package deal. I built the service station after that and then sold the corner block for $30,000.”
Len owned and operated the service station until 1995, living in the residence above. He saw Noosa’s first roundabout built, and the roads bitumened. 
He sees Noosa Junction as having developed its own special style and character which contributes to the overall makeup of the shire.
“I think Noosa Junction is quite unique,” says Len. “What it’s doing is living up to that uniqueness that Noosa has, in that we have a variety of villages. That’s Noosa. All these little unique villages form a unique Noosa.”
The Junction has long been known as the business hub of Noosa, and I can see why.
Interspersed amongst the shops are doctors, lawyers, accountants and myriad consultants, as well as various trades and services, all the major banks, and the more recently added Coles and IGA supermarkets.
I could, in fact, be in a suburban shopping strip near a large city – until a tall blonde girl in a skimpy white bikini emerges from one of the shops, and I am reminded that I am near the beach.  
The cinema complex, in the middle of the main strip, and The J, an impressive performing arts complex just round the corner, give the Junction an arty edge.
The cinema café spills onto the footpath and is a favourite haunt for locals. 
It’s the locals, I hear, who are really the heart of Noosa Junction.
Although tourists are welcomed, it is the locals who shop, eat, and do their business here with a loyalty and friendliness usually reserved for country towns. 
Lloyd Pardon, who has owned the local fruit market with his wife, Tammy, for 11 years, first came to the Junction 26 years ago and worked in a fruit shop.
He is well aware of the local loyalty, and says this is one of the many things he loves about Noosa Junction. 
“It’s a bit more individual here,” he says. “We still have some of the same customers [from 26 years ago]; they’re still around. 
And the location isn’t bad either, according to Lloyd, if you fancy a swim before work.
“You can walk to the beach in ten minutes,” he says. “I do that quite often in the morning, then I’ll walk back to the shop.”
Travel agent Betty Croft has been in the Junction for 31 years, and is also well aware of the local loyalty.
“I still have clients that come into my office that were my very original clients, in my first couple of years of trading,” she says.
“The owners all know each other; it’s got a really good vibe and feel. It feels like you’re part of a family.”
I walk past the sparkling new bus station at the end of the street, and see a clique of tanned backpackers unloading their packs.
Nearby there is an English school, buzzing with the sound of a hundred voices, and the comings and goings of young travellers.
And there is the inconspicuously famous Franks – the gym of choice, apparently, for local celebrities such as Pat Rafter and Kevin Rudd when he visits.
Franks was built 32 years ago by Frank Everett, and is still run by the Everett family.
“We pride ourselves on being family owned and run,” says marketing manager and long-time family friend Victoria Gremo. 
“We really pride ourselves on looking out for our own, for other businesses in the area,” she says. 
I suddenly realise the day is escaping me, and I should be on my way to my next destination.
But the Junction has too much to tell for such a quick stopover, and she invites me to stay a little longer. I discover a Melbourne-like arcade, a chocolateria, bookshops and a garden centre.
I follow the paved Arcadia Street, and walk into a shop with a sand-covered floor, where a waiter from one of the cafés brings the shopkeeper a plate of something.
They engage in an animated conversation in Italian, and I smell freshly brewed coffee in the air. I am feeling quite at home. 
I decide Hastings Street can wait a little longer. 
  • Late 1950s –  George and Jean Cookman move to Sunshine Beach Road from Goondiwindi and build the first shop and residence. The business was a plumber’s workshop.  The building is still owned by Jean Cookman, rented as retail and residential space.
  • The 1960s –  Aub Burge builds a residence and two Shell petrol pumps on Sunshine Beach Road, where the Oasis shopping centre now stands. About 1969, Ron Sadler builds Banksia Caravan Park and the Ampol Service Station on the Noosa Drive corner. The site was a popular destination for southern tourists, and was also home to permanent residents.  Irish Murphy’s pub is on this site today.
  • The 1970s –  1970: Ray and Sandra Garraway build the Noosa Squash Centre on the site where the IGA supermarket now stands on Sunshine Beach Road.  1972: Len Daddow builds the Mobil Service Station and residence on Noosa Drive. He lives and works here until 1995. The service station is still operating today.  Late 1970s: Council appoints a town planner to manage the growth in the area.
  • The 1980s –  Noosa’s first roundabout is built at the Junction, at Cooyar Street and Sunshine Beach Road.  Devin Minchin builds the “Cinema House” in Sunshine Beach Road, which remains a popular nightspot in the area.  A local newspaper competition sees Noosa Junction get its name. 
  • Today –  Noosa Junction is home to about 300 businesses – and four roundabouts. The Sunshine Coast Council says it has a “placemaking strategy” for the area. Its strategy says: “The project aim is to develop the character of the Noosa Junction shopping precinct to reveal the potential of its unique local qualities and define it as a destination.”
  • Split into two stores on either side of Lanyana Arcade is The Cooking Company (5447 4480). Cuisine by The Cooking Company is a foodie’s dreamland, with a cabinet full of gourmet cheeses and cold meats. Stock up on pasta, delicious sauces and condiments or sit down and devour a bagel, hot soup or a smooth coffee. Across the arcade is the retail counterpart where owner Jeroo Pavri showcases her flair for culinary and homewares trends. Shelves are brimming with top-of-the-line cookware, tableware, glassware, aprons and much more. 
  • For the ultimate fashion fix drop in to Minx and Max (5447 3366) on Lanyana Way. Racks of high quality labels such as Verge, Sandwich, Nougat, LTB Jeans and Moyuru will make it almost impossible to leave empty handed.
  • A short stroll away is Noosa Optical (5447 3711), the village’s go-to store for superior eyewear. Choose from a large range of well-known brands like Oroton and Trussardi, and treat your eyes to a pair of new spectacles or sunglasses.
  • The newly opened Nails @ Noosa (5447 3380) is situated on Sunshine Beach Road. Run by mother-daughter team Tammy Pardon and Kimberley Wacker, this pampering haven will have your hands and feet looking beautiful in no time. 
  • Tucked away along Lanyana Arcade is The Ultimate Florist (5447 2262). Boasting a spacious showroom with creative floral displays, owner Chris Evans and her team will help you pull together the perfect arrangement. 
  • Boutique florist Noosa Florist (5447 3628) is run by the lovely Susa MacDonald. From floral favourites like tulips and sunflowers to exotic orchids and Australian plants, the artistic team at this flower heaven can work to suit any occasion. 
  • Carole Tretheway Design (5447 3255), situated on Arcadia Walk, is the go-to studio for anything interior-related. Carole is a font of knowledge for your next residential or commercial interior design project or property refurbishment. Blending a unique studio and consulting space with select homewares, Carole Tretheway Design has long been a favourite with Noosa locals.
words linda read  photos anastasia kariofyllidis

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