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Peregian cherishes its village vibe

spring 11

 
 
THE NORTH COAST APPROACH to Peregian Beach from Noosa is one of those dreamy Sunday drives you want to take slowly – preferably in a convertible, while wearing a silk scarf and with a loved one nestled beside you. 
 
Hugging the coastline, the road weaves and dips through rugged coastal bush land, passing the pint-sized communities of Sunshine Beach, Sunrise Beach and Marcus Beach before arriving in Peregian. Today the sun has free reign of the sky and the ocean is sparkling with an electric intensity. I can see the shoreline stretch – like a golden sand-paved highway – for thirty kilometres south to Mooloolaba. 
 
I park in Heron Street, the town’s main entry point off David Low Way, and stroll around the urban centre, soaking up the sun and intermittent sea breeze. Peregian Beach always fills me with a sense of shoppers’ optimism. The eateries and boutiques are known for being independent, home grown and creative, and the overwhelming village vibe is friendly and intimate.
 
For a petite shopping precinct there is great diversity, including a juice bar, seafood bistro, baby and kidswear boutique, organic day spa, gelateria, French patisserie, interior design and French fabrics store, Chinese tea house and independent bookstore. Today, many of the retailers have dragged tempting items for sale outside onto the pavement. Wispy lavender plants, straw woven baskets and candy-striped deck chairs bask in the morning sun.
 
Pedestrians rule here as the open-air village square, boardwalk stores, surf club, park and beachfront are all within a few steps of each other. A steady stream of beach-goers, surfers, skateboarders, shoppers, surf lifesavers, tradies, workers in business suits and local residents filter through the town but it doesn’t feel hectic. The population of 3000 people must swell with day-trippers, but the relaxed vibe is clearly infectious. 
 
A handful of stores and cafés open onto the Village Square’s central manicured lawn, peppered with casuarina, cotton and pandanus trees. It hosts community events, like movie nights, and was the original site for the famous Peregian Originals live music concerts, which are now held in front of the surf club in Peregian Park on the first and third Sundays of every month. 
 
The Village Square has always been a community hub. It was once the site of the town swimming pool, which opened in 1964 as one of Peregian’s first public facilities. Peregian resident and business owner Nicole Carter used to swim in the Village Square pool as a little girl. She tells me she moved to Peregian in 2002 but her grandparents were one of the first – number six, Nicole believes – to build a home in Peregian in the early ’60s. Nicole has fond memories of her childhood holidays here. 
 
“I remember walking on Peregian Beach with Grandma and there was never anyone around – it was pristine and beautiful. But it’s still like that,” Nicole says. Like many residents, Nicole is an active community member. She defines Peregian as “having a country town mentality” where everyone is friendly and aware of the environment. Along with her 15-year-old daughter, she volunteers as a surf lifesaver with the Peregian Beach Surf Life Saving Club. From September to May, the family spends two out of three weekends patrolling the beach. 
 
Peregian Beach’s beachfront is free of development, which keeps it pristine and makes it feel like a secret surf break, even though the secret is long shared. It’s nice to know Peregian will always be this way because it is hemmed by green space. Its southern boundary is protected by Peregian Environment Park with its wallum flats and wildflowers that bloom in spring, while Noosa National Park and Lake Weyba National Park nudge it from the north and west.  
 
Peregian is also an environmental haven for humpback whales. About 15,000 whales migrate south to their summer feeding grounds in Antarctica in September and October each year. Three thousand of the creatures pass within ten kilometres of Peregian Beach – you can spot them from shore or climb nearby Mount Emu for a better view. 
 
University of Queensland researcher Dr Michael Noad grew up spending his weekends and holidays at Peregian Beach. His parents have retired here, and his father, John, is part of an international research team that Michael brings to Peregian each year to study the impacts of undersea oil and gas exploration methods on migrating whales.
 
Peregian’s vast natural beauty and biodiversity helps explain why its residents have a reputation for being passionate greenies – their gratitude to live amidst a vital green zone must spur them to protect and nurture, grow and cherish their surroundings together. 
 
Look closely and you’ll find many signs of Peregian’s community eco spirit: the town is a plastic bag-free zone, the Veggie Village community gardens are thriving, and many locals plant and protect wildlife corridors in their neighbourhoods (I hear Peregian’s Spoonbill Street has gained notoriety as the greenest street in Queensland). 
 
Art teacher and ceramicist Laura Ellis is another active resident who agrees environment is front-of-mind for locals. I ask Laura how she defines Peregian Beach’s community focus and she reflects it must be about gratitude to live in such a beautiful place. 
 
“Everyone who has chosen to live or work or recreate in Peregian is ultimately somehow touched by or attracted to its inherent natural beauty and peaceful atmosphere,” Laura says. 
 
Laura knows Peregian Beach better than most; she was the first resident born in Peregian in 1966. Laura has many fond memories of growing up here in the ’60s and ’70s. “We walked on the beach, rode our push bikes, played tennis, had bonfires in the foreshore park, caught yabbies, discovered middens,” Laura says. 
 
Peregian Beach Community House president Lorraine Wood says Peregian also works so well as a community because its residents are friendly and connected. The Community House opened in April last year in the modern development on David Low Way and from day one residents have flocked to take part in all sorts of new hobbies, including tai chi, yoga, meditation, cooking classes, eco talks, knitting groups and youth drama classes. 
 
“I’m amazed at how much of the community have been involved in the house,” Lorraine says. “It’s the little things, like a few of us were in the garden pulling up weeds one Saturday morning. Well, there were people who were walking past with their dogs who stopped to give us a hand. There were a couple of guys who drove past and then stopped and said ‘We’ve got a spare hour. We can help’. And to me, that was fantastic.”
 
A few metres from Community House is the Veggie Village community gardens – another shining example of community in action. Its youngest member is two years old and its most senior is 78. There are 45 garden beds to nurture and everyone shares a passion for growing organic food. 
 
Veggie Village president Andrew Maitland is excited to share the latest news of the council’s ecoBiz program where Veggie Village and 16 other businesses have committed to reduce their carbon footprint. One commitment involves five local cafés bringing their coffee grounds, vegetable and fruit scraps to the Veggie Village daily to be turned into compost to nourish the garden beds. Andrew sums up the program and Peregian nicely when he says, “It’s community thinking together and working together to minimise our footprints”. 
 
But you don’t have to have grown up or even reside in Peregian to feel part of its community. Melbourne-based retiree Cliff Lowerson, aged 91, has visited Peregian Beach for three months each year since he retired in 1979. Cliff and his wife Iris would escape the Melbourne winters to enjoy Peregian’s sunshine, which instantly cured Iris’s chilblains. 
 
“When we arrived in Peregian we fell in love with it because in those days it was more or less a hamlet compared to what it is now. The beaches were beautiful to walk on, the bird life was fantastic and the people were friendly,” Cliff recalls, later revealing he and Iris used to hike the 26-kilometre round trip from Peregian to Noosa Heads and have a picnic lunch overlooking the ocean at Noosa National Park’s headland.
 
Sadly, Iris passed away two years ago. Cliff still returns annually to Peregian; he has so many happy memories here. He still loves to walk on the beach, visit the local church, and dine at the surf club. “Things have changed a little of course, but I still enjoy coming here mostly for the weather and the people – it’s like paradise,” he says.  

AWESOME ACTIVITIES 

Shop ’til you drop: The Peregian Beach Markets kick off at 7am on the first and third Sunday of every month at Peregian Park on Kingfisher Drive. The surf club serves up a delicious brekkie to give you sustenance for browsing the scores of stalls selling fresh produce, art and photography, designer threads, deli goods and plants.  

Live music: Peregian Originals’ live music concerts are held straight after the markets on the first and third Sundays of every month, offering all original music by upcoming and established local and national bands. The event has also sprouted the Nambour Originals at Quota Park, Nambour on the second and fourth Sundays of the month.  

Scale a mountain: Mount Emu boasts some of the most spectacular panoramic views of Peregian Beach and beyond. At only 72 metres high, it’s easy to climb without breaking much of a sweat. Access is off David Low Way from Havana Road. 

Spot a whale: Thousands of humpback whales migrate south past Peregian Beach every September and October. You can soak up this awe-inspiring phenomenon by climbing Mount Emu for a panoramic view or just hanging out on Peregian Beach to spot them from shore.  

Pick a park: Peregian is surrounded by national parks and wildlife areas including Lake Weyba National Park, Lake Weyba and the Noosa National Park. One of the Noosa National Park walks in the Peregian section is a three-kilometre track that guides you along sandy paths and boardwalks, over dunes, along unpatrolled beachfront and past native casuarina and banksia trees. 

Get festive: Peregian’s annual Christmas Eve event has been running since 1964 – that’s quite a tradition! Last year, 3000 people joined the festivities, hosted by the Peregian Beach Surf Life Saving Club at Peregian Park. Settle in for an evening of entertainment, including Christmas carols by the Peregian Beach Nippers Choir and local entertainers, as well as fireworks and a visit from Santa who might arrive by helicopter! 

Join your local surf club: Peregian Beach Surf Life Saving Club always welcomes new members and children as young as five years old can join the Nippers squad. For more information, visit www.peregianslsc.com or phone the surf club on 5448 1728. 

HEALTH HUB

If your body is letting you down it’s well worth booking an appointment at Circle Wellness Clinic (5471 2201) on the David Low Way in Peregian. It’s a holistic, health hub offering an array of services from counselling, kinesiology, naturopathy, acupuncture, massage, hypnosis and beauty therapy. The talented practitioners at Circle Wellness Clinic have a wealth of experience and can assist you on a physical, emotional and mental level. 

Meet two of the health professionals that consult at Circle Wellness Clinic:
Naturopath Yolanda Falivene can help those who suffer from allergies, infections or food intolerances by using a proven therapy that doesn’t involve drugs. This particular treatment is Europe’s leading allergy therapy where after treatment more than 80 per cent of people with food allergies can eat the food again, symptom free.

Peregian Beach local Jules O’Neill will be able to transform your life by teaching you how to listen to your body and its energy levels through Body Consciousness. With a growing list of people praising her results, she’s been the impetus for life changing moments for people nationwide. Head to her website for more information: bodyconsciousness.com.au
 
For women who need help untapping their potential it would be well worth booking into the Women’s Wisdom two day workshop orchestrated by Jules O’Neill scheduled for November 5 to 6 which is $550. For more information about this much-anticipated workshop visit womenswisdom.com.au 

If you’re looking for some pamper and preen time while visiting Peregian Beach, book an appointment at Heart of Beauty (5448 1874) on the Village Square. Owner Lauren Drysdale has oodles of beauty experience and incorporates the esteemed French skincare products Guinot into her beauty treatments. Whether its waxing, manicure, pedicure or a facial, the Heart of Beauty has your beauty needs ticked.  

RETAIL ROAMING

The Romantic (5471 3235) is a sassy shop that has an eclectic bounty of goodies that are loved by all. Order a coffee from owner Margot and browse the savvy offerings from Mud ceramics, Perfect Potion beauty products to funky shoes and one-off fashion pieces. You’re guaranteed to fall in love with this new kid on the Peregian block.

For the best in seasonal fashion, including exclusive fashion labels like Sao Paulo and Dolce Vita, visit High Tide Mark (5448 3044) for some of the best fashion offerings for both men and women. Both owner Glen and manager Jan have an acute eye for fashion and can provide you with fashion styling advice.

Gift giving for the home or yourself? Take some time out to linger in Finders & Keepers (5448 3830), a bespoke homewares boutique that has a collection of interesting adornments, trinkets and likeables from funky jewellery, signature lamps and beautiful décor. But be warned – you won’t be able to resist the urge to purchase something for your home, yourself or a friend. 

Fred & Ginger (5448 3422) is a edgy fashion boutique with its finger on the pulse in terms of latest fashion trends with well-known labels hailing from Sydney, Melbourne, Europe, Canada and home grown as well. As the boutique’s name suggests both men and women are catered for in this street-side boutique. 
 
Whitebeach Home and Living (5448 1320) encapsulates the coastal way of life with its diverse range of furniture, homewares, fashion, locally made art and fabrics on display.  Lovers of this lifestyle emporium particularly adore the high quality European limed oak furniture, its eco-friendly fabrics, hand-made ceramics and individually designed jewellery. With the honed eye of owner Robyn Johnston who is an interior designer you’ll be glad that salt pointed you in the direction of Whitebeach.

FEEDING FRENZY

There’s nothing quite like French delicacies – whether it’s savouring a croissant, éclair or gateaux, the French over achieve in this department. You’ll be pleased to know that Peregian Beach has its own petite French patisserie known as Le Bon Delice (5471 2200) and has executive Jean Jacques Le Faou and an award winning team at the helm. Make a beeline for this patisserie; bathe in spring sunshine while sampling the French fare. 

Wahoo Seafood Restaurant and Takeaway (5448 1491) is the local hot spot for the quintessential fish and chips on the Sunshine Coast. Perched on the edge of the Peregian Village Square, Wahoo has been indulging the needy taste buds of visitors and locals for more than ten years. The menu is based around Queensland seafood with a contemporary European influence. If you’re stopping for lunch, salt recommends perching under the sprawling Pandanus tree and ordering the peppered tuna nicoisi featuring local tuna, olives, egg, potato and green beans. 

HOMEWARD BOUND

It’s not uncommon after a visit to Peregian Beach for visitors to fall in love with this seaside town with its village vibe, and decide to call it home. This is where the coastal community of Peregian Springs (1800 753 799) comes to mind; a suburb that is only five minutes from the beach and the trendy village of Peregian Beach offering the laid back lifestyle without the price tag. 

words frances frangenheim photos anastasia kariofyllidis 
 
  
 

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