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November 21, 2007

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WHERE'S JOHNNY JET?                                 Noosa, Australia

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G'day mate! Last week, we left off in one of my favorite cities in the world ... Sydney. I was torn about moving on from Sydney because a big part of me didn't want to leave this incredible city, while the other part of me was eager to go out and explore places I'd never been to. I stuck with the original plan and traveled up the eastern seaboard coast to Noosa Shire. Noosa is in the state of Queensland and is one of Australia's most popular up-market vacation destinations. It has pristine beaches, lots of shopping and a National Park with wild koalas. If you're looking for some fun in the sun Australia-style, plus, if you're interested in learning how to surf from an ex-pro, then read on! If you're pressed for time but still want to get a taste of this down under destination, check out the two-minute Johnny Jet video at the end of this week's story. If staying closer to home is more your speed, then check out Janice Russillo's story about her trip to Denver, Colorado.

From the Four Seasons Sydney, Natalie and I took a 25-minute, $25 taxi to the airport. We checked in with one of Australia's low-fare carriers, Jetstar. Jetstar's current CEO hails from Ryan Air (one of Europe's most popular low-fare airlines) so the airlines run very similarly. Just like RyanAir, all of Jetstar's domestic planes have all coach seating so being in the first row didn't have any of the benefits of first class. However, our seats did offer up extra legroom, we faced the cool and pretty flight attendants and we were able to deplane first. Everything went on schedule and flight time was just one hour and 12 minutes to the Maroochydore Airport (MCY). Although this airport is small, it has two names; the other is Sunshine Coast Airport.

Natalie and I were picked up by a funny bloke named Peter, who's a part-time driver for DC Limousines. After cracking a few jokes, Peter explained to us that everyone in Queensland is a character. They have to be because of the weather, he says. Apparently, they also don't care whether or not people "come from money" or what their job title is. Queenslanders, he says, care about how people treat their spouses and their family. Before we knew it, Peter had us both in hysterics and practically every other word he said was Australian slang, like "ripper!" meaning excellent. Whenever I asked him a question about anything from Queensland to the water temperature, I received the same answer -- "Perfect!" Peter is a shining example of why I love Australia so much. One of my favorite aspects of Australia is the people. They are friendly, funny and down-to-earth.

From the airport, the drive to Noosa is 25 minutes but if Peter's taking you, it'll take you 45 minutes because he's going to show off his area by taking the scenic route. Noosa is located 160 km (99 miles) north of Brisbane, which is about an hour and a half drive. If you're thinking about making the trek from Sydney by car, it's 1,100 km (683 miles) ... a 13-hour drive. Australians love to vacation in Noosa because of its natural beauty, shops, restaurants, beaches and most importantly the weather. All year round, the subtropical climate is pleasant and it's possible to swim anytime. The average daily air temperature ranges from 70 to 84 degrees Fahrenheit (21 to 29 degrees Celsius) in the summer and 50 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit (10 to 21 degrees Celsius) in the winter. I hear winter evenings get chilly so bring a sweater. The most popular time to go is during the Christmas and Easter school holidays. That's when the kids are out of school, the weather is the warmest but the prices are also at their highest. It also overlaps the rainy season (January, February and March). Be sure to make reservations far in advance and bring lots of money.

The name Noosa is derived from the Aboriginal names "noothera" or "gnuthuru" which mean shade or shadow. In 1919, the official name changed to Noosa Shire after the group of villages that make up the vicinity formed one. Most people just refer to it as Noosa. One of the villages is Noosa Heads, which is where the majority of the tourists stay. It's a resort area where you'll find Hastings Street, which has plenty of accommodations, shops, restaurants and real estate agencies. The main beach is a half block away from there, running parallel to the street. The best part of Noosa is that there are no high-rises (not like Surfers Paradise) and 31% of the area is made up of conservation reserves and State Forest. That's important because a study by the Noosa Council found 626 native vertebrate species within Noosa Shire, including 30 amphibians, 75 reptiles, 304 birds, 63 mammals, 33 primarily freshwater fish and 121 marine fish species.

You'll see most of these species in the Noosa National Park. It's one of the most visited parks in Queensland and was founded in 1930 to protect the trees and wildlife from the timber industry. To get to Noosa National Park from Hastings Street, it's just an easy 12-minute walk along a boardwalk, suspended in the trees and hugging the coastline. Take your time because the ocean views are inspiring. Be sure to stop in at the park ranger's office to find out where the resident koalas have been spotted that day. He advised us to look up in the trees just before we reached the "Boiling Pot" area. We never would have seen them if we hadn't received that information and that would've been a real shame because it was the highlight of our stay! Seeing koalas out in the wild is absolutely amazing! By the way, did you know that koalas aren't actually bears? They are marsupials. We didn't see any of the threatened wildlife like the glossy black cockatoo, ground parrot, red goshawk, wallum froglet, swamp orchid and Christmas bell. Nor did we spot any spiders or snakes (thank God!) Warning: It can get really hot out there so don't forget your hat, sunscreen, bottled water, binoculars and of course, your camera. It's a four-hour hike to get around the perimeter of the entire park. For more information, including information on the walking trails, log on to:

You don't need to bother renting a car. Pretty much everything you'll need is in walking distance and if you want to see the surrounding villages, there's a convenient bus service. But at night, watch out for moths the size of birds flying around the interior lights on the bus! A ride costs $2.30 but during the Christmas holiday, the buses are free. Score! What Natalie and I enjoyed the most was the Noosa ferry. The captain was so friendly and gave a fun tour, pointing out which places are worth visiting and good places to eat. The ferry service doesn't operate at night so if you want to visit one of the many restaurants, plan on walking, cabbing it or taking the moth-infested bus back. The ferry departs right next to the Sheraton on Hastings Street and takes 90 minutes to complete a roundtrip cruise. Tickets can be purchased on board for $6 one-way. For more information, check out

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Copyright 2007 JohnnyJet, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Pictures From

The Trip


Sydney Airport




Jetstar Airlines


Flight Attendants


Sunshine Coast Airport




Car Service


Noosa Shire




Noosa National Park


Park Ranger


Wild Koalas


Noosa Ferry


The Captain


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