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Mark Moxon's Travel Writing

Australia: Noosa

Alexandra Beach, Noosa
Alexandra Beach

Noosa is simply lovely. It's an upmarket and fairly yuppie holiday spot, just over 100km north of Brisbane at the northern tip of the Sunshine Coast. I hadn't been expecting anything much – it has a particularly small National Park covering various picturesque spots, but not a lot else – but the atmosphere was spot on. I don't know what it was that made Noosa feel so different from the comparatively tacky Hervey Bay or the overly touristy Cairns, but it felt more like a holiday version of Cardwell than a Sunshine Coast package trap. Perhaps it was down to all the enticing restaurants, which I couldn't afford to visit, but which looked very pleasant. Or perhaps it was the incredible weather; after the unpredictable rains of Fraser Island (which is only just north of Noosa) the cloudless blue skies were paradise.

Funeral for a Friend

Hell's Gates, Noosa
A cypress pine hangs on for dear life above the turmoil of Hell's Gates

My visit to Noosa also coincided with the media event of the decade; bigger news than the Challenger explosion, more headline-intensive than the Falklands War, more important to the masses than tragedy in Yugoslavia/East Timor/Tibet/Northern Ireland/Taiwan (delete as applicable)... yes, it was the weekend of Princess Di's funeral. Having been so cut off during the first six or so days of the whole event, I'd been lucky enough to miss a fair amount of the hysterical media saturation that ensued, but Australia's journos – with their fascinating love-hate obsession with both the royals and republicanism – managed to lose themselves in the kind of feeding frenzy that gives journalism a bad name; indeed, they almost didn't notice that Mother Theresa had died a few days later, surely an equally important event.

The Noosa National Park Information Booth

Tea Tree Bay, Noosa
Looking over Tea Tree Bay

It was funny, then, that as I headed off to explore the National Park on Sunday morning, the lady in the information booth, from whom I tried to get a map of the park, automatically assumed that because I was English, I would have watched the funeral from start to finish. When I tried to tell her that I'd seen plenty of pomp and circumstance before, and that watching her funeral didn't interest me half as much as watching the effect of the whole affair on the media, she couldn't understand what I was talking about. I told her that not everyone in England is obsessed by the royal family, but I think she was a little dismayed that I hadn't cried softly into my silk hankie as the procession wound its way to Westminster Abbey. (In fact, if you wanted to sign the official books to say 'goodbye' to Diana, which were set up in all the major Australian cities, then in Brisbane you had to queue for 11 hours – yes, 11 – which says a lot about how much people here liked Diana.)

Loneliness is tough
The toughest role you ever played
Hollywood created a superstar
And fame was the price you paid
But even when you died
Well, the press still hounded you
All the papers had to say
Was that Marilyn was found in the nude

Now how much more relevant is that version than the rather soppy one that Elton came up with for the funeral? Perhaps it was a bit too close for comfort...