How To Turn Your Next Endurance Event Into A (Kind Of) Relaxing Mini-Break

07/03/2017 10:16 AM AEDT | Updated 19/05/2017 12:46 PM AEST
Tourism and Events Queensland

Running, cycling, swimming -- Australia's landscape is hardly short of locations ideal for the adrenalin seeking, outdoors-loving, PB-chasing athletes amongst us. Indeed, the upcoming year will see no shortage of outstanding endurance races and events taking place in Queensland.

Which means, no matter whether you're an elite, a beginner or somewhere in between, there's likely to be an event to tempt you to the Sunshine State.

From the Straddie Salute Triathlon Festival, to the Noosa Ultimate Sports Festival -- which features Swim Noosa, Run Noosa and Cycle Noosa -- you can flex pretty much all your muscles. But once the hard work is done, you're probably really, really going to need to wind down and eat. A lot.

Below are six endurance events coming up in the next few months -- along with expert travel recommendations to ensure that when you've (hopefully) smashed that personal best, you can spend a few days relaxing, exploring and most importantly -- replenishing all those burned calories with some of Queensland's finest cuisine.

1. Eat And Drink In Paradise After The Noosa Ultimate Sports Festival, Sunshine Coast

Noosa's Ultimate Sports Festival (27-28 May) has events for seasoned swimmers and people who, er, just want to dip their toes in the water. This means swimming, running and cycling events to suit all ages and abilities -- from 3.8km ocean swims through Laguna Bay off the Sunshine Coast's Noosa Main Beach, to half marathons taking in the stunning Noosa Headsand or 5km fun runs. You can even cycle your way through the Noosa Hinterlands -- but being an athlete is all about balance, right? So it's then only reasonable to then take a few days in the area to unwind.

Where to stay: Check into the Seahaven Resort -- which offers beach front apartments that cater for small groups if you've travelled down with friends to compete. It overlooks Laguna Bay and is located on the world famous Hastings Street.

If your idea of post-relaxation is more swimming and walking, travel blogger Steph Parker from Big World Small Pockets recommended camping in Imbil State Forest at the Charlie Morleland campground.

"There's the opportunity for swimming in creek and hiking there too," Parker said.

Where to eat: Once you've tackled several kilometres of ocean swim -- it's only fair that you get to eat with a view of what you've conquered. And luckily, beach front dining options are plentiful in Noosa -- Sails Restaurant, Bistro C, Season Restaurant and, Rickys River Bar and Restaurant and Wasabi Restaurant. Try Boardwalk Bistro on Hasting for a sunrise coffee once you've slept off those post-race aches.

What to do: Take in a beautiful coastal walk in Noosa National Park and discover some of its inland tracks. Noosa Everglades are only a few kilometres away from Noosa Heads, and if your muscles aren't too sore from all that ultimate sports, try an overnight canoe tour.

Obviously there's a big possibility you'll want to do nothing whatsoever, in which case a massage at Noosa Springs Resort Spa is probably your best bet. Set within a delicious sounding subtropical oasis, you can have your muscles manipulated by an expert before treating yourself to a sunset glass of Australian or New Zealand wine.

Other events: Head to Noosa a week before the Noosa Ultimate Sports Festival and enjoy the Noosa Food & Wine Festival (18-21 May), showcasing the best of local and national produce, wines from boutique and major producers, the very best chefs from across Queensland and around Australia.

2. Try Water Front Dining And Eco Lodges After The Cairns Airport Adventure Festival, Tropical North Queensland

The 2017 Cairns Airport Adventure Festival (4-12 June) features events for competitors of all ages and abilities set amidst one of Australia's most tropical locations. Test your mettle in one of the many ironman, cycling, swimming and running competitions throughout Cairns -- including the Coral Coast Triathalon in Port Douglas, which includes a coastal run and then a cycle section along Port Douglas Road, and the Hekili Great Barrier Reef Ocean Challenge which sees the likes of outrigger canoes and surf skis battling it out over a 45km ocean race from Yorkies to Port Douglas.

Where to stay: With a number of events in or around Port Douglas, consider booking the Silky Oaks Lodge in Mossman, near Port Douglas. This rainforest eco-lodge is nestled high above the crystal-clear waters of the Mossman River and enveloped within the stunning Daintree Rainforest.

Travel blogger Meg Jerrard of Mapping Megan recommended trying out The Canopy Rainforest Treehouses - "This is a luxury eco resort and wildlife sanctuary set in 100 acres of ancient rainforest on the Cairns Highlands, 90 minutes from the event," said Jerrard.

"The beautifully crafted eco-friendly timber tree houses blend into the natural environment and boast incredible views of the surrounding forest which is teeming with exotic wildlife."

Where to eat : In Port Douglas, there's no going past the Salsa's Bar and Grill -- try their red claw linguini -- but when it comes to fine dining in Tropical North Queensland, Palm Cove's award-winning Nu Nu Restaurant is as beautiful as any chic Sydney spot -- it's an airy, plant filled space with a palm lined outdoor dining area and spectacular views of the Coral Sea. If you want to really treat yourself, this is the place.

What to do: When you've seen the view from the water, pounding the pavements and cycled the streets, you deserve to take to the skies from Cairns or Port Douglas on a helicopter tour and enjoy a picnic on the Great Barrier Reef's famous Vlassof Cay. Or choose to go where the local's go -- Fitzroy Island -- for some fantastic kayaking, hiking and snorkelling fun.

Explore the famous Great Barrier Reef by snorkel, scuba or boat for something else to boast to your friends about, aside from that new PB.

3. Camp Out Or Hit The City After The Straddie Salute Triathlon Festival, North Stradbroke Island, Brisbane

The Straddie Salute Triathlon Festival (19-21 May) will see thousands of competitors 'migrate' to Stradbroke Island -- at the same time as the whales -- to take part in one of the most beautiful routes in the state for those looking for a triathlon festival. The spectacular course includes surf, sand, trail, bitumen, boardwalk, stairs and coastal scenery. Stradbroke Island itself is great for some post-break down time -- with options to camp out on the beach with your friends, or even head back over to Brisbane for a city break.

Where to stay: Straddie offers accommodation options for everyone, including beach houses and apartments to rent if you want to self-cater, as well as the likes of Stradbroke Island Beach Hotel and self-contained apartments at Allure Resort Stradbroke Island.

Or if you'd prefer to stay in Brisbane -- only a hop, skip and jump from the island -- bed down at the elegant New Inchcolm Hotel & Suites with its delightful art-deco style. Another impressive option is The Johnson in Spring Hill, which takes its design cues from celebrated Australian artist Michael Johnson.

Where to eat: Check out Tillers Café and Pantry on the Island for the freshest local produce and coffee, sweets, breakfast, lunch or dinner. Look Beach Bar Café has exquisite ocean views, perfect for whale watching over an Australian / Mediterranean-style menu. If you're heading back to Brisbane from the Island, be sure to check out the city's famous Eat Street Markets on Friday and Saturday nights, between 4-10pm, for some truly delectable cuisine.

What to do: Move over Bondi to Coogee, The Gorge Walk at Point Lookout skirts the coast and can offer up crystal waters, with a side of turtles, whales, kangaroos, koalas, dolphins, eagles and more. Keep your eyes peeled, because you have every chance of catching a glimpse of the migrating humpback whales between May and November. Also keep any eye out in the gorge itself for sea turtles, rays and dolphins.

Even if you do stay on the Island, Parker suggested spending a day checking out what Brisbane has to offer.

"Wander weekend artisan markets and check out exhibitions at the fabulous GOMA (Gallery of Modern Art)," said Parker.

4. Wind Down In The Rainforest After The Gold Coast Airport Marathon, Gold Coast

Twilight hour ✨

A post shared by Rick Shores (@imrickshores) on

This year marks the 39th anniversary of Australia's premier road race, the Gold Coast Airport Marathon (1-2 July). During the event -- you'll be among 27,000 competitors of all ages and abilities, from youngsters tackling a 2km race, to professional runners taking on the full marathon -- the Gold Coast provides an awesome backdrop. But after you've stretched down and collected your medal, you might be interested to know there are rainforest villas to stay in, national parks to meander through and plenty of calorific croissants to consume!

Where to stay: Bujerum Holiday Apartments in Burleigh Heads are unique, self-contained two and three bedroom apartments that are an ideal base to explore the surrounding area. There's a vibrant shopping district -- hello, new sports gear! -- right on your doorstep as well as Burleigh Head National Park and the surf club.

Jerrard recommends the Nightfall Wilderness Camp, which is located approximately 90 minutes from the Gold Coast and sits in the 'Lost World', beside Christmas Creek and Queensland's ancient Lamington National Park.

"The luxury safari tents are each set in a private clearing, have designer fireplaces, vintage tin baths, hand basins carved from rock, and generous king size beds with organic linen, a two night stay will completely change your perception of what "holidaying on the Gold Coast" could be," said Jerrard.

Where to eat: Food blogger Millicent Bax of 2centsbymillicent said that Paddock Bakery at Burleigh Heads is great for breakfast. Bax also recommended Bam Bam Bakehouse at Mermaid Beach.

"Go here for the 'Bam Bam Benny', best eggs benedict on the Gold Coast," said Bax.

"Bam Bam's baked goods are a whole other kettle of fish. Not ideal for those who are indecisive because choices include Twix flavoured eclairs, Ferrero rocher cruffins, almond croissants."

For lunch and dinner in the area, Bax suggested Betty's Burgers, The Fish House or Rick Shores.

"Order a 'Ricks' bug roll (at Rick Shores), and a cocktail and you are set," said Bax.

What to do: Venture outwards to the Lamington National Park and visit O'Reilly's Rainforest Retreat -- where you can experience a Glow Worm Tour, visit the Canungra Vineyard or and indulge in a vinotherapy treatment (yes, this is a thing, and it uses the anti-ageing properties in grapes!) at the Lost World Spa.

Parker suggested a trip to Mount Tamborine ; "It's a world away from the busy coastline and only one hour's drive. There's tropical rainforest, great hiking and exotic bird spotting," said Parker.

5. Sink A Beer, Search Markets And See A Sunken Ship After The Velothon Sunshine Coast, Sunshine Coast

Velothon Sunshine Coast (13-16 July) event is actually THE biggest of its kind on the planet! It brings together a stunning riding location, dream race set-up and a world-class rider experience -- on and off the bike -- and you can choose between the one-day or three-day events on the stunning Sunshine Coast. But along with the chance to spend up to three whole days competing, you can also swim with whales, dive to look at ship wrecks and take cooking classes in the area.

Where to stay: The luxurious new Breeze Mooloolaba occupies a prime position overlooking Mooloolaba Beach and is close to a range of restaurants, cafes and retail outlets. But for the more energetic race finishers, Parker also suggested camping in the Bunya Mountains National Park.

"Camping or chalets are available right within the National Park. It's great in summer or you can head here in winter to snuggle by wood fires and enjoy delicious glasses of red," Parker said.

Where to eat: "Acai Brothers is an excellent super food bar in Mooloolaba that I love," said Parker.

"I'm also a fan of Envy cafe there. Spice Bar restaurant is meant to be great and gets rave reviews!" Spice Bar has impressive views of the Pacific Ocean as well as small and large sharing plates that mean you can indulge in a little -- or large -- post event food binge.

What to do: If you need to ease those sore muscles after the race, head to the Waterfall Day Spa at Landmark Resort in Mooloolaba and indulge in some serious relaxation.

But it's worth noting that between June and October the humpback whales are swimming into town -- which means you have the chance of whale-spotting. Plus, you can try diving with the likes of Scuba World, Sunreef Mooloolaba and Knight Dive and Marine Services -- you can even check out a wreck of EX HMS Brisbane!

If you're thinking of bringing back some souvenirs for friends and family -- try famous Eumundi Markets on Wednesday, Friday or Saturday to find some delightful artisan treasures.

6. Indulge In Island life After The Townsville Running Festival

The Townsville Running Festival (6 August) is more than just a run -- it's an experience. When most of Southern Australia is enduring winter, this event offers the chance to defrost and get a sweat on with a range of races to suit varying ages and levels of fitness. And Townsville itself offers plenty to make it worth staying on for at least a day or two afterwards -- beach, wildlife sanctuaries, botanical gardens and of course, the Great Barrier Reef. Plus, Magnetic Island is a short ferry ride away.

Where to stay: In Townsville itself, try the Grand Hotel Apartments Townsville in the heart of the CBD, which is surrounded by restaurants, cafés and bars. Otherwise, Parker suggested staying in Horseshoe Bay -- budget travellers can try Bungalow Bay Koala Village, or Magnetic Sunsets Resort offers B&B and apartment options. Alternatively, try Peppers Blue On Blue Resort down in Nelly Bay, which also houses an endota day spa.

Where to eat: For lunch with an unforgettable view, try Cbar, located right on The Strand, overlooking Cleveland Bay and Magnetic Island. On Magnetic Island itself, Parker suggested The Early Bird in Horseshoe Bay -- which serves as a cafe, tapas bar and grill.

What to do: For the ultimate nature escape, head to a rainforest village in the clouds, only 60 minutes north of Townsville -- Paluma, where freshwater crystal creeks and wet tropics heritage-listed rain forest walks await.

Go topless -- by car, that is -- when you hire a topless car and cruise around Magnetic Island. If you didn't get enough of a rush of excitement crossing the finish line at the velothon, try diving to the SS Yongola wreck, or head to the Magnetic Island National Park and try snorkelling. Take a breather -- and pack the celebratory champagne -- on a Pilgrim Sailing twilight sailing cruise around the island.

For the more on Queensland endurance events, as well as places to stay, eat and visit, check out queensland.com.

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