It’s been a bittersweet week for myself and many of my teammates and coaches who have begun the journey back to Melbourne.

While we are looking forward to our own beds and seeing loved ones in Victoria, there are certainly mixed emotions to be leaving Noosa.

Back in early July, we had less than 48 hours’ notice before departing Melbourne and arriving at the RACV Resort for what was initially a 32-day campaign.

More than 100 days later, and Noosa really did become a home away from home.

For me, it was a morning swim and take-away coffee from Sails, walks out to Hell’s Gates, and a little bit of fishing on our days off.

For others like Dan Butler and Brad Hill, it was surfing out on the point, and coffees from Café Le Monde.

Dan Butler making waves. Photo: Corey Scicluna.

For everyone, it was Bananarama smoothies from Blended on Hastings St.

They became what we competed for in the small games we play at the end of training.

Whoever lost had to buy Bananaramas for their whole line groups, and I hate to think how many we drank over the past three months.

While the crew at Blended might miss us, I’m sure others won’t mind not seeing the Thrifty minibuses driving around town.

Ben Paton and Hunter Clarkk fish as the sun sets in Noosa. Photo: Corey Scicluna.

For my wife Emma, my daughter Harriett and me, Noosa was already a favourite holiday spot. But with everything that has happened this year, it has become a place that will always hold a special place in our hearts.

Not only is it where we set ourselves up as a club to return to the AFL finals for the first time in nine years, it is where we welcomed our little boy Freddie into the world.

The doctors and midwives at Buderim Private Hospital were outstanding, and they couldn’t have done any more to look after my wife Emma and Freddie when he arrived a week out from the finals.

Their care from early on this year put our minds at ease and took away any stress of having a baby in the hub.

Josh Battle and Dean Kent along the shore. Photo: Corey Scicluna.

It’s a small world too it seems, as our midwife Ally was the wife of the President of the Noosa Dolphins Rugby Club, where we did a lot of our training.

The Dolphins crew were so accommodating, as was the team at Noosa CrossFit and the Noosa Tigers Football Club, where we also spent time training.

The entire town was so welcoming, and while we weren’t allowed to sit in at your beautiful cafés, we did enjoy them via takeaway.

A special shout-out to the nurses who conducted our twice weekly COVID tests and were so lovely to deal with. And finally, to Darren, Jordan and the team at RACV Resort, thank you for looking after us like you did.

Nothing was ever an issue and you went out of your way to do the little things that made the place feel like home.

The Saints are welcomed to Kabi Kabi land. Photo: Bradley Hill.

I know we have converted a few Saints fans amongst the staff, and hopefully the entire town felt a little bit of ownership of how we performed this year.

We wouldn’t have achieved anything if weren’t for you and the Queensland Government allowing us to relocate to complete the season.

Whether it’s for a pre-season camp or potentially a mid-year escape, we would love to come back again.

And if we do, we’ll be sure to phone ahead to Blended and ensure the Bananaramas are ready.

Sunrise. Photo: Corey Scicluna.