GEN­UINE AWE IN AWE­SOME

THE SPLEN­DOUR OF THE MYS­TI­CAL NOOSA RIVER AND THE EVERGLADES IS UN­PAR­AL­LELED

Life & Style Weekend - - ESCAPE - WORDS: ANN RICKARD Read more of Ann’s mus­ings at an­nrickard.com

Imust make a dis­claimer up front be­fore I start this story. I live in Noosa. I love Noosa. I am bi­ased. There, got that out of the way. Read on.

While Noosa’s beaches, river and na­tional park are its most known and easily ac­ces­si­ble charms, and shop­ping, din­ing and lick­ing ice cream in Hast­ings St is plea­sur­able, the up­per Noosa River and the Everglades should be given equal at­ten­tion.

They are sim­ply awe­some in their pris­tine splen­dour. And I never use the word awe­some un­less I am prop­erly awed, never, and the Everglades re­ally do awe.

My fam­ily owns a small boat (let’s be frank, it’s a tin­nie) and we like to take our­selves up the Noosa River to the Everglades in hum­ble fash­ion.

But many tour com­pa­nies will glide there in com­fort on board splen­did craft, pro­vid­ing morn­ing tea, bar­be­cues, even cham­pagne.

Or drive to Boreen Point where op­er­a­tors will take vis­i­tors into the Everglades or hire them a kayak.

In our case with the tin­nie, it is a ques­tion of watch­ing the weather for calm flat wa­ter in the early morn­ing so our mod­est craft can easily speed along the lower Noosa River, then nav­i­gate the rel­a­tively flat ease of Lake Cooroibah and then bump our way over the choppy swathe of vast Lake Cootharaba to fi­nally reach the Up­per River. We set off at 6 o’clock one mild morn­ing last week with a vis­it­ing New Zealand friend, ready to boast about the splen­dour of our Noosa River and wa­ter­ways.

Be­ing a Kiwi, she has much to boast about when it comes to na­ture’s beauty in her own coun­try.

We armed our­selves with a ther­mos of tea, bread and six hard-boiled eggs. Don’t say we hold back when it comes to culi­nary ex­trav­a­gance. I can­not find ad­e­quate words to de­scribe the un­ri­valled plea­sure of be­ing on the Noosa River in the early morn­ing be­fore an­other boat has launched it­self into the wa­ter. The seren­ity and calm, the sense of awe (that word again), the feel­ing that this quiet and nat­u­ral beauty speaks for it­self, that it is all yours in the early hour of the day…it is price­less and hum­bling.

The Noosa Everglades are one of only two such sys­tems in the world. The other, in Florida, could well be just as awe­some, but in our case, we have no need to keep an eye out for al­li­ga­tors. Af­ter a visit to the Kin­aba In­for­ma­tion Cen­tre at the top of Lake Cootharaba, opened and un­manned but with ex­cel­lent in­for­ma­tion boards (and good clean loos), we slowly made our way to the real pur­pose of this visit, the es­tu­ary known as the river of mir­rors.

Along this es­tu­ary with its dark, still wa­ter, over­hang­ing trees, jut­ting branches and thick reeds are re­flected be­low with such per­fect mir­ror in­ten­sity it is some­times im­pos­si­ble to tell which way is up or which is down.

Ab­so­lute si­lence is re­quired in this mys­ti­cal place. The tin­nie’s en­gine had to be turned off so we could sit with our tea and bread and hard-boiled eggs, and lis­ten to the cries of the birds, the thrum of the ci­cadas.

New Zealand might have its moun­tains and lakes and glaciers and beaches, but our Kiwi friend was as awed as we were on that still and peace­ful morn­ing in the Noosa Everglades.

I urge you to take one of the Everglades tours – find them on­line.

As well as get­ting there in com­fort you’ll be given proper food and commentary and in­for­ma­tion.

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