Genuine awe in awesome
I must 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.
Read more of Ann's musings at annrickard.com