Australia so far has not made a massive impression on me. I loved Cape Tribulation and the Whitsundays, but the main enjoyment of this country has been the people I have met. Noosa changed this slightly. Beautiful Everglades meet stunning beaches and lovely architecture. Even though it is a tourist trap, the town felt clean and bright and a joy to be in.
One of the main attractions of Noosa is that it is close to the Australian Zoo and so I made this my first stop. The Zoo is famous for being run by Steve Irwin who was tragically killed by pulling a stingray tail out of his heart (as would anything that you pull out from your heart!). His wife and children are still a massive part of the zoo. It was fun if you could ignore all the Steve Irwin family memorabilia. It was fairly creepy that you could buy a massive portrait of the family to have on your wall or that his daughter had been made into a Barbie doll. It was even odder that you could have your picture with Steve superimposed on!
Despite this, the zoo gives a sanctuary to a mass of animals and all proceeds do go to supporting the zoo and animal hospital. The highlight for me was getting to hold a koala and have her hug me. Bella was brought in by her keeper and patiently sat in his arms waiting for the next person. As she was lifted up to me, she decided to do a poo before being put into my arms. I soon forgot about the toilet experience as her claws lightly gripped my arms and she snuggled her head into me. Her fur was extremely soft and it was a pure delight. Other highlights included watching crocs being fed and the not so delight of having birds flying closely over my head (I did nearly run out of the auditorium).
The next day involved starting a three day canoe trip through the Noosa Everglades. Ever since doing a 24 hour canoe trip in the States, I have wanted to have the opportunity to do it again so I jumped at the chance. Fifteen of us took part. As there only three people travelling alone and the rest were in pairs, the three of us had to share a canoe. Paddling with two is fine as one takes each side. Paddling with three takes a bit more skill. For an hour of so we tried to master the basics. This involved just paddling from one bank to the other bank and seemingly being attracted to every tree hanging over. We could not go in a straight line even if we tried. Luckily at this point we had not packed in our gear so the canoe was relatively light. With arms aching we went to get our gear and camping equipment making the canoe sink a lot lower in the water. This time when we set out, we seemed to develop a technique. We worked out who was the best steerer and attempted to go straight this time avoiding trees.
The second part of the day was awesome fun and we soon forgot about tired arms. We managed to stay together as a group and someone put on an Ipod and speakers to give us a boost paddling. Our canoe and steerer seemed to have kamikaze tactics as we tried to out race people. We would go through the middle and end up banging one canoe out of the one to overtake another. It was hilarious. As soon as people saw our canoe you could hear a groan and frantic paddling took place. We finally managed to get to the front and the view was breathtaking. The river was absolutely still and was a perfect mirror of the image reflected above. Larger drooping trees overhung, creating this amazing image combined with bright blue sky. It was so peaceful.
We managed to get to the camp site (7km) before dark and set up the tents. Dinner was soon underway and we had the night ahead to relax. We had been warned before setting off that there were bull shark sightings in the river, which put us off swimming. The next day dawned and we set off on a 7.5km canoe to a spot where we could then go on a hike. We had also been told that the path had been closed at it was at risk of fire but it was our choice whether to go or not. After a sniff in the air for smoke and a visual look we decided to proceed. Mad yes. The hike was a 12 km return and took us uphill to a sandpatch on the top of the mountains. Glad to rest the arms and use the legs, at first it was fun. Then it got a bit boring and then the path never ended. We nearly walked into a massive spiders web, stretched across the path, but with only a little scream we managed to avoid it. When we finally reached the top, the wind picked up massively and amazingly through the trees there was desert. With the wind howling we were soon covered in sand but the view was breathtaking. You could see across the valleys right to the sea. Again another stunning sight and worth the effort. The subsequent walk and canoe back was a lot quicker and before we knew it we were back at camp making dinner and having a classic game of charades by torchlight proud of the fact we had canoed 15km and walked 12km in a day.
The last day consisted of canoeing back to the start to be picked up. By this time we had actually worked out how to go in a smooth line and avoiding the trees we made it back. Instead of the Ipod we sang random songs to each other but realized we could only ever remember about two or three lines before someone had to start a new song. Maybe it was the physical exertion or the sun but it was a hilarious.
The trip was thoroughly enjoyable and I would recommend it to anyone. You got out into beautiful countryside, where peace and tranquillity reigns. My arm muscles are now more than capable of lifting my rucksack!!