When I found out about gondolas in Australia, I set out to find them all. Names like Sydney, Melbourne, and even Brisbane were familiar to me, but one name caught my attention: “Noosa”. I’d never heard a name like that before. I knew nothing about the place or anything up along the coast of Queensland, except that the Great Barrier Reef was offshore from it.
In researching Noosa, I learned that the name was an old Aboriginal word for “Shadow” or “Shady Place”. I found the place to be as unique as the name. This “shady place” is full of people who are determined to keep things as stress free as possible. Lack of high-rises, little traffic, clean air, and clean river help to keep folks relaxed. There are also no traffic lights or parking meters – there’s a conscious effort to keep many “big city things” out of Noosa. Almost 35% of Noosa’s 875 square kilometers is park, preserve, or protected in some way. A somewhat controversial “population cap” strategy, which once caused quite a stir, has been accepted by most now and helps keep the place from feeling crowded. The low-stress, low-crowds, keep-it-natural approach has attracted many people who choose to vacation there. In a 2002 travel supplement, the New York Times did a two page spread on Noosa, a place they said “appreciates nature and the good life”.
Gracing the waters of this idyllic place with a funny name is a beautiful gondola. She takes her passengers through the canals and along the Noosa River.
Richard Wilschke (aka “Ricardo”) and his wife Tanya own and operate Gondolas of Noosa. He proposed to her on the gondola, giving them both a very clear understanding of just how perfect everything needs to be for certain cruisers. They both refer to getting “lost in time” while cruising on the gondola.
The gondola that takes passengers cruising through Noosa is a 7.2 meter long Fiberglass gondola built by the folks at Peninsular Boats. She accommodates up to six passengers under a canopy that’s supported by masterfully varnished wood posts. Like most of the Peninsular gondolas, the Noosa gondola is propelled by a concealed outboard motor, and steered by a skilled gondolier. The motor gives the gondolier the ability to go up-river and show more of the area’s beauty to his passengers.
Richard has succeeded in making a cruise on his gondola “one of the things to do” in Noosa. Gondolas of Noosa offers cruises ranging from a half-hour standard to fully catered charters. All cruises are BYO with a bucket, ice and glasses ready and waiting on the boat. A number of wedding services are available as well. The one that caught my eye was something they call a “sandbar ceremony”; a very unique idea which I’m sure is both beautiful and memorable.
To learn more about Gondolas of Noosa, go to http://www.gondolasofnoosa.com and be sure to look through the gallery, they’ve got some great photos.