We woke to fresh bright days and watched the dawn give way to morning light, tinging the edge of clouds crimson. Palm trees, silhouetted against a pastel sky, stand like guards on parade. The new day’s light reflects against the ocean, creating a dark, sinister, soundless sea. The leaves on the trees, so green, silkily shimmer in the early morning sun. Beds of petunias, impatients and pansies weep tears of dew. A bird in flight darts from one bush to another. How palpable life seems when you smell the fragrance of the vegetation and hear the insects on the living, endless earth.
We walk through a rain forest. Fragmented shafts of light streak through the canopy creating an impression of cathedral splendour. A calling bird, the rustle of palm leaves, the scuttling of a lizard, breaks the eerie silence. Knats swirl and dance on shafts of sunlight. Dark trails of ants march under rotting vegetation. Dank underfoot, the pathway treacherous, we follow its meandering trail. Brilliant butterflies emerge from the gloom startling us with their festive colouring. The boys’ voices, echo and re-echo as they charge ahead, young explorers in an ancient heritage. A palm leaf crashes to the ground frightening us with its sudden clatter. The silence becomes profound. Everything standstills and waits. Slowly the sound and movement of the forest re-emerges into life. Vines intertwined, like snakes, twist and curl throughout the vegetation and we push them aside as we make our way forward. We climb a steep stairway, its steps carved out of natural stone, to stand overlooking the forest which stretches as far as the eye can see. In the air, wisps of mist hang low over its canopy. In the distance we hear, but cannot see, the tumbling sound of a waterfall. Our faces and bodies covered in sweat, we sit and relax, a ten minute respite. There’s no wind, no breeze to push the humid air away and we look forward to the evening breeze. We brush flies and mozzies from our bodies and check for leeches before returning into the dark, dank confines.
Hastings street, the main street in Noosa, is full of life, colour and constant movement. The street is lined with dozens of cafes, art galleries, trendy boutiques, surf shops, real estate agents, hotels and small exclusive restaurants. It has everything that is currently chic, the arts, the ocean and fine dining. Attractive girls, bare legged with tanned bodies, move with a certain grace along its sidewalks, followed by the occasional whiff of suntan lotion. Elegant women attired in light shades of linen and silk sit under bright canopies, sipping ice cold glasses, surveying the passing parade of people. There is a constant drone of chitchat in the air so reminiscent of chattering sparrows. Short bursts of laughter turn people’s heads and bring smiles to their faces at such unrestrained gaiety.
Sand, sea, sun and palm trees, like a picture postcard turned into reality. The heat of the day holds firm into the evenings. Sunbathers, not wanting to let the day go, stay on prolonging the day, taking them into the night. The out-of-state, lobster red, some to pay dearly in the days ahead, emerge in the twilight into Hastings Street to make their way homeward. Their muted voices hang in the still air.
Sudden wild storms sweep in from the sea. Massive clouds tumble and boil across the horizon, creeping steadily towards us, turning everything grey. Heavy rain falls, marking the sea with furious splashes, creating streams of water in the sand. Waves rear up like furious white horses then collapse and gallop madly towards the shore renewing themselves in another frenzied rush. There’s nothing now but greyness and sea and sky merge as one. In the distance rolling thunder and streaks of lightning flash across the sky. The wind whoops and howls its manic anger, tearing at trees, hurtling leaves and palm throngs in all directions. The storm is fully upon us as the thunder cracks and the lightning forks to bounce across the sea. Sweeping seabirds, screaming, skim low over crashing waves to wheel abruptly on the fierce gusts of wind. We stand huddled under an overhang, our clothing plastered wetly to our bodies, waiting for the cessation of nature’s madness. Within minutes, the rain lightens and softens, the thunder becomes muted and the wind abates. In the distance we see a blue streak of sky, shortly we are bathed in sunlight and we continue our shoreline walk under the arc of a rainbow.