How often do you look at your surroundings – the beaches, coves, national park, wildlife – and think ‘damn, I’m lucky to live in Noosa’?
I, for one, know all too well that I take this place for granted. I guess it’s hard not to when you’ve literally spent the first nineteen years of your life living in the same place, working in the same town, studying at the local schools, constantly complaining that the coastal walking track is overcrowded, swimming in one of three beaches on the weekend. But it’s times like now – when I have family visiting – that I get to view Noosa through the eyes of someone who doesn’t live here. And boy, is it beautiful.
Angela Henline, my mum’s older sister, has visited Australia during winter every year for the last few years. Ang travels all the way from Hilo, Hawaii; where she lives with her husband and two granddaughters and works as a kindergarten teacher at Kaumana Elementary. When she returns home at the end of July 2019, Ang will be starting her 29th year of teaching kindergarteners, while also raising her granddaughters of thirteen and seven years old; what a remarkable person this woman really is.
Yesterday I sat down with Ang at my home, to find out just why she chooses to leave the beautiful Hawaiian summer during her work holidays every year and travel south to us.
Dakota: Hi Ang, thanks for joining me today. I hope you’re having a wonderful time so far in Australia. Can you tell me, how often do you visit Australia even though your life is based in Hawaii?
Angela: Thanks Kody, I’m having a great time it’s been very fun. Um lately these last few years, it’s been every year, around mid-June to mid-July, during my summer break back home.
Dakota: And why do you choose this time to travel here?
Angela: Because I have eight weeks off between school years, so it gives me a long chunk of time to be able to come to Australia.
Dakota: Do you always visit Noosa?
Angela: Yeah, I love Noosa. I also stay the longest in Noosa too, usually out of my whole time in Aus.
Dakota: Where abouts do you have family in Australia?
Angela: Well my immediate family is in Tewantin, Castaways Beach, Peregian Springs and uh Agnes Waters. But I also have family in Sydney who I stay with too.
Dakota: So, considering you have family in a few areas – rural, the city and the coast – what draws you to Noosa?
Angela: Because Noosa is more my immediate family, like my parents and sister. But it’s also more of a relaxed lifestyle which I like, because it’s a lot like home (Hilo, Hawaii).
Dakota: Ok, so I’d really love to know why you choose to leave Hawaii in summer, which I think is the most beautiful time of the year to be over there, to come to winter in Noosa?
Angela: Oh for so many reasons! Noosa is a change of scenery for me, but in a really good way. So, like, the beautiful white sand beaches that stretch on for miles and miles! Whereas at home, we have only one white sand beach – Hapuna – which is pretty far from where I live, and the beaches close by are more like rocky, lava coastlines.
Don’t get me wrong they’re beautiful, but nothing can really compare to the…untouched stretch of sand from Sunshine to Coolum that you guys have…that really is something else.
Dakota: I know you’re right there! I love our long beaches too like Sunshine and Main, but I guess that really is the only type of beach I’ve ever known: long, untouched and soft sand…so what else is it here that keeps you coming back?
Angela: Well it’s also your beautiful trees. Like especially the variety of trees…they’re very majestic. Like the gumtrees, the eucalyptus. And…I see a lot of trees and plants here similar to Hawaii – tropical – but it’s refreshing to see these trees here mixed with temperate trees, like cooler climate trees that aren’t tropical, but mixed with tropical trees still. It’s an incredibly aesthetic mixture that I can appreciate a lot!
Dakota: I’ve actually never thought about our flora like that…
‘crazy isn’t it that we don’t know how remarkable something we have is, until it’s new to someone else and they point out its originality?’
Angela: I know Kody, it’s very valuable. Being able to stay here every year with family is a privilege, let alone living here.
Dakota: I’m starting to gather! So Ang, is there anything else that Noosa offers which draws you back again and again?
Angela: Definitely the birds. I mean, just again like the trees, the beautiful variety and the abundance of the birds.There’s so many of them! I love to walk down by Gympie Terrace at dusk, and all those, I think they’re lorikeets, just come in, in massive ways, and even though they’re screeching and it’s really loud…I just love it. Cause it’s like the birds are congregating, every dusk…in a stunning mix of colours against the backdrop of the river at sunset. Really, it’s incredible.
Dakota (laughing): I personally just get annoyed at their screeching and avoid the river at that time! But I guess I’ve never actually stopped and soaked in the river at dusk, while nature happens around it. I reckon that would be kinda cool…So Ang, what is your favourite thing to do in Noosa?
Angela: Oooh, it’s hard cause there’s a lot! But it would have to be walking along the beaches and collecting shells. And if I can do it at sunrise, even on a cold winter’s morning, it’s like…glorious. It’s just beautiful.
Dakota: Because, you don’t really get to do that in Hawaii, do you?
Angela: No, no. It’s tricky cause of our rocky beaches. And you guys have beautiful shells here too. And you know, walking the Noosa National Park is another highlight for me.
Dakota: What do you like so much about that?
Angela: Again, because it’s a different walk to what I do in Hawaii. Like here you can walk and have the coastline on one side and this beautiful mix of trees on the other side. It’s really rejuvenating and honestly just a nice contrast to where I walk back home.
Dakota: It actually really is hey. Guess I’ve just walked the national park coastal track so much I often forget to stop and breathe in the views. Although I have seen pods of dolphins swimming past before! Have you spotted them?
Angela: Yes, a few times actually! Pretty incredible how close they get to the surfers and the shore. I guess Noosa is a lot like home in that sense; popular surf spots, crystal water, and of course having regular encounters with dolphins.
Dakota: Are there any other similarities you can draw between Hawaii and Noosa?
Angela: It would definitely have to be the surfing culture where everyone lives to surf. Like Hawaii, a lot of the surfers here have that easy going, go with the flow attitude and just always wanna be in the water. It’s a nice laidback mood and I love being around it, it’s a really similar way of life to Hawaii.
So here we are. I guess you never really know what you’ve got until you see it through someone else’s eyes.
Whenever Ang visits, she receives so much appreciation and happiness from Noosa’s beauty, which to me is just a beach, a park, a tree, a koala. But to her, and probably to a lot of other travellers, Noosa is so much more than that: it’s a charming beachside town, a tropical holiday destination, a laidback surfing culture. It’s a place to grow up, and a place to bunker down and retire peacefully.
Noosa can be a lot of things to a lot of people. To me, it’s my home. And now, I’m starting to see just how beautiful it really is, and just how lucky I truly am.
Mahalo for reading,
‘I am Dakota, a young, Sunshine Coast based local writer studying a Bachelor of Creative Industries. Driven by ambition and resilience, I am a creative who crafts my work with a mix of eye for detail, passion and integrity. I love to put words onto (digital) paper and watch them ignite curiosity and emotion within my readers. I am also always up for a sudoku challenge.’