The National Park Experience – National Parks Association of Queensland

The National Park Experience

Author: Joel Hay

Photography: Supplied

I find it so interesting to think back on my life and look at the defining moments, forks in the road and path-setting decisions I made that have led me to where I am now.  As a 30-year-old, I find myself spending more time reflecting on influential moments than I did when I was younger and it’s funny the things you remember!

I remember being very young and moving from the inner suburbs of Sydney, to the tiny suburb of Sunshine Beach. My memories of this time in my life are more like still images that live on forever – faded and slightly distorted but they fill my heart with happiness when I think of them.

Next to Sunshine Beach, of course, is the beautiful Noosa National Park and little did I know the impact and influence that growing up next to this natural wonder would have on me.

For so many years the park has been my happy place and from a young age I always felt so at peace walking the winding tracks, looking for animals and gazing at our beautiful Australian fauna. The patchy mobile phone service always made family time with my parents and two sisters extra special, and I adored the wonderful isolation from the real world.

As I got older the park introduced me to two lifelong passions that have given me so much since then – surfing and running. There is nothing like surfing the Noosa National Park, it’s just in a class of its own when it comes to quality of wave and the natural beauty you’re surrounded by as you sit in the lineup. The same goes for running along the rugged, winding tracks enclosed by canopies before opening up to ocean views that take your breath away every single time.

My passion for conservation of our beautiful parks was sparked when I was surfing my favourite spot, Alexandria Bay, as a young kid with my Dad. He told me ‘A-Bay’ was his favourite spot in the world because when you look back on the beach you can’t see a single building or piece of man-made infrastructure at all.  It’s just you and nature and him saying this was thought provoking, making me realise the true value that parks like this have.

It’s not just about the beauty, the fun times, the hikes or the memories. To me it’s about that peaceful glow that falls over you as you take in the whole experience. The sounds, the smells and the sand between your toes.

Being in the Noosa National Park is my meditation and I’m so thankful for its protection and conservation over the years.

I look back on my parents’ decision to move from the big city to little Sunshine Beach, and I just feel lucky. Growing up I don’t think I knew just how lucky I was, but I do now and this is why it’s so important to me that future generations have the chance to experience what I have.

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