By Jacqueline Trewin
With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, Venice in Noosa seems too good to be true, but iconic gondolier Ricardo, aka Richard Wilschke, knows how to point you in the right direction.
OK, you don’t have the weathered gothic and baroque buildings, or the charm of cruising under the old Rialto Bridge along the Grand Canal.
But stepping off a Noosa pier in Ricardo’s trusted hands, you’re instantly transported into his Venetian romance as you meander through the crystal-clear waters of Noosa’s biosphere.
A true professional, Mr. Wilschke has been evoking the romanticism of Venice aboard his gondola for a quarter of a century.
“It’s a privilege to be able to take people along and share one of the most memorable moments of their lives when they propose to their partner,” Mr. Wilschke said.
“They’ve done something really special and very often you’re the first person they tell. I still love it because it makes you feel good and included in this moment.
He should know. Proposing a second time to his partner, Tanya, on the gondola turned out to be a huge success.
But as love is in the air, you can still feel it in your Noosa waters when there’s no passing by that gondola on the Noosa River, even if you’re not the incurable romantic.
“Noosa is definitely a place where a lot of couples like to hang out,” Mr Wilschke said.
“And the river really lends itself to the gondola experience where there are lots of little boats, and the series of bridges, fantastic canals and waterways.”
But unlike some opera-loving Venetian gondoliers, he says he prefers to leave the singing to the professionals.
“People always ask me to sing, so I usually tell them to wait until they get on board where I’ll serenade them with Dean Martin, Michael Bublé, Andre Bocelli or a bit of Italian opera,” he said. -he declares.
At the age of 20, he ditched Magnetic Island for a piece of Noosa action in search of work and ideal surfing conditions.
Already having experience in charter, Mr. Wilschke began working in hospitality at Café Le Monde and the legendary restaurant Coco’s before working in tourism for thrill ride operator Bill Turner.
“We were doing jet ski rides off Noosa Main Beach and banana (boat) rides in the early 90s,” Mr Wilschke said.
“I was also offshore fishing for a local charter company before I wanted to do my own thing.”
After returning from Europe in the mid-1990s, her mother suggested the idea of a gondola cruise before joining a gondola ride with friends in Mooloolaba.
“We really enjoyed the cruise and later found out there was a gondola company in Brisbane that had been doing it for over 30 years. They had boats and we managed to order one from them,” he said.
Families, locals and regular visitors can also enjoy cruising with Mr. Wilshke, who appreciates all of his guest’s feedback.
“Even just the appreciation of people who may have had a hard time, they just need a really good cruise to relax,” he said.
Mr Wilschke, who has operated Noosa Water Taxi for almost 10 years, said his business was hit during the peak December period when Covid isolation rules for some local restaurants caused major shortages of staff.
“Popular restaurants such as Bistro C, Gusto, Rickys and Noosa Waterfront all had closures at the time which definitely slowed things down for us as we take a lot of people to these places,” he said. declared.
“But we remain positive about everything with Covid as it’s not interrupting travel now like it has for the past couple of years so we can expect a busier season ahead for Easter.”
For more information visit gondolasofnoosa.com