MUCH LOVED: Ida and Jim Duncan a very special Noosa couple whose legacy lives on.
MUCH LOVED: Ida and Jim Duncan a very special Noosa couple whose legacy lives on.

The late and great Ida’s special 100th bash

AMONG the many great characters to have graced Noosa’s crowded public stage, few have done so with more style, tenacity, warmth and sheer force of personality than Ida Duncan, OAM,

She is the always-gracious lady the magnificent Noosa Botanic Gardens amphitheatre is named after.

I say is, rather than was, because it’s hard to comprehend that this fabulous force of nature, the woman who twisted former Noosa Mayor Noel Playford’s ear in the nicest possible way to build the gardens, physically left us back in 2009.

“The perfumed steamroller” Mayor Playford referred to Ida quietly, with the deepest respect for her persuasive powers — a woman who had the vision to look at an old, eyesore of an illegal bush dump from her sprawling Lake Macdonald home and see a garden oasis.

And then with the full support of her lifelong partner and solid rock, husband Jim, make the gardens a magnificent reality, complete with her grand vision of a classical amphitheatre overlooking the lake.

Jim, the successful businessman, pilot and classic road racer, who always steered Ida in the right direction, joined his beloved Ida at rest, if such a thing is possible for someone so spirited, a couple of years later.

Now, the Duncan clan are coming from far and wide at the garden tomorrow, for a special celebration of Ida’s 100th birthday. Her loving grandson Conrad Quick of Noosa, said Ida would have reached her centenary on Monday, September 23.

‘She was a lovely lady,” Conrad said.

“We’ve got a lot of love and warmth for her, so we’re going down to celebrate her hundredth in her ground.

“They tell me it (the amphitheatre) is the biggest one in the southern hemisphere. That’s where I got married myself. We do get there often.”

Ida and Jim eventually left their idyllic homestead, with its own private landing strip at the lake and moved to Witta Circle in Noosa Heads, where Ida was the most gracious of hosts.

The former honorary Noosa wildlife ranger was always looking to make Noosa a more welcoming place for people and animals.

“She was a great lover of all things great and small and a massive green thumb obviously,” Conrad said.

“She just had a lovely nature, she was always breaking into song or poetry, she would recite Banjo Patterson at the drop of a hat and be singing ‘the hills are alive to the sound of music’.

“She was a real livewire, always singing and dancing. I remember fondly about her … I would go and see her after a big night when I was a young man and go and have lunch with her and come away feeling fantastic.”

Conrad said Ida’s lasting legacy was “she always made you feel good about yourself.”

To celebrate at the her special lake theatre the family are thinking with their stomachs.

“We are taking dishes that she was famous for making, like little red cheesy squares, of course Anzac biscuits and fruit salad … all the delicious things my grandmother used to make,” Conrad said.