A few months ago, I was totally stumped as to what to get my parents for their birthday. They are the kind of people who have everything. But then I came up with a brainwave – I’d take them out on a micro adventure. I know they love the outdoors and, while they have done a lot of bushwalking and camping, they haven’t done many lightweight micro adventures. Over the past couple of years, I’ve taken them on an overnight hike and on an overnight motorcycle camping trip. So I promised them that I’d take them canoeing on the Noosa Everglades for a weekend.
Mum invited her friend, R, to come along as the fourth paddler to join me in my canoe. They picked me up at 7am on Saturday morning and three hours later we were out in our boats paddling across Lake Cootharaba bound for the Upper Noosa River. The sun was shining and a light breeze was blowing across the lake.
After rounding Mill Point, we cut straight across the open water to the large sand bar the guards the entrance to the Everglades. Here we stopped for our first rest and a walk through the ankle-deep water. After a short wet portage (it was too shallow to paddle but deep enough to float the boats) across the sand bar, we got back into the canoes and were off again.
Excellent signage guided us through a warren of channels, creeks, islands and past Lake Como in the direction of the Upper Noosa River. But before we could enjoy the river, we had to endure some gusty cross-head winds in a wide channel leading to Fig Tree Point. R has never paddled before and doesn’t often do upper body exercises, being more of a bushwalker. So it was a challenge to get our canoe across the channel without blowing totally off course in the gusty winds, so I tied us to my parents’ canoe so that we could work together to get the two boats across without getting too worn out.
Once across, we could enjoy the calm waters of the Upper Noosa River (aka the Noosa Everglades). While we were still paddling against a headwind and the current, the going was much easier.
We stopped for lunch at Harry’s Hut day use area. We didn’t explore the hut, stopping at a picnic table to enjoy a feed of bacon and egg sandwiches, and fruit. It was fun to tie up in the canoe bay with other paddlers out enjoying a weekend on the river. It created something of a sense of community.
After Harry’s Hut we paddled ever northwards towards the campsites. There are 15 campsites on the Upper Noosa River, the first of which is 4.5km north of Harry’s Hut. We were staying in campsite 5, which is 11km north of Harry’s Hut. Along the way to our camp, we stopped at each of the other campsites to rest and check them out. Each is able to be reserved for one group of up to eight campers.
We set up camp and I showed R how to pitch her tent. It was her first time pitching a hiking tent (I loaned her my son’s tent) and she had it up in no time. Then I pitched my tent before chilling out before cooking tea. We had tom yum soup with boiled eggs followed by pasta with beef jerkey, peas, sun dried tomatoes and cheese. It was yum.
After a peaceful night sleep, I woke early to catch the reflections on the water. The water in the Upper Noosa River is coloured a deep dark black from all the ti tree leaves that are steeping in it’s depths. In the morning, when the sun is low in the sky and the water not yet affected by wind and the day’s activities, the reflections are amazing.
I launched one of the canoes and paddled slowly up the river to take some photos and enjoy the peace. It was stunning.
I paddled back to camp, boiled the billy to make everyone a coffee, cooked a hearty breakfast of gourmet baked beans (yes, seriously, you can buy gourmet baked beans by Heins and they come in foil bags instead of heavy cans). Then we packed camp, launched the canoes and set off for home.
The paddling was easier today because, while the wind had turned to be in our faces again, we were now traveling downstream with the current. Here’s a short video:
We paddled back to Harry’s Hut for morning tea before continuing to Fig Tree Point for lunch.
There were fields of water lilies down around Fig Tree Point. It was absolutely beautiful.
We stopped again at the sand bar to stretch our legs, float the canoes across the shallow water and take some photos. By the way – I’m wearing trousers despite the hot summer sun because my legs were sunburned from Saturday; I missed some spots when I applied suncream.
Thankfully, the wind turned and blew from the 8pm position as we crossed Lake Cootharaba. White horses trotted across the lake and it was a challenge to travel without letting the small but powerful waves broadside us. We made the crossing safely before turning towards the beach at Elanda Point. Unfortunately, just as we turned to have the wind and waves behind us, we also entered the shelter of Mill Point so didn’t get to enjoy a surf.
The weekend was a wonderful success and a highly enjoyable micro adventure. Two-person canoes cost $100 each to hire for 2 days from Elanda Point, including waterproof barrels, paddles and PFDs. You can also pick the canoes up from Harry’s Hut if you don’t want to paddle across the lake (cost $145 per 2-person canoe). For a small fee you can hire camping equipment.
Total: 42km paddling over the 2 days.