Invisible bull sharks and mirror reflections
30/4/14 - 2/5/14
Unfortunately, as a backpacker, when you hear something about camping or even kayaking associated the Noosa Everglades, you tend to think of the Gagaju bushcamp. Now I didn't do the bushcamp, so I can't say for sure...but I did hear enough bad reviews and horror stories to steer me far away from it.
Luckily, there is an awesome alternative that's still paddling in the everglades for 3 days! Kanu Kapers! Yes, the Florida Everglades aren't the only everglades, there's one other one here in Australia! It's located on the east coast, just a couple hours north of Brisbane and just outside the relaxed town of Noosa Heads.
Right from the start, Kanu Kapers had awesome customer service, responding to my emails and answering all my questions as I tried to plan a kayak camping trip while travelling. I eventually decided on the 3 Day Kayak trip and convinced a friend of mine that I met in Brisbane to join me. The 3-day package was definitely affordable and included all the camping / paddling gear necessary, from stove and fuel to tent and tarp, from maps to the boat and paddling accessories.
When I reserved the boat, they booked a campsite for me and arranged a free pickup from my Noosa hostel to their headquarters, about a half an hour drive. There we arranged our gear, packed the car, and headed off to the launching point.
It was amazingly calm and peaceful when we got to Lake Cootharaba, loaded up our kayaks and headed out on the water.
I couldn't believe how calm the waters were, for what seemed like a big lake. And the reflections were spectacular.
We made our way across the lake and onto the Noosa River. The navigation was easy with a couple well positioned signs.
Once we got into the heart of the everglades, the reflections just got better and better.
We stopped for lunch at Harry's Hut and got destroyed with mosquitoes before we gave up and got back to paddling.
Once we got to our campsite we set up our tent and explored the area a little. We had a dock, and there were tons of minnows and tadpoles in the water!
We made ourselves some tea, covered ourselves in bug spray, and watched the sunset and marveled at the reflections. And when the stars came out, they were reflected in the water as well and it was just spectacular. Some things you can't capture on a simple digital camera. It was neat watching the colors change as evening progressed and then into the next morning as well. Where, if possible, the reflections were more intense.
I couldn't help myself, I just kept taking pictures... There were tons of birds in the area as well, though mostly out of sight. My bird identification by sound is somewhat lacking so I can't really say which birds we heard, but the trees were full of life! Here's a quick video of the sounds (though I'm sure half the birds stopped when I hit 'record'!).
Finally we got on the water and headed up the river for a mid-day hike up to the Cooloola Sandpatch.
It was huge! And had gorgeous views of the area...
We were just as impressed with the reflections when we got back to the water.
No matter how hard you looked, or at what angle, there was no way to see beneath the surface. Who knows what was swimming below, or how deep the water was. Judging by sticking my paddle in occasionally, it was very deep in parts. There were signs saying to be careful and not to jump in the water, because you can't know how deep it is or if there's submerged logs and whatnot. There was also mention of bull sharks. Bull sharks?! We didn't see any though, and after researching them when I got back afterwards, I'm glad. But we were certainly hoping to see one and on the lookout for them...exclaiming after every splash or fish jump, 'bull shark!'
Anyway, we headed back to the campsite and enjoyed another sunset.
The next morning we woke to the sound of this...
...and then went back to sleep.
By the time we packed up camp it'd slowed down to just a little drizzle.
Undeterred by weather, we continued with our plan and paddled up Kin Kin Creek some, before heading back to the lake and the end of our trip.
It was SO great to be out on the water and camping. A break from the east coast travel, crazyness, tours, parties, hostels, and general overpopulation of German backpackers. Noosa is a small town that is easily missed by many, but the Noosa Everglades and a paddle with Kanu Kapers shouldn't be missed by anyone! Do this for something different. And for great pictures.