Did you know that there are only two everglade systems in the world? The first in Florida and the second, right here in Noosa, Australia!
One of Queensland’s best kept secrets, the Noosa Everglades are a tropical wetland hidden within the Cooloola section of the Great Sandy National Park just a 30 minute from Central Noosa. The Everglades cover a 60km stretch of lake and river and is one of Australia’s most diverse ecosystems with over 44% of the country’s bird species.
Whilst a lot of tourists flock to explore the infamous National Park, many don’t take the time to experience the Noosa Everglades. If you’re not a keen adventurer then there are options to see the stunning natural waters by boat. However if you’re after the full experience, then I strongly encourage you to explore the Everglades by kayak or canoe.
After much research into what would be the best option for us, I booked the self-guided kayak tour through Kanu Kapers. Typically, being me, I had a several concerns like ‘how would we know where to go’ or ‘what happens if we fall out’, but the team at Kanu Kapers couldn’t be more helpful and reassuring – “Steph, it’s very unlikely you’ll fall out”. One of the main reason for choosing the self-guided experience was so that Farley and I could enjoy the ancient waters at our own pace. The experience cost $99 per person and was so worth it!
On the day we headed to Elanda Point Launch site and were met by former Kayak Champion and founder of Kanu Kapers, Vivienne Golding who kitted us out with a lovely yellow double sea kayak, life jackets and a trusty waterproof map. After a quick safety chat and a brief introduction to kayaking for beginners we were left to our own adventure. Crossing Lake Cootharaba was the first and only hurdle we faced that day. Half an hour into paddling across the windy lake I started to question the decision to come kayaking. I had no idea that it’s a full body sport! I tell you it’s a good job Farley brought the muscles. I was at the front offering the “phantom paddle” as we like to call it. Did I mention it was Farley’s birthday…so much for a relaxing day.
Lake Cootharaba is without a doubt the toughest part but once you’re over and past Kinaba Info Centre, heading through to Fig Point you’ll find yourself in much calmer waters and will be able to pick up the paddle. This is where you’ll start to experience the stunning scenery and natural beauty around you. Keep an eye out for the pelicans, there are plenty!
From here it won’t be long until you reach The Narrows, the real treasure of the Noosa Everglades. It is here that you’ll understand where it got its name “River of Mirrors”. We were lucky enough to experience The Narrows alone with nobody else around. We stopped paddling and just listened. All we could hear were the birds. It was incredible. Don’t rush through here, take your time and enjoy the natural wildlife surrounding you.Time really does fly when you’re having fun and soon enough it was time to head back and return our faithful yellow kayak. This also meant it was time to cross Lake Cootharaba again which felt like a bloody marathon.
If, like me, you’ve checked out the Everglades online, you may have seen an image showing thousands of lily pads on top of the water. Well, I was very excited about finding this part of the Everglades but we never came across them at all during the day. Upon giving the kayak back I asked where the lily pads were and was told that unfortunately the drought Australia is facing has seen the lily pads disappear. It is likely that the lily’s will return but not in the near future.
Despite no lily pads, kayaking along the Noosa Everglades was an unforgettable adventure that I would recommend to anyone travelling to Noosa. At the time, Farley and I thought we had the kayaking paddle technique down to a T, however the following day our entire body said otherwise!