Visit Noosa | Cruise 'n' Canoe on the Noosa Everglades



Cruise 'n' Canoe on the Noosa Everglades

Guten Tag! My name is Katja. I am originally from Germany and currently interning with Tourism Noosa. Part of my job is to experience some of the great activities and sights that Noosa offers to its visitors. I want to share with you one day of my life as an intern, where I was sent on the mission to discover the unique Noosa Everglades...

If the ability to relax on Noosa’s beaches, go for a dip in the ocean, surf world-class waves, get up close to local wildlife, cruise the Noosa river, drive through the countryside in the Noosa Hinterland, or stroll through bustling Noosa Heads isn’t enough to satisfy the pickiest visitor, don’t fret. Noosa is also gifted with one of the only two Everglades in the world, which is a dream come true for any outdoor and nature lover. Today it would be my turn to find out what makes this place so magical.

Pelican hanging out on the river - noosa

Only thirty minutes’ drive north of Noosa Heads you’ll find yourself taking in this myriad of rivers and waterways that is the Noosa Everglades, transporting you into an entirely different world. Apart from some basic infrastructure, picnic tables and campsites, the Noosa Everglades are as pristine and untouched as hundreds of years ago and are a sanctuary for wildlife and an unbelievable 44 percent of Australia’s bird species.

Visitors can see the Noosa Everglades in two ways: Either, they kayak or they hop on a cruise. Being consistently indecisive, I found the perfect alternative that allowed me to kayak for some of the way, but also kick back and soak in the scenery, by going on a Cruise’ n Canoe tour with Everglades Eco Safaris.

The day kicks off at Noosa Heads station, where their free shuttle picks me and some fellow passengers up and after a few more stops, drives to Habitat Noosa, a camping and glamping Eco-resort on the shores of Lake Coothabara, which is also the jump-off point for the Noosa Everglades. Upon arrival, we have some time to gather our belongings, have a look around and get lucky enough to see one of the resident kangaroos lounging lazily under some trees.

The adventure begins prematurely when it is time to get aboard the boat that will be our first choice of transport to discover the Everglades. The boat usually docks onto a long pier, but the low tide hinders the boat from getting close enough to shore! But the Australian way is to work with nature, and not against it. Our shoes come off, our pants are rolled up, and we wade into the lake, which reaches only calf-height, and across to the boat.

The cruise over Lake Coothabara is not long, but we keep an eye out and spot some pelicans, water birds and a group of kayakers that are battling windy conditions. As we reach the start of the Noosa Everglades we see the Kinaba Visitor Information Centre. The captain tells us that back in the days, the rangers would live here, but with changing times and rangers also wanting to go home at night like with any other job, it was converted into the information centre.

Photo @evergladesecosafaris

As we enter the everglades, everyone on the boat suddenly gets quieter, people shuffle towards the sides of the boat and get their cameras out. Gliding across the Noosa River, we spot another Pelican. The captain explains to us how the waterbirds cannot survive here, because the river is infused with tannins from the tea trees , which is also the reason for the stillness and mirror-like reflections that the everglades are famous for. The water birds can’t handle Tannin very well though: It can make their wings brittle and even make it impossible for them to fly if they stay in this environment for too long. The captain says, that the birds are smart enough to know to stay on the lake and not come in here. But not to worry, there are plenty of other birds sitting on branches and their chirps are a nice backdrop to the serenity of this cruise.

As we anchor at Fig Tree Point day-use area we are split into two groups – one will paddle the river up to Harry’s Hut, the other group will paddle the route back down. I get assigned in the first group to paddle, while the other group can relax for a while more, go on a quick walk, and will cruise down the river to meet up again at Harry’s Hut. Meanwhile, we are led towards the two- and three-man kayaks and given directions how and where to paddle. At this moment the instructions seem easy: Paddle, work as a team, don’t sink. Everyone seems to keep their kayaks on course and moderately straight. Meanwhile, our kayak is driving in slalom. The route is 5 kilometres long and takes about one hour. Consistently paddling from one side of the river to the other, all while hoping not to crash against the trees and branches overhanging the river, surely bumps up the distance we did to 10 kilometres for this route. We may not become the next Olympic paddle champions, but canoeing on the Noosa River allows us a more intimate experience and enjoy the seclusion to truly appreciate Mother Nature.

Photo @evergladesecosafaris @katielofblad

When we arrive at Harry’s Hut, the other group has already eaten Morning Tea, consisting of tea, coffee, cookies, raisin cake and fresh watermelon and is ready to paddle back to Fig Tree Point. Meanwhile, we have finished our portion of physical exercise for the day, reward ourselves with a snack and decide to fully take advantage of this little break – after all, this is the spot where we could go swimming! The front of the boat functions as a jumping platform and we take the plunge. The tannin in tea tree oil, which gives the water a rich brown tint, has been used for thousands of years by Australia’s indigenous peoples for various ailments, and has strong anti-septic and anti-fungal properties. One thing is for sure: It is a nice and refreshing dip that soothes my muscles, which are getting stiff from the paddling. Ultimately, we have to get back out of the water and onto the boat, cruising back in style to Fig Tree Point to meet up with our brave down-stream paddlers.

Photo @photobohemian

Back in Fig Tree Point, we have 15 minutes to explore the shore and walk the Melaleuca Circuit Track, a 400 meter wooden boardwalk that winds through rainforest. After, it is time to return to Habitat Noosa and wave goodbye to the pelicans and water birds en-route.

I am starting to look forward to getting back, since after a half day of walking, paddling and swimming I am starving. Back at Habitat Noosa’s CootharaBAR we’re served a generous pork roast, complete with roasted veggies, carrots and peas, gravy, pork crackle and an authentic damper to top it off. They also have an artisan microbrewery adjacent, with a wide range of beers on offer. After lunch we have enough time to try one of their beers and go on another hunt trying to spot some kangaroos before it is time to head back to Noosa. The staff told us that hundreds of kangaroos would mill around on the grass in the morning hours and from 4 o’clock in the afternoon, making me a little sad that we’re already leaving and can’t stay overnight in one of their cabins or glamping tents.

But with a bucket fill of new memories and images to back it up, I will cherish this experience for quite a while to come and will hopefully visit again soon.