Why you should visit the ‘other’ Everglades

There is plenty of Australian wildlife in the Noosa Everglades, including kangaroos – Tourism and Events Queensland

It was somewhere beyond the last melaleuca tree that I decided the scorching temperatures had finally defeated me. For the previous two hours I had been walking uphill, in the humid air of a Queensland afternoon, surrounded by trees, while spotted goannas jumped in front of my boots and cicadas hummed with reassuring regularity. Then, suddenly, it seemed like I had reached the top of a mountain, but instead of a peak covered in rocks and brush, it was crowned by a trio of sand dunes that rose into the sky like a giant awards podium. .

“I think the heat is getting to me,” I told my guide, Vivienne Golding. She smiled knowingly as she walked towards the dunes and I felt my boots immediately sink into the sand. This was definitely real.

Queensland has the only Everglades in the world outside the US.Queensland has the only Everglades in the world outside the US.

Queensland has the only Everglades in the world outside the US – Tourism and Events Queensland

If there was one thing I learned on this three-night excursion to a less-visited section of Australia’s central east coast, it was that there are many things in Queensland that not even residents of the state know exist. “There are no mudflats in Australia; “You mean Florida,” was one response I received. But here, in Australia’s “Sunshine State” (Florida has the same nickname), are the only everglades (large areas of submerged grasslands) in the world outside the United States. Although they are smaller than their Florida counterparts (40 miles long, compared to 100 miles), they are just as impressive when it comes to wildlife.

Getting there requires a two-hour drive from the Sunshine Coast capital to Noosa Heads, a laid-back coastal town that attracts hipsters, surfers and, judging by the restaurant offerings, vegans. I checked in the night before at the bright and airy Peppers Noosa Resort & Villas, where rainbow parakeets perched on my balcony, and from there decided to take a walk that started on the boardwalk in the middle of the city center in Hastings. Street.

Within minutes I was completely alone in the middle of an ancient forest, walking along the Tanglewood Trail among pandanus, pines and macarangas, listening to the wild turkeys singing while the cicadas hummed their dark chorus. The route took me to the head of a peninsula where I was surrounded on three sides by foaming waves and frolicking sea lions, but with no other people in sight. And all of this was simply billed as one of Noosa’s urban walks.

Noosa's main beach is popular with surfers.Noosa's main beach is popular with surfers.

Noosa main beach popular with surfers – Tourism and Events Queensland

The next morning, I drove 30 minutes north, eager to experience the “official” wilderness of the Everglades. The distinctive aroma of tea tree filled the air as I arrived at Harry’s Hut camp to meet Vivienne. A former Olympic whitewater canoe champion, 20 years ago she decided to retire, leave the glory of the medals behind and, in her place, offer kayak trips through the Noosa Everglades.

“You can spend days exploring here. And the best thing is, you can make it as wild or as gentle as you want,” he explained as we left the riverbank, rolling the water with our oars, creating our own welcoming breeze. “Harry’s Hut Campground is good for people who don’t want to be in the middle of nowhere and where there are usually other people, but the higher you go, especially once you get past Camp Three, the more remote you are and it’s just you and the people.” nature”.

We were now headed to Camp Three, from where we would embark on a 7 mile round trip hike to get a good overview of the Everglades. What Vivienne didn’t reveal to me until I reached the top and thought I was suffering from heat-induced delusions, is that at the top lies the Cooloola Sandpatch, part of the Great Sandy National Park that also formed the better-known K’gari ( formerly Fraser Island) which is located just over 30 miles to the north.

Kayaking is one of the most popular activities in the Noosa EvergladesKayaking is one of the most popular activities in the Noosa Everglades

Kayaking is one of the most popular activities in the Noosa Everglades – Tourism and Events Queensland

The hike began directly from the boat launch, where we tied up the kayaks, and followed a winding path through brush, forest, and nesting birds (44 percent of all species in the country are found here in the Everglades).

When the road leveled out and we emerged into what appeared to be a towering desert, I was able to look down and see the entire expanse of the Everglades beneath my feet.

“We will go there tomorrow,” Vivienne explained as she pointed to a huge lake surrounded by trees and fed by veins of water channels more than 300 feet deep.

Hooper Swans taking off on Lake CootharabaHooper Swans taking off on Lake Cootharaba

Hooper Swans taking off on Lake Cootharaba – Phoebe Smith

That afternoon we paddled back through calm waters as the sky turned into a cloudy blanket of orange and purple. At camp we ate a homemade curry that we baked on the camping stove, washed down with some local wine and strawberries freshly picked in a nearby meadow that morning.

Then the next day we got up early and paddled towards the lake, Cootharaba, which we had seen from the top of the mountain. But first we had to navigate the narrow channel they call the “River of Mirrors.” Because the tannin-rich waters appear dark and calm, everything that grows on the water is reflected on its surface with tremendous clarity.

There are many chances to see monitor lizardsThere are many chances to see monitor lizards

There is a high chance of spotting monitor lizards – Alamy Stock Photo

Nervously, I asked Vivienne if she had ever seen bull sharks in the area; Her response, “not in two decades,” was reassuring, but when something splashed into the water beneath her, she wasn’t sure she was brave enough to swim out here, like she did.

Finally we came to a wide expanse of lake where a flock of pelicans were preening on a sandbar, occasionally diving for fish. We watched them for almost half an hour, practically at eye level. Then, as we approached our pick-up point, we were treated to a spectacular finale: a flock of black and white swans took off in a crescendo of monochrome feathers, their songs echoing across the lake.


Kanu Kapers Australia offers expert-guided and self-guided camping and kayaking trips ranging from one to three days in length, from AUS$110 (£60).

For more information about the Noosa Everglades, visit queensland.com.

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