What ever are you waiting for?
Updated: Feb 23
Noosa Everglades. Heard of them? Neither had I until recently. If you like the Noosa Shire but want a seachange from the resort-style hubbub of Noosa Heads, I highly recommend driving 40 minutes north and retreating to the serene watery wonderland of the Everglades for a weekend.
Everglades is the term for tropical wetlands and there are only two such ecosystems in the world – Florida Everglades and fortunately for Queenslanders, the Noosa Everglades. Although three times smaller than their U.S. counterpart, Noosa Everglades span two UNESCO Biosphere Reserves and National Parks. You can also swim in the soothing tea tree stained water, which you can't do in Florida for its alligator and crocodile populations.
River of Mirrors
My adventure buddy Alison and I arrived at our camp on a Friday night and visited the everglades over the following two days. Indifferent to full summer sun or a silvery drizzling sky, the River of Mirrors, as its known, revealed many glassy secrets to us. We immersed our eyes in stunning reflections of melaleuca and overhanging rainforest trees, and then immersed our bodies in the refreshing water to stave off mosquitoes.
The everglades are the perfect antidote to a busy schedule and an over-active mind. Breathe in effortless flow and tranquility. Closet bird watchers, both Alison and I, our only complaint was that it was perhaps too tranquil. We expected to see more flying and roosting from the 40% of Australian bird species that inhabit the area. We heard more bird calls on our second day after some rain, but only sighted several birds that we're familiar with from home - pelican, cormorants, one eagle and a few honeyeaters.
Everglades are biodiverse regions characterised by slow moving water and symbiotic yet distinct landscapes. Saltwater laps into fresh water, reedy marshes meet lush tropical vegetation and tea tree forests. Snakes mingle with mammals, marsupials and aquatic species. Even mosquitoes have a vital role here, although I hate to admit it, as a food source for fish which are predated on by the many birds. Wetlands are also natural water filters; aquatic plants and grasses strain out pollution, absorb excess nutrients, reduce flooding and provide irrigation for local food growers, animal agriculture and the like.
Cabbage Palms (Livistona australis)
Noosa and Great Sandy National Parks are two of nine Biosphere Reserves in Australia. The international distinction was developed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) 'to promote solutions reconciling the conservation of biodiversity with its sustainable use.' Biosphere Reserves are therefore keystone ecosystems within protected land and/or coastal/marine areas where human use, natural resource use and conservation coexist. By learning from and understanding the interactions of these social and ecological systems, humans can better manage their changing needs. This is sustainable development in action.
Our camping experience at Habitat Noosa was satisfyingly eco-friendly. With solar powered facilities and a microbrewery onsite, the campground on the shore of Lake Coothara caters to earthy campers and glampers alike. Its standout feature is an enormous fig tree - perfect for lying beneath with a drink after a day's paddling and watching eastern grey kangaroos graze by.
I love camping, but after this trip I'm considering levelling up my camping game. As we had paddled around river bends we discovered secluded riverside sites for pitching tents that are accessible only by watercraft. So when I next return to the everglades, expect me to be loading my tent and supplies onto the back of a kayak and ever so happily paddling north into this untouched section of Noosa River!
Harry's Hut Road