Canoeing in the Noosa Everglades

While visiting Noosa in July, I took my two boys on a kayak trip into the Noosa Everglades.  Located in the Great Sandy National Park, the upper reaches of the Noosa River are a network of waterways, rivers, lakes and marshes and are best explored by kayak or canoe. The Everglades are situated in the Noosa Biosphere, which is one of Australia’s most diverse ecosystems and includes more than 40 per cent of the country’s bird species.

We drove about 20 km from Noosa to Booreen Point on Lake Cootharaba and crossed the lake in a larger boat to the mouth of the Upper Noosa River, where we changed to canoes, and continued into the Everglades by canoe. Lake Cootharaba is one of three large lakes connected to the Noosa River, the others are Lake Cooroibah and Lake Weyba.

Lake Cootharaba

The banks of the river are a mix of swampy grassland and subtropical forest, with patches of rainforest. There are lots of banksia trees and tea-trees. The tea-trees stain the water a deep brown colour from the tannin in their leaves. The Tea Tree, Melaleuca alternifolia, is an Australian native plant, and its leaves are also used to produce tea-tree oil, prized for its it’s anti-bacterial and anti-fungal prowess.

Upper Noosa River

 

When we reached the historic Harry’s Hut, we stopped for a swim in the river. Under the water, it looks as though we are swimming coca-cola, and more than a metre or so down, it is essentially black, as no sunlight penetrates the tannin-saturated water.

Known as the River of Mirrors because of the amazing reflections in the water, the Noosa Everglades is a 60km stretch of pristine waters, magnificent flora and fauna and narrow waterways.

Most of the information online about the Noosa Everglades describes it as one of the only two Everglades in the world – the other being the much better known Florida Everglades. Various definitions of Everglade are given, most refer to subtropical wetlands characterised by swampy grasslands and branching waterways. I thought it was implausible that there would only be two Everglades in the world.  I did some research via Dr Google, and my conclusion is that “everglades” is not a technical term for a particular type of ecosystem as I initially assumed, but is a made up name that was given to the Florida Everglades.  One of the early English surveyors in Florida coined the name “River Glades” using the word “glade” which is a Middle English word meaning a “bright space, an open space; an open or cleared space in a forest. This was later changed to “Everglades.  I also found a website that said it is thought the term Everglade was first used to describe part of the extensive water way and wetlands of the Noosa River by tour guides, presumably hoping to piggy-back on the well known Florida Everglades.

And I think it is only in Australia, that the Noosa Everglades are considered “one of the only two”.  According to Answers.com and many American websites, there is only one Everglades in the world.  The Florida Everglades are about 100 miles long, and cover 1900 square kilometres.  The Noosa Everglades are about 60 km long, and cover around 700 square kilometres.  So my rough calculation says that the Noosa Everglades is about one third the size of the Florida Everglades.

As we returned across Lake Cootharaba at the end of the day, we were told that the local Aboriginal tribe told early settlers that in ancient times there were two large stone statues, rather like the Easter Island statues, on the shore of the lake.  Maybe that is just a story for the tourists, maybe the statues are buried in the sand somewhere in the sandhills between the lake and the ocean.

Advertisements

Sunset on the Noosa River

We visited family in Noosa last month. Noosa is a resort area on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, about 150 km north of Brisbane. One afternoon we hired a small motorboat in Noosaville and went down the Noosa River towards Noosa Bar where the river joins the ocean.

Continue reading

WW1 Diaries of Tom Mathers – extracts on the Battle of the Somme 1916

Just over 100 years ago my grandfather Will Mathers and his brother Tom, both in the 8th Australian Field Ambulance, took part in the Battle of the Somme, on the front line from 18 September 1916 to 8 November.

The Battle of the Somme, also known as the Somme Offensive, was fought by the armies of the British and French empires against the German Empire. It took place between 1 July and 18 November 1916 on both sides of upper reaches of the River Somme in France. It was the largest battle of the First World War on the Western Front; more than one million men were wounded or killed, making it one of the bloodiest battles in human history. Tom kept a diary throughout the war [see Endnote 1] and his diary account provides a terse but graphic account of the experience of being a stretcher bearer on the front lines.

Continue reading

Barcroft Boake (1866-1892): Australian bush poet

In an earlier post https://mountainsrivers.com/2015/10/26/ancestral-tales-a-theosophist-a-thief-and-an-indian-princess/ I wrote about my great-aunt Boodie (Florence Teasdale Smith) who was a theosophist, whose father was a bank robber and she was also descended from an Indian princess.  I mentioned in passing that her uncle was a famous Australian poet who committed suicide but did not give any details. So this post is about Barcroft Boake, an Australian bush poet, who committed suicide at the age of 26.

Continue reading

Centenary of the Battle of Passchendaele

The centenary of the Battle of Passchendaele was commemorated today in Belgium. This battle lasted from 31 July to 10 November 1917 and was the third and largest of the battles of Ypres. Overall, 800,000 soldiers from both sides of the conflict died at Ypres from 1914-1918. My grandfather, Will Mathers and his brother Tom served in the Australian Army Medical Corps in France during World War I and were at the Battle of Passchemdaele. They carried the wounded out of the battlefield from around 20 September 1917 until 7th October, when both were gassed. Will was hospitalized for 8 days.

Left: Will Mathers 1915, Right: Will and Tom in Salisbury, 2 September 1916.

Will and Tom had two cousins John and William Melrose who both died at Ypres. Their uncle Robert Melrose lost both his children in 1917. John died on 7 June 1917 at Messines, a day on which 6,700 Australians died. The battle of Messines commenced in the early hours of 7 June with the detonation of a million pounds of explosives packed into tunnels dug under German positions on the Messines Ridge. The explosion was heard in London and Dublin and killed approximately 10,000 German soldiers, the deadliest non-nuclear manmade explosion in history. Five months later, his brother William was also killed on Oct 12, 1917 in the Battle of Passchendaele. John Melrose was the first husband of my (great-) Auntie Annie, who lived until 1989 and was like a second mother to my father. She was married to John for only two weeks before he left Australia for France.

Left: William and John Melrose, Right: Annie Melrose (née Gammie)