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.

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Snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef

I posted some photos of our July 2017 trip to the Great Barrier Reef here recently (A-trip-to-the-great-barrier-reef). Here is a 3 min video of my younger son and myself snorkelling on Opal Reef, 54 km off the Queensland coast at Port Douglas.

Hot and cold: from New Year in heatwave Australia to mid-winter Geneva

Somewhat belatedly, a few photos from a quick trip to Australia in the New Year break 2016-2017 to visit my family in Noosa on the Queensland coast.  Flying from the midwinter Geneva around zero C to heatwave in the middle of summer – middle 30s C and then back to a cold spell at -4 C. Around 35°C temperature drop from my last Saturday on Sunshine Beach to the first day in Geneva.

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Even though it was hot, there were some stormy days and some dark clouds on Noosa Main Beach. It was much more crowded when the sun was out.

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Fraser Island – largest sand island in the world

While in Australia in July, we hired a 4WD for a trip to Fraser Island, largest sand island in the world. From Noosa, it was a 50 km drive on Cooloola Beach to Rainbow Bay, then across to Fraser Island by barge to drive up 75 Mile Beach on the eastern side.

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Waiting at Rainbow Beach for the barge to cross to Fraser Island.

Early morning light on 75 Mile Beach

Early morning light on 75 Mile Beach

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Bungee jumping at Victoria Falls

When I was in Harare in April 2000, I  took a day to go to Victoria Falls (victoria-falls-and-the-zambesi-river). When I saw the bungee jump off the bridge across the Zambesi Gorge below the falls, I had to do it. This is arguably the best bungee jump in the world, with a 111 metre plummet (nearly 400 feet) towards the Zambezi. The short video below is taken from an old VHS tape of my two jumps. That’s me after the 15 second intro.

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Victoria Falls and the Zambesi River

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Victoria Falls

Some years ago, I was in Harare, Zimbabwe, for a WHO meeting and took the opportunity to make a flying visit to Victoria Falls, about a one hour flight away. While it is neither the highest nor the widest waterfall in the world, it is classified as the largest, based on its width of 1,708 metres (5,604 ft) and height of 108 metres (354 ft),[ resulting in the world’s largest sheet of falling water. Victoria Falls is roughly twice the height of North America’s Niagara Falls and well over twice the width of its Horseshoe Falls.

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Surfing at Noosa

 

This Easter, the boys and I went to Noosa on the Sunshine Coast of Queensland, Australia to visit relatives. Apart from heavy rain storms the first couple of days it was hot and sunny just like mid-summer. We went to the beach every day and the boys had some surfing lessons (boards). I also did a jet ski trip with each of them out to the open ocean to jump waves at speed.