4 reasons to do the Noosa Everglades
I know a place of expansive lakes and constricting river narrows. A place protected by national park, part of a significant biosphere and neighbour to World Heritage-listed Fraser Island.
It’s a place of breathtaking natural beauty that few locals know about.
This place is the Noosa Everglades and Queensland’s best-kept secret is out.
Let’s make like a first date and get to know the ins and outs of how to do the Noosa Everglades and the reasons to check it out.
1. The Noosa Everglades is a beautifully significant freak of nature
The features of the Noosa Everglades are more than skin-deep, it has the whole package: heart, soul and brains too.
This 60km stretch of river and lake system lives a complicated and unique existence as one of only two Everglade environments identified on the planet (the other is the well-known Everglades National Park in Florida).
Both waterways have low, swampy land surrounded by clumps of tall grass and numerous branching waterways in common (and look a lot sexier than it sounds).
Our Noosa Everglades have been kept in a pristine condition thanks to 65% of its catchment being protected by the Great Sandy National Park, its inclusion in the Noosa Biosphere and its proximity to the World Heritage recognised Fraser Island.
After only a day in this place, you’ll be left with a sense of the symbiotic relationship that exists here in every part of the environment – from the vegetation to the water and the wildlife, all working together to create this pristine pocket of the world.
2. The Noosa Everglades are closer than you think
The Noosa Everglades is nestled between Noosa North Shore and Rainbow Beach and you’ll be forgiven for needing to open up a Google Map to check it out.
- From Noosa: Elanda Point is a 35-minute drive north via McKinnon Drive
- From Brisbane: Elanda Point is a two-hour drive via the Bruce Highway
- From Rainbow Beach: Elanda Point is a one hour and 20-minute drive via Rainbow Beach Drive
You don’t need a 4WD for a day-trip to the Noosa Everglades as you can get to the Cooloola Recreation Area car park at Elanda Point on Lake Cootharaba pretty easily. You can access the kayak launch and a number of walking trails from here.
You’ll need a 4WD (or some strong paddling arms) if you want to go any further, up to Harry’s Hut for example. You’ll also need to be fully self-sufficient if you’re planning on camping and spending a few days in this area as it’s definitely off the beaten track.
3. Kayaking is the best way to explore the Noosa Everglades
Vivienne Golding from Kanu Kapers sums up the experience of kayaking on the Noosa Everglades brilliantly:
There’s that feeling of peace… you stop paddling and you hear nothing but the birds.
Paddling through this wilderness gives new meaning to “sensory overload” and there will be moments you forget to breathe or stop paddling as you take in the vegetation-stained but fresh water, the grass and tree-lined banks and the birds overhead against that big ol’ blue sky.
This is one of those true-blue Australian landscapes that will have you contemplating your place in the universe.
Become a full-fledged adventurer without organising a thing on a guided kayak tour with Kanu Kapers. In a day you’ll cover the great expanse of Lake Cootharaba, kayak on a channel carved out with water lilies either side of you, and once you hit the narrows of the Upper Noosa River you’ll see yourself and the rest of the landscape reflected in the water like a mirror.
Add in a spot of lunch at the Fig Tree Creek campground, and a friendly knowledgeable guide giving you the low-down on the area and pointing out the birdlife, and you have a pretty memorable day on your hands.
In addition to guided or self-guided half or full-day kayaking tours, Kanu Kapers also have two and three-day kayak and camping adventures on offer.
If you own your own kayaking gear, get ready to return again and again to the lakes and narrows of this waterway system. Even with all the weekends in a year there will still be more secret banks, beaches and nooks and crannies for you to explore.
4. You can linger a little longer and camp overnight (blissfully off the grid)
To stay overnight in this serene area, camping is the only way to do it and there are plenty of lakeside and upper-river campsites for all types of adventurers.
For a full-service campground, complete with kayak and watersports hire, Boreen Point Campground and Elanda Point Education Centre and Adventure Park have all your needs covered.
If you’re a self-sufficient (and you’ll need to be) camper, the Cooloola Recreation Area of the Great Sandy National Park has a range of campsites for your consideration. You’ll need a permit to camp at these sites, so do your research and preparations then book directly with Queensland National Parks Booking Service well before you go.
Harry’s Hut camping and day-use area on the upper Noosa River is one of the only sites accessible by 4WD in the area. You can also access the campsite by foot, boat and kayak.
Fig Tree Point camping and day-use area and Camp Sites 1-3 can be reached by boat, canoe or walking track. From Camp Site 3 you can take a walking track up to the Cooloola Sand Patch that is worth the hike for the views over Great Sandy National Park.
Camp Sites 4-15 are remote campsites that are scattered along the eastern and western banks of the upper Noosa River.