Having visited the Florida Everglades earlier this year for the first time, I was excited to find out that there were Everglades in Australia as well. Turns out, they aren’t really the same. At all.
I signed up for a two day-one night canoe safari through the Noosa Everglades expecting swamps and something mangrove-like, maybe even some Australian version of Spanish moss for good measure. Instead I discovered that the word “Everglades” was applied very loosely in this instance and, despite the photo on the brochure, I would be canoeing up a regular-looking (though still very lovely) river, not through a swamp. In additional “creative” advertising, the tour would have been better described as one day-one night, as “day two” ended at 9:30am. #Overpriced
It wasn’t all bad though! I got picked up from my hostel the morning of the tour and, after we picked up everyone else, we set off for camp. We would be spending the night at a public campground, although we had funky colored cabins instead of tents. We dropped off our big bags for later and transferred ourselves and our day packs into a smaller 4×4 bus that resembled something that might land on Mars one day.
We drove over some pretty rough roads for about 45 minutes until we reached the river. We only had six people in our group, plus the tour guide, so we ended up with two three-person canoes. Technically, the tour was “unguided,” so the full extent of our instructions was “head upstream and meet me at Camp 3.” So we set off and, about an hour later, did just that.
The river was lovely and the temperature perfect. We tried to spot koalas along the way but didn’t have any luck. Once we arrived at the Camp we had a quick lunch before setting off on a 6km hike to a giant sandblow (like a sand dune but less hilly…basically a big area covered by sand that blew in from the beach). We actually arrived quite suddenly, one minute hiking through the forest and the next standing on a giant expanse of sand that stretched nearly as far as we could see.
Coming out of the protection of the forest, we quickly discovered it’s really windy on a sandblow (makes sense I suppose, since that’s how it got there in the first place). The temperature seemed to drop at least ten degrees and we got some serious exfoliation as we hiked across the field of sand to take in the view of some lakes in the distance. After about 15 minutes of trying to keep the sand out of our eyes, mouths, and cameras we considered the sandblow sufficiently experienced and headed back to the safety of the forest. After 6km back to the docks and another hour or so of paddling we were back to the Mars Rover and set off across the bumpy roads in reverse, back to camp.
We had a small, fit group on this tour which helped us to finish the day in record time. This meant that we got back to camp before it was dark and got to see several kangaroos who had come to visit the campground. Pretty cool, as this was my first kangaroo spotting on this trip.
After getting showered and settled into our cabins it was time for dinner which, in true Aussie fashion, was a sausage sizzle (thank you, Linda McCartney, for the delicious vegan sausages). Dinner was followed by drinks and chatting, but by 9pm it felt like midnight and that squeaky bunk bed mattress was looking pretty good.
The next morning the kangaroos were back and, since I was up early, I got some photos (although they weren’t amazing thanks to the low light). Still cool though to see them hopping around, and especially the little ones playing. After breakfast, I was picked up by my special driver (since I was transferring to a new town instead of going back to where I’d been picked up) and my Everglades experience came to a close.
Next up: Rainbow Beach and Fraser Island.