SOLO TO NOOSA RIVER
What: 3 Day Paddle Trip
When: Mon - Wed, June
Where: Harry's Hut - Campsite 15 return
Craft: Rosco Tidemark XP
Rising early on Monday morning, I was excited, as unlike most of the people around me, I was not about to get up and go to work, I was off to the wilderness. Having already packed, I simply had to load my boat, a Rosco Tidemark XP, onto my little car. So off I went, driving away from the traffic of the workers driving into the city and off on an adventure. The destination, the Upper Noosa River - launch point Harry's Hut. So after turning off the highway at Pomona, and taking the road pass Kin Kin, just over 2 hours after leaving Brisbane, I was taking the turnoff to Harry's Hut. Having read the Cooloola condition report, I was expecting a rough drive in, however I was relieved to find, whilst a 4WD was required (especially if it was wet), my little Suzuki 4WD wasn't being swallowed by potholes to size of elephants. Finally, 3 hours after leaving Brisbane, I was driving into Harry's Hut.
PHOTOS - Left: Packing to go to Noosa River. Right: 'Bertie' and Kati driving into Harry's.
After the mandatory stop in at the hut, I started to unload my gear as I was keen to get out on the water. Using the canoe racks provided, I proceeded to play the game of Tetris to pack my boat. My packing skills were admired by some fellow paddlers who had just arrived in their Rosco Chief Royalex canoe from Elanda Point. We said our goodbyes as they sat down for lunch and as I launched my craft, I had the sneaky suspicions that these would be the last people I would see for a few days.
PHOTOS - Left: Harry Spring's Hut, Cooloola NP. Right: Playing Tetris to get the perfect fit.
The plan was, on Monday to put my head down and paddle from Harry's Hut to Campsite 15 (20km), only stopping for lunch along the way (Campsite 4). Tuesday would be spent exploring the river above Campsite 15, before making my way back down to Campsite 4 (13km). Finally Wednesday would see me make my way casually back to Harry's Hut (7km) before returning to Brisbane by late afternoon.
PHOTOS - Left: Beached at Campsite 15. Right: The beauty & tranquility of Noosa River.
So leaving Harry's at midday and with sunset at 5:01pm, I needed to be averaging at least 4km/hour to make it off the water before dark, a relaxed but steady pace. This is how I began, whilst I took in the beauty which is the Noosa River. The tannin stained water (from the tea trees) creates the unique effect of some of the most amazing reflections, almost mirror-like on a windless day combined with an eerie 'what lurks beneath' feel. The ever changing banks go from swamp grasses, to paperbark lined, to huge gumtrees, and back again, meaning you never get sick of the scenery. However, it isn't just the scenery which makes the Noosa River so beautiful; it is the remote aspect which really adds to it. Once you are past campsite 3 (6km), the only access to the area is by non-petrol craft, i.e. Canoes and kayaks, which in turns almost guarantees you won't come across much more than birds, goannas, roos, koalas, bush rats, and maybe the occasional dingo. So, whilst I was enjoying taking in the beauty of the place, I was also keen to reach Campsite 3 and leave the world behind. By the time I reached Campsite 4 for lunch, I had not seen a single person. Having averaged 4.5km/hour so far, and after relaxing on the white sandy beach of Campsite 4, and having refueled my body, I was ready to step up another gear as to get into camp and still have plenty of sunlight left.
PHOTOS - Left: Wildlife of Noosa is diverse. Right: Paddling the beautiful mirror-like water.
As I settled into a rhythmic cadence, with every kilometer I was covering, I could feel the stress draining away, and with great surprise to me, I was pulling into Campsite 15 having averaged 6.5km/hour without breaking a sweat. This meant, I had an hour until sunset in which to set up camp and settle in for the evening. I set myself up on the beach to watch the sun set before cooking my gourmet dinner of chicken and pasta, watching the vast number of stars, before retiring early into bed.
PHOTOS - Left: Launching for pre-breakfast paddle. Right: Beauty of the mirror-like water.
Tuesday morning saw me rise with the sunny before heading down onto the water whilst the fog was still about. Chilly but worth it as the river was a site to see with the sunny low in the sky and the fog drifting over the mirror-like water. This stunning scenery simply beckoned me to go for a pre-breakfast paddle. Perfect photography conditions, so off I set to do some exploring and grab a few snap shots. As it warmed up and the fog lifted, I slowly made my way back to camp to enjoy a warm breakfast.
PHOTOS - Left: Ever-changing scenery. Right: A crucial part of paddling; your paddle.
Once the sun was a little bit higher in the sky and I had packed my camp up, it was time to jump back in the boat again. Destination today: Campsite 4. This meant I only had to cover 13kms and it was only 10:30, so I had plenty of time to explore that which I had paddle past yesterday. With simply perfect weather, bright blue skies, no wind, and 20 degree days with a chilly nip in the evenings, I couldn’t have asked for anything more. As I slowly made my way back down the river, I took the time to stop and check out all the campsites, to glide along behind the cormorants, to compose photos, and I even stopped to make use of the gum tree water swing between Campsites 8 and 5, which a fellow paddler has set up for a bit of fun. After a swim, it was back in the boat and I made it to Campsite 4 by mid-afternoon. I settled in on the beautiful beach for the afternoon to read my book and watch the birds fly by. I was lucky enough on my trip to see a large range of birds including but not limited to a masked owl, cormorants, a black swan, blue wrens, and I heard but once again couldn’t see that ever elusive whip bird. As the sunset across the plains, I settled in for another night of star gazing and enjoying the tranquility.
PHOTOS - Left: Sunset over the plains. Right: A beautiful pre-breakfast paddle.
Wednesday saw another beautiful pre-breakfast paddle down to Campsite 3 in the early morning fog. After breakfast back at Campsite 4, I played my final game of Tetris before slowly working my way back to Harry’s Hut. Like the previous day, I took my time enjoying the peace and quiet and the beauty of my surrounds. If you want to change things up a bit, you can add a hike in at this point. At 12km return (about 4km), the walk to the sandpatch is well worth your time. This large sandblow provides spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean. Leaving from Campsite 3, it is a great way to break up the paddle home.
PHOTOS - Left: Plenty of kilometres paddled. Right: A great way to start a the day.
By lunch time, I found myself back at Harry’s Hut, unpacking my craft and on my way back to the big smoke. Like I had thought, I hadn’t seen a sole since leaving Harry’s on Monday. I had covered about 50km in 3 days; I had seen some of the most beautiful country around, had perfect weather, and enjoyed paddling a great craft on an awesome river. I had gone solo into the wilderness and survived. If you are looking for a quick getaway from Brisbane that makes you feel like you far away from the modern world, this is trip for you.
PHOTOS - Above: Paddling the length of the Noosa River.
Noosa River Details
Resources for Upper Noosa River including map, distances, campsite details, photos, etc.
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Rosco Tidemark XP
The perfect craft for this trip. Check out all the specs and details or purchase the Tidemark series here.
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