Spring Attracts Wildflowers and Jabirus to the Everglades
Spring is just around the corner and there’s no better place to feel the arrival of new life than paddling under your own steam, immersed in the sublime tranquillity of the pristine Noosa Everglades, gateway to the Great Sandy National Park and Fraser Island. Fresh new shoots adorn the trees and the lush banks of the Upper Noosa River are set to burst with brilliant color as one by one the stunning wildflowers open. Add in to the fold the arrival of the majestic jabiru, scores of black swans, pelicans and the occasional kingfisher and it’s easy to be bowled over by the Noosa Everglades and its’ enchanting River of Mirrors. Here you can really feel at one with nature as did the Kabi Aboriginal Tribe who once graced this special land.
Because of its great diversity of landscape, wildflowers are abundant in this the Cooloola section of the Great Sandy National Park. In fact with over 726 species of flowering plants and ferns, this corner of the park has a greater density of flora than any other part of coastal Queensland. Most abundant by far are the smaller (but no less impressive) wildflowers such as iris, lilies and orchids; of which there are many varieties. These include the deep purple Bush Iris, the sweetly scented Vanilla Lily and Pinkies Orchid and the striking pink Hyacinth Orchid, to name a few. Turning the corner from Lake Cootharaba in to Fig Tree Lake you are rewarded with the breathtaking view of thousands of water lilies turned upward towards the sun. Pelicans abound and the aroma of the lilies is simply intoxicating.
The meandering Upper Noosa River snakes through expansive plains of tea tree and wildflowers towards the brilliantly colored sand cliffs of Rainbow Beach. Leached of most impurities, the waters of the Everglades have some of the purest, freshest water to be found anywhere. It’s not hard to see why the region attracts such diversity of flora and fauna and why the Kabi Tribe chose to make it their home.
Kayaking is a great way to experience bird life as birds are attracted to waterways for many reasons. Being so quiet, you have the opportunity to get up close and experience such delights as the kingfisher with its’ flash of brilliance darting and diving through the air and the graceful black swans as they huddle together in the native long grasses. Australia’s only stalk, the jabiru, has been spotted recently fishing along the shallow banks of Lake Cootharaba. At over 1.3m tall, mainly thanks to its long legs, its wing-span is over two meters. To see it in flight is truly spectacular.
Vivienne Golding, former Australian Kayak Champion and MD of Kanu Kapers who run sustainable kayak tours in The Everglades described her most recent encounter,
‘I was out kayaking with a group last week and we saw a jabiru take off from the edge of the lake just ahead of us. Its’ enormous wings blocked out the sun for a fraction of a second! It’s such an impressive sight which we probably would not have been privileged to see so close up had we been traveling by any means other than the kayaks. The jabiru is very sensitive to human impact such as changes in water levels and the destruction of aquatic vegetation, so the fact that it keeps returning to The Everglades is a good sign that the waterways are very healthy’.
Kanu Kapers’ offer guided and self-guided tours to the Noosa Everglades using top of the range sea kayaks. All tours include a visit to the charming old Apollonian Pub in the village of Boreen Point. Kanu Kapers’ aim is for people of all ages to experience the real tranquility of The Noosa Everglades and to leave no trace. The Noosa Everglades are just 20 minutes from Noosa.
I believe we will have similar weather over this winter – so come and enjoy the magic of a kayak journey into the Noosa Everglades - Kayaks and campsites still available for this June long weekend!
Right from the start, Kanu Kapers had awesome customer service, responding to my emails and answering all my questions as I tried to plan a kayak camping trip while travelling. I eventually decided on the 3 Day Kayak trip
and convinced a friend of mine that I met in Brisbane to join me. The 3-day package was definitely affordable and included all the camping / paddling gear necessary, from stove and fuel to tent and tarp, from maps to the boat and paddling accessories.
When I reserved the boat, they booked a campsite for me and arranged a free pickup from my Noosa hostel to their headquarters, about a half hour drive. There we arranged our gear, packed the car, and headed off to the launching point.
It was amazingly calm and peaceful when we got to Lake Cootharaba.We loaded up our kayaks and headed out on the water.
I couldn't believe how calm the waters were, for what seemed like a big lake. And the reflections were spectacular.
We made our way across the lake and onto the Noosa River. The navigation was easy with a couple well positioned signs.
Once we got into the heart of the Everglades, the reflections just got better and better
Once we got to our campsite we set up our tent and explored the area a little. We had a dock, and there were tons of minnows and tadpoles in the water!
We made ourselves some tea, covered ourselves in bug spray, and watched the sunset and marvelled at the reflections. And when the stars came out, they were reflected in the water as well and it was just spectacular. Some things you can't capture on a simple digital camera. It was neat watching the colours change as evening progressed and then into the next morning as well. Where, if possible, the reflections were more intense.
I couldn't help myself; I just kept taking pictures... There were tons of birds in the area as well, though mostly out of sight. My bird identification by sound is somewhat lacking so I can't really say which birds we heard, but the trees were full of life! Here's a quick video of the sounds (though I'm sure half the birds stopped when I hit 'record'!).
It was huge! And had gorgeous views of the area..
We were just as impressed with the reflections when we got back to the water. Anyway, we headed back to the campsite and enjoyed another sunset.
By the time we packed up camp, the rain had slowed down to just a little drizzle.
Undeterred by weather, we continued with our plan and paddled up Kin Kin Creek some, before heading back to the lake and the end of our trip.
It was SO great to be out on the water and camping. A break from the East Coast travel, craziness, tours, parties and hostels. Noosa is a small town that is easily missed by many, but the Noosa Everglades and a paddle with Kanu Kapers
shouldn't be missed by anyone! Do this for something different -AND for great pictures.
Thanks again Sarah - If you would like the full blog go to Postcards from the Heart.
Happy paddling everyone
Birds of the Noosa Everglades and Upper Noosa River
The bird song when kayaking along in the Everglades is intense and magical. I was very blessed recently to have the company of Nicholas Bishop and his partner Ash on one of our Full Day Noosa Everglades Guided Tours. Nic describes himself as a Professional Bird nerd but is actually an Animal Behaviourist with Zoos South Australia and has worked with training birds in captivity all over the world. On completion of their tour Nic sent me a list of the birds he had spotted during the day - an impressive 36 different birds making up 18 different species.
I always say that a kayak tour into the Noosa Everglades is a sensory delight. A chance to go at a slower pace and experience not just the sights - but the sounds, the textures, the smells and ‘O’ the serenity of this unique place that is very accessible yet so free, wild and in a natural state. Below is Nic’s list – ENJOY
is a great way to experience bird life
- being so quiet you have the opportunity to get up close. Birds are attracted to water ways: they come down to drink, the insect eaters spiral around displaying great acrobat talent while hunting their food, the nectar eaters comb the trees on the banks that are in flower and the kingfishers are a flash of brilliance as they dart and dive in front of you.
Happy safe paddling and bird watching everyone
What is the Noosa Everglades.
On our kayak tours people regularly ask me ‘What is an Everglade and what is the extent of the Noosa Everglades’?
There are only two Everglades in the World – the first being in Florida and the other is our very own Noosa Everglades. The definition of an Everglade is: A tract of low, swampy land characterized by tall grass and branching waterways. There is very little information about the Noosa Everglades and 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.
When considering the extent (length and breadth) of the Noosa Everglades I have heard people say many different things. If one compared the Noosa River system with the Florida Everglades system (see figure 1) the extent of the Noosa Everglades may include the Upper Noosa River catchment area, the Upper Noosa River, Lake Cootharaba through to Lake Cooroibah and into Laguna Bay and include Donella Lake and Lake Weyba (see figure 2).
Please feel free to add to this discussion as I would love to hear other people’s views on this.
The Florida Everglades system begins near Orlando with the Kissimmee River, which discharges into the vast but shallow Lake Okeechobee. Water leaving the lake in the wet season forms a slow-moving river 97 km wide and over 160 km long, flowing southward across interdependent ecosystems that include cypress swamps, the estuarine mangrove forests of the Ten Thousand Islands, tropical hardwood hammocks, pine rockland, and the marine environment of Florida Bay.
Sourced from: The Noosa River Catchment Management Strategy.
We Have a Very Special Place Here
Whatever is the perceived extent of the Noosa Everglades we have a very special place. The Everglades National Park in Florida is only 20% of the original Everglade system. Where once the water flowed unhindered in the Florida Everglades system, today there is strong competition for this essential water as canals, levies and dykes divert the water for urban and farm development. In our playground the entire catchment for the Upper Noosa River lies within the ‘Great Sandy National Park’ giving our Everglades System ‘A Grade Quality Water, a pristine ecosystem and an uninterrupted water flow’ all the way to Laguna Bay (Noosa Heads)! WOW - how blessed are we!
Perhaps it needs to be recognised as a world heritage area?
Happy paddling everyone Vivienne
Just recently I was very fortunate to have a very enthusiastic birder on one of my guided tours. So stay tuned for next month’s newsletter all about the birds of Cooloola.
Kanu Kapers Australia Partners with the Noosa Biosphere Limited
In October 2007 the then Noosa Shire which includes the Noosa Everglades was declared a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.
What is a biosphere?
The global biosphere is a scientific term and includes all the parts of the land, sea, and atmosphere in which organisms are able to live. The Man and the Biosphere program is a UNESCO initiated international program that identifies different places in the world that have special environments, with a range of plants and animals. Biosphere reserves often have passionate communities LIKE NOOSA where people want to look after that environment and find ways to live in a sustainable manner. Biosphere reserves are established to promote a balanced relationship between humans and the environment.
What is a biosphere reserve?
- Biosphere reserves are sites that demonstrate innovative approaches to conservation and sustainable development. They share their experience and ideas regionally, nationally and internationally within a world network of biosphere reserves.
- Biosphere reserves go beyond confined protected areas to where sustainable economic development is made possible through partnerships with local people.
- Biosphere reserves are about developing quality economies based on local community action and entrepreneurship, sound science, public-private sector partnerships and networking.
- Biosphere reserves also provide living laboratories to experiment with and showcase various approaches to sustainable development that are culturally relevant to local communities.
The Noosa Biosphere is proactive in working with local and regional organisations towards the UNESCO Man and Biosphere objectives of conservation, sustainable development and education. The Partnership program recognises the working relationships with such organisations. On a KANU KAPERS tour the connection to nature and the natural environment is a high light of all kayak trips. Observing the flora and fauna from a self propelled kayak gives people a uniquely close experience, whilst they are contributing to the long term sustainability of this highly pristine area. At Kanu Kapers we are passionate about sharing an attitude that fosters the discovery and appreciation of the Noosa Biosphere Region.
23 October 2013
Welcome to Winter
Welcome to winter, hope you are all keeping snugly, warm and well. I remember last winter was similar to this, we had rain on and off until mid to end of July and then we had not a trace of rain until the Australia day weekend.
This month I would like to start to talk about the basic skills that we teach to every adventurer before they paddle our magnificent kayaks into the Noosa Everglades.
Getting in & Out of the Kayak or Canoe – it is always best to keep your centre of gravity low, if you are paddling with a partner, one of you holds the canoe/kayak while the other places one foot into the centre of the canoe/kayak. Next the person puts their bottom down on the seat before bring the other leg into the canoe/kayak. The person in the canoe/kayak then stabilises the canoe/kayak for the second person with their paddle as entre the craft. Getting out of the canoe/kayak just happens in reverse of getting in remembering to keep your centre of gravity low and exiting one leg at a time while being steadied by your partner.
Balancing the Canoe/Kayak – At Kanu Kapers we call this the wiggle wiggle. You sit up straight in the craft and grip the canoe or kayak with the lower part of your body. Then using your hips you wiggle your canoe/kayak from side to side like you were trying to tip it over. With this movement it is like your head and hips go in the same direction and your ribs in the other direction creating a C in your curve with your body.
Holding the Paddle – You are now comfortable seated in your kayak. Holding your paddle in both hands with the raised area on the shaft (paddle keeper) in your right hand, place your paddle on top of your head. When your elbows are at right angles this is the perfect grip for you. The spoon of the right paddle faces towards the backs. The blades of the paddle are offset 90 degrees so you need to cock your right wrist a bit (like the throttle on a motor bike)too squarely place the left paddle scoop into the water most effectively. At all times keep your loose grip on the paddle to avoid blisters on your thumbs
Stay tuned for series two of basic skills and remember to always make sure you wear a PFD, carry food, water, first aid, clothing that you can get warm in and tell someone where you are going.
Happy paddling adventures Vivienne
The Right Equipment for the Adventure
The sport of paddling is becoming more popular by the month as people discover the joys of being on the water and paddling a canoe or Kayak. Many people ask me what sort of craft they might buy. My answer to this varies depending on your circumstances; what you plan to use it for and where you are likely to paddle most often.
You might like to reflect on these 3 points when making your choice:
1. Who is the canoe or kayak for; do you have a family with growing children, are you an individual, a couple and even if you are a couple would you like to have a double craft or single ones
2. Are you planning on going on longer expeditions and want room for camping, or are you more likely to just be using it for picnic trips were you are just in the one place
3. Are the water way conditions likely to vary from sheltered to more open waterways
Sit on top kayaks are great for kids to play around on during picnics by the lake side. A longer sit on top kayak with a rudder and some storage space can be used for day trips and shorter expeditions in more sheltered waters and are great as usually two kids can fit between the adults for short fun trips.
Sit in kayaks are great in both sheltered and unsheltered waterways. There are touring kayaks, Estuary kayaks and Sea kayaks, each one in turn usually gets longer and has more storage space. In buying craft with storage space it is good to have larger openings so you can pack your equipment more easily. At Kanu Kapers we use expedition sea kayaks for our Noosa Everglades kayak tours. They are fast, sleek, stable, have rudders and fabulous storage space for your gear.
The canoe is much more suitable for sheltered waters and paddling up and down rivers. My favourite is packing the canoe for a 4 or 5 day white water canoe adventure , heading off down a wild river with grade 2 and 3 rapids – a wonderful adventure that is totally inspiring and soul renewing
Whatever craft you choose paddle safe. Always make sure you wear a PFD, carry food, water, first aid, clothing that you can get warm in and always tell someone where you are going.
Happy paddling adventures Vivienne
P.S In next issue I will run through some basic paddling skills to help you on your way towards your next paddling adventure.
The Noosa Everglades
The ornithological paradise that is the Noosa River is a draw card for bird observers who travel from near and far to immerse themselves in the abundant wildlife that thrives here.
With its headwaters protected by the Cooloola Section of the Great Sandy National Park, the Noosa River is a pristine environment for the local wildlife which can be found living within the extensive vegetation. Mangrove mudflats, wetlands, wallum scrub, sand dunes and coastal rainforests are just some of the habitats that you can find yourself experiencing in this very unique and special place.
Take a Kanu Kapers Australia Kayak Tour into the Noosa Everglades (Upper Noosa River) and lead your own, personalised bird watching expedition through this beautiful wilderness, home to some of Australia’s most iconic birdlife.
Bird watching in one of our streamlined, expedition sea kayaks allows you to experience the birds at an intimate level. Glide past a Pelican as it basks lazily in the warm morning sunshine. Relax to the chorus of Magpie song as you enjoy lunch under a shady tree. Experience the unique laugh of the Kookaburra and the call of the Whistling Kite as it glides high above you, searching for its morning meal.
The Noosa Everglades is also home to many migratory birds over the warm summer months with some travelling from as far away as the Arctic, to rest and feed here in this safe waterway. Australia’s largest stalk, the Jabiru, can be seen casually fishing along the shallow edges of Lake Cootharaba in the summer months. Other bird species that annually migrate to the Noosa River include Terns, Cormorants, Beach Curlews, Oystercatchers, Sea Gulls, Drongos, and even a few pairs of Brolgas.
As the rains from the past summer have inundated Queensland from its drought-quenching thirst, there is sure to be a rise in bird numbers throughout the region as food stocks are rejuvenated and our native wildlife come out to enjoy the thriving, healthy ecosystem that they call home.