I'm a big nature buff. I've always said that the true wonder of Australia is the country's natural beauty. So it was with significant excitement that I signed up for a Noosa Everglades Boat Cruise with Noosa Everglades Discovery - an eco-friendly outfit who've been showing curious travellers the region for a couple of decades.
While the name sounds alluring, the Noosa Everglades is primarily the eco-system of the Noosa River. Unlike its famous namesake, the Florida Everglades, there are no alligators or the Australian equivalent in this river system. And for that matter there are no leeches either - just a tranquil waterway that offers a wealth of flora and fauna.
In preparation for the cruise, I decided that a panoramic perspective of the water system would be a great way to appreciate the setting. This would be a macro introduction, before experiencing the micro. For the vista I hiked the short 500 metres to the peak of the nearby Mt Tinbeerwah - a volcanic plug that was created from volcanic activity millions of years ago. The mountain is located within the Tewantin State Forest and boasts eucalypts, she-oaks and bloodwoods. Needless to say, the views from the top are spectacular - I had a bird's eye view over all the various lakes, the coastline and the sunshine coast hinterland. Most interestingly, I could see the route my boat would soon be taking.
The Noosa Everglades Discovery boat arrived in good time at the Sheraton Jetty on the Sunday morning and we were greeted by the friendly guide Trevor, who's been with the company from the beginning. His love of the surrounds is immediately obvious as he enthuses over Noosa's history. We pass the water front properties of Noosaville - where the average price is around $6 million and gawk at Richard Branson's private Island retreat, Makepeace Island before heading into Lake Cooroibah.
There's a carpet snake sunning itself on the left and a night heron shielding itself from the light. A whistling kite circles overhead and a pelican comes into land. Trevor points out in the distance a family of black swans and moments later he spots a lizard enjoying the brilliant Queensland sun. Water lilies float effortlessly on the water surface.
Lake Cootharaba is the largest lake in the water system and today it's made particularly attractive by the volume of yachts enjoying a leisurely Sunday sail. Many sailors may be inspired by Australia's recent golden success in London. After morning tea at Fig Tree Point, situated at the northern end of Lake Cootharaba, our cruise enters what is officially the Noosa everglades.
The river narrows and changes in colour from clear salt to brackish water dyed by the local tannins. While it sounds slightly unappealing, the darker colour in the water actually reflects the images of the trees lining the bank perfectly. The narrowing of the river combined with the remarkable mirror image make for an extremely beautiful sight. This is what I'd come to see and now I truly understand why Noosa's Everglades are one of the premiere attractions on the Sunshine Coast.
We journeyed for another hour or so to the lunch point - Harry's Hut - a historic structure that was originally erected when logging was important to the region. While on this occasion I opted for the comfort of a cruise boat, many adventurers continue along the Noosa River in kayaks and camp at one of the many sites situated on the banks. Something I will definitely be doing on my return visit to the Noosa Everglades.