Today we undertook what can only be described as the Tongariro crossing on water. 14km (8.7miles) of canoeing against the current! My arms are currently buzzing, not quite understanding what has just happened to them.
The Noosa Everglades are one of only two Everglades in the world, the other being in Florida (and also brimming with alligators).
Waking from our freezing dorm, consisting of 12 hammocks in a corrugated iron shed, we were given a canoe and told to go ‘that way’. No guide, no clue, and one first aid kit. Gulp.
The river, we had been told, despite looking like the Amazon, was safe to swim in. An after thought added by Big B (otherwise know as bushman Brandon, aka Tim) that ‘oh we do get sharks but only once in a blue moon’. Cheers mate – this’ll be a blast.
Alice, Flo and, I took one canoe while Abi (complete with tourist cap) sandwiched between the exceptionally tanned Moa and Asta in the words of Moa ‘like an Oreo’.
It all started so well; we were not at the back and we were nailing this canoe business. We were then swiftly overtaken and found ourselves not just at the back, but so far behind that we could barely see the rest of our team. So much for safety in numbers guys. We didn’t care much though, we had Flo’s infamous iPod and plenty of tunes to get us on our way.
After hours we arrived in Lake Cooroibah to find the rest of our group (we had actually caught up in record breaking time – turns out all you need is a bit of Irish music to get the rhythm going). As we paddled toward the creek we were aiming for our canoe was in second place. I am aware it is not a race but our previous position of very much last made it hard not to feel smug about this. Anyway we turned off down the creek only to be followed by no one…not one canoe followed us. Right. We have to somehow turn around and get out and join the rest. At the back. Again.
We were right though. We were convinced that this creek was the right one. But with no Big B to tell the others we had to follow them so we didn’t get separated. A three point turn in a canoe when your steering is not quite yet perfected is tricky. I was the lucky one at the front who got a facefull of tree not once or twice but many many times.
Finally making it out of the creek we found the others hanging around, now telling us that they thought we had been right. Humf. We had tried to tell them this before we got whipped in the face by trees but would they listen…no. One small problem now was that all the boys had paddled off to the opposite side of the lake, otherwise known as the completely wrong way.
At this point we admit we disobeyed our own rules, don’t split. But we figured there were 3 canoes and 8 people in knee deep water.
Executive decision was that they would be fine. So the rest of us made our way up the creek really hoping after all that, that it was actually the right one.
As the water got darker and darker we drifted passed a rope swing and finally knew we were in the right place. Our canoe pulled in first (not that I’m keeping score) and we dragged it up, grateful to be back on solid ground again.
We all spent a few hours sunbathing on the jetty or swimming in the jet black water of the Everglades. Despite its less than inviting appearance it was a great way to cool off in temperatures which were steadily climbing beyond 30 degrees.
The other three canoes also turned up, eventually realising their mistake and joining us.
By 1.30 we all were running out of water and so thought it best that we get back seeing as it was a 2 1/2 hour canoe back home.
Without bragging we nailed it. We certainly found our rhythm for the way home and lead the group for a good while. Looking like Vikings we paddled in perfect unison with Flo acting as cox and made it back in just over an hour.
As it turns out the aluminium in the oars and a chemical in suncream react to create a black coating. So, looking like we’d just spent the day in the mines, we all hobbled off for showers emerging looking almost human again.
Tonight we had upgraded our accommodation from a two man tent back to the dorm for $5. After the horror stories of huntsmen spiders in the tents I figured $5 was a small price to pay.
But bed was a long way away. Once the canoeing is over there is very little to do in camp. There is a film room but that seems such a waste when you’re surrounded by the Australian bush. So by 5pm we were all already thinking about dinner just for something to occupy ourselves.
No it’s far too early for dinner, so instead the goon makes another appearance.
Flo and Alice were in charge of dinner tonight and while I didn’t judge them for their ‘cheese omelet’ which was more accurately described as mashed eggs and cheese I thought I’d relieve them of my dinner and make my own poached eggs. It was all going so well until some huge creature with antennae fell on my head, on to my plate and crawled over the last of my dinner…
Goon and games around campfire followed and so commenced night two of heavy drinking and swearing at Bushman Brandon for chasing me with a huntsman.
Dear ol’ Big B took us to see the stars, which were lovely, but if stars are what you want Mt Cook, New Zealand is where where you want to be.
The people really do make or break your experience at Gajagu camp and we were lucky enough to have a great group. Let’s do it all again tomorrow (minus the spiders).