Megha full of the joys of canoeing
We were picked up at 8am by a truck and trailer and driven about half an hour to Borean Point on the Noosa River to pick up our camping stuff and load our possessions into water-tight barrels and food into 'eskys' (cool boxes). We then took a 15 minute river taxi across choppy, muddy open water to Kinaba Information Centre where we unloaded and recieved a briefing on what we should do on the safari. At this point we all became quite apprehensive as we realised that the safari was to be unguided, and looked at the pictures of the creatures we would be sharing the river with, including snakes, spiders and even sharks in the open water areas. We were told to go out in the canoes for 10 minutes first to get practice and here we became even more nervous as even just getting out of the jetty area into the mouth of the river proved an impossible task in the face of the current and wind pushing us back against the jetty.
Putting up tents
As was promised though, the wind slacked as we entered the river and we did a quick up-and-down before returning to the centre to load up. Between 2 in a canoe we each had a tent, a roll-mat, a camping set, a barrel, a tub of water, a torch and an esky. As we were loading up I met the first of our river creatures as a huge grey spider crept out to sit on the edge of the canoe I was loading. I remembered my trip to the Australian Museum had taught me that water spiders were the largest of all spiders, and how I'd thought then how unlikely it was I would ever face one....
Loaded up we set off for the first part of our adventure, an apparently calm hour and a half paddle around the islands and up the Upper Noosa River. We paddled out into the initial open water and being unfamiliar with river navigation made our first mistake in trying to pass round the islands on the wayward side.
Playing cards soberly to entertain ourselves
At first we just paddled around in the relative shelter of the land but as we tried to cross the water to follow the others we discovered that out on the middle of the lake it was extremely choppy and extremely windy. We paddled as hard as we could to cross the gap but when we tried to attempt turning into the wind and head round the tip we realised we had no hope of paddling against the current and turned to find 2 other canoes already beached on the island. We turned to join them and I feared we had already been beaten, that we would have to call a rescue or wait for the wind to die down as we had no hope of passing the point, but I hadn't realised that there was another route round and we soon all set off round the leeward side which was much easier. Water navigation is hard, it's so difficult to translate a hand-written paper map to visual geography! Once round the island we turned into the river and started following the signs we'd been told to expect. The canoers that had rounded the tip were insistant we were heading the wrong way but for the first time on the trip I was confident we were doing the right thing. We paddled for a couple of hours upstream through the forest, sadly only seeing a few butterflies but hearing some birdcall. We would have liked to have floated more and paddled less but the current and wind was still causing us to push towards the banks so we had to keep paddling almost continuously to stay on course. After 2 hours we were pretty knackered and eager to find the jetty which seemed to elude us for longer than we were told to expect, but finally we pulled in and set up camp at 'Harry's Hut' and waited for the rest of the people to arrive with food and drink. Megha and her partner Sandy (we had each adopted a lone traveller to paddle with us to give us a break from each other) arrived an hour after everybody else and I felt sure she would arrive sulky and tired, refusing to paddle the following day from the exertion. Imagine my surprise then when she arrived full of the joys of canoeing, having explored Lake Coma on the way up and done twice the paddling we had to fight the current back up again, and jumped straight in the water for a swim! Apparently she has found her calling....
After a bit of lunch I was shattered so I napped before getting up to join everyone in cooking their dinner. We had noodles and chilli and afterwards some coffee before sitting around the table chatting with our group. There are 19 of us, a large group, Troy and Angela (Australian), April, Robin and Brandon (Canadian), Ross (Scottish), Esa (Irish and my canoe partner), Fe (UK), Sandy (Dorset), and 2 Chilean girls and a German boy. Unfortunately we didn't have any alcohol as we had apparently missed the instructors request to stop at the bottle-shop because we were all chatting so much. So as it got darker we played a get-to-know you game where you ask anyone a question, eg what's your dream travel destination? Have you any phobias? etc Because of the dark it felt much later than it was so we refused to go to bed early despite the cold but fortunately a girl from another group came and gave us 2 goons as they were leaving next day which cheered us all up immensely and we chatted well into the evening.