It’s late January in South-East Queensland and summer is really starting to kick into gear. What better time to go for a walk in the hot, steamy wetlands of the Cooloola Recreation Area…. Right?!
With our time left in Queensland very quickly ticking away (we are moving to Tasmania in March), Maree and I have been forced to stop being picky about the weather in order to give ourselves the best chance of finishing off our tick-list of local adventures before we go. So with this mantra in mind, and despite the poor forecast of hot and stormy weather, we hit the road as soon as work finished for the week and headed North.
Harry’s Hut campground sits on the Noosa River, but forget the hustle and bustle of the lower reaches, this area is relatively unspoiled and holds a special place in my heart. Over the years I’ve had some great times here. Certainly there were ups and downs, but overall they were memorable to say the least. Some of the highlights include:
- A failed multi-day walk along the Cooloola Wilderness Trail with scouts, ending in the whole troop being ferried the last leg of the walk in a 4WD.
- A successful multi-day canoe trip visiting the more remote campsites and beautiful areas of the river even further upstream.
- Getting bogged with my Dad trying to get into the campground in his Camry after rain (the road in is a “4wd track”).
- Escaping the campground after huge amounts of rain with a car packed full of friends from interstate… also in Dad’s Camry.
- Various trips to the Cooloola Sand-Blow. The best way to do this walk is to canoe half the way to Camp 3, then walk the 12KM return from there. The most memorable trip though was when I convinced two uni friends to do it without a canoe in the middle of summer, resulting in a 23KM walk and one of them spewing his guts out when he thought a good way to cure his dehydration was to skull a rum and coke when we got back!
Despite not visiting this area for quite a few years I was keen to take Maree here before we packed up and headed south. With Dad ditching the Camry years ago (to some lucky new owner), we had to break with tradition and test out our own recent acquisition: an actual four wheel drive!
It was well after dark by the time we arrived at Harry’s Hut, and after recovering from the wall of humidity that hit us as soon as we stepped out of the car we quickly set up our tent in preparation for the onslaught of mozzies. To our surprise they weren’t as bad as expected, so we went for a wander down to the river with camera in hand.
The night was dead still, and with a bright moon I was able to capture some great reflections on the river.Saturday morning arrived and we set off along the Cooloola Wilderness Trail for Fig Tree Point. This campsite and day-use area is only accessible by foot or boat and is located on the northern banks of Lake Cootharaba. The trail heads back down Harry’s Hut road for a short distance until a walkers track splits off to avoid the traffic. This short section passes through open scrub and sections of dense cabbage tree palms before heading back to the road.
Although the road-walking was one of the lowlights, the other sections of interesting, easy-going track made up for this in spades. If you get going fairly early you shouldn’t have too many cars driving by.
After leaving the road again the track passes through more cabbage palms and a beautiful section of paperbark tree wetlands which showed signs of recovering from recent bushfires.Despite the rest of the walk from this point following a firetrail most of the way to the campsite, the constant birdcalls kept us entertained and served to distract us from the stifling humidity. Once arriving at Fig Tree Point I was immediately impressed with the work gone into creating a lovely campsite and day use area that sat so well within its natural surroundings. The downside was that a large group had just arrived by boat, spoiling the serenity. As the afternoon wore on, the number of visitors eased off, leaving us (and one other equally quiet camper) to this lovely spot. We spent most of the afternoon sitting in the shallows being exfoliated by guppies. While preparing dinner on the jetty, we were treated to a stunning sunset. Despite the sun setting out of view, the golden light reflected off an incoming rain shower to create the stunning show you see below and at the top of the article.
Before long we retired for the night to avoid the incoming swarms of mozzies and rain. I cursed myself for not swapping out the interior of our tent to the full mesh option before we left home, because every whiff of breeze helped keep the inside of the tent bearable.
Somehow we got some sleep, but as the sun rose, woke to a feeling of urgency to escape the tent which was very quickly turning into a sauna.
We enjoyed a quick breakfast in between light showers before packing up the tent and hitting the trail. The rain held off for the rest of the morning as we retraced our steps back to the car; the lure of air conditioning urging us forward.Feeling pleased with ourselves for ticking one more item off our todo list, we headed back towards Pomona. Despite the conditions, it was still good to get out and quiet our minds from the constant planning and preparation for the move that has been our main priority for what seems like forever.