Adrift on a Row Boat
There are many songs about being on a boat.
Some quite memorable, and some not so much. But all seem to lend themselves to memories of the calmness, peace, and serenity one might find while being adrift across a vast, still body of water.
Well, most songs do at least. Let’s not mention the one everyone’s got stuck in their head right about now (sorry, not sorry).
My personal favourite song about being on a boat is Brooke Fraser’s “Sailboats”. A beautiful metaphorical love song about feelings as steadfast and deep as the sea, anchoring yourself in someone you love, and having a companion as constant, steady and reliable as the horizon. It is a beautiful song, in its simplicity.
It’s perfect really, because when you’re on a boat, simplicity is one of the best things you can hope for. Being adrift with your thoughts, or surging through the water with swift strokes, purposeful and driven, repetitive motion getting you closer and closer to your destination.
It is this simplicity that I found a little while ago when, joined by Ryan, Kris, Ally and a few of our other friends, I took a canoe camping trip up the Noosa River. We rowed from Harry’s Hut to Fig Tree Point. It was my first canoe trip since I was a little girl at school camp, and I have to admit – when I first got invited on the trip I found the idea of camping overnight in a river-access only campsite pretty damn exciting.
If you’ve never been to the Noosa River, the Cooloola Recreation Area in the Great Sandy National Park is a pretty neat place to start off. You can camp there at Harry’s Hut (though it is 4WD access only), picnic, or just sit back and enjoy all the beautiful natural serenity that the Sunshine Coast hinterland has to offer.
Setting off bright and early in the morning, a quick coffee stop, some discussion on the pros and cons of single paddle versus double paddle rowing, and we were on our way. The threat of imminent weather did nothing to dampen our high spirits (we would be getting a bit wet anyway) and we set off with grins on our faces and cheesy song lyrics on our minds.
We headed out to our first stop, Elanda Point, to pick up the keys for our hire canoes (which we would be getting at the river entry point at Harry’s Hut), life vests, and paddles.
We arrived at Harry’s Hut, delighted to find the light-weight fiberglass and plastic canoes were just where we had been promised. Ryan tried one last time to swap canoe partners, but without success – he would just have to put up with my daydreaming!
We packed all our gear into the watertight drums, and pushed off from the shore. The approximately two hour canoeing trip would see us arrive at our camp site at around lunch time, perfect timing to set up our tent, make a quick snack, and most importantly – pour ourselves a drink. To save room in our drums, we packed several bottles of wine instead of beer. Perfect for an overnight trip!
The journey seemed to pass in no time at all, and the thing that really stuck in my mind was how absolutely breathtaking Australian flora and fauna is. I know I’ve mentioned this a couple of times in the past, but I really do love this country. The plants and animals that have so beautifully adapted to its unforgiving physical environments, the terrible perfection in the juxtaposition of the fragility of nature with the cruel realities of the circle of life. It’s not something you can really appreciate in the concrete jungle of the city, and every time I go out into the bush I get my breath taken away all over again at it’s beauty.
We managed to make it to the campsite and get set up just in time before the rain really hit. Unfortunately, a small, 3-person compact tent, while perfect for the small watertight drums, was not very well-suited to hosting a social gathering of campers eager to escape the rain. In our desperation, we huddled in the only shelter available to house us all – the toilet block.
Now now, I can hear you saying to your computer screen “Eeeeeeew, gross! How could you do that?!”.
Yeah, that’s pretty much what I was thinking the whole time.
Let’s skip over that part of the day.
After the rain had somewhat cleared, we took the opportunity to escape back out onto the water, unburdened by our heavy drums, time constraints, and canoeing partners…I mean, missing our canoeing partners (of course!). While Ryan and the boys had a splash around in the clear river, I took the canoe and a glass (tin mug) of red wine off for a little wander by myself, and I have to say, it was one of the most beautifully serene activities I have done in a very, very long time.
Words can’t really express the feeling I had, floating amongst the lily pads and watching the fish splash below me, chasing each other two and fro between the reeds. So I’ll put some pictures up instead. Hopefully they’re pretty self-explanatory.
- When I eventually made it back to shore, I had found the boys had set up the beginnings of a beautiful fire, right on the water line. We spent the rest of the night chatting, drinking wine, eating some really amazing vegan camp food in my new favourite camping accessory – my trangia.
We passed the night in relative peace, listening to the soft rain falling from our tents as we fell asleep and I thought about how much I wanted to stay here for a whole week, not just a weekend.
The journey back the next day was bittersweet (even with a spot of swimming at the other end). I know now where this amazing place is and I can guarantee, it won’t be the last time I set off on the Noosa River.
The only thing making coming home worth it was this adorable goofball who was ecstatic to see us. Maybe she’d like to come next time?