You don’t have to go full rural to feel like you’re in your own world. Recently, my family decided to camp at Elanda Point at Lake Cootharaba, as they have been doing since 2001, and for the first time in a few years, I was able to join them for a few days!
It’s always strange going back to a familiar place because not only can it seem totally familiar, it can feel completely different. For example, when visiting a favourite childhood haunt, often you’ll be surprised by how much smaller it is while still noticing the passage of time. My friends and I had a particular spot we called the ‘Log Hut’, which another camper showed me on my first trip here. Every year, we would visit the Log Hut and spend a good few hours there playing make believe. Now, this Log Hut was just a large tree that had fallen over across a little sandy beach. We would make a house out of paperbark and climb all over it. I visited it again and was surprised by how close it actually was to the campsite, how annoying the bush trail was to walk along it wearing shorts, and how much smaller the tree seemed (both from the passage of time and from my now-adult perspective). It had felt like we were completely alone, except for the occasional goanna and kangaroo.
Let me paint you a word-picture, since I didn’t get many photos of the campgrounds. You follow a dirt driveway through the bush until you start passing some cabins and come to the main house, which has a tuckshop (or canteen), bathrooms, hire equipment etc. During school holidays, they will play a movie on a large television each night (byo snacks and camp chairs!). You need to get a sticker here for your car before you continue through the gate. You can pass around the back of this house (where the caretakers also live) and the campgrounds open up. There is bush on either side of the campground that children explore (the side closest to the exit has a creek, the other has trails leading to another beach and our Log Hut), with a main beach by the lake. You can see the glasshouse mountains. There is an area in the middle of the campsite with a grove of trees growing, and the oval up the top will often see kangaroos and wallabies grazing there at night.
The campsite seemed significantly busier than it used to be. While there is still plenty of room, people were camping on the large oval near the top of the property. Unfortunately, the kids playing on the oval meant that the usually-large group of kangaroos and wallabies had dwindled to one or two seen around camp.
I was only there for a few days but my parents and sister went for the majority of the holidays. My father is especially keen to visit as it is a great windsurfing place, so the September holidays see many windsurfers visit with their families each year. I didn’t really learn much about windsurfing when I was younger, because I was always keen to play with my friends instead, but this year my sister was learning on an inflated board and smaller sail, and I thought I would try it. It’s definitely fun and I can see the appeal but the wind is fickle, and being reliant on the wind meant I was either waiting patiently to turn around or holding on tight as a gust hit me.
Will dragged me kayaking. As I hadn’t kayaked since school, I was a bit reluctant but I ended up enjoying myself quite a bit, as it is relaxing to paddle around the lake. I thought we might try to aim for Harry’s Hut, a slightly more difficult to reach campsite, but we couldn’t see it and headed back early. We did stop at Mill’s Point and at another beach a bit further on, where we discovered someone had made a tepee structure and we sat under it, dug in the sand and had a rambling deep-and-meaningful conversation.
The interesting part about Mill’s Point is that it is in fact a place of European settlement, one of the first in the Noosa region. You wouldn’t think so today, as it is overgrown by the bush. A sawmill operated there around 1880, and you can still see rusted boilers and the remains of houses, but most of the site has vanished. I’m not sure if it is due to the accident that occurred when a boiler blew up or another reason, but only the metal remains on the land now. Learn more about this topic!
While we were kayacking, we did need to avoid large stumps of wood sticking out of the water, left over from mooring points. These wooden posts have been there for just over 100 years.
Some of you out there are probably thinking, ‘100 years? Pfft, try thousands of years!’ For Australia though, we are a relatively young country in terms of European settlement, so this is quite old for us. Obviously, indigenous culture and civilization has been around a lot longer (it’s currently being debated on whether Australian indigenous civilizations is the oldest in the world ), but aboriginal tribes rarely left permanent change on their environment and so anything over 100 years seems old.
After this, we headed back and just walked around the campsite for a while, taking photos and I showed Will around. He had been to Lake Cootharaba before but stayed at Boreen Point, not Elanda. Having stayed at both, I can confirm that Elanda Point is much more kid-friendly. This is due both to the facilities (one memory in particular is buying lollies and trying the cherry flavours. I liked it, but everyone else thought it tasted like medicine) and the lake.
Lake Cootharaba is incredibly shallow. This year, a windsurfer set up a buoy so he didn’t have to walk all the way into shore when he wanted to switch boards. Having been sailing here, I learnt that capsizing near the middle of the lake can still result in getting the mast caught in the mud (don’t try that…). Elanda point is even shallower than Boreen, as (we think) due to the shape of the lake and the position of the inlet, a lot of sand gets caught in that area and builds up. It’s such a sheltered spot, there are rarely any waves, and there are no lifeguards or shark nets as it is so shallow, therefore great for the little kiddies. Though in early morning you can see stingrays, so make your own decision about that one…
I love this campground. Boreen Point has the advantage of being close to the pub with its Sunday roast, but you can drive there from Elanda so not a huge inconvenience (seriously, check it out!) Obviously if you don’t like kids, you probably won’t enjoy being woken at 7am by children playing, but as campsites go, it is very family-friendly and you can trust your children to go explore with relative security. It is a national park, so follow the rules of the campsite, and be aware of the wildlife. There are mosquitoes. Be prepared! Remember to close your tent doors to keep out goannas (it has happened) and if you see a snake or kangaroo, walk away from it. Let’s face it, that wouldn’t end well.
~***~ Have you been to this campsite? Let me know your favourite memories! ~***~