Visiting Harry’s Hut and the Cooloola Recreation Area

In the 10 or so years that my wife and I have been holidaying at Boreen Point and Noosa, Harry’s Hut has always been a destination that has enticed, but eluded, us. Harry’s Hut is in the Everglades at the southern end of the Cooloola Recreation Area, which itself is the southern section of the Great Sandy National Park. Harry’s Hut is accessible either via four wheel drive or by boat. We had neither, until this year.

We recently bought a Toyota Prado 4WD and this year while holidaying at Boreen Point, we also hired a runabout boat. We made the trip to Harry’s Hut three times.

The first trip to the Harry’s Hut camping and day use area was a spur of the moment decision. It was raining and we were getting cabin fever being confined to our holiday house, so we decided to go for a drive. We travelled from Boreen Point via Lake Flat Road, Dr Pages Road, Kin Kin Road, Cooloola Way and Harry’s Hut Road.

At the start of the Harry’s Hut Road was a sign proclaiming that the road was impassable in the wet. (I have since found out that this track is prone to flooding.) We decided to continue on, but be very cautious and turn back if the going got too difficult. The Toyota Prado made it down and back without a problem, even in the rain. You do, however, need a high clearance vehicle because of the many mounds of dirt that have been built across sections of the road to channel water run-off off the road. In some sections, there are also gouges from water run-off that will need to be carefully navigated. When we finally got to Harry’s Hut, the rain was teeming down, so after a quick look around and a toilet break, we headed back up the road and home.

The second trip to the Harry’s Hut camping and day use area was on a dry day. We wanted to get out of the vehicle to explore. The drive there, now that we knew our way, took about 45 minutes from Boreen Point.

The Harry’s Hut area has a section for day-use visitors and a separate section for camping. There are several camping areas and canoe launching points scattered along this section of the Upper Noosa River waterway. The amenities are basic, but a step above pure bush camping. This was the first camping area of several that are scattered through the Cooloola Recreation Area and only accessible by canoe or on foot. We had two young children in tow, so we did not venture further than the first camping area.

There are a large number of Lace Monitor lizards in the area. Signs advise to not feed them. Apparently they are flesh eating and have large, sharp claws and teeth. If they taking a liking to your lunch, they can become aggressive trying to get more. There are also a number of bush turkeys in the area, which again it is recommended not feed them. Several people also told us that red belly black snakes frequent the area. Even if you can not see them, they are around, so tread carefully.

Our final trip was by a boat we hired from Boreen Point Boat Hire. While the boat was old and had taken a beating over the years, everything was in good working order. We set off from Boreen Point across Lake Cootharaba, stopping at the Kinaba Sir Thomas Hiley Information Centre. We then motored very slowly (no wash) up the Upper Noosa River and the Everglades. We only made it about halfway up to Harry’s Hut, but the experience of the Everglades by water was very different to the four wheel drive trips. The water in the Everglades is mirror-like and deep black from tea tree stains and very deep compared to the shallow Lake Cootharaba. The water appeared to be fresh, but apparently bull sharks do inhabit the waterways, so swimming is not recommended.

The Everglades really is best visited in the silence of a canoe slicing through the water. However, with two young children, this was not an option for us. If you are canoeing across Lake Cootharaba to get to the Everglades and Upper Noosa River, also be aware that the lake is best crossed in the mornings. It can get quite windy and choppy for a canoe later in the day.

If visiting national parks is your thing, Harry’s Hut, the Everglades and Upper Noosa River is highly recommended. But take your time and remember to take all your rubbish with you when you leave.

Sorry there are no photos of our trips to Harry’s Hut and the Everglades. Unfortunately, I did not take my camera on any of the visits. Duhh!

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