Yes, I’ll admit it I love canoe puns, they never seem to get old for me. Something else that doesn’t get old for me is camping out of a canoe. The attraction very much lies in the simplicity of it. Loading a bunch of gear into a canoe and getting on the water is easier than most people realize, here’s a list of reasons why I think that camping from a canoe is one of the most under rated experiences you can have with your family in the great outdoors.
The first reason is carrying capacity. The misconception most people have about camping from a canoe is that you need a high-tech backpack and ultra-lightweight, space-age camping gear. The perceived effort involved with this seems to stifle the urge to ‘just do it’ in a good many prospective canoe campers.
Unlike a kayak paddler or hiker, the canoe paddler is not obsessed with every kilogram going into their pack. Most 2-person canoes have a carrying capacity in excess of 300 kilograms which means that even with 2 burly blokes paddling you still have room for 100kg of gear! Gone is the worry of purchasing ultra-light tents and camp gear, or for that matter having to carry freeze dried foodstuffs. The canoe camper has the capacity to carry ample provisions, camp chairs, standard tents and even a few cold beverages.
Which leads to the second reason, cost. Not having to purchase expensive light weight gear significantly reduces the cost of camp gear. Most people have a basic camp setup stored somewhere in their back room. A canoe’s larger carrying capacity is usually more than adequate to carry the average setup, plus the cargo area in the centre of a canoe is like the tray of a Ute. The only limit is your imagination!
In addition, canoes themselves are quite inexpensive when compared to other expedition watercraft. An average canoe suitable for camping will cost between $1500 – $2000, compared to an equivalent kayak which range from $2,000 and upwards. Note here I said suitable for camping. A 10-foot SOT kayak is not really going to cut it for multiday camping trips.
Carrying a canoe is also a simple matter. The best way to carry a canoe is upside down on standard roof bars, riding on its gunwales. No need for expensive cradles or tie downs and able to have gear stowed up inside the hull if you’re short of space.
The third reason is simplicity. That canoe design has remained largely unchanged for thousands of years is no big surprise. The secret to their effectiveness lies in their simplicity of design. An open top boat with enough beam to carry large loads and remain stable but with sleek enough lines to be powered easily by 1 or 2 paddlers (or more, if you consider the famous voyageur canoes of Canada). What this delivers to modern day paddlers wanting to get away from it all is a craft that is easy to paddle, can carry heaps of gear, is easy to load and unload, and is robust and most importantly versatile. What more could you want?
The last and perhaps most compelling reason is location. We are blessed in SE Queensland with a range of wonderful waterways with campgrounds located along their banks. A few of my favourites are listed below.
Ngumbi Campsite on Wyaralong Dam. Access to the campsite is via hiking, cycling, horseback riding or paddling. The paddle trip is an easy 6km journey from the boat ramp near the dam wall with camping available either in the old homestead or surrounding grounds located on top of the ridge. Great stop-off point if you’re doing a through paddle to Lilydale camp at the other end of the dam.
Upper Brisbane River (Spillway to Kholo). The navigable length of the upper Brisbane River is 56km with numerous campsites along the way (some by prior arrangement with landholders). The river lends itself very nicely to down stream canoe journeys and there is even a local shuttle service available for shorter durations.
Noosa Everglades. Queensland National Parks have done an amazing job of preserving this pristine wilderness and converting it into one of the premier paddling destinations in the world. Extensive camping sites are available from Fig Tree Point, at the start of the everglades, Harry’s Hut and through to the campsite 15, located some 40km upstream. With the exception of Harry’s, all of these sites are hike in or paddle in only!
Wivenhoe Dam. Whilst different from the others in that access to the campground can be had from motorised vehicles, Wivenhoe has the potential to offer a great canoe camping experience. Our suggested journey would be from Harmon Cove through to Captain Logan’s, camping the night there. The second day’s journey would then be from Captain Logan’s across to Billies Bay. Alternatively, the option could be to camp at the grounds at Captain Logan’s and do day trips from there. Either is awesome!
Other notable mentions are Bribie Passage, Mary River and if you fancy venturing south of the border: the Clarence and Nymboida Rivers.
Just remember, the only thing more enjoyable than camping in a canoe is camping with a whole bunch of canoes. So bring your friends! If you require any more information about camping from canoes and destinations in SEQ, give Dan a call from One Tree Canoe Company on 0424 00 1646 or check out http://www.onetreecanoe.com .