Lake Tinaroo: Canoeing amongst Nature at Night

Night kayak on Lake Tinaroo

When I was travelling through Queensland I was told our upcoming hostel, On the Wallaby in the town of Yungaburra, offered a Night Wildlife Canoeing tour. Having done a bit of canoeing in the past I was keen to try it again. And to do so at night across Lake Tinaroo, surrounded by wildlife, is a rare opportunity. I was dubious of how much wildlife we would physically be able to see, what with it being so dark. However I figured the act of canoeing again would be a fun enough experience in itself. Actually seeing any wildlife would be in itself a bonus. I had already been to the Platypus Viewing Platform earlier that day. But after a quick drink in the local pub whilst the sun began to set we made our back to our meeting point at the hostel.

Gearing up to go

We were equipped with our gear, in this case a paddle, torch and a lifejacket. We were assigned our canoe partners and we all piled into the coach. I was to share a three-man canoe with two guys from Germany who were travelling together.

The drive to the lake’s edge was only a short one. But the further we got from the main town the darker things became. As we approached the lake’s edge the only light available to us was a faint glow from a nearby house and the headlights of the coach. The torches were passed out and we were told to flip our canoe over and take it to the water.

We all recoiled in horror as we flipped ours over and were greeted with the sight of a huge spider staring back at us. Unsure of what we should do, I gently encouraged it to move on with my paddle. We breathed a sigh of releif as we saw it scuttle off into the dark. However I made sure to avoid that seat in case he had any friends. I was in Australia for a month and this was the only spider I saw on my entire trip. So believe it or not they aren’t around every corner like it’s often joked about.

Night kayak on Lake Tinaroo

The lake we were about to canoe on is called Lake Tinaroo, an artificial lake named after the nearby town of Tinaroo. And this town got its name as an abbreviation of Tin and Kangaroo after tin was found in the area the town was born. This beautiful spot is surrounded by a wild pine forest and is often referred to as a Tropical Moutain Lake.

Setting out onto the water of Lake Tinaroo

Very soon after we arrived we were pushing our canoe out onto the water. One of the wonderful things about Yungaburra is the lack of light pollution. We made our way out into the inky blackness of the night. Unless you have experienced it for yourself it’s hard to appreciate just how dark it is. In cities or towns there’s often a faint glow caused by distant house lights or street lamps. On the water there is nothing at all besides the stars and the occasional house far off in the distance. What starts off scary over time becomes almost calming as you settle into your new environment. 

It took a bit of adjustment to keep the balance of the canoe while searching for wildlife, but we soon got the hang of it. The night I was there we had a gentle breeze on the water which came as a relief after the humid weather we had experienced that day. Despite being gentle it was still strong enough to make the canoe unsteady. So we had to keep our wits about us if we didn’t fancy a dip into Lake Tinaroo’s waters. The task of keeping upright wasn’t made easy by the excitable guy at the front of the canoe. Who every other moment kept leaning closer to the water to see the fish. 

I did try and bring my camera to take photos or videos, but even with the torch, my GoPro wasn’t picking up any clear footage. If you have a camera that can take good night photos though you are allowed to bring them, just bare in mind it’s at your own risk.

Lake Tinaroo’s noctournal wildlife

We were extremely fortunate with the amount of wildlife we spotted. The land was teeming with Paddymelon, their eyes glowing red as the light from our torch scanned the shore, underneath us shoals of fish would swarm our canoe and shimmer under torchlight.

When we had paddled out far enough to be isolated from any remnant of light pollution from the Lakeshore properties, we were encouraged to switch off our torches and grip our neighbour’s canoe. We just floated there for a few minutes, surrounded by nothing but the darkness and the sounds of the forest. Your eyes do their best to adjust, but there’s only so much they can do, you can make out a vague outline of where the tips of the trees meet the sky. This is the clearest you can ever see stars. Our ears picked up the smallest of sounds, with a nearby bandicoot we had passed scuttling in the forest. 

Lake Tinaroo Night Canoe FAQ’s

How much is a tour of Lake Tinaroo?

At the time of writing the tour costs 40 AUD and can be booked at On The Wallaby’s reception. I highly recommend booking upon arrival to avoid disappointment, as this tour is the only one of its kind it quickly becomes fully booked. Although you cannot book online, I have linked tours with Get Your Guide below for other activities in the area. Booking any excursion through the link doesnt cost you any extra, but I will receive a comission which will help support the blog.

What days are the tours on?

Weather permitting, the tour is on every night. With the meeting spot in the hostel.

Is transportation to Lake Tinaroo provided?

Yes, On the Wallaby will provide transportation to and from the lake. 

Where does the tour take you?

The tour takes you across Lake Tinaroo, an artificial lake in the town of Yungaburra.

How likely am I to see wildlife?

There are no guarantees and it can be unpredictable. But 80% of Australia’s wildlife is active at night as it’s their feeding time. 

Can I take my own camera?

Yes, it’s perfectly fine to take your camera, just make sure to bring protective gear as it may get wet, and preferably a harness or a flotation device, so that it won’t fall into the water or can be retrieved if it does.

How long is the tour?

The tour takes approximately 2 hours to complete.

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