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Primary paddle technique

posted Apr 29, 2017, 3:46 AM by Guy O'Neill   [ updated Apr 29, 2017, 3:46 AM ]

Awesome basics of paddle stroke technique demonstration link here

The stroke

posted Jan 15, 2016, 3:26 PM by Guy O'Neill   [ updated Jan 15, 2016, 3:41 PM ]

Epic kayaks have some excellent technique articles on their website from 2 of the greats in yaking, Greg Barton and Clint Robinson.

Here is the text on the components of the  stroke;

Barton’s Forward Stroke

I try to get maximum power on as soon as possible in the stroke but you don't want to slap the water at the catch...

The Catch - At the catch you want to have your body rotated out which means that your knee on the side away from the stroke should be pushed down almost straight. You should be rotating from the hips too not just from the upper shoulders while keeping your hips straight. Your bottom arm should be nearly straight but like the leg not locked out. Being locked out can be a dangerous position with which to enter the water. The shock can hurt your elbows or shoulders. The push elbow should be bent but never more than 90 degrees and usually a good deal straighter than that. This differs from stroking with the traditional paddle. With the traditional paddle you needed to bend your lower elbow at the end of the stroke much more in order to keep the paddle close to the side of the boat and yet not go too deep. So when you exited the water the exiting hand was closer to the side of the boat than with the wing. This meant that as this hand came up and became the pushing hand of the next stroke it started out close to the head. By way of contrast the wing stroke goes out to the side so you finish a stroke with the exiting hand further from the side of the boat and thus starting as the push hand in the next stroke further away from the head. This enables you to keep your top arm much straighter both during the pull-through and the push which is good because it enables you to use your back more and your arms less.

The most important thing at the catch is to get the blade in the water as quickly as possible and bury the entire blade - but no more than that - before you start pulling back on it. Barton sometimes puts pieces of red tape at the tops of his blades so when he looks at a video of himself he can judge whether he is at the right depth.

This results in a top arm push at eye level. ''This is what I learned years ago " he said. "Then in the late 70's and early 80's a lot of people especially the Soviets and East Germans tended to push out at shoulder level. But when the wing appeared top arms started going back up again."

Initiating The Catch

To initiate the catch the paddler should use both arms to push the paddle down into the water. “To me the catch is like spearing the water and a lot of it is done with the top arm." As he inserts the paddle into the water Barton brings his top hand forward a little bit to help get a good clean catch. It is important to insert the blade as close to the side of the boat as possible for three reasons: 1) it makes the paddle more vertical as viewed from the front; 2) since the wing paddle moves sideways from the boat a wider start a wider finish which isn't good -it's easier to pull when the paddle is closer to the boat; and 3) the closer the paddle is to the boat's center line the less it will cause the boat to yaw.

The Pull-Through

Barton appears to execute the pull-through almost entirely with the body and not the arms. He appears to plant the paddle when he is rotated completely out and then simply holds the paddle in the desired vertical position while he unwinds his torso. It looks as though the arms simply provide a link between the paddle and the body. Once the catch has been initiated he takes care not to push out too soon or too much with the top arm. For Barton the top arm push is about 25 percent of the force on the blade and the pulling about 75 percent. He thinks about using the top arm "almost as an anchor " as though the top arm was locked in place and he is pulling as hard as he can with all the muscles on the stroke side -back shoulders obliques and arm. He lets the top arm almost stay stationary at this point because he is trying to get a "high pivot!' point on the shaft. What is a high pivot point? During the stroke as seen from the side there is a point on the shaft that does not move either forward or backwards during the stroke. It is the place where the top hand pushing the shaft forward merges into the bottom arm's pulling the paddle backwards. This is called the pivot point. If you were to put the paddle in the water and just push hard and not pull at all you would have a very low pivot point. If you did the opposite - didn't push at all and just pulled - you'd have a very high one. A high pivot point is desirable because it keeps the blade vertical longer.

Pumping with the Legs

Not only is he thrusting back with his leg on the stroke-side Barton also is swaying his knees inboard and outboard to compensate for the shifting of his torso weight during rotation. As he rotates out for a stroke on the right his knees sway to the left; as he rotates to the left they sway to the right.

Application of Power

When he takes a forward stroke Barton thinks about the following things:

I try to get maximum power on as soon as possible in the stroke but you don't want to slap the water at the catch. That's really important getting the blade in the water instead of thinking about pulling back right away. Submerge it first then pull on it and then keep the power on evenly throughout the stroke.

The Finish

Barton believes you should start to take the blade out of the water when it passes your knees and it should be completely out of the water as it passes your hip. You need to think about the blade not getting buried too far in the water so you can avoid a problem with the release. This means possibly bending the bottom arm slightly to keep the blade at the required depth. 'This is not as critical as it was with the traditional paddle " Barton remarked 'but you still need to think about it." He also thinks about "counter-rotating " which he picked up from his old coach Andy Toro. Counter-rotating means continuing your rotation even after you're pulling the blade out of the water. You don't simply finish the stroke and abruptly pull the paddle out of the water. That causes a slight braking action on the boat. Instead it is better to continue to rotate a little more even when the paddle is out of the water. That way you are sure not to stop the blade in the water.

The Release

The wing is both better and worse than the traditional paddle on the release. It is worse because it lifts more water at the release due to its thicker size. Overall though it is better because of the way the blade moves out to the side. This way you can keep the power on the blade right up to the end even when you take it out (counter-rotate).


The following describes how Barton thinks about his forward stroke:

It helps if you think that someone has taken a series of poles and driven them into the water down into the bottom on both sides of the boat and you are able to grab each one and pull yourself by. Only take it a bit further and pretend that you've got this big old row boat that's out in front of you and you're actually suspended just above the water behind it pushing it forward with your feet. So you're grabbing this pole and trying to push the boat forward with your feet. And there's another pole on the other side and you do the same thing with that. If you think of it that way it really helps to get the forward force on the legs. In paddling you have to transfer your power to the boat and the two places you are touching are your feet and the seat. But I think the forward force is coming almost entirely from your feet and your rear end is stationary.

from http://www.epickayaks.com/article/article/bartons-forward-stroke

Another List of whitewater spots close to Goldie

posted Dec 7, 2014, 1:15 AM by Guy O'Neill   [ updated Dec 7, 2014, 1:15 AM ]

White Water Trips within 1 hours drive from Brisbane:
There are many interesting and exciting white water venues out there waiting to be explored.  Just peruse maps of the areas that interest you and get paddling.  Here are some suggestions to get you started: 
Get in:  Just under 600m south east of the bridge crossing on the Waterford-Tamborine Road turn left into Sonny Kibble Place.  A short way along a track leads off to the left (through an unlocked gate) down to the river.  If your vehicle is not 4WD capable then you should carefully assess track conditions past the gate. The easiest river access is about 20m upstream of the bridge and may involve a minor seal launch.
Get out:  An easy exit point is located on river right just downstream (north east) of the Chardon Bridge Road crossing.
Level:  At least 0.39m on the Bromfleet gauge is required to complete this run.  Do not go over about 0.50m on your first attempt as some tree strainers can be more dangerous to negotiate at higher flows.  Unfortunately the rapids in the latter part of this trip can be quite “bony” at levels below about 0.45m.
Details:  It is 11.1kms down to Chardon Bridge and the river is characterized by flat water stretches (some quite long) with occasional gravel race type rapids, lots of fallen trees and overhanging vegetation and two sections with larger rapids of up to grade 3+ standard.  Other occasional obstacles to be avoided include an underwater pipe that creates a whirlpool on river right just above a very small man-made weir that is a short distance downstream from the start.  Manoeuvrable white water kayaks are probably best suited to this trip, although those who don’t want a hard “slog” on the flat pools should not have too many problems using touring kayaks (under about 3.8m in length) provided they don’t mind an extra portage or two.  Don’t be put off by the frequency of tree strainers and block-ups in some parts – by ducking under, weaving around and powering over fallen logs and tree limbs, it is surprising how few actual portages are really necessary.  The first section of more serious rapids is encountered about 3.5kms from the start and consists of a straightforward grade 2 drop followed by a two-stage grade 3+ rapid that requires careful inspection (see Google Map link for more information).  Not far downstream the river widens noticeably and the flat pools seem to get even longer.  The second series of rapids starts about 1.8kms above the finishing point and runs for nearly a kilometre.  It consists mainly of relatively straightforward grade 1 to 3- rock garden type rapids and races that can be easily inspected and portaged if necessary.  Unfortunately these rapids can be a bit on the bony side at levels under about 0.45m – especially the final one, an uneven ledge drop of just over a metre.  There is a further 800m of flat water before Chardon Bridge is reached.  Due to the steep banks along much of this section, scenery is limited mainly to the riparian strip of vegetation that includes dry eucalypt country and patches of lush rainforest.  For those who are not averse to the occasional portage, this is a very pleasant trip indeed.


Albert River (Luscombe Weir to Stanmore Road– Grade 2-
Get in:  a short track behind an informal parking area just off Veivers Road at Wolffdene leads down to the pool at the base of Luscombe Weir.
Get out:  the old causeway crossing just upstream of Stanmore Road bridge at Luscombe.
Level:  The Bromfleet gauge provides a rough guide (0.26 – 0.50m) only.  Two to five centimetres of water over Luscombe Weir usually gives a good low-level trip.  Above about 0.55m the Grade 1 rapids are almost completely washed out.  When clear of obstructions this section can actually be navigated at levels down to about 0.08m, although be prepared for scraping and possible portages below 0.20m.
Details:  This is a short (4.2kms) trip that can be easily done in a couple of hours.  The rapids (mainly Grade 1 with one easy Grade 2) are all in the first 900 metres with the rest of the run to the finish being on flat water.  Parts of the upper section are quite fast and narrow and fallen trees can often be a problem – for this reason it is recommended that this trip be done only at low levels and with care. The best feature of this run is the beauty of the surrounding riparian flora – lush rainforest vegetation abounds along the banks even though eucalypti are the predominant species of this area.  Smaller plastic touring kayaks may be used on this section if levels are not too high.  Click this link to check out some photos of this location.
Stanmore Road play wave:  Novice white water paddlers looking to hone their play skills can have some fun on the wave immediately downstream of the old Stanmore Road causeway crossing.  Water running through pipes under the road creates a shallow but relatively safe wave that can be useful for practicing basic play manoeuvres.  Novices should not put in if water is flowing over the road or if the wave is not flat and even.  A very minimum of 0.40m on the Bromfleet gauge is needed and the wave works best when minimally affected by tidal back-flow ie it should be avoided in the hour either side of high tide (and possibly longer for king tides).  Don’t stray too far below the wave as there are many barely-submerged rocks just downstream ready to snag the unwary paddler.

Brisbane River (Wivenhoe rapid) – Grade 2

Access:  Turn left from the Brisbane Valley Highway to the Spillway Common.  Take note of the sign showing when the entrance gate is locked of an evening.  After a few hundred metres this road sweeps to the right up a small rise.  Just over that rise turn left and continue on to a small parking area overlooking the river.  An unsealed track leads down past a locked gate towards the river and a trail off to the right leads to the pool at the bottom of the rapid.

Level:  If water is being released from the dam (which is nearly all the time) then you can usually paddle it, although a minimum level of about 1.30m on the Savages Crossing gauge is usually needed to make the drive up here worthwhile.

Details:  The construction of the Wivenhoe Dam in 1984 resulted in a minor realignment of the Brisbane River when a new spillway channel was carved through adjacent sandstone slopes.  A small measuring weir was built below the dam wall and the height differential between its base and the pool below created a rapid that local white water paddlers have been using ever since for training and play.  However water releases over the years have gradually eroded the soft sandstone below the spillway and dramatically altered the rapid’s character and degree of technical difficulty.  Unfortunately – and largely due to the effects of the January 2011 floods – it has now become a relatively innocuous Grade 2 rapid with only limited play and training potential at most normal release levels.  The rapid can be accessed from downstream on either side of the river.  From river right (west bank) carry your boat along a partially submerged (slippery) rock ledge and put in just below the concrete sill of the measuring weir.  It is advisable to check the conditions here first as some sharp rocks have been exposed in the first small drop that have the potential to damage a kayak.  Access to the deepest part of the rapid is relatively straightforward from river left (east bank) by putting in at the end of a boulder pile that stretches upstream from the protruding rock bar.  As the water here is quite fast you may need help to stabilise your boat whilst getting in.  Paddlers choosing to play in this rapid should be wary of capsizes as there are plenty of submerged rocks that can be readily felt, even if not so easily seen.  Most canoeists come to this location either to play the rapid or to begin a trip downriver – there is not much of interest here scenery-wise unless you have a fascination with dams.  Note: The waters upstream of the base of the measuring weir are strictly out of bounds and choosing to ignore this could encourage water authorities to cut off canoeing access here altogether. 

Brisbane River (Wivenhoe Dam to Lowood Bend– Grade 1+

Get in:  Turn left from the Brisbane Valley Highway to the Spillway Common.  Take note of the sign showing when the entrance gate is locked of an evening.  After a few hundred metres this road sweeps to the right up a small rise.  Just over that rise turn left and continue on to a small parking area overlooking the river.  An unsealed track leads down past a locked gate towards the river and a trail off to the right leads to a pool below the small measuring weir and rapid.

Get out:  Lowood Bend Reserve just outside Lowood on the Forest Hill Fernvale Road – a rough dirt track leads down to several access points along the river (note: be careful here as traffic visibility at this turn-off is limited).

Level:  Normal dam releases usually provide enough water, although levels below about 1.32m on the Savages Crossing gauge are likely to make this trip a little too bony.

Details:  This trip is about 8.9kms by river. The pool at the get-in drains into fast flowing water (with the occasional tree strainer) and runs for nearly a kilometre before entering a long flat pool.  After a further 1.3kms Lockyer Creek enters from the right and choosing to explore this creek to its upper limit of navigation (several hundred metres before O’Reillys Weir) will add about another 4kms to your trip.  This long flat pool eventually spills off to the right into "the Log Jam" – one of the prettiest sections of the river – where koalas and sea eagles can occasionally be spotted on a good day.  The 2011 floods significantly increased the number of fallen trees through the Log Jam and made navigation somewhat trickier, especially for less experienced paddlers and those with longer boats.  Canoeists who are not confident manoeuvring their craft through tight and fast water should consider portaging via a short flood channel that runs off to the right from the very end of the pool above the Log Jam to an easy entry point just below the Log Jam.  For those who decide to tackle the Log Jam, be prepared for at least two short but relatively straightforward portages around/over tree blockages and some ducking, weaving and tight manoeuvring in the fast water.  At higher river levels it is recommended that ALL paddlers portage this section.  Below the Log Jam another flat pool leads down to several small rapids adjacent to the get-out point where there are more fallen trees to keep the paddler alert. The once pleasant riparian vegetation along the river banks is showing obvious signs of the devastating 2011 floods and may take many years to recover fully.  Unless or until some of the strainers along the way are cleaned out, either white water kayaks or shorter (ie no longer than about 3.8m) touring kayaks are probably best suited to this run.  For a longer trip you can continue on to Twin Bridges but this adds another 5.8kms of flat water with very little discernible assistance from any current.    


Brisbane River (Twin Bridges to Savages Crossing) – Grade 1

Get in:  Turn left off the Brisbane Valley highway just north of Fernvale onto Wivenhoe Pocket Road and park near the low-level bridge.

Get out:  just above the bridge at Savages Crossing – access via Banks Creek Road at Fernvale.

Level:  Normal dam releases usually provide enough water, although levels below about 1.32m on the Savages Crossing gauge are likely to make this trip a little too bony.

Details:  This trip is slightly less than 5kms by river and is often paddled in conjunction with a trip to Burtons Bridge.  If the water level is not too high and you are confident in your boat control skills, you can start the trip by paddling the fast water under the (upper) culvert bridge crossing.  From here the river consists mainly of gravel race rapids and flat pools down to the get out.  The scenery is pleasant, the flat pools are not too long and there is at least one side creek (England Creek, 2.1kms from the put in) that can be explored along the way.  This trip is quite suitable for touring boats. 

Latest Update:  Flooding in January 2011 has changed the main path of flow in several rapids and created new tree obstructions in others. Paddlers (particularly those with longer kayaks and Canadian canoes) should be alert when entering rapids and faster water, as some sections now require quicker turns and better boat control than before.


Brisbane River (Savages Crossing to Burtons Bridge– Grade 1

Get in:  just above the bridge at Savages Crossing – access via Banks Creek Road at Fernvale.

Get out:  beside Burtons Bridge on E. Summerville Road – access via Pine Mountain Road.

Level:  Normal dam releases usually provide enough water, although levels below about 1.32m on the Savages Crossing gauge are likely to make this trip a bit too bony.  A level of about 1.65m (approx 1750 ML/day) is ideal, however many of the gravel-race type rapids start to wash out when levels get too much higher.

Details:  This trip is about 12.3kms by river and consists of flat pools interspersed with sections of fast water.  As some of those pools are quite long this section is usually run in touring boats.  The scenery is pleasant in most parts and a small hidden creek that flows in from the right 9.1kms from the start (at the end of the longest pool) may be worth exploring by those with piscatorial interests. 

Latest Update:  Flooding in January 2011 has changed the main path of flow in several rapids and created new tree obstructions in others. Paddlers (particularly those with longer kayaks and Canadian canoes) should be alert when entering rapids and faster water, as some sections now require quicker turns and better boat control than before.  Also, canoeists should keep an eye out for a potentially dangerous high tension barb-wire fence that seems to occasionally appear in fast water just upstream of Burtons Bridge.


Brisbane River (Burtons Bridge to Kholo Bridge) – Grade 1+

Get in:  beside Burtons Bridge on E. Summerville Road – access via Pine Mountain Road.

Get out:  beside Kholo Bridge on Kholo Road at North Ipswich.

Level:  Normal dam releases usually provide enough water, although levels below about 1.34m on the Savages Crossing gauge are likely to make this trip a bit too bony.  A level of about 1.65m (approx 1750 ML/day) is ideal, however many of the gravel-race type rapids start to wash out when levels get too much higher.

Details:  This is the longer (just under 20kms) and probably more interesting of the mid-Brisbane River runs.  Although still quite straightforward, some of the rapids in the first 13.6kms have slightly more substance to them than those in other sections and beginners in particular should be alert to possible capsize or pin situations.  However the last 6.1kms of this trip consists mainly of flat water and this can be a real slog – especially if you happen to be in a white water craft (Pro-tip: take a touring boat instead).  The rural aspects and bushland scenery along this section are quite pleasant, with numerous different and interesting riparian vegetation types including open grassland, dry-vine and hoop pine forest and even some isolated patches of lush rainforest. 

Latest Update:  Flooding in January 2011 has changed the main path of flow in several rapids and created new tree obstructions in others. Paddlers (particularly those with longer kayaks and Canadian canoes) should be alert when entering rapids and faster water, as some sections now require quicker turns and better boat control than before.


Brisbane River (Mt Crosby Weir to Colleges Crossing– Grade 1 (Grade 2 at higher levels)

Get in:  immediately below the weir at Mt Crosby Pumping Station off Stumers Road Mt Crosby.

Get out:  the boat ramp in the Colleges Crossing Recreation Reserve via Devin Drive at Chuwar.

Level:  A minimum of 1.30m on the Savages Crossing gauge is usually required, although visual inspection at the put-in is recommended as much of Brisbane’s urban water is extracted just above Mt Crosby Weir. 

Details:  Much of this short (4.2km) section has changed markedly as a result of flooding in 2011 and 2013.  Most notably the river now divides about 300m below the put-in and a newly scoured right channel has been formed that not only carries most of the river’s normal flow, but also bypasses a small weir that used to be a significant feature of this trip.  The weir has a central sluice-chute that creates a short but fast Grade 2 rapid when water levels permit.  It should only be attempted in sturdy plastic white water kayaks as water flowing through the chute spills straight onto shallow rocks below.  However because the right channel has diverted most of the water, the chute can now only be run when river levels are quite high.  River conditions in this section currently consist of a few straightforward gravel-race type rapids and lots of flat pools, with a tidal influence that can extend more than 3km upstream from Colleges Crossing on a high tide.  Much of the riparian vegetation along the way is showing the impacts of major flooding and may take years to fully recover – while sandstone cliffs along the left bank continue to add some visual interest to this trip.


Enoggera Creek (Enoggera Reservoir to Wardell Street) – Grade 3-

Get in:  the earliest practical access point from the parkland along Yoorala Street at The Gap.

Get out:  Dorrington Park (next to the Wardell Street bridge) in Ashgrove.

Level:  Visual inspection is required as there is no reliable gauge and a significant portion of the flow can often come from storm water run-off from local suburban streets.  Check there is sufficient flow at the get in point – however avoid this run in flood conditions unless you have paddled it previously and know what to expect.

Details:  This trip (about 9.5kms in length) starts off through pleasant forest country below the reservoir and opens out to more obviously suburban vistas as the creek approaches the suburb of Ashgrove.  The rapids are continuous and generally quite straightforward with the overall grading being due more to the obstacles that are likely to be encountered along the way.  Tree strainers, low-level or culvert bridges and even a suspended (deck-height) pipe across the creek may need inspection and/or portaging.  This is a good run for those with competent white water boat handling skills but may be a bit too fast and technical in parts to be safely negotiated by beginners.  Latest update:  Much of the first few kilometres of this section is now quite badly obstructed with frequent strainers, log jams and total block-ups.  An alternate put in just upstream of the School and Payne Road intersection (see Google map) will bypass the worst of these obstructions, although extreme caution should still be exercised, especially if attempting this paddle for the first time.


South Pine River (Showgrounds Drive to Mt O’Reilly Road) – Grade 2

Get in:  beside the low level crossing on Showgrounds Drive (which runs off the Mt Glorious Road at Highvale, west of Samford).

Get out:  beside the bridge on Mt O’Reilly Road (which runs off the Mt Glorious Road west from Samford).

Level:  Drapers Crossing gauge provides a very rough indicator only.  A minimum of 1.27m is required, however visual inspection is strongly recommended as readings from this gauge also include the inflows of several other significant watercourses.  Be wary of running this section at high levels unless you have previously paddled it and know what to expect.

Details:  This is a pleasant run of about 4.0kms through the scenic Samford Valley, although an attractive but thick canopy and border of lush riparian vegetation seriously restricts any views.  At most paddleable levels it consists of fast water and relatively straightforward grade 1-2 rapids.  However this section is prone to snags, tree strainers and even total block-ups on occasions and paddlers need to exercise extreme caution when attempting it for the first time.  Beginners should ensure they are accompanied by an experienced paddler and should only attempt it when they know it to be free of obstructions.  Although experienced paddlers are unlikely to get too excited by this section, those intending to run the Mt O'Reilly Road to Samford Bowls Club section but who would like a slightly longer paddle could do worse than to start at Showgrounds Drive instead.


South Pine River (Mt O’Reilly Road to Samford Bowls Club) – Grade 3-

Get in:  beside the bridge on Mt O’Reilly Road (which runs off the Mt Glorious Road west from Samford).

Get out:  under the road bridge on Mount Samson Road (north from Samford) – an overgrown track leads up the right bank to a grassy area (where cars may be left) in front of the Samford Bowls Club.

Level:  Drapers Crossing gauge provides a very rough indicator only – 1.18m very minimum and at least 1.25m for a decent run – however visual inspection is strongly recommended as readings from this gauge also include the inflows of several other significant watercourses.  Be wary of running this section at high levels unless you have previously paddled it and know what to expect.

Details:  This is a very pleasant scenic run of about 4.3kms through lushly-forested rural country, much of it under an attractive canopy of green.  It is characterised by fast water with lots of bouncy grade 2-3 rapids.  Be alert to the prospect of encountering the occasional tree strainer or barbed wire fence as they can be more difficult to negotiate safely in fast flowing water.  Although probably a bit too tight and fast for beginners at all but the very lowest levels, a well-supervised trip on this section is quite suitable for novice paddlers who have mastered basic boat control.  With the right water levels this is a very enjoyable paddle indeed and its close proximity to Brisbane City makes it a favoured run amongst local white water enthusiasts.


South Pine River (Mount Samson Road to Drapers Crossing) – Grade 2-

Get in:  under the road bridge on Mount Samson Road north from Samford – an overgrown track leads down to the river from a grassy area in front of the Samford Bowls Club.

Get out:  beside Drapers Crossing bridge on Bunya Road (off Eatons Crossing Road) at Draper.

Level:  Drapers Crossing gauge:  1.15m minimum.  Be aware that at high levels fallen trees could make this run quite dangerous.

Details:  This is a scenic 8.1kms paddle through pleasant rural surrounds with some very pretty forest-lined riverbanks in its narrower parts.  With the exception of one short but tight grade 2 rapid just past halfway, the river consists of flat pools separated by gravel race type rapids. However some of these races require very fast turns and could be quite tricky for beginners to negotiate.  Fallen trees, particularly in the first few kilometres, can also clog some of these races and should be approached with caution.  At least on their first attempt at this run, beginners would be well advised to be in the company of a more experienced paddler and should tackle it only at lower water levels.  The prettiness of the scenery certainly makes this trip worth the effort.

Whitewater close to Goldie courtesy Acacia Canoe Sales & Hire

posted Dec 7, 2014, 1:14 AM by Guy O'Neill   [ updated Dec 7, 2014, 1:14 AM ]

White Water Trips within 2.5 hours drive from Brisbane:
There are many interesting and exciting white water venues out there waiting to be explored.  Just peruse maps of the areas that interest you and get paddling.  Here are some suggestions to get you started: 
Hopping Dicks Creek (Limpinwood to Eungella) – Grade 3-
Get in:  a bridge on Limpinwood Road crosses the creek about 5km north of Tyalgum.  Several hundred metres further on Young’s Road turns off to the west and leads to a ford crossing – put in here. Note: this area is prone to flooding so don’t leave vehicles parked here if the creek is rising.
Get out:  a dirt track from the Oxley River up to parkland on the north-east side of the bridge on the Murwillumbah Tyalgum Road at Eungella.
Level:  Visual inspection required.  As a rough guide look for a minimum of about 1.1m at the Eungella gauge – however be aware that snags and fences could make this trip quite dangerous if water levels are too high.
Details:  This 16.0km section is ideal for those wanting something a little different to the standard Oxley River run - see Oxley River (Tyalgum to Eungella) - when higher water levels permit.  Basically it involves substituting the first 3.2km of the Oxley with a 5.7km section of Hopping Dicks Creek, while preserving the more exciting latter parts of the Oxley.  Hopping Dicks is a narrow but generally open creek flowing through a mixture of beautiful forest country and cleared farmland.  The rapids are typically of Grade 2-3 standard separated by fast moving water.  Paddlers should be careful around tree strainers and culvert-type crossings.  However it is the barbed wire fences, often strategically located in the middle of rapids that require particular care and make this section suitable only for experienced paddlers.  For a longer trip you can put in even further upstream - near the community hall at Limpinwood (via Limpinwood Valley Road) - however it is problematic as to whether an additional 2.2km of fast Grade 1-2 water is worth the likelihood of encountering some serious tree strainers in this upper part.  The second section of this trip - from the junction with the Oxley down to Eungella - is covered in the Oxley River (Tyalgum to Eungella) description.  Overall this is a very pleasant paddle indeed.  


Obi Obi Creek (Maleny to Lake Baroon) – Grade 4-

Get in:  the park on the upstream side of the bridge in the main street of Maleny (Bunya Street).

Get out:  Follow North Maleny Road (becomes Baroon Pocket Road) north from Maleny until you reach a picnic area and boat ramp beside the lake.  Take note of the time that the gate is locked of an evening.

Level:  Gardners Falls gauge – BOM or DNRM Mobile (enter "Mary Basin" then "Obi Obi Creek At Gardners Falls (138120A)"): 0.50m minimum; 0.58 - 0.75m good level; above 1.10m the overall river grading starts rising dramatically.

Details:  The first 3km of this 18.5km trip is on fast flowing Grade 1 water providing a handy tune-up for the fun ahead.  The final 3km is across the Baroon Pocket Dam catchment to the get out point. This leaves 12.5km of continuous and often steeply dropping white water –  it has a gradient of about 44m/km at its steepest – that provides one of the most enjoyable trips in South East Queensland for experienced paddlers.  The mostly clean rapids start with several fast bouncy rock-slides that progress to steep boulder races and drops until Gardners Falls (a 4.1m drop) is reached.  Gardners Falls spills into a deep-water pool (a popular local swimming hole) and is often run by kayakers.  Downstream there are consistent drops, chutes, gutters, at least one retentive river-width stopper (requiring an aggressive approach) and numerous steep boulder races – some hundreds of metres long.  There are a number of fun rapids along the way where those with more playful kayaks can hone their moves. Of course, as this is a very fast creek, paddlers should exercise the usual caution with regard to overhanging vegetation, tree strainers and other obstacles.  The lush and often dense semi-tropical vegetation along the banks is somewhat reminiscent of Far North Queensland rivers while the occasional interesting geological formation, including a small but spectacular columnar basalt outcrop, further adds to the visual appeal.  However the level of concentration demanded by the continuous white water, particularly in some of the steeper sections, can make it difficult to fully appreciate the true beauty of the surrounding scenery that all too often seems to pass in a blur.  This is one of the classic runs for highly experienced white water paddlers and (accompanied) Grade 3 standard paddlers with solid skills looking to step up to the next level.

Warning: if you find the 4.7km run down to Gardners Falls too challenging then don't proceed any further as the rapids past this point only become even more committing – you can always get out here and walk the 2.5km back to Maleny. 

Latest reports indicate that there are several new tree strainers in this section including an obvious portage, another with an option to sneak past in a left channel and a total blockage about two thirds of the way down the creek that is potentially very dangerous – it is not visible from the top of the rapid it obstructs and is a compulsory portage. There are also some new barbwire fences to negotiate. Paddlers who have not run this section for a while need to exercise considerable caution and should preferably paddle with someone who is familiar with these potential hazards.


Obi Obi Creek (Baroon Pocket Dam to Kenilworth Road) – Grade 3+

Get in:  a rough track leads down to the creek from the lower carpark at Baroon Pocket Dam (access to the dam via Montville – Western Avenue and Narrows Road).

Get out:  beside the bridge crossing on Obi Obi Road west of Mapleton.


(1) Gardners Falls gauge – BOM or DNRM Mobile (enter "Mary Basin" then "Obi Obi Creek At Gardners Falls (138120A)")  provides a very rough indicator (0.45m low; 0.70m high) and only when the dam is spilling.  Visual inspection is essential due to the unpredictable inflows from feeder creeks downstream from this gauge.  As a general rule stay well under 0.70m for your first attempt and don’t even think about paddling this section above 1.00m unless you are either a gun Grade 6 big water paddler or you have a death wish.

(2) Spillway gauge – should be a more accurate flow indicator but can be off-line for extended periods.  Until the original (now faded) spillway markers can be verified against corresponding readings on this gauge, the following should be regarded as rough indicators only: 0.16m – low; 0.22m to 0.26m – medium bouncy level; 0.35m – pushy, retentive stoppers and at least one rapid that can’t be portaged; 0.50m – very pushy, several rapids that can’t be portaged; 0.65m – highest level safely run (experts only).  

Details:  It is about 10.4km to the get out point but all of the more serious rapids are contained in the first 1.7km.  After this the creek flattens out to a series of long pools separated by rapids of up to Grade 2+ standard.  The first part of this trip runs through a steep and astonishingly beautiful gorge (commonly referred to as The Narrows) with lush vegetation and at least one sizeable waterfall that spills straight onto the creek.  Some of the bigger and steeper rapids here (up to Grade 4 standard) are contained within sheer rock walls that make portaging virtually impossible at higher water levels.  As the creek gradient declines the lush riparian forest opens out into cleared farmland down to the finish.  This is a classic run for highly experienced white water paddlers and those with solid white water skills looking to step up to the next level.  

Warningthere have been several near disasters in this section as a result of attempting it with too much water – assess levels carefully before undertaking this trip and be realistic about your abilities.

Oxley River (Tyalgum to Eungella) – Grade 2+

Get in:  under the bridge over Brays Creek just outside Tyalgum on Tyalgum Road.  On the north-east side of the bridge a gap in the vegetation near a small concrete drainage channel provides access underneath the bridge.

Get out:  a dirt track from the river up to parkland on the north-east side of the bridge on Tyalgum Road at Eungella. 

Level:  Eungella gauge: 0.70m minimum; 0.79m - 1.05m good level; over 1.30m high (above 1.30m some play opportunities open up on the bigger rapids but many, if not most, of the smaller rapids start to wash out). 

Details:  This is a picturesque 13.5km paddle through lush temperate rainforest and cleared rural land.  On a clear day the final kilometre to the finish provides brief glimpses of the lesser-seen north face of Mt Warning's imposing tor.  While possibly a bit much for complete beginners, a well-supervised trip makes an excellent introduction to white water for novice paddlers who have mastered basic boat control.  The river has many good Grade 2 drops and bouncy races (some several hundred metres long) and three relatively straightforward Grade 3 rapids.  Although generally quite open, watch out for overhanging branches (particularly at higher river levels) and the occasional tree strainer.  There is only one long (about 1.5km) flat section, however even this is very pleasant as it occurs along a lushly vegetated stretch of the river.   Depending on river level there are several low bridge crossings that may require portaging.  The prettiness of the surrounding country combined with the fun bouncy rapids make for a very enjoyable trip indeed. 


Oxley River (Eungella to Old Lismore Road– Grade 1+

Get in:  a dirt track leads down to the river from parkland on the north-east side of the bridge on Tyalgum Road at Eungella.

Get out:  the low level crossing on Old Lismore Road off Tyalgum Road (about 1km from the Kyogle Road intersection).

Level:  Eungella gauge: 0.70m minimum

Details:  This trip would probably be regarded by most white water paddlers as too basic and therefore of little interest.  However it is included here because of its potential interest to beginners wanting to paddle while other more experienced members of their party are canoeing further upriver.  This is an 8km section of largely open water surrounded by pleasant pastoral country with a mountain backdrop.  It consists mainly of long flat pools separated by gravel race type rapids – most of which should provide some satisfaction for beginners.  Watch out for tree snags, fences and other obstructions in the faster sections between the pools.  This run should be generally quite suitable for small touring kayaks when water levels are not too high.   


Tweed River (Uki to Mount Warning Road) – Grade 2

Get in:  parkland along the river either in or just to the west of the village of Uki off the Murwillumbah Kyogle Road.

Get out:  beside the bridge on Mount Warning Road just past the turnoff from Kyogle Road (10km from Murwillumbah).

Level:  Uki gauge: 1.50m minimum

Details:  This 5.3km section of river runs through lush and quite attractive open forest and farming country with occasional views of Mount Warning on a clear day.  It provides a worthwhile trip for those wanting pleasant scenery at a slightly more relaxed pace.  The river consists mainly of flat pools (one of which is quite long) separated by gravel race type rapids of up to easy Grade 2 standard with one rocky two-stage Grade 3 rapid of about 70m in length that can be easily portaged on river right if necessary.  This is a good section to give beginners an introduction to white water and is generally quite suitable for canoes and (smaller) touring kayaks provided water levels are not too high and the larger rapid is portaged.

Doon Doon Creek extension – Grade 2 -

Get in:  Just over 2km past Uki on the Kyogle Road turn left into Clarrie Hall Dam Road (just before the Doon Doon Creek bridge crossing).  A turnoff to the right just before the dam leads down to a picnic/camping area near the base of the spillway.  The easiest access to the creek is through a broken gate/fence to a small rock-surrounded pool that is sheltered from the main water flow in the creek.

Level:  This trip is only possible when water is spilling over Clarrie Hall Dam and a minimum level of about 61.68m on the Spillway Gauge is required. (Latest Updatespillway works in early 2014 may have altered this minimum level – visual inspection is recommended until a revised level can be determined).

Details:  Those wanting a longer trip on the Tweed could do worse than start their run from just below Clarrie Hall Dam.  From here the astonishingly pretty Doon Doon Creek flows for 1.7km through a lush riparian canopy into the Tweed River.  The Creek consists mainly of flat water interspersed with relatively straightforward grade 1-2 rapids, however paddlers should keep an eye out for the occasional fallen tree or overhanging branch in or around some of these rapids.  There is a further 2.4km of pleasant grade 1-2 water along the Tweed River before the alternate put-in point at Uki is reached.  This extension provides a total trip length of about 9.4km and the very pleasant scenery along the way certainly makes it worth the effort.  Use this link for latest access information, dam levels and alerts. 


Tyalgum Creek (Stoddards Road to Tyalgum) – Grade 3

Get in:  just below the bridge crossing on Stoddards Road (off Tyalgum Creek Road) just over 4km past the village of Tyalgum.

Get out:  just past the bridge crossing on Limpinwood Road at Tyalgum.  In recent years this access has become overgrown and it may be easier to get out either on the right bank before the bridge, on Brays Creek (see Oxley River access details) or further downstream on the Oxley River (private property access may require permission).

Level:  As a rough guide look for a minimum of about 1.2m at the Eungella gaugewith 1.3m to 1.4m often providing a decent paddling level.  However visual inspection is necessary, as the gauge readings will also include the inflows of at least three other major watercourses.  If you can navigate your boat through the smaller rapids just below the put-in with minimal scraping then there is usually sufficient water to complete the trip.  Be aware however that tree snags can make this run quite dangerous at high water levels.

Details:  This narrow 6.6km section is more likely to be paddled when the Oxley River is so high that many of its smaller rapids are completely washed out.  The rapids here are typically of Grade 2 to 3+ standard separated by fast moving water – there are few calm stretches other than the small weir catchment from which the village of Tyalgum draws its water supply.  Paddlers must ensure that they pull out before the Tyalgum weir as the rapid immediately below it drops about 1.9m into a short, turbulent and highly aerated pool before spilling out through a steep and very rocky exit.  This gnarly and potentially dangerous rapid would require a very minimum water level of about 1.38m to negotiate and even then it would approach Grade 5 standard.  It is strongly recommended that most paddlers take advantage of the easy portage available on river left.  Without regular floods to keep it cleaned out, parts of this trip can become quite overgrown and paddlers need to be alert to overhanging branches, tree strainers and possibly even barbed wire fences.  Also, fallen trees can occasionally become lodged in some of the larger and more interesting rapids in this section and precise boat handling skills and/or more frequent portages may be necessary.  Overall the scenic rural vistas and pleasant mountain backdrop, together with the frequency of the rapids, make this a very enjoyable trip indeed for experienced paddlers.


Yabba Creek (Borumba Dam to Imbil) – Grade 2-

Get in:  continue west for 13km along Yabba Creek Road from the village of Imbil.  Turn right into the formal camping area below the dam and veer right again along a dirt road that crosses the creek at a low level crossing.  Put in on the downstream side of that crossing.

Get out:  easiest access is at a small cleared area beside Yabba Creek Road just outside (west) of Imbil where the creek runs close to the road.  Check out the creek access here before you start your paddle as you need to be able to recognise it from the water.


Dam overflowing:  As readings on the spillway gauge seem prone to fluctuation it is recommended that you use an average of the last 3-4 recorded levels.  A minimum of about 0.06m provides a pleasant though mildly bumpy ride, with several more centimetres of water needed to make the going a little easier.  This creek includes a number of obstacles and tight turns and it is advisable not to tackle it in high water unless you have paddled it previously and know what to expect.

Controlled releases:  A minimum release of 120Ml/day is needed for a very low level trip.  Contact the Dam operators or SEQ Water for release information.

Details:  This 17.3km trip probably won't entice the hardcore white water freaks as it consists mainly of flat pools with fast grade 1+ races and the occasional very easy grade 2 rapid in between. However the sheer beauty of this often narrow water course, with its lushly vegetated banks and spectacular tree canopy that provides total creek coverage in many parts, is truly breathtaking.  We rate this as one of the most beautiful paddles in South East Queensland and consider it a ‘must do’ for canoeists with the skills to handle this type of water.  Trips of different lengths are possible as the main road crosses the creek six times between the dam and Imbil – and there are also creek crossings on several side roads.  Beginners should only attempt this run for the first time if accompanied by an experienced paddler as there may be fallen trees, strainers, overhanging branches, barb wire fences and low level bridges to look out for – and some of these are found in fast moving sections of the creek.  One big plus for this trip is that controlled releases from the dam are more likely to occur during the dry season (ie September/October) for irrigation downstream on the Mary River – a time when there is usually very little water elsewhere in South East Queensland for paddling.  For a pleasant weekend away you can stay at the camp ground below Borumba Dam and explore the scenic catchment of this dam as well (see Flat Water Trips section).  Click this link to check out some photos of this location.


Trip information on these pages is constantly being added and updated.  Check back periodically for new paddling suggestions.  Visitors are invited tocontribute trip reports, suggestions, enhancements, photographs, corrections, updates or just general comments.  All submissions will be evaluated but inclusion is not guaranteed.

Kayak Skill Courses

posted Jul 7, 2014, 2:07 AM by Guy O'Neill   [ updated Sep 24, 2014, 1:35 AM ]

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