Rivers have always been an influential feature in my life. I grew up near the Logan River flats, worked with a view of the Brisbane River and used to paddle on the Pine River in my twenties. But for many years, my relationship with the local river systems has been limited to walking along their banks. But not anymore. As I grow fitter and start to seek out more adventures, I am starting to see the possibilities life on the rivers bring.
Today, Mum and I borrowed a kayak off a close family friend and drove out to Fernvale to paddle a section of the Upper Brisbane River from Twin Bridges to Burton’s Bridge, Borrallon. We left a car at Burton’s Bridge before driving around to Twin Bridges to put in.
Mum and I have paddled and canoed together before. But for some reason, we managed to tip and untippable kayak almost immediately. We had an audience who, naturally, got plenty of giggles out of our little mishap. But that’s okay because we also laughed about it. It was not to be the last misadventure we had while on the water.
We set off downstream, riding the river’s currents as they carried us forward. Neither of us have much experience in rapids, so we soon found ourselves caught in two strainers. The first saw Mum ducking under a fallen tree while I was stuck on the upstream side. After being unable to get ourselves unstuck, I bailed out of the boat into the shallow water, being careful of the submerged logs. The second saw me collect a sharp stump with the back of my thigh after we bounced awkwardly off a submerged log. Fortunately, the graze is superficial and the bruise relatively small. Sometimes you need to make mistakes to learn.
Not that the mishaps dampened our spirits. It’s all just part of the adventure and we got through them alright.
After an hour or two paddling, we stopped on a gravelly beach for morning tea. The land on either side of the river is mostly privately owned; but still there were plenty of people picnicking and swimming along the banks. We ate home made muffins and slices (I made them earlier this week), and drank hot bevies. I usually do the outdoor cooking but Mum looked after me today 🙂
A couple hours and a few more rapids later, we found a small spot of shade under some overhanging trees for lunch in a cattle paddock. We ate delicious roast beef and salad rolls, and apple turnovers that Mum had made. As we sat there, feeling as though we were totally isolated, we watched some bass fisherman paddle past and a family arrive to play in nearby rapids. Later we saw a young couple with three dogs lazing on an air mattress in the middle of the river and families swimming in the shallows. It’s amazing how much life is lived on the river. Not only human life either: we saw water dragons, ospreys, cormorants, darters, ducks, egrets, dragonflies and cattle.
As we paddled down the river, it was impossible to ignore the signs of the floods that raged through the Lockyer Valley a couple of years ago. Every so often, we would see massive fallen trees, agricultural pipes hanging high up in gum trees, car bodies sitting high up on the river banks far from the nearest roads and deep cuttings.
There were plenty of log jams for us to negotiate; something we didn’t always do as successfully as we would hope. Here we managed to follow choose the shallowest path. I pulled the boat over, after making Mum pose for the photo. Not long after, we reached Burton’s Bridge just before strong storm winds hit the region; the storm itself was falling on the eastern side of the nearby range but the winds still whipped up small waves that we were pleased we didn’t have to paddle into.
I created this short video to give a better idea of our day on the water:
We had a wonderful day. Not only did we enjoy the paddle, but we also enjoyed many laughs and time to share stories. I’m so blessed that my mum and I can share these adventures together.
Total: 17km kayaking