Paddling the upper Brisbane River

CANOE Go Paddling is a group of canoe paddlers that recently went paddling the upper Brisbane River on a beautiful Sunday morning.

What started out as a group of canoe lovers, or single-bladers, introducing people to the forgotten joys of canoe paddling has developed into a literal flotilla of boats out enjoying our magnificent Brisbane waterways.

The recent Twin Bridges paddle included 11 canoes, 18 adults, 10 kids, three dogs, a kayak and even a stand-up paddleboard, with ages ranging from four to 64 (or maybe a bit more?). And therein lies the secret to the humble canoe – its versatility.
A typical 15’ canoe is able to easily accommodate one to five paddlers.

paddling upper brisbane river

paddling upper brisbane river

Indeed, in our very diverse group we had canoes being paddled by a single adult, by an adult and child and even by two adults with three children on board and occasionally a boat-hopping dog. The ease of paddling, combined with excellent load-carrying ability meant the canoes could cater for nearly any combination of paddlers and passengers and still give them a wonderful experience on the water.

A fact aided by the beautiful stretch of river we were paddling. Our group met and departed from the gravelly beach at the Twin Bridges reserve outside Fernvale.
After a brief meet and greet and matching paddlers and passengers with canoes, paddles and PFDs, a quick briefing was undertaken and we were off.  The final comment, “make sure you have fun”, set the standard for the rest of the morning.

We paddled about 3km up the Brisbane River to our morning tea destination, which was a grassy flat on the northern bank. The paddle up provided the opportunity for swapping paddling tips between the more experienced paddlers and novices and also the opportunity for some singing, laughing and good-natured banter on who was paddling the straightest.

Following a shared morning tea and boiling the billy, we headed back for Twin Bridges, but not without a few shuffles in seating arrangements to allow the group to try different canoes and give some of the children an opportunity to have a go. One mum was relegated to the middle seat so her 10-year-old son could take charge up the front.

Secretly, his technique showed up a few older paddlers! Our trip back was again accompanied by the dulcet tones of our canoe guide (we think he fancies himself as the Tom Jones of paddling). This didn’t appear to dampen the enthusiasm of the rest of the group. It’s hard to wear a frown on your face when you’re paddling on one of Brisbane’s best-kept secrets.

The section of river we paddled, between Twin Bridges reserve and Lo-wood Bend, is one of the most accessible waterways in southeast Queensland and only an hour’s drive from Brisbane city centre. It offers easy flat-water paddling suitable for novice paddlers and numerous grassy banks on which to land for a brief rest.
The trip undertaken by our group lasted around three hours, including loading and unloading boats, the safety briefing, paddling, morning tea and a spot of singing.
The distance is suitable for most ages, abilities and fitness levels.

For more information about getting out on our local waterways, feel free to join the Canoe Go Paddling (Brisbane) group or contact me at Natureline Australia on 07 3390 4106.

For more information on Natureline canoes and kayaks, visit or email

About Dan Owbridge

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