The waterways around Brisbane and South East Queensland are prime for a spot of kayaking! Roz has explored her fair share of them and has shared her tips for the best kayaking spots.

I almost died on my first kayaking trip. Some friends in Townsville invited me on an overnight kayaking and camping trip on the Herbert River near Ingham.

I bought an old white water fibreglass kayak from a work colleague for $50, and my friend loaned me her old neoprene skirt, which was very tight, and the tag to pull it off easily was missing. 

The river was flooded and in the first rapid I fell out and found myself upside down underwater, unable to get out. I eventually managed to rip the skirt off and made it to the surface to take a breath. My friends forgot to tell me about all the rapids and crocodiles in that river. 

After moving south to Brisbane, I’ve since caught up with my old friends and we’ve been exploring some top notch kayaking place spots around Brisbane, croc free.

 

Dams and Lakes Near Brisbane

1. Enoggera Dam

Location: The Gap
Time from Brisbane:
 35 min

The first place I started kayaking around Brisbane was Enoggera Dam at Walkabout Creek on Mt Nebo Road, the Gap.

Enoggera Dam was built in 1866 and was the first major water storage dam in Queensland and the second in Australia.

The most exciting thing I’ve seen on the dam was a prehistoric lungfish, which came up right beside my kayak one morning for a gulp of air. I was so close to its big open mouth I could’ve reached down and touched it. 16 Australian lungfish (Neoceratodus forsteri) were released into the dam in 1896. 

It’s a long way down to the water so it’s good to have wheels unless you have a friend to help carry your kayak.

 

Photo by Wayne Merry

2. Ewen Maddock Dam

Location: Landsborough
Time from Brisbane: 1hr 25min

Ewen Maddock Dam is on Addington Creek, a tributary of the Mooloolah River on the Sunshine Coast. The dam wall is 666 metres and was completed in 1982. 

It’s a fair way to the launch site, but it’s along a concrete path so a set of wheels is a good idea if you have a heavy kayak or canoe, unless you have someone to help you carry it. 

It’s an ungated dam, which means when it reaches 100% capacity, water flows over the spillway and safely out of the dam. There are lots of pelicans and cormorants to be spotted on the water.

3. Lake Moogerah on Moogerah Dam

Location: Moogerah
Time from Brisbane: 1hr 20min

Moogerah Dam is located on Reynolds Creek near Boonah and was completed in 1961. There’s a nice campsite at Camp Laurence right on the lake.  

We kayaked through lots of dead trees with hundreds of cormorants sitting watching us, as well as lots of black swans. 

I felt like I was in a David Attenborough doco when a ballet of swans flew above us. We also saw lots of turtles in the creek, (or at least we think that’s what they were!).

Watch out for water skiers and boats if you’re paddling close to the dam wall. The motorboats avoid the opposite end of the dam because of all the trees, so it’s a quieter and safer place to paddle.

 

Photo thanks to TEQ

4. Lake Wyaralong/ Wyaralong Dam

Location: Wyaralong
Time from Brisbane: 1hr 20min

Wyaralong Dam was constructed on Teviot Brook, approximately 14km northwest of Beaudesert in the Logan River catchment. It’s the newest dam in South East Queensland and was completed in 2011. 

 

13 Spots to Kayak Around Brisbane And South East Queensland, Roz Glazebrook, kayak, man, Lake Wyaralong

 

We launched our kayaks at the Meebun Recreational Area and kayaked up the dam and around an island. After about 6km, we turned off to the right beside a buoy and paddled into shore where there was a picnic table. 

From here, it’s an easy walk up the track to the Mt Joyce base camp where you can set up camp for the night. South East Queensland Water manages the Ngumbi Remote Camping Area which needs to be booked in advance. If you’re feeling fit you can also climb the 470m to Mt Joyce.

 

Mt Joyce is Brisbane's Most Underrated Campground, Saphira Schroers, Wyaralong Dam, view, lake

Wyaralong Dam from the summit of Mt Joyce | @hikertrashling

Creeks and Rivers

5. Cabbage Tree Creek

Location: Aspley
Time from Brisbane: 40min

Cabbage Tree Creek at Shorncliffe is part of the Cabbage Tree Creek Catchment and covers 45km through residential, industrial, and bush areas from Northern Brisbane to Moreton Bay. 

After checking tides, we launched our kayaks at the boat ramp on the corner of Allpass Parade and Yundah Street at Shorncliffe.

We paddled past yachts moored in front of the Sandgate Yacht Club and the Queensland Cruising Yacht Club and headed past the Sinbad Street boat ramp at the entrance to Nundah Creek. We turned right into Cabbage Tree Creek.  

Cabbage Tree Creek has had a long history of boat building, and fishing industries along its banks. It’s an interesting creek to paddle up with a diversity of scenery along the way! 

6. Nundah Creek

Location: Nudgee
Time from Brisbane: 30min

Nundah Creek is in the Boondal wetlands in Brisbane and you can launch at the Sinbad boat ramp at Shorncliffe. Parking and unloading your kayak is very easy right next to the boat ramp, and there are toilets and a picnic area nearby.  

There are lots of water birds, interesting mangroves, and even a bird hide to paddle past. The 2.1km trail winds past Dinah Island’s wooded forests, mangrove forests, and intertidal salt marshes. It’s best to go at high tide. 

If you’re wanting to extend your adventure, you can portage across the road and paddle into the ocean. 

During our paddle, my friend saw a large tuna-looking fish leap out of the water beside her and spin in the air before dropping back into the water.

Apparently ferry operators on the Brisbane River have reported bull sharks doing the same thing, so who knows what it was!

7. Bulimba Creek

Location: Carina
Time from Brisbane: 30min

At Bulimba Creek we parked at the Meadowlands Picnic Area car park on Meadowlands Road, Carina, and launched our kayaks at the pontoon just down from the bridge. 

It was lovely kayaking up the creek at first; so green and beautiful. We paddled through different flora with open forest and woodland, dry rainforest, riparian (waterside) forest, as well as freshwater and estuarine wetlands.

We spotted cormorants, rainbow bee-eaters, herons, egrets and pigeons along the way. One paddler got a fright when a snake launched itself out of a tree and almost landed in her boat.

There was a fair bit of rubbish floating on the high tide mark and caught up in the trees and vegetation as we got further up the creek.

On the way back it rained and we all got all wet and cold. Jumping out of the kayaks at one of the boat ramps, we sunk into thigh deep mud, as the tide had gone out, so it’s best to paddle this creek two hours either side of high tide.

 

8. Upper Noosa River

Location: Noosa
Time from Brisbane: 3hr 20min

The Upper Noosa River in the Cooloola Recreation Area of the Great Sandy National Park is probably the best kayaking area in South East Queensland.  

Most kayakers set off from Elanda Point and kayak across Lake Cootharaba to campsites on the Upper Noosa River. Alternatively, you can drive to Harry’s Hut if you want to avoid the often windy Lake Cootharaba.  

 

 

Lake Cootharaba is the largest of the Noosa Lakes at 12km x 6km. It’s very shallow with an average depth of 1.5 metres and can get very choppy especially when the wind comes up, usually in the afternoon.  

The first stop is usually the Kinaba Information Centre where most people land for a rest and look around the centre, which has a great display of maps and photos showing the history, flora, and fauna of the area.

There are lots of campsites along the river as well, which can be booked through National Parks and Wildlife at a small fee of $6.35 per person per night. From Elanda Point to campsite 3 (where I’ve stayed before) is 19km.

 

 

On the way up the river you pass the spectacular Noosa Everglades, which is one of only two everglades systems on Earth. The river water is stained black from tea trees, and the black water creates a mirror-like surface and beautiful reflections, for which the Everglades is famed.

There’s a 12km return walking track from campsite 3 to the Cooloola Sand Patch which offers fantastic views across to Noosa, Mt Cooroora at Pomona, and all the surrounding oceans, rivers, and lakes.

 

9. North Pine River

Location: Murrumba Downs
Time from Brisbane: 40min

We launched our kayaks at the Pelican Park Boat Ramp, on Hornibrook Esplanade, Clontarf, and paddled beside and under the Ted Smout Bridge up the North Pine River to Petrie.

It was a long 35km trip but very enjoyable as we saw lots of beautiful birds along the quiet river, including a White-bellied sea eagle.

 

Photo by Wayne Merry

 

We stopped for morning tea at Tinchi Tamba picnic area and had lunch at Leis Park at Petrie before heading back to Clontarf.

Wetlands, Islands And Bays

10. Tinchi Tamba Wetlands

Location: Brighton
Time from Brisbane: 40 min

The Tinchi Tamba Wetlands Reserve is over 380 hectares and part of a network of coastal wetlands on the edge of Moreton Bay. It’s 19km north of Brisbane City, between Pine River and Bald Hills Creek. 

The environment contains tidal flats, mangroves, salt marshes, melaleuca wetlands, grasslands, and open forest. Tinchi is the Aboriginal word for mangrove, and Tamba, the Aboriginal word for ibis. 

On our trip, we paddled through thousands of Blue Blubber jellyfish (Catostylus mosaicus), saw lots of flying fish and a couple of large stingrays.

 

Moreton Island | Photo thanks to TEQ

11. Victoria Point

Location: Victoria Point
Time from Brisbane: 45min

Victoria Point is a beautiful seaside suburb located approximately 33km southeast of Brisbane, in the Redland City LGA. 

The headland has two boat ramps for boat entry to Moreton Bay and a Volunteer Marine Rescue unit. 

We set off for our paddle from WH Yeo Park on Eagle Street and paddled out and around the mangroves between the yachts. It was a beautiful paddle with lovely island views. Some friends have even spotted dugongs while kayaking around this area.

12. Coochiemudlo Island

Location: Victoria Point
Time from Brisbane: 45min (to launch point)

It’s a short paddle across to Coochiemudlo Island from the mainland at Victoria Point in the Redlands, which is only 35km from Brisbane CBD.

You can also kayak around the island. 

English Explorer Matthew Flinders was the first white person to land on the Island on 19th July 1799 in his ship the Norfolk. Flinders called the island ‘Sixth Island’

The local Aboriginal people had called it ‘Kuychi Mudlo’ for generations. It was a place where they obtained red ochre stones used as body decoration and as red pigment for their shields and skin.

 

Coochiemudlo Island | Photo thanks to TEQ

13. Raby Bay

Location: Raby Bay
Time from Brisbane: 45min

Raby Bay is a residential canal estate in Redland City built on reclaimed land. Luxury waterfront residential and commercial buildings have been built there and a lot of the large houses have their own moorings and pontoons. 

Surveyor James Warner named the bay in honour of the Duke of Cleveland, who was also known as Baron Raby.

We launched our kayaks at the large park on Masthead Drive where there’s plenty of parking, large grassy areas, and a toilet block. 

That day my friend spotted both a sea turtle and dugong.

 

Photo by Wayne Merry

Where can I hire a kayak in South East Queensland?

Brisbane: Brisbane River Canoes is located in Ipswich on the outskirts of the city.

Gold Coast: Smoothwaters Kayak Hire is situated Tallebudgera.

Noosa: Kayak Noosa is located right on the Noosa River. There are also kayaks available for hire at the Harry’s Hut launch spot on the Noosa Everglades through Habitat Noosa.

Gear For Beginner Kayakers

  • Kayak or canoe
  • Paddle
  • Personal floatation device 
  • Sun protection, hat, sunscreen, long-sleeved shirt and long shorts, gloves 
  • Water
  • Snacks and lunch
  • Waterproof container or dry bag
  • Personal location beacon
  • Kayak skirt if going through rapids or large waves
  • Camping gear if you’re staying overnight (tent, sleeping bag, cooking gear)
  • Roof racks on your car
  • Kayak trolley (optional)

Read more: Packing List for a Canoe Adventure