Bike and Boat

“Let’s paddle from my house to the end of the North Pine River!”

Simon nodded positively at my suggestion.

“But let’s take the bikes!”

The plan was to ride the first half of our course from Redcliffe to my place at Lawnton.  We’d then leave the bikes at home, pick up the kayaks, carry them down the street to the river, and paddle back.

My trusty old van would be waiting for us at Redcliffe to take us home.

We followed easy bikeways westward from Woody Point along the shoreline of Bramble Bay.

Although it just looks like a large bay several kilometres across, this is actually the mouth of the Pine River.  The North and South Pine Rivers have their source on the eastern slopes of the D’Aguilar Range 35 kilometres inland, and merge into one river at Bald Hills before meeting the ocean here.

The long straight lines of the Ted Smout Bridge seemed to recede infinitely as we crossed the bay.

We followed bike paths beside mangrove swamps…

…and under the freeway.

A picture of John Oxley caught my eye.  He rowed up the North Pine River in 1823.

It was a mistake.  He was looking for the Brisbane River and asked for directions from ticket-of-leave convict, John Finnegan, who had been stranded in the area for several months.

Finnegan had actually crossed the Brisbane River, South Pine River and North Pine River with his travelling companions, Parsons and Pamphlett, but he was not a good navigator, and sent Oxley the wrong way.

Later today, after we entered the river,  we would retrace some of John Oxley’s trip.


We followed a few more quiet bike paths and got home to our half-way point in just over an hour.

I’m lucky to live on a street which backs on to the North Pine River.

We loaded up the Kayaks, attached the rollers, and set off down the street.

“What will the neighbors think?”

We looked odd, but managed to walk the boats to the river quite quickly despite their weight.

We put the kayaks in at Stephen Lawn Park.  Simon managed to get in without getting wet.  I stepped off the bank and disappeared up to my chest in water.

After retreating briefly, I soon joined Simon on the river.

The river was high.  The tide had just turned, so there was no current.  We floated gently downstream.

When John Oxley arrived here in 1823, he described large numbers of indigenous people happily catching fish.

194 years later, it seems people still enjoy fishing here.

As we slid under the bridges at Gympie Road I noticed the tide had started flowing out.  We now had assistance from the current.  It was like riding downhill, but on water 🙂

We greeted a couple of paddlers going upstream…

…and more people fishing from their “tinnies”.

At Murrumba Downs we pulled up on a small beach to top up on water and have a quick rest.

The river was widening.  People skidded around on jet-skis and speed boats.

It was starting to get busy.

A few minutes later we floated under the Bruce Highway.

Traffic buzzed above us.  From underneath, the bridge made strange “clunking” noises.

By the time we reached Deepwater Bend, the current had accelerated.  Tidal streams gushed out into the river from the mangroves.

People optimistically cast lines from the boardwalk hoping to catch a fish.

The river was now quite wide.

A fresh headwind blew upstream, chopping up the water and making progress slow.

We tried to shelter from the breeze by sticking close to the shoreline, but eventually we had to push out across the river directly up wind.

Water splashed into our boats.  Progress slowed.

We decided to take another break at Dohles Rocks.  This gave us a chance to empty water from the boats, have a snack, and rest a while.

We decided to keep to the shoreline rather than paddle directly across Bramble Bay.  The strong wind made the water rough.  Simon and I weren’t experienced kayakers, so we figured it would be safer to stay out of deep water.

BUT we had to cross Hayes Inlet to get to Redcliffe, so we followed the Ted Smout Bridge northwards – the same bridge we had ridden over earlier in the day.

The coast slowly curved in front of us.  As we progressed, it eventually sheltered us from the headwind.  The water became smooth again and we found it easier to paddle.

Kayaks are versatile craft.  I was able to paddle in not much more than about 10cm of water as we neared the shore.

Simon decided to hop out and walk the last hundred metres.

We travelled about 43 kilometres in about six and a half hours.

The first half (on the bikes) took us just over an hour.

The second half (on the water) took us about five hours including breaks.

All up I burned about 2,000 kcal.

This adventure rates 7.5 on the tough-o-meter.  The cycling part was easy, the paddling part was easy for most of the way until we got to the mouth of the river.

I wonder how difficult John Oxley thought it was?

Thanks, Simon, for a fun day out!

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