There’s something about the Mary

WORDS: Fiona Willett

The Wide Bay region is synonymous with its mightiest natural asset: the Mary River. In the Gympie region, the Mary meanders through Gympie’s outer lying hinterland area, the Mary Valley, and continues on through Tiaro in the Fraser Coast region. Gympie’s little piece of the river is perfect for paddlers looking for fresh air, open green space, rare wildlife, and best of all: challenge.

Gympie Canoe & Kayak Water Trail - Sam

“The Mary Valley offers a natural playground.”

Ian Harling knows the Mary River tributaries well. Ian has run his tourism business, Ride on Mary, from the Mary Valley since 2009 and during this time he’s guided many people on the river.

“The Mary Valley is a beautiful place to visit for those that love nature – forests, waterfalls, creeks, river, and mountains. You get to enjoy the friendliness of the small towns and villages,” he said.

In September 2015, Council released the 10-year Gympie Canoe and Kayak Strategy; a report that outlined the need for the community and tourists to have better recreational access to the river. The report made comparisons between Australia’s relatively new recreational water tourism scene and the kayaking sector in the United States and Canada; highlighting our river’s status as one of Gympie’s major water sports opportunities.

Data collected in this report clearly showed a community need for new infrastructure. A community survey collected responses across the region, with 81% stating they’re attracted to the use of the Mary River because of its proximity to their home. A total of 89% of respondents agreed there wasn’t enough access to the Mary River or its tributaries. Businesses such as Ian’s provided valuable feedback on proposed launch points and highlighted the pros and cons of accessing certain parts of the Mary.

Gympie Canoe & Kayak Water Trail - Entry point

In November 2017, six new canoe and kayak launch points were opened between Imbil and the Gympie Town Centre. Design of the points considered factors critical to all-abilities, all-ages kayaking and focused on the physical and unique nature of the Mary and its tributaries, public access to the waterways and the kind of people who might be looking to use it. Design elements, parking areas, and launch infrastructure included flood considerations to cater for periods of wet weather.

“There’s been a boom in kayaking in the area in the past decade,” Ian said.

“The Mary Valley has been a growing destination for those wanting to escape the rat race for a few days and what better way to wind down and relax than cruising down the river in a kayak.”

Gympie Canoe & Kayak Water Trail - Afloat

Launch points in Gympie can be accessed via Attie Sullivan Park (adjacent to the Normanby Bridge on Mary Valley Road) and the Gympie Weir, (near Kidd Bridge on River Terrace). This course is the perfect 2.2 kilometre one-way downstream paddle for beginners, running adjacent to a purpose-built hiking trail that follows the riverbank at water-level and just a few kilometres from shops, cafes, and attractions in the city centre. The trail feels worlds away considering its proximity to civilisation.

For those looking for a longer day out on the water, the Mary Valley launch points are nestled in the quiet cottage towns of Imbil and Kandanga. Here, paddlers can jump in and out of the water at designated spots and they can also stop for a coffee, some local cheese or produce during their trip.

The new Imbil launch points can be accessed at Bert Smith Memorial Park (on Lambert Hyne Drive) and upstream on Yabba Creek Road (400m west of Mathias St). This trail is a picturesque 2km paddle one-way or a great out and back paddle from either location. Or, launch from Kandanga Weir (adjacent to the old Valley Rattler car park on Kandanga Creek Rd) for a picturesque 2km out and back trip.

Gympie Canoe & Kayak Water Trail - Sign

When you ask Ian what it is about the Mary that sets it apart, his answer is simple.

“It’s for those who want to do something different and to get back to nature.”

You can find maps and more information about getting out and about in the Gympie region on the Gympie Regional Council website.

Campfire tales – Gundagai

WORDS: Scott Rawstorne from Global Paddler.

There is nothing like a crackling campfire at the end of a big day on the water to bring out ripping yarns from past adventures. Most of those stories have never made into Global Paddler guides so they have only been heard by a select few. Until now…

A day of biblical proportions

My paddling companion and I had gone to bed the night before our Gundagai paddle feeling sure that it would be bigger than Ben Hur and that it would sort the men out from the boys. We just weren’t sure which category we would fall into.

Campfire Gundagai Photo 1

A quick check of the map over breakfast in Gundagai’s famous Niagara Café resulted in 15 kilometres being sliced off what was previously going to be a 50 kilometre journey. I then placed a call to our local contact Ron Moses to let him know our plans. Despite never having met us before, he had kindly agreed to give us a lift back to our car at the end of the day.

The first third of our journey was to be on the Tumut River with the remainder on the Murrumbidgee River. We launched into fast-moving waters and spent the rest of the day enjoying the challenge of manoeuvring our less than purpose-built 5.4 metre sea kayaks through grade 1 and grade 2 rapids while eluding the grasp of the rampant willow trees that reached out from either bank.

As our adventure neared its end, black clouds started amassing above the horizon. Before long, there was lightning all around and we were scampering for the comparative safety of the shore. The temperature dropped very quickly. When we realised that to stay warm we would either have to share body warmth or start running on the spot, no discussion was required. We promptly set a pace that would have made Usain Bolt proud.

Campfire Gundagai Photo 2

Thankfully the storm passed quickly. The electricity in the air raised one or two whiskers on our faces but luckily the lightning struck elsewhere.

Ron Moses arrived with his mate Drew to take me back to the car while my companion stayed on the beach to look after the kayaks. Along the way, Ron told me that they had been driving up and down the river looking for us because golf ball sized hail had been falling in town and they thought we might have copped it. They were extremely relieved when we finally floated up to the finish line.

It was only after I had waved goodbye to Ron and Drew that I realised the worst. The car had TWO flat tyres! Not only that, I was a long way out of town with no phone reception. There was nothing for it except to start walking, look for the nearest farm, and hope for some mobile coverage. Things were looking bleak, especially since my companion was stuck on the beach, and the mercury was plummeting towards zero.

Campfire Gundagai Photo 3

Then the Moses mobile came over the crest in front of me. I swear that I heard the Hallelujah Chorus and his car had a halo-like glow.

Ron’s actions increasingly reminded us of his biblical namesake as he led us out of trouble. He and Drew took me and our clothes back to town; picked up the kayaks, gave us a place to stay, and contacted the local NRMA guy to organise a rescue mission for the next morning. I cannot praise them highly enough for what they did for us.

The next morning I awoke with the knowledge that the car still had two flat tyres and it was on a dirt road about 20km out of town. I braced myself and dived out the door for an early morning rendezvous with Don from the NRMA. He turned out to be a man of few words, but that was fine with me as his actions did plenty of talking. Not only did he get our car back to Beaurepaires, he overcame the seemingly disastrous bogging of his rescue vehicle without so much as a murmur.

Campfire Gundagai Photo 4

The Paddler’s Guide to Gundagai is available for members to download for free from the Global Paddler website and it is also contained in The Paddler’s Guide to New South Wales 2nd Edition.

Sea to Summit Blitz Booties – Product Review

WORDS: Scott Rawstorne from Global Paddler.

As a paddle sports tour guide and instructor, I need comfortable paddling footwear that offers great grip and a high level of protection from oyster shells and other nasties. I also want it to be “set and forget”. Distractions of any kind resulting from footwear that is poorly designed or constructed takes away from the enjoyment of my paddling adventures, and that is not something anyone should have to contend with. It is at the very least inconvenient, and it can sometimes even be dangerous, when your shoes unexpectedly slip off mid-paddle or when you are walking through deep sand or mud to get to or from the water. That is why I wear Blitz Booties from Sea to Summit.

Sea to Summit Blitz Booties Photo 1

Sea to Summit calls the Blitz Bootie the heavy duty workhorse of their range. It has a super grippy laminated rubber sole that is strong enough to offer protection from sharp objects but it is still flexible enough to give you a good feeling for foot pegs, rudder pedals, and any ground that you need to walk across. To protect you from the cold, the Blitz Bootie has a 3 millimetre neoprene upper with a high cuff that can overlap with a wetsuit if required.

Sea to Summit Blitz Booties Photo 2


  • Rugged water booties for kayaking, canoeing, stand up paddleboarding, rafting, portaging, wading, fishing, sailing
  • High traction rubber sole for grip on wet surfaces
  • Stiffened sole for added protection and walking
  • Secure Y-pull velcro strap system
  • 3mm neoprene
  • Colour = black/blue

Sea to Summit Blitz Booties are available in sizes 5 to 13 (US Men’s) and have a recommended retail price of AUD $59.95. Use the store locator on the Sea to Summit website to find the Sea to Summit stockist nearest you.

Advance copies have arrived!

We are excited to announce that advance copies of the 1st edition of The Paddler’s Guide to South Australia have arrived! Thank you so much to everyone who has pre-ordered a copy of our new book. It looks great. We are really looking forward to receiving and mailing out the full shipment in mid-November.

The Paddler's Guide to South Australia Advance Copy

If you haven’t ordered your copy of the 1st edition of The Paddler’s Guide to South Australia yet, you can do so now through the Global Paddler online store for just $24.95. Discounted Global Paddler membership with unlimited access to online versions of all 320 of our guides is also available at the time of purchase.

Canoe the Coorong

The paddling community is overflowing with likeable characters but some people still manage to stand out from the crowd. Brenton Carle at Canoe the Coorong is one of those people. His love of nature is second to none, he is a great conversationalist, and he is quite simply an all round good bloke. Brenton’s brilliant company mixed with one of the most stunning and iconic paddling destinations in Australia is a surefire recipe for an unforgettable day on the water.

Canoe the Coorong Photo 1 courtesy of Canoe the Coorong

The Coorong is a “natural wonder” of Australia that deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as Uluru, The Twelve Apostles, Kakadu, the Bungle Bungles, Lake Eyre, and The Great Barrier Reef. Often referred to as an inland sea, it can be more accurately described as a 100-kilometre-long wetland separated from the Southern Ocean by the windswept sand dunes and tussocky vegetation of Younghusband Peninsula. The world community recognised the ecological importance of the Coorong in 1985 by acknowledging it as a Ramsar Wetland of International Significance.

Canoe the Coorong Photo 2 courtesy of Canoe the Coorong

This is a truly remarkable place where you will unquestionably see hundreds of birds, there is a good chance you will meet both long-nosed fur seals and emus on the same day, and if you are very lucky you may even be delighted by pods of happy dolphins.

Canoe the Coorong offers tours for people of all ages and skill levels. Popular tours include a three-hour Coorong sunset tour of the Murray Mouth, a full day all-inclusive Coorong tourovernight camps and, for real adventurers, a four-day expedition covering almost 100 kilometres. Kayak hire is also available. For more information, or to make a booking, head to the Canoe the Coorong website.

Canoe the Coorong Photo 3 courtesy of Canoe the Coorong