Wivenhoe Pocket

There are times in life when you simply need to relax and go with the flow. The Brisbane River at Wivenhoe Pocket is perfect for doing just that. It is therefore no surprise that it is a favourite paddling destination for anyone who has been fortunate enough to experience it.

WATERWAY Brisbane River
REGION Southeast Coast, QLD
DISTANCE 15 kilometres
TIME 3 hours
START Spillway Common, Brisbane Valley Highway, Lake Wivenhoe
GPS DMS: 27° 23′ 59.3″ S, 152° 36′ 23.4″ E
DD: -27.399812, 152.606492
FINISH Riverbank, Twin Bridges Reserve,Wivenhoe Pocket Rd, Fernvale
PARKING Small car park at start, On grass/rocks at finish
TOILET None. Nearest are at Cormorant Bay and in Fernvale Rest Area.
CONDITIONS Sheltered, flowing, light traffic, shallow areas
FISHING Bass, catfish, Mary River cod, perch (golden, silver and spangled)

Wivenhoe Pocket Map

This rejuvenating ride on the Brisbane River starts from Spillway Common just below Wivenhoe Dam and ends at Twin Bridges Reserve (GPS: 27° 26′ 13.3″ S, 152° 38′ 2.0″ E) on Wivenhoe Pocket Road in Fernvale, 15 kilometres downstream. The current moves more quickly in some places than others but it is invariably gentle and always in your favour.

Wivenhoe Pocket Photo 1

A little bit of preparation is required to make this brilliant paddling adventure happen. First of all, there might be tears if you don’t bring a kayak cart because the launch site is 440 metres from the car park. Secondly, it is important to arrange some way of collecting your vehicle from Spillway Common after you finish at Twin Bridges Reserve. This is usually managed with a car shuttle but if that is not possible, the start and finish points are only 7 kilometres apart so it is easy enough to leave a bike at the end and ride back to the start. Locking cables can be used to secure any equipment that you don’t have in your immediate possession.

The quality and safety of this trip can be affected by water releases from Wivenhoe Dam, the height of the river, and the weather. Seqwater has a free dam release notification service which you can subscribe to on their website. The river height can be checked on the Bureau of Meteorology website with the ‘Brisbane River Savages Crossing’ gauge being the most relevant. The optimal height is 1.3 metres but less than that is fine if you don’t mind hitting the bottom occasionally. When checking the weather, make sure not just to check locally, but also upstream on the Brisbane River around Kilcoy and upstream on the Lockyer Creek around Toowoomba because heavy rainfall in those areas can result in sudden flooding here.

The paddling begins in a small pool where there is a good chance you will see lungfish, pelicans, and even a turtle or two. From there, the Brisbane River dives into a narrow stretch of fast moving water with a series of Grade 1 rapids that lasts for just over a kilometre. It is a great way to start the day.

After around 5 kilometres the river splits in two, with a dead end straight ahead and narrow channel to the right. The narrow channel is the way forward but there are several fallen trees in that need to be negotiated. This can be quite tricky, especially if the water level is higher than usual. If you are unsure of your ability to handle the conditions, there is a portage trail at the end of the dead end which you can use to get back into the flow below the obstacle course.

There is one more sequence of rapids to negotiate and that is at Lowood Bend. Apart from that, it is plain sailing between riverbanks draped with callistemon and flanked by tall eucalypts. Look up and you could see white-bellied sea-eagles, brahminy kites, and koalas snoozing the day away.

There are two alternatives to the trip described above. The first is a one way 9 kilometre paddle from Spillway Common to Lowood Bend (GPS: 27° 28′ 9.2″S, 152° 35′ 26.2″ E). Lowood Bend is accessible via Forest Hill Fernvale Road in Lowood. The second is a 12 kilometre return trip from Twin Bridges Reserve to Lowood Bend and back. This is an option that is favoured by flat water paddlers and people who are unable to manage a one-way trip.

Wivenhoe Pocket Photo 2

“Those who flow as life flows know they need no other force.” Lao Tzu

EAT Cormorant Bay Café, Brisbane Valley Hwy, Lk Wivenhoe, (07) 5426 7305
DRINK Brisbane Valley Tavern, Brisbane Valley Hwy, Fernvale, (07) 5427 0730
SLEEP Logan Complex (camping), Logan Inlet Rd, Lk Wivenhoe, 0428 310 740