Pumicestone Passage North
The many highlights of the northern Pumicestone Passage make it a brilliant place for a paddle. You can picnic on Bribie Island, visit a remarkable site of historical significance, and indulge in delightful post-paddle pampering in Caloundra, the southern holiday centre of the Sunshine Coast.
10 kilometres / 2.5 hours
Boat ramp, Lamerough Parade, Golden Beach
GPS: 26°49’51.0″S 153°07’12.0″E / -26.830819, 153.119986
Boat ramp, Roys Road, Coochin Creek
Large car park (can get busy)
Open, tidal, some heavy traffic, shallow areas
Pumicestone Passage is an integral part of the Moreton Bay Marine Park, a Ramsar Wetland of International Importance, and the subject of migratory bird treaties that Australia has with China and Japan. This means that the whole world agrees that this wetland has a vital role to play in the ongoing maintenance of global biodiversity.
Extensive mangrove forests and seagrass beds are a home and food source for fish, prawns, crabs, and other aquatic creatures, and more than 300 species of birds also depend on this environment. Australian residents like pelicans, white-faced herons, ospreys, brahminy kites, sea eagles, and black-necked storks are joined every summer by more than 10,000 curlews, tattlers, stints, turnstones, godwits, and sandpipers seeking sanctuary and sustenance at the southern end of their migration from the Arctic and sub-Arctic.
It is really fantastic that we get to share our world with creatures of all shapes and sizes. For me, close encounters with birds, animals, and fish all provide moments of speechless wonderment, and places like this are naturally among my favourite paddling destinations.
The adventure described here starts at the Lamerough Parade boat ramp in Golden Beach and heads south to the Roys Road boat ramp in Coochin Creek, but it can be done either way. The total distance between the two is just 10 kilometres. If you want to go further, a return trip or an added exploration of “the skids” (see Pumicestone Passage South guide) is well within reach. There are alternative starting points north of Lamerough Parade, but they are near the mouth of the passage where there are tricky currents that are best avoided.
It might sound counterintuitive, but to experience everything this paddle has to offer, you really must leave the boat. I’m not talking about diving overboard, but you can do that if you feel the urge. The wonderfully clean and clear water is very enticing. I’m talking about the two custom-made rest areas in the Bribie Island Recreation area; Lions Park and Lighthouse Reach (see map). They are incredibly relaxing places to kick back quietly, soak in the sunshine, and watch the wildlife go by.
From Lions Park, it’s a short walk across Bribie Island to the Coral Sea where you can sit and watch the waves roll in, or wander down the beach for a couple of kilometres to see the remains of Fort Bribie. Fort Bribie was built in World War 2 to protect Moreton Bay from invasion. It hasn’t been used since 1945, but it still stands as a reminder of a much different past. Lighthouse Reach is a little further from the ocean, but you can still get there via a 2 kilometre track through beautiful native bushland.
The vast sandbars of Pumicestone Passage are the stuff of legend and they have brought many an unsuspecting boatie to a shuddering halt. While you aren’t likely to reach the sort of speeds that will see you catapulted from your cockpit, gliding across deep water is always preferable to running aground. Come at high tide and stick close to the path shown on the map and you should be fine. If in doubt, stay close to the marked channel, but keep an eye out for other fast-moving traffic.
Bream, estuary cod, flathead, mangrove jack, trevally, tailor, whiting
Near trailhead and in Lions Park
Pelican Waters Tavern, 38 Pelican Waters Boulevard, Caloundra, (07) 5437 3622
Coochin Creek Camping Area, Roys Road, Coochin Creek or
Golden Beach Holiday Park, 9 Onslow Street, Golden Beach, (07) 5492 4811
Nature is not a place to visit, it is home.Gary Snyder