Backward Glance: Our beautiful waterways – the Sunshine Coast has so much for you to enjoy
  • Wednesday 03 January 2018

If you enjoy canoeing or kayaking, the waterways throughout the Sunshine Coast region are there for all to explore and enjoy today, just as locals and visitors have done for many years.

Remember as you paddle up a river or venture into a lake system, plan your excursion carefully so that you won’t have to battle against the tide.

Leafy shade trees and local fauna is also there to enjoy in the quiet areas away from the main beach and river outlets.

Please respect this beauty and uniqueness and keep to designated areas. Enjoy a picnic and take your litter home with you.

Escaping into nature can be refreshing in this busy world and it is beautiful on the water and much calmer in these less populated areas of our region.

Once the source of transport for early pioneers, the rivers, creeks and Pumicestone Passage make the area very special for locals and visitors alike.

The choices of amazing scenic journeys and exciting physical challenges provide secluded spots with bushland along many of the foreshores.

Be rewarded with the experience of hidden natural wonders, a sense of personal achievement and the bond of shared adventure with family or friends.

An early story of the region tells a cautionary canoe tale with a good outcome in the late summer of 1914 when the creeks and waterways due to a wet and rainy summer ran swiftly in flood-like conditions.

Conondale’s Jack Flesser and his brother Charlie, with an adventure on their minds, cut canoes from a large gum tree log using an adze and axe.

The canoes were approximately two-and-a-half metres long with a depth and width of about half a metre.

The brothers had decided to take those rough canoes on a perilous journey and each had the equivalent of about $10 for their venture.

In the headwaters of the Mary River, above the junction of Harper’s Creek, they launched the homemade vessels and away they went down the river.

They rode the wild waters of the Mary all the way to Maryborough in 40 hours.

During the journey, the rain poured down and the Flesser boys tied the canoes together for most of the trip.

Such was the flooded current, the brothers remarked that “the snakes tried to make friends with them”.

The boys camped at Widgee during the trip and rode the rapids, arriving in Maryborough about 3pm after their long journey.
There was no fanfare for them at Maryborough, no welcome sign.

The Flesser brothers camped beside the river and while they rested from their journey, the water crept up and took the faithful canoes away with the tide.

Perhaps it was because the two canoes were tied together that they were found some time later.

As for the Flesser boys, they took the night steam train known as the Old ’99, arriving at Landsborough some hours later.

Still with money in their pockets, they walked home up the Range to their residence beyond Maleny.

What of the canoes? The Maryborough Council recovered the canoes which were perhaps wrapped around a tree due to being roped together and they were on display in the local Maryborough Gardens until being eaten out by white ants some years later.

A kayak trip up Pumicestone Passage towards the Bells Creek region and beyond to Donnybrook traverses the old routes of the early water transport system.

Canoes and kayaks are popular on both Lake Baroon and Ewen Maddock dams where there are lovely places to explore.

Why not try out the waterways of Currimundi Lake or the quieter channels of the Maroochy River towards Muller Park near Bli Bli.

Remember to wear a properly fitted personal flotation device and supervise children at all times when using canoes and kayaks.

Where possible travel with pairs or in a group.

Plan your journey and let someone responsible know where you are going to and the estimated time of arrival back to your ramp.

Bring a waterproof mobile phone for contact and wear sunscreen and a hat as well as suitable sun smart clothing.

Take plenty of breaks and remember fresh water and food.

Enjoy your time but being safe is the most important advice.

Plan your journey if going for the day and look at the expected weather conditions for that day.

If new to the sport of kayaking and canoe exploration, there are tours that you can book and you will learn much from their skills.

Enjoy your holidays and check out the online link showing locations for kayaking and canoeing in the perhaps quieter regions of the lovely Sunshine Coast.

Thanks to Sunshine Coast Council’s Heritage Library Officers for the words and Picture Sunshine Coast for the images.


Image captions
Hero image: M839154 - Canoeing on the Maroochy River canal at the junction of Bradman and Duporth Avenues, Maroochydore, 1936. Holiday makers and local residents could hire canoes from the Cotton Tree Camping grounds and row up the Maroochy River to Picnic Point and nearby Chambers Island.

Carousel Images:
Image 1: M306415 - The 'Swimming Pool' at Cotton Tree, a popular recreation area for both holiday makers and residents, ca 1935.
Image 2: M865131 Tooway Lake and Moffat Headland, Caloundra, 1940s.