Brisbane River

Wivenhoe Rapid

Verified! Play Boating Dam Release Summer Autumn Winter Spring CLASS II


South East Queensland. 10km Fernvale

Contributed by Acacia Canoe Sales and Hire


Class: II

Season: All year round

Level: Minimum level of about 1.30m on the Savages Crossing gauge.

Gauge: Savages Crossing

Shuttle: None

Character: Play waves and chutes

Suits: White water boats

The construction of the Wivenhoe Dam in 1984 resulted in a minor realignment of the Brisbane River when a new spillway channel was carved through nearby sandstone undulations.

A small measuring weir was built below the dam wall and the height differential between its base and the pool below created a rapid that local white water paddlers have been using ever since for training and play.

The sandstone has proved to be quite soft and continual water erosion over the years has dramatically altered the rapid’s character and degree of technical difficulty.Unfortunately …and largely due to the effects of the January 2011 floods …it has now become a relatively innocuous Grade 2 rapid with only limited play and training potential at most normal release levels.

The rapid can be accessed from downstream on either side of the river. From river right (west bank) carry your boat along a partially submerged (slippery) rock ledge and put in just below the concrete sill of the measuring weir. It is advisable to check the conditions here first as some sharp rocks have been exposed in the first small drop that have the potential to damage a kayak. Access to the deepest part of the rapid is relatively straightforward from river left (east bank) by putting in at the end of a boulder pile that stretches upstream from a protruding rock bar. As the water here is quite fast you may need help to stabilise your boat whilst getting in.

Paddlers choosing to play in this rapid should be wary of capsizes as there are plenty of submerged rocks that can be readily felt, even if not so easily seen.Most canoeists come to this location either to play the rapid or to begin a trip downriver – there is not much of interest here scenery-wise unless you have a fascination with dams.

Note: The waters upstream of the base of the measuring weir are strictly out of bounds and choosing to ignore this could encourage water authorities to cut off canoeing access here altogether.

Putting In: Turn left from the Brisbane Valley Highway to the Spillway Common. Take note of the sign showing when the entrance gate is locked of an evening. After a few hundred metres this road sweeps to the right up a small rise. Just over that rise turn left and continue on to a small parking area overlooking the river. An unsealed track leads down past a locked gate towards the river and a trail off to the right leads to the pool at the bottom of the rapid.

Taking Out: The pool at the bottom of the rapid

Entry Date: April 29 2009

Verified Date: October 09 2012

Verified by: Acacia Canoe Sales and Hire


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