To be honest, a paddle up the Bremer is not a scintillating prospect. It is brown, smelly and feral. It’s muddy banks provide difficult and limited access to vandalised parks. It passes directly though town where the latest shopping development has named itself after its presence. It is but a token gesture. Steep banks cloaked with an impenetrable scourge of weeds kept people away from the waters edge. They also ensured no muddy kayakers could escape and present an alternative view of the so called riverlife.
Our last paddle up the Bremer came to a sudden and surprising conclusion with the unexpected appearance of rocks and small rapids. This was not a paddle I felt inspired to repeat, but it was decent of Dave to ask us to join him, and and for a change, it was in his neck of the woods. So it was a date. A date which turned out to be more enjoyable and exhausting than we, the unfit, had anticipated.
The first surprise was the advance of housing development around Chuwar and Karalee. By the way in which the roads are being laid we hope Tom would like to have a few more neighbours. The meander down to Joseph Brady Park had us speculating as to how high the river may have been – turns out we were a good 50 feet below the water mark. As we drove into the park I didn’t notice any signage as I was too busy ogling a beautifully landscaped hillside park. It had asphalt parking bays, shelters with blue trims, a smart loo and playgrounds. Further exploration revealed a superb kayak friendly ramp down to the water.
Next unexpected sighting took the form of brown kites. They alighted from their selected riverside tree, soaring effortlessly waiting for us to pass by. The collection of bus seats, tyres, swathes of weed mat hanging from gum trees around 60 feet above the waterline paid homage to the torrent that swept through in 2011. However these remnants underplayed the actual water height which the council workers said was the at the base of the hill. A hill beyond line of sight from the picnic bench at Cribb Park. The sheer volume of what happened is truly incredible.
As we paddled through Ipswich Dave took delight in explaining how the whole riverside has taken on a new meaning. It was really beautiful – walkways, playgrounds, amphitheatres, even the bridge had had a lick of paint. Hardly feral. After passing through town we kept a look out for the bat colonies. The smaller red fellows who occupied the lower branches were being disturbed by the landowner wheeling a whipper snipper. Their larger black cousins roosting higher up in the same trees remained wrapped tight..
The rocks which had stopped us last time had been dealt with by the rising tide. The river started to narrow, it became picturesque, even entrancing. It was alive with fish. Both Dave and Mark went fishing. Each of Dave’s three successive lap catches became disturbingly larger. The last one was positively plate sized.We spied a boat ramp and made a decision that river was for a return visit.
It was about now Mark had an awful realisation. What time did the Joseph Brady Park close ? We had at least 21Km to cover in less than 3 hours. It all went pear shaped very quickly. There was no time for lunch. A enjoyable wander was now an endurance slog for the unfit against an insistent headwind who shall remain nameless. We made it (just) and passed a security vehicle on our way out.
We made a commitment to return on a king tide to check out the upper reaches of this brown, smelly waterway. A deceivingly demur waterway. A waterway which gave Brisbane a dunking that some people thought was not supposed to happen. A waterway which has started to grow a new and beautiful skin.