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river mouth

Bremer River

River surrounded by trees

From its source in the Main Range, the Bremer River is a small, often non-flowing, stream that travels through 76 km of farmland before turning into a tidal river as it meets Ipswich. It is the last 24 km section of riverway that provides a quiet and tranquil kayaking trip for paddlers of all levels of ability.

Wildlife is common, especially Water Dragons, Egrets, Herons, Cormorants, Kingfishers, Ducks, and Moorhens. Usually you also see some turtles sun-baking on logs if you are quiet, as well as Sea-Eagles, Corellas, Cockatoos, Ravens, Spangled Drongos and many other bird species too.

What to expect

Bats hanging in the tree

The river is up to 100 m wide and very deep in places, especially towards the confluence with the Brisbane river. Being tidal, it pays to plan ahead to catch the right flow for the most enjoyable trip, especially when doing the upper sections to avoid submerged rocks. The tidal nature of the river is also the cause of the thick sticky mud that you should try to avoid.

Tidal flows peak at around 2 to 3 kph, but if needed you can hug the inside banks to avoid some of this current. The tidal flow could cause some concern for inexperienced paddlers around the small island 2 km upstream of Ipswich central. This constricts the mid-tide currents into a narrow passage that significantly speeds up the flow. If required, traverse diagonally across the main channel from one eddy (still water zone) to the other.

There is one small rapid below Shapcott Park that changes character with the tide. During high tides this can be paddled directly across but becomes a short portage on low tide. See the photos below that were taken two hours apart below, both looking upstream. The first has a mere trickle and the latter has a strong current running upstream!

Generally the rest of the river below this point is fairly free of rocks excluding a small section of Cribb Park where there is some shallow or exposed bedrock on the right side of the river when facing downstream. Staying left along the northern side easily avoids this, although there is a narrow channel to the right of the rocks.

A small island constricts the flow forming a choke about halfway between Shapcott Park and Ipswich CBD. An increased flow around 5 kph here can be seen during mid-tides that may require you to ferry between the eddies (still waters) to get past.

Generally there are no other features of great concern.

Rocky creek bed
A 10 m portage is likely on a low or incoming tide just below the Shapcott Park kayak ramp. This photo was taken two hours before high tide.
Creek with minimal rocks exposed
This photo was taken just on high tide from a similar position. Rocks were mostly submerged and the river was flowing upstream.

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What to take

Ensure electronic devices and gear has waterproof containers / dry bags if needed.

What to wear

  • Sunscreen / Chapstick *
  • Sunglasses *
  • Hat *
  • Swimwear or shorts
  • Sun protective clothing (rashie)
  • Water shoes
  • Rain jacket
  • Spare clothes / Towel

What to take

  • Water
  • Snacks
  • Phone
  • Camera
  • Watch
  • Sponge
  • Spare clothes / Towel

Safety

  • PDF (life jacket) *
  • Whistle
  • Paddle float
  • Bilge pump
  • Paddle lease
  • Spare paddle
  • Light (night paddling)

* Hightly recommended (aka required)
You should wear clothing and footwear that you can comfitable swim in.
These are for self or assisted rescues where you can't easily reach the shore.

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Logistics and Tides

Metal and concrete structure beside the river

My personal preference is to stay with the high tide waters as much as possible. For one way trips I would plan to head upstream with the incoming tide and downstream with the outgoing tide to get assistance with the current.

There are generally only three put points along the river in parks that are all run by the Ipswich Council. Park gates may be locked from 6pm - 6am.

Shapcott Park Canoe Ramp
This provides the best access to the upper sections above Coalfalls.
Cribb Park Boat Ramp

Common access point in the heart of Ipswich. Take care launching from the boat ramp as this can get slippery.

The park use to have a pontoon that was part of the Ipswich Canoe Trail, however this was lost to flooding. There are plans to replace the platoon sometime, albeit there are funding issues that have so far prevented this from happening.

Joseph Brady Park, Brisbane River
Small boat ramp can be found slightly upstream on the Brisbane River. This can get muddy, especially with a low tide.

Hancock Bridge could provide an alternative access point to the northern side of the river in Coalfalls, however it would likely be a difficult put-in / take-out point.

Rocks in river

The tidal heights seen at the Brisbane Bar (27° 22' 42.6" S, 153° 9' 45.4" E) directly affect the heights of the river, with an average difference of 1.8 m between low and high tides. The key tide height indicators are:

Highest Astronomical Tide (HAT)
2.73 m
Mean High Water Springs (MHWS)
2.17 m
Mean Sea Level (MSL)
1.306 m
Mean Low Water Springs (MLWS)
0.37 m

The Bureau of Meteorology maintains the official tide tables for Brisbane Bar and the rest of Australia.

The HAT tide is 65 cm higher than the high tide where I took most of the pictures for this post! These were taken with a tide height of 2.09 m, which is slightly below the average high tide height seen on the river.

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Distance & tide table

Location * Features Tides Distance Total
Low High
Source n/a n/a 0 km 0 km
Don Livingstone One Mile Bridge n/a n/a 77.0 km 77.0 km
Rail Bridge 3:18 2:45 1.9 km 78.9 km
R Shapcott Park Canoe Ramp 3:15 2:42 1.2 km 80.1 km
Hancock Bridge 3:15 2:42 0.7 km 80.8 km
Bradfield Bridge 3:12 2:41 3.4 km 84.2 km
David Trumpy Bridge 3:12 2:41 0.3 km 84.5 km
L Cribb Park Boat Ramp 3:11 2:40 1.8 km 86.3 km
R Bundamba Creek 3:10 2:39 6.6 km 92.9 km
Warrego Highway Bridge 3:02 2:34 3.1 km 96.0 km
Brisbane River 2:44 2:29 5.3 km 101.3 km
L Joseph Brady Park

* Side represents either the left / port (L) or right / starboard (R) sides when facing downstream.
Most of the features were taken from Ipswich City Council pages.
Tide times are offset from the Brisbane Bar (27° 22' 42.6" S, 153° 9' 45.4" E). BoM tide tables.

People fishing beside river
Bridge on river
Old 4WD stripped down and placed into the river for a dock

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Map

Explore the key locations in the map below. Most locations will have a photograph that can be seen by clicking on the icon or number in the map itself.

  • Source
  • Don Livingstone One Mile Bridge
  • Rail Bridge
  • Hancock Bridge
  • Bradfield Bridge
  • David Trumpy Bridge
  • Bundamba Creek
  • Warrego Highway Bridges
  • Kayak ramp
  • Boat ramp
  • Water feature
  • Rapids or rocks
  • Photo

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Safety

todo

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Wildlife

The Bremer River has a number of distinct habitats for wildlife along its length, but only two are accessible via the water. These are the wooden bush fringes

Birds

Birdlife is by far the most common on the river unless you are staying put fishing. The rather long list are species that often made an appearance for me while I was on the water and are likely to be only a small fraction of the birds known to frequent the area.

Bird in tree
Galah (Eolophus roseicapilla) nesting in a tree hollow.
Bird in tree
This gorgeous Spangled Drongo (Dicrurus bracteatus) was busy chasing nector.
Birds on water
Pacific Black Ducks (Anas superciliosa) hanging out in the water.
Bird on tree
Welcome swallow (Hirundo neoxena) resting during the heat of the day.
Bird on tree
Eastern Osprey (Pandion cristatus) watching the river for fish to swim by.
Bird in tree
Pheasant Coucal (Centropus phasianinus) trying to hide up a tree.
Bird on tree
A flock of Little Corellas (Cacatua sanguinea) make for a great yet noisy encounter.
Bird on tree
A pair of Australian Wood Duck (Chenonetta jubata).
Bird in tree
Azure Kingfishers (Ceyx azureus) were more common along sections where the river was closed in by trees.

Reptiles

Along with the birdlife, Water Dragons were common especially in the upper freshwater sections and Brisbane Short-necked Turtles in the lower tidal sections.

Lizard on rock
Eastern Water Dragon (Intellagama lesueurii) were common but nowhere near as common as in the upper sections.
Turtle on rock
Brisbane Short-necked Turtles (Emydura macquarii signata) were common.
Snake on tree
Snakes are rarely seen, but can be occassionally they can seen swimming across the river like with this Eastern Brown Snake (Pseudonaja textilis).

Pests and Weeds

Unlike lower sections of the river that have dense mangrove linings, the upper sections do not hide the weedy plant species that are common along the river that include the following:

large grass
Pampas grass (Cortaderia selloana) can be seen occassionally along the river.
vine
Mile-a-minute (Ipomoea cairica) is a vine that quickly chokes shrubs and small trees.
Plant with flowers
Common lantana (Lantana camara) can be lethal for native butterflies.
plant with spiky seeds
Castor oil plant (Ricinus communis) can be seen along the river.
Plant
Giant Devil's Fig (Solanum chrysotrichum) is a common weedy shrub.
Plant
Balloon Vine (Cardiospermum grandiflorum) will quickly cover trees.

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Tributaries

The only main tributary of any great interest is Bundamba Creek.

Bundamba Creek

On high tide, this makes for a cooling side-trip as you escape the sun into the shade of the overhanging tree canopies. I got about 2 km up before being turned around due to a fallen trip across the river. I had no issues navigating my 5.2m kayak up the creek until this point.

trees around river
Tall bamboo beside river
Pipes a meter above the water

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