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OVERVIEW: The southern end of Pumicestone Passage is a great place to explore because of its diversity of wildlife and paddling options. It’s also closer than usual weekend road trip up to the Sunshine Coast with the masses. With alternate launch locations on both sides of the passage, there is something to suit everyone’s paddling style. On the main land Donnybrook, Toorbul and Turners camp rest area allow access to the creeks that feed the passage, which may suit eco and enclosed water paddlers. Allowing you to make the most of the surrounding Reserves and Marine Park area. You can even paddle out to one of the nearby “islands” for a closer look for some added excitement. Bribie Island on the other hand offers more for the open water paddlers, with plenty of beach to launch and exit from all along the southern end of the island. If you’re feeling really adventurous you can even paddle around the entire southern end of the island where you may come across a dolphin or two.

CONSIDERATIONS: As much fun as this area can be with its diverse paddling options there are still certain factors that must not be ignored. Many boats and jet ski’s also use this area so while you are taking everything in and enjoying the surrounds, it always important to keep an eye out for other water craft and be mindful of your surrounds. Ensure you are aware of your position in regards to the channel and take note of the marker positions at all times. Wearing brightly coloured or high visibility clothing is also an advantage as it helps you to be easily seen by other water users and located in the event of an emergency situation.

Being mindful of the tide and wind is always an important factor, make sure you check the tide times, wind speed and direction before you paddle. You want to make sure you can return to your launch point and don’t end up battling the current or wind trying to return. As there are different water systems feeding this channel, you may also experience mixed currents so be mindful of where you plan to paddle and the water movements around of you. There are also a lot of sandbanks on the western side and further up of the passage so if launching from the mainland, it’s always good idea to paddle near the top or incoming tide.

Marine life is also an important factor to consider. It’s great to see marine life in its natural habitat but please remember to only observe and respect their space. Some marine life can also be hazardous, stingray’s and stonefish camouflage well and are something you do not want to fall or step on while exploring shallower waters. Seasonal changes can see an increase in jelly fish numbers creating large swarms, but this is more common in Summer and Autumn. These are no fun to fall on or paddle through, if you hit one with your fin, it’s a sudden stop.

LOCAL KNOWLEDGE: There is a fantastic group of social paddlers which frequent the area called “Bribie Island SUP it UP”. I have heard nothing but good things about this group and they are always willing to go that extra mile to ensure you have a good time. Always ensuring your safety and you paddle within your limits. Graham and the crew are always organising social events for paddlers of every level and very welcoming to beginners. The other option is the “hire hut” based at the southern end of the island at Bongaree. Dave offer’s board hire and is more than willing to answer any questions you may have about the area and places to paddle.

         Launching from Turners Camp

SUP MAN’S CHOICE: I like to launch from Turners camp rest area, a small park just off Bribie Island Rd, before you reach Spinnaker Sound Marina. It has toilet facilities, plenty of room to park and provides hassle free access to the water as you are not having to dodge other beach and water users. I launch from here to keep my paddling options open, especially if the weather is worse than predicted. You can choose to follow the shore line, staying in the shallows and explore the mouth of Ningi creek if enclosed waters are more your style. Alternatively, you can head to open waters, crossing the passage and heading for Bribie or Sandstone point. It’s a great paddle over to Bribie and back, being just over 2km’s return it’s a comfortable distance for most and allows for a break halfway if needed. The first time I paddled this area, just before reaching Bribie Island, I had a dolphin scare the day lights out of me by swimming right for me and barrel rolling underneath my board. It was an awesome memory that stuck with me for a long time. If your more adventurous you don’t just have to head back however, opting to head north or south along Bribie shoreline.

                           Taking a break

I recent met up with a fantastic ASI instructor from Paddle Days based in Mooloolaba named Kylie. It was a raining and miserable day, but luckily, we were like-minded people and weren’t going to let a little rain dampen out spirits. We decided to see where the water would take us heading across the passage to Bribie then headed north along the Bribie Island shore line. We decided to cross back over the passage between Banksia Beach and White Patch where there is small “island” in the middle of the passage. This allowed us some time to take some happy snaps and have a small break from the choppy conditions. The paddle back to turners camp was just as fun with the wind at our backs and the tide running out it made for an easy trip back to Turners camp. All up it was just over a 5km round trip and as we planned the tides right it made for a great day with the passage showing off all its natural beauty despite a bit of rain.