Wivenhoe Dam to Twin Bridges - Lowood section


The first section of the Brisbane River below Wivenhoe Dam runs for 15 kilometres down to Twin Bridges near Fernvale. This is a grade one section with a few simple rapids. While houses may be nearby out of sight above the riparian zone, the area looks like unspoilt wilderness. It offers quiet paddling in a pleasant corridor of green bottlebrush trees, and offers an occasional free ride as the current sweeps the canoe downstream.

Access upstream is from the Wivenhoe Dam Common, five kilometres past the Fernvale Bridge over theBrisbane River, and one kilometre short of the dam wall. Turn in to the left, when travelling north. The locked gate opens 6:00 am to dark. If there has been heavy rain, or the Water Board releases water, there can be changes in the difficulty grading of the river. When more water is flowing, the risks involved in canoeing increase.

The road through the Common leads down to a parking lot above the spillway channel, signposted Atkinson's Crossing. There is a short walk through the gate down the slope to a track on the right, to the launch pool (photograph far left below). Keep in mind the river does a tight loop before heading downstream. About 2.5 kilometres downstream, Lockyer Creek joins on the right. Incidentally, left and right directions are always given as though looking downstream, called river right and river left.

Some 5.0 kilometres down from the start, the river dead ends in the main channel, while the current moving to the right on a side channel, some two hundred metres backup from the blind alley, shows the way through. There is a continuous large log jam in a narrow passage for 500 metres, down the side channel. At low water levels, there are numerous logs just under the water. At normal water levels, it is a tight squeeze under some big logs (see photo) At higher water levels there may be no way through, and it may be very hard to get back upstream. Very dangerous. If you can't get through, or don't like the looks of it if you have a canoe full of gear, you can portage the log jam on a 120 metre long 4wd track that runs diagonally right from the end of the blind alley down to below the log jam. Check the second photo below for the well worn portage track.

Below the log jam corner the river opens back out again, and at Lowood Corner runs two easy rocky chutes. The way through is clearly evident, line yourself up early. Notice on the photo below of the second rapid down, how there is a smooth water surface in a V-shape, with the V pointing downstream. This is a sign that the apex of the V is the deepest water, and the line to follow. The road is right next to the river here, and vehicle access is possible to within 10 metres of a launching pool. If you want a shorter paddle to Twin Bridges, this is it. Twin Bridges is 5 kilometres of flat water paddling below. You can pull out on the right just before the bridge (see photograph far right below)

If you are going further, you may need to portage the low bridge anyway. Approach the bridge down the far right to be safe and sure. There are two separate channels (Twin Bridges) and the left one has a barbed wire fence across it downstream. Under normal water conditions the river here is only 300mm deep as it goes under the bridge, so you can walk your canoe down to the bridge.

There is a 7 kilometre road shuttle from Twin Bridges, Wivenhoe Pocket Road to The Wivenhoe Dam Common carpark.

Click on thumbnails below photos to see larger images.
launch pool, The Common sat photo log jam portage log jam passage log jam first rapid Lowood Corner second rapid Lowood Corner Twin Bridges
launch at The Common
log jam bypass
log jam
log jam
1st rapid Lowood corner
2nd rapid
Twin Bridges