Pumicestone Passage Paddle (Queensland, Australia)

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It’s amazing what knowing I am finishing up at my stressful job has done to my head space. Suddenly I am not spending my weekends stressing about family law matters and client needs. I am not feeling pressure to work because I need to make billables and I’m not feeling like there’s a lifetime of the limited four weeks annual leave that would otherwise await me. And this freedom made it easy for me to throw the kayaks on the roof of the car, message a friend and hit the water for a day of paddling.
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The Pumicestone Passage at Bribie Island is an amazing place of clear water, white sandy beaches, mangroves, sea creatures and a backdrop of the Glasshouse Mountains. F and I set off around 8am from a beach just north of the Bribie Island Bridge. The incoming tide created a perfect opportunity to drift and paddle northwards up the passage (you don’t want to paddle here against the tide).
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The water was incredibly clear today. Winter and spring are the best time of year to paddle here in South East Queensland because the summer storms are long gone and blue sky days allow the water to reflect blue. We did a lot of chatting as we drifted and paddled gently up and down the passage. I know I’m feeling content again because I didn’t feel an urge to push myself. I felt content to relax and feel the sun on my body, dip my hands in the cool water, share stories with F and admire the Glasshouse Mountains in the distance.
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We stopped on a beach just north of Gallagher Point. A child from a nearby boat played in the water. A stingray swam along the sandy sea bottom. Water lapped gently against the shore every time a boat or jet ski passed by. Donnybrook perched on the shoreline across the passage; the houses glistening white in the bright sunshine. I must come back and camp up here overnight to have more time to take in the atmosphere.
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On our way back down the passage we passed a dugong eating sea grass close to shore. It was majestic and right next to our boats. Suddenly it was just there and we had to move out of its way. Quite a spectacular moment. We also saw turtles and stingrays.

On returning to the cars we loaded the kayaks then F left for home. I hung out in the shade of some trees eating a late lunch then went for a little swim in the passage. I can’t wait for the next adventure …

My new toy

I bought a new toy: a red Barracuda Beachcomber sea kayak. I have been looking Gumtree.com for about half a year and then, while I was in Indonesia, I noticed my friend’s kayak on the site. A quick check of his Facebook page confirmed the exciting news. It’s a known boat. The price was right. And I just know this is the right boat for me.

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My friends came all the way from Toowoomba to Redcliffe to drop the boat off because I don’t yet have a car. It was late in the afternoon so I couldn’t go for a test paddle but first thing in the morning I was bouncing out of bed and ready to go. First step: hoist the boat onto my shoulder and walk down my driveway.

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Step 2: Cross the road, walk down the grassy hill and step onto the cool soft sandy beach with my new paddle craft on my shoulder ready to go.

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The sun was rising steadily over Moreton Island in the distance. It is my goal for when I am fitter and more experienced. How magnificent to see such a tempting goal from my home. It will certainly keep me motivated to train, practice and gain skills.

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The boat is much more tippy than anything I’ve paddled before. From 2006 – 2009 I owned a bombproof river boat that was red, short, wide, slow and stable. Compared to that the Barracuda is sleek, fast and sexy. Not to mention practical, long and fitted with plenty of luggage space. I am so excited about the adventures I will be able to take it on.

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I enjoyed paddling for an hour out on Moreton Bay just near home. I paddled from Scarborough Beach to the far end of Queens Beach and back again. Not terribly far but it allowed me to get a feel for the boat. I also went out further from shore than I’ve paddled before. That is something I will need to get used to: not hugging the shore line but actually trusting myself and the boat out on the open water. That will come with time and practice. And open up a whole wide world of exploration for me.

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I head back to shore, avoiding the jagged rocks at the northern and southern end of the beach. I have a bit of a surf on the small waves; something that feels so much more fun in a sea kayak than it did in my uncontrollable packraft.

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I get out, shoulder the kayak (17kg / 37.5lbs) and walk back across the road to my home. I will paddle at least one morning a week before work once I am back from Turkey and also hopefully one longer paddle each week on my days off. I’ll also be buying a car with roof racks so that I can get the kayak to other interesting places to explore. A whole new world awaits …