The Tides Are Right

Edit for 2015 Ocean to Colleges 85

So the trip below didn’t happen in 2014.  A couple of weeks before the paddle, I had an email from Alan to say that he’d injured his shoulder “boarding in Japan” and wasn’t going to be fit for the challenge.  I promptly postponed the paddle and proceeded to tell everyone how we would tackle it another time because Al had hurt his shoulder loading luggage on an aeroplane.  Turns out he actually hurt his shoulder snowboarding in Japan, but the net result was the same.

Now however, the trip is set to roll again, bigger and better. Saturday May 23rd, 2015.  That’s the new date!  All are welcome.  You will need to arrange your own car shuttle and boat and be prepared to paddle at your own pace.  We’ll stop and regather half way through the paddle for some lunch, so anyone wanting a shorter challenge can join us then.  A great session for anyone training for GeoQuest, XPD, etc.  The full itinerary is as follows:

0700 – Arrival at the boat ramp on Port Drive, Port of Brisbane.  Map link here.
0730 – Depart at dead low tide.  The tide will be with us for the next 9 hours.

  • Regather at the boat ramp / park at the end of Fig Tree Pocket Rd for a BYO lunch.  Map link here.  Water available.  People can make it at their own pace to this point.  This point is 45km into the 85km paddle so would need to average 9km/hr with a following tide to make the restart (faster boats get a longer break).

1240 – Restart the final 40km from Fig Tree Pocket.  Anyone wanting a shorter trip can either do the paddle to this point or just start with the group here (tide will be at its strongest).
1653 – High tide at Colleges Crossing.  Finish of the 85km trip – boats arrive at their own pace.

  • I’ll arrange for pizzas to be delivered, so I’ll need numbers beforehand and cash on the day.  Please invite family and friends – Colleges is a great spot for a picnic and a swim. Map link is here.

Email me at if you want to be kept up to date on this trip.

February 2nd, 2014.  The date set to be the realisation of a life long dream.  Well, less the realisation of a life long dream and more the realisation of the recent musing of “what would it be like to paddle the length of the Brisbane River in one trip?”.  And hence the birth of the Ocean to Colleges 85.  Interested?  For more details, refer to the Q and A style interview I gave myself this morning:

Liam:  So what is the Ocean to Colleges 85? Where did the name come from?  What is it all about?

Liam:  Doing most of my paddle training on the Brisbane River, I’ve often thought in the past of a taking on a mission to paddle the length of the Brisbane River from source to sea. Anyway, I thought it was about time to put a plan into action, and hence, the Ocean to Colleges 85 (O2C85).  Every good mission needs a name, and this one is pretty self explanatory.  We will be starting the paddle at the ocean and finishing at Colleges Crossing.  The distance is approximately 85km according to google.  The O2C100 would have sounded even cooler, but to do that you would have to paddle an extra 15km, which is just silly.

Liam:  Hang on, didn’t you say from source to sea?  Isn’t Colleges Crossing upstream from the mouth of the Brisbane River, and isn’t it nowhere near the source of the Brisbane River?

Liam:  After looking at a map, I realised that the Brisbane River is really, really long.  Common sense prevailed and I figure we would just do the section that runs through the city and out into the ocean.  Colleges Crossing is the last accessible boat ramp below the section of the river at Allawah Rd Bridge where no paddle access is allowed.  After looking in to various tide tables and maps, I also realised that if you set off at low tide from the mouth of the river and paddled upstream, you would actually have approximately a 9.5 hour window with the tide running with you.  This doesn’t work if you start at the top of the river at high tide and do it in reverse.  At least, I think this is the case.  Trying to work all the tide and travel permutations out hurt my brain after while.

The Ocean to Colleges 85 Route

The Ocean to Colleges 85 Route

Liam:  And why February 2nd, 2014?  Why not, say, tomorrow?

Liam:  We all have busy lives with young families, etc, so finding the time to do something like this takes a bit of preparation and planning.  Plus, there is a perfect tide window for a 5:30am departure, and my partner in crime will be back from holidays by then.  Timing will also be good preparation for GodZone.

Liam:  Wow, so 85km of paddling.  Why are you doing this?  It must be a beautiful stretch of water to entice such a mission?

Liam:  Not particularly.  Some of it is industrial, some of it residential.  The water itself is not particularly clear, being a brown muddy colour, in part from dredging, but mostly because of deforestation of farming land and run off of silt in its catchment area.  To be honest, I’ve actually previously paddled most of it in different smaller sections multiple times before, except for a short stretch around the Moggill Ferry.  If anything, the whole thing is going to be a bit of a grind.

Liam: I see.

Liam:  Scratch that last answer.  Ask me again why I am doing this?

Liam:  Why are you doing this?

Liam:  “Because it’s there”.  I heard that a famous climber once said this about climbing some mountain.  Actually, I just did a google search and apparently that climber was a Kiwi, so just go with my original answer.

Liam:  Oh, in that case there must be glory at the end of the mission with tons of adoring fans or some kind of reward, and that’s why you are writing about it now?

Liam:  Truth be told, I’m probably actually just going to annoy my wife for being out all day while she has to look after the baby on a Sunday and then coming home smashed and wanting to lie around and recover the rest of the evening.  In fact, I can picture the conversation now:

  • Me: So, I’m going for a paddle all day on Sunday February 2nd.
  • My wife: Why?
  • Me: Didn’t you read my Rogue website.  It’s all there in an interview I gave myself.
  • My wife: You wrote about it on your website, but didn’t talk to me about it first?
  • Me: Yeah, that way it definitely has to happen, and others can join us too.  And if I don’t do it now, people will think I’m lame.
  • My wife: People already think you are lame.
  • Me:  And anyway, you could get the baby ready and pack a picnic and we can have a BBQ at College’s Crossing afterwards.  And that way you can give us a lift home with the boat too.  It will work perfectly and it will be a fun day.
  • My wife: Fun for who?
  • Me: Well, for me.

Liam: 85km is a long paddle, no matter how you try to justify it. You must be training pretty specifically for this mission?

Liam:  The quantity of my kayak training is generally directly proportional to the health of my knees.  Fortunately, my knees have been feeling great these last couple of years, but unfortunately this means that I spend way too much time running and riding, and not as much time paddling.  I know I need to do some paddle training before Godzone, even if this is the discipline I’m most comfortable with, so I figure it will be more efficient if I just do it all on one day.  Hence, the O2C85.

Liam:  What do you expect the biggest challenge to be?

Liam:  Getting a numb arse.  Sometimes my jatz crackers can get pretty uncomfortable in a boat during a long paddle as well for whatever reason.

Liam:  And what boat will you be using?

2013 GeoQuest 20h

A nice photo of paddling the ski.

Liam:  A Fenn XT double.  I’m sure there are lighter and faster options.  Plus something with a trailing rudder instead of an under slung rudder would be nice for the last 1km near Colleges Crossing, which can have some submerged rocks, even at high tide. However I need to be able to justify the $1200 I spent on this double ski somehow and I figure actually paddling it is the best way to do this.

Liam:  Right.  And who is this “partner in crime” that you have alluded to previously in the interview.

Liam:  I’ll be joined by Alan Ferris.  Alan had independently thought of doing this paddle trip himself in the past until one day it came up in conversation where we decided to give it a crack together some time.  I’ve done a bunch of adventure races previously with Alan including four GeoQuests, and if there is one thing he is better than anyone else at, it is suffering through a long, unenjoyable grind.  Plus, Alan has the added bonus of being deaf in one ear, which makes conversations in a double boat where you aren’t facing each other really interesting.  Generally they go something like this:

  • Me: Man, this tide is really pushing us along now.
  • Alan: What?
  • Me: I said this tide is really ripping through here.
  • Alan: No thanks, I’m not hungry.
  • Me: What?
  • Alan: Uh-huh.
  • Me: OK.

Liam:  Awesome.  This trip sounds great.  Can anyone else join you?

Liam:  Absolutely.  The more the merrier I say.  They’ll just need to be able to bring their own boat and to sort out the logistics of car shuttles or drop offs.  Best to bring a signed leave pass from home as well.  We want to hit the water at around 5:30am at the boat ramp near Port Drive.  The plan is to have a break around five or six times for 5 minutes to stretch the legs, and to pick up some resupplies of food and water at Indooroopilly at the 41km mark.  With a following tide, we are aiming to knock the paddle off in around 8 or so hours.  Feel free to join us for a shorter section too if the full 85km doesn’t sound appealing.

Liam:  Great, thanks for the interview and thanks for your time.  Good luck with the O2C85 mission.

Liam:  Thanks, it was a pleasure.

Anyway, there you have it folks.  If you feel like finding out more, want to join in or just want to point out some catastrophic flaw in our plan, drop me an email at


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