Boondall Wetlands is one of the best places to go kayaking in Brisbane but not the easiest to organise. You can follow the Nudgee Creek Kayak trail and do a loop passing by the ocean. But a bit of planning needs to go into it. I’ve shared my Boondall Wetlands kayaking tips based on our experience to help you plan this little adventure.
Distance: 6-7.5 km
Time: 2-3 hours
Disclaimer: the kayaking time and difficulty are based on our experience. We’re skilled kayakers with a good level of fitness. However, we like to stop to watch birds and take photos. Before you go, always check the park alerts and notes, and the weather forecast. Things may have changed since our visit. The distance and time can vary with the weather conditions, paddlers’ performance and the type of kayaks you have. You can see the one-person model of our inflatable kayak here*.
The numbers in brackets refer to the map at the end of the article.
Important things to know to plan your Boondall Wetlands kayaking trip
When is the best time to go kayaking in Bundall Wetlands?
You can kayak Bundall Wetlands all year round. However, kayaking is always easier when there is no wind. The creeks are fairly protected, but you’ll have to paddle in the bay to complete the loop, so you don’t want to pick a choppy day.
Early mornings are always recommended for bird life and to avoid the heat, but we still saw a few birds when we went there in the afternoon.
It is recommended to watch the tide times to organise this trip. Timing can be tricky to get it right (especially if you’re not early risers like us), but it can be tiring to get it wrong. Ideally, you’ll want to paddle up the creek during the upcoming tide and down the creek for the outgoing tide.
It’s not just about letting the tide do the hard work for you. The creek looks lovely when the water is high, and you can explore the mangrove a lot further. Plus, at the mouth of Nudgee Creek, during spring and summer, migratory shore birds gather on the sand banks at low tide. You don’t want to scare them away as they rest after their long journey and prepare for the next one.
Are you thinking of buying an inflatable kayak? We love how we can now explore more places easily since we got one. Check out my tips on how to choose an inflatable kayak and the most important questions to answer first. You can see the single model of the inflatable kayak we chose here*.
Where to launch your kayak to explore Boondall Wetlands
You have a couple of options to launch your kayak.
If you’re coming from the City, you’ll save time by starting your kayak trip in Nudgee (Oquinn Street) as it’s closer to the city (1). It’s a short 50-metre walk to reach the kayak launch area, and there’s equipment to wash your kayak when you come back. You’ll be within walking distance from the toilets at Nudgee Beach.
By launching your kayak in Nudgee, you’ll get to explore Nudgee Creek a bit more on the water (1.5 km extra) or via the mangrove boardwalk. The boardwalk and nearby Nudgee Beach Reserve are well-known spots for birdwatching in Brisbane, especially when the migratory shore birds are visiting (in spring and summer).
The boat ramp on Sinbad Street at Shorncliffe (2) is another popular spot to launch your kayak. You can drive almost all the way to the boat ramp to unload your kayak and then find a parking spot nearby. You’ll find water to rinse your kayak and a toilet block in the car park. It’s the best launching spot if you want a shorter loop.
How to complete the loop
I have added an interactive map of the loop at the end of the post. You can complete the loop in any direction. The tide may influence your choice if you want to head first towards the ocean or spend more time in the creeks when you start.
You will have to carry your kayak between Nundah Creek and Nudgee Creek to complete the loop. The path (3) is approximately 120 m long. Most people could do it barefoot, but I still recommend having shoes or thongs not to take any risks. Be cautious when you get out of your kayak, as the ramps can be very slippery.
You’ll find a kayak ramp on both creeks to reach the portage path. You don’t see them from far away, but they’re hard to miss when you get close.
The loop is in blue on the map below. I highly recommend adding the 1.5km detour up Nudgee Creek (purple line on the map) if you start from Shorncliffe. If you want to paddle for a bit longer, you can also go on Cabbage Tree Creek (yellow line on the map) to see the prawn trawlers.
Why I rated Boondall Wetlands kayaking as medium difficulty
We didn’t find Boondall Wetlands particularly hard. Still, the loop needs a little bit of planning and isn’t an easy one for beginners for a couple of reasons:
- Navigation is required; nothing too hard, but it’s not just about going up and down a creek.
- Portage is required, which can be challenging with a heavy or bulky kayak.
- Paddling in the bay is required; it isn’t as easy as paddling in a protected creek.
- Looking at tide times is required; you don’t want to get tired paddling against the current the whole way.
What to look for when kayaking Boondall Wetlands
Boondall Wetlands are one of the best places for birdwatching in Brisbane. It’s famous for being Brisbane’s largest wetlands and having four different types of ecosystems. The wetlands are a mix of tidal flats, mangroves, saltmarshes, melaleuca wetlands, grasslands and open forests.
So while kayaking, you may see different bird species according to what’s around you. We found it fun to paddle around the mangrove; there’s even a small island on Nundah Creek (4). In the marsh (5), we spotted a couple of oystercatchers.
You’ll see a couple of bird hides while paddling on Nundah Creek (6) and at the mouth of Nudgee Creek (7). It’s a short detour to go to the lookout upstream on Nudgee Creek (8) if you started kayaking from Shorncliffe, but it’s worth it.
We saw many egrets, cormorants and a couple of herons but also a beautiful kingfisher there. Not far from the Nudgee Creek kayak ramp, we spotted spectacular rainbow bee-eaters (9). They nest in tunnels on the ground, so it was lovely to watch them while kayaking, as there was no risk of damaging their nests.