Cairns Kayaking
Cairns Kayaking
Cairns Kayaking
Cooperoo Creek - FNQ

Take-out: Golden Hole, Russel River take-out. The Russell River is about a 45 minute drive south of Cairns. From the service station at Mirriwinni, continue south a further 2.1km and turn right off the highway into Bartle Frere Road, after 3.7km turn right into Price Rd. another 4.4km along Price and Biggs Roads you will enter a National Park Car park.
Note. Salt water crocs have been spotted as far as the Golden Hole at times. This is a good indicator not to paddle any further down stream. There are no further rapids any way.


Old Boojie Rd between Atherton and Malanda, the road ends at a gate. Trail head is a few hundred meters before the gate on the left-hand (eastern) side. Two trees have been marked with ribbon.

Maximum river level - Russel River around 3 meters.

Time: A very long day, to overnight trip.

We believe this was the first trip down since Cyclone Larry March 2006. There was a bit of timber in there, but only one tree-affected rapid requiring a portage.

It's rainforest. Wear leech spray.
The walk-in through/down the rainforest starts as a very good track, but then it disappears completely. The route is marked by pink, then small red ribbon on the trees. Took 3 ½ hours.
Ribbons lead you to the confluence of 2 small creeks. Cross the creek on your right, and then lower/throw your boat 10 odd meters into the pool below.
A 100m bash down the creek finally gets you to Cooperoo Ck.

A lot of the Creek runs through a magnificent canyon with sheer walls, with some rapids difficult, if not impossible, to inspect.

One rapid (we'll call it The Cauldron) of particular note is a nice little waterfall into a seething cauldron. At a higher level you can't see the bottom of the falls from the top. At a lower level you may be able to inspect it. You might be lucky, or you might have to swim out of it (it is a deep and nasty swim out of this cauldron). Portage option is not there. Safety cover not possible. A higher level trip saw a boat recirculate in the river-left boil for about10 minutes. Going from previous footage it is much easier at a lower level.

Ponytail falls is the biggest drop of the day, and is awesome fun. At lower levels the lead-in rapid is a relatively easy boof. At higher levels it's borderline.
Option - Portage lead-in and run the Falls. One way to do this is to lower boats to the sloping ledge on river-left between the lead-in and the falls. One person (anchored to a tree above) can have a rope through tail grab-loop and release once paddler is good to go. Last person belays down with boat and can have rope through tail grab-loop, side and/or front anchor points, with 3 or 4 'turns' to create plenty of friction, followed by a simple thumb knot. Once you have your deck on simply release thumb knot and 'bends' and away you go. Don't have too much 'tail' which needs to un-thread as you slide off the ledge.
If you're not confident with knots and ropes you might have to throw your boat over the edge and jump the falls.

The river ends when you come to the confulence of the Russel river. This is a large confulence noted by a large 60+ft waterfall on the Russel. From here it is around 3hrs of paddling mainly flat water with some minor grade 3 white water.
The culdron

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