HomeArticlesLifestyle NewOlympic kayaker Ken Wallace and his love for the Gold Coast waterways

Olympic kayaker Ken Wallace and his love for the Gold Coast waterways

Nikki Fowler | April 2019

There is no other Gold Coast and no other water environment in the world like ours.

It’s a playground for water lovers and local Olympian Ken Wallace recommends there’s no better way to explore our city’s natural gems than from the comfort of a kayak or canoe.

The Gold Coast is naturally blessed with a unique water environment made up of 480 kilometres of rivers, creeks and streams – all winding their way to through our landscape to meet our world famous coastline.

“The first time I sat in a kayak ever was on Currumbin Creek,” remembers Ken. “My family came to the Gold Coast every year for beach holidays, my parents realised how incredible the lifestyle was and the opportunities available for my sisters and I, so we moved here 25 years ago”.

Fast forward a couple of decades and we need to recognise Ken’s successful career as a sprint canoeist competing since the mid-2000s, representing Australia at three Olympics and winning gold at the 2008 Summer Olympics and at several World Championships.

These days he is a busy father of three and athlete in training and is rarely far from the water. “We spend the majority of our life on the water. I feel I have paddled along most of our city’s waterways. I train on the canals and beaches and I enjoy taking my young family on little adventures exploring new parts of the Gold Coast waterways”.

“My wife would say I have too many water toys and she is probably right. We enjoy kayaking, jet skiing, fishing in the tinny, stand up paddle boarding and surfing together.  We regularly use the boat ramps, and the public pontoons are a great spot to enjoy some fish and chips.”

Ken has travelled to almost every continent in the world and assures us it has made him appreciate the Gold Coast even more. “I always thought this is the best place to live, I love when friends from around the world come to visit and train here and I get to show off our little piece of paradise. They are always in awe and it never disappoints”.

“I love getting to bring up my kids here and experiencing it all with them. The one thing I know is I will forever call the Gold Coast home.”

Seven spots to enjoy our naturally unique city by kayak or canoe:

Currumbin Creek Beree Badalla Reserve, Thrower Drive, Palm Beach

Head downstream along Currumbin Creek to Tarrabora Reserve or upstream to Coastal Meadows Park, Currumbin Valley.

Tallebudgera Creek Tchoobey Reserve, Loman Lane, Tallebudgera

Paddle toward Burleigh Headland along the turquoise waters surrounded by mangroves and Tallebudgera Creek Conservation Park. Meander upstream to popular Schuster Park offering a good rest stop with a picnic shelter, BBQ, playground and amenities.

Elanora Wetlands Reserve Tallebudgera Drive, Elanora

Paddle through a 20 hectare reserve bordering the upper estuarine reaches of Tallebudgera Creek forming part of the Burleigh to Springbrook wildlife corridor linking urban remnant to the hinterland and is a valuable refuge for native flora and fauna.

Jabiru Island Park Oxley Drive, Paradise Point

Kayak along Coombabah Creek into Coombabah Lake – a haven for Eastern Curlews, Brahminy Kites and Osprey birds. Follow Saltwater Creek upstream to join the Coomera River or paddle downstream to Paradise Point, The Broadwater and South Stradbroke Island.

Colman Road Reserve Colman Road, East Coomera

Launch and explore McCoy’s Creek, Pimpama River, Southern Moreton Bay Islands, Jumpinpin Point or South Stradbroke Island via the Broadwater.

Cecil Zipf Park Rocky Point Road, Woongoolba

Explore Logan River, Cabbage Tree Point, Southern Moreton Bay Islands, the Broadwater and South Stradbroke Island.

Jacobs Well Conservation Area/Lions Park, Jacobs Well

Kayak south into the ‘Woogoompah Everglades’, a network of branching and mangrove-lined channels joining the Pimpama River estuary, The Broadwater and South Stradbroke Island. Check out the Ospreys White-bellied Sea Eagle and Pelicans.

Keeping our waterway catchments clean and healthy is a significant task and volunteers across our community provide valuable support in helping to protect and manage these diverse ecosystems.

The City of Gold Coast is committed to ensuring our catchments are continually protected and restored to support diverse ecosystems and the livelihoods and lifestyles of residents and visitors.

Through implementation of the City’s Our Natural City Strategy and our successful community partnerships we can celebrate some wonderful achievements which contribute to the health of our catchments and waterways including:

  • 60,000 native trees planted last financial year at 134 community tree planting and Beaches to Bushland Landcare days,
  • 5,000 hectares of wildlife habitat retained or under restoration through the Land for Wildlife Program
  • 13,000 hectares of natural areas maintained by the City,
  • partnering with groups such as the Gold Coast Catchment Association to support residents in tree planting, weed removal, litter collection, caring for native animals and coordinating citizen science programs
  • 16,000 people engaged through the City’s NaturallyGC workshops,
  • co-hosting events such as the Gold Coast’s Biggest Tree Planting,
  • undertaking regular quality and health monitoring for  our water environments,
  • supporting environmental education, awareness and behavioural change, and
  • implementing policy to improve waterway health outcomes across the city.

Please remember we can all be mindful of our everyday activities around our waterways with these simple tips:

  • dispose of litter correctly including cigarette butts and pet droppings,
  • reduce run off from backyards or car repairs,
  • avoid excessive use of fertilisers and pesticides on gardens,
  • ensure correct disposal of paints and wastes from home improvements; and
  • wash cars on the grass instead of on driveways or streets

For those feeling inspired to find out more, the Our Natural City Strategy provides an insight into how the City plans long-term to protect our iconic natural environment and recognise its significant value to our economy and invaluable lifestyle.

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