Exploring the Maroochy River: outside the mainstream

By Poppy Solomon

You probably drive past it on your way to the Sunshine Plaza, or spend weekends swimming in it, but have you ever truly explored the Maroochy River? Flowing through major Sunshine Coast areas such as Nambour, Bli Bli and Maroochydore, the river stretches approximately 30km and has a multitude of attractions to visit.

Swan Boat Hire owner Mark Planck says we’re lucky to have the Maroochy River on the Sunshine Coast.

“There’s so many things you can do,” he says. “We have people who go downstream to the river mouth, Cotton Tree, and the North Shore for a swim. Or, they might go upstream all the way up to Dunethin Rock.”

If you have a boat, canoe or other watercraft of your own, you can easily explore the river at your own pace. If not, Swan Boat Hire has a range of boat/kayak options available, and you don’t even need to have a boat licence.

Here are three locations not to miss on your next visit:


Running through the Sunshine Coast Hinterland, the first section of the Maroochy River takes you through Nambour and its surrounding suburbs. Within this area is Lake Dunethin, a waterway right at the beginning of the Maroochy River Canoe Trail.

The lake includes a boat ramp, toilets and picnic tables, so it is the perfect place to start a day trip on the river.

Incredible views of the Maroochy River from Dunethin Rock. Photo: Poppy Solomon

While visiting the lake, you can climb Dunethin Rock for fantastic views of the Maroochy River and the surrounding farmland. Simply dock your boat and follow the signs.

The rock and lake are located on Lake Dunethin Road, in the suburb of Maroochy River (you can boat or drive to both).

 Bli Bli:

The Maroochy River also flows through Bli Bli, which boasts a ski lane next to its fantastic boat ramp and local shops.

Mr Planck recommends visiting the Maroochy Wetlands Reserve, located in Bli Bli, on your journey along the river.

“If you go up the river to the wetlands, where the mangroves are, you’ve got all sorts of bird life,” he says.

“You can also see crabs in the mangrove mud. You’ll also see fish life – yabbies crawling, soldier crabs in their thousands.”

It is easy to dock your boat on the wetland’s jetty and wander the boardwalk (just bring mosquito repellent).

In Bli Bli, you can launch your boat or kayak from the boat ramp located between the local shops and Ski and Skurf. The ramp offers toilets, a playground and skate park.

To visit the wetlands by car, you can find the entrance on Sports Road.


The final major location on the Maroochy River is, of course, Maroochydore.

A seagull sits on the shore of Cotton Tree Beach. Photo: Poppy Solomon

Mark Planck says docking or launching your watercraft is no challenge in this area, with several boat ramps located along the shore.

“Go down to the North Shore of the Maroochy River and go swimming, call into Cotton Tree and have a coffee, or pull up on Chambers Island,” he says.

“If you go down towards the mouth, there’s a lot of sea birds there and always pelicans on the sand banks.”

Chambers Island is the first spot you’ll reach in Maroochydore, if you are making your way downstream. Just a few minutes from the Sunshine Motorway Bridge and fishing hotspot the ‘Cod Hole’, Chambers Island is a great spot to spend a day. Whether you’re swimming, climbing the trees, or getting fish and chips from the local shops, there is plenty to enjoy.

The next location in Maroochydore, Cotton Tree, is a fantastic spot to relax. Located beside the Sunshine Plaza and Ocean Street, there are plenty of shops to visit, a playground, and beautiful shallow waters to paddle in (you can even swim over to a sand island).

The last location is the river mouth, right next to Cotton Tree (between Mudjimba and Maroochydore beaches). You can stop in the beautiful water for a swim or walk on the Mudjimba Dog Beach and visit Pincushion Island, a colourful rock you can climb for fantastic views of the beach and river.

So, have you planned your trip yet? Whether you want to spend a day boating, kayaking, or simply dropping by some of these fantastic locations, there are many ways to enjoy the river.


Leave a comment