Summary: A short paddle exploring the pristine Upper Colo River upstream from Camp Bielany.

I’ve organised a family scout camp at Camp Bielany on the Upper Colo River, and with a free afternoon I take the opportunity to explore the river upstream. It’s been over a year since I’ve taken the kayak out, and I’m looking forward to what should be a tranquil journey up the shallow river.


The Colo River is considered the last pristine river in NSW, flowing through the Wollemi National Park and into the Hawkesbury River. While it often looks quite brown or muddy, the bottom of the river is sandy and the water is very clear. The peacefulness is only broken by the sound of bellbirds in the trees – and the occasional car or motorbike (the road follows the river, but is never visible).


After about 45min paddling, I catch-up with Jeffrey and Jenny, who have been just ahead of me. We have a brief stop on one of the many sandbanks that jut into the river before continuing further upstream.

After Jeffrey and Jenny turn back, I continue upstream, battling the tide… I’m surprised to find the generally shallow river (a couple of times I have to jump out and pull the kayak across a sandbank) is still tidal here. Progress is fairly slow against the tide, and after two hours I am nowhere near my planned destination – the Upper Colo River Reserve.

It’s a relief to turn around after two hours (having covered only about 5.5 kilometres) – only about half-way to Upper Colo Reserve. You could easily do Upper Colo Reserve (where there is river access) to Putty Road in half a day, with a car-shuffle, if you’re going with the tide.


There’s a few sections where you can still see the fury of the floods from a couple of months ago when the Colo River rose 15 metres – a few fallen gum trees in the water and many trees bent by the force of the water.


I’m back at Camp Bielany in about an hour – about twice as fast as my trip uphill. I mean, upstream. I’m keen to go back and perhaps even do a longer overnight trip, or a one-way day-trip along this section.

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