Distance: 12 kilometres return
Duration: 3 hours return
Best time to launch: 1.5 hours before high tide at Richmond River – Broadwater.
Start/finish: Broadwater boat ramp, Broadwater Road, Broadwater – GPS: 29°00’49.0″S 153°25’41.4″E.
Parking: Sealed parking area at ramp.
Toilets: Closest are on the corner of Little Pitt Street and the Pacific Highway in Broadwater.
Paddle to the left after launching to go downstream on the Richmond River. The Broadwater Sugar Mill is on the right hand side just past the bridge. It was created in 1880 by the Colonial Sugar Refining Company (CSR) who used punts built at the nearby Riley’s Hill Dock to transport cane from fields much further upstream. The NSW Sugar Milling Co-operative Ltd bought the mill from CSR in 1978, along with two others at Harwood and Condong, and now has its head office in Broadwater. Turn left at the first junction to go into Tuckean Broadwater. This is around 1.5 kilometres from the start. The path isn’t as wide as you might expect from the name because thick mangrove forests on either side take up a lot of the space. When the tide is very high, it is possible to paddle into the forests and that is an opportunity definitely worth taking. The waterway becomes even narrower closer to the barrage as vast bundles of lilies dominate the edges. Their aesthetic qualities mean this is something you will be happy to forgive, particularly if they are in full flower. The Bagotville Barrage was built in 1971 to prevent salt water intruding on farmlands beyond while enabling fresh water to escape into the Broadwater in times of flood. It’s not possible to progress further than this today, but it is worth noting the lilies continue on the other side for a beautiful paddle through Tuckean Nature Reserve.
Safety note : Please do not try to climb over the barrage or carry your equipment around it because this could cause injury.