The Barron River Challenge is a down-river race in tropical far north Queensland on the beautiful Barron River.

Paddlers compete in 20km or 30km sections between Mareeba and Kuranda with experienced racers paddling both stretches for the BRC50 – the ultimate 50km marathon challenge.

Day one sees entrants of all paddling abilities and crafts navigate grade one rapids and natural river course obstacles. A friendly race atmosphere attracts senior high school students, women, men and relay teams in a sport many continue to do well into their later years. After an easy morning of registration and craft scrutineering, the BRC20 starting gun fires in the early afternoon for a two to three hour paddle down swift moving water, gravel races, leafy canopies and sandy-bottomed pools.

BRC20 paddlers at Biboorah checkpoint
Canadian relay teams take off at the starter's gun
BRC20 and BRC50 start line in Mareeba

The BRC20 hosts a Canadian relay challenge where mixed teams change paddlers over three legs between Mareeba and Bilwon.

The friendly competition concludes with a BBQ and award presentations at the finish line, while BRC50 hopefuls gear up for day two…

The BRC20 course is ideal for SUPs!
Terry McClelland with decade-long BRC paddler David Lep

Experienced and fit paddlers compete in the BRC30, from Bilwon to Kuranda, or the BRC50 where entrants build on their efforts in day one to complete the full 50km marathon. Several grade two rapids are interspersed with longer pools where the river banks widen and the flow eases.

Experienced local John van Ryt on a clean sweep of Oak Forest Rapid

The finish line in the rainforest is in the heart of Kuranda where paddlers and their supporters are again treated to a well-deserved burger (or two!). Presentations are wound up by lunch time giving visitors and locals time to enjoy the beautiful natural surrounds.

In the northern region of Australia where paddling has almost become extinct due to the protection of crocodiles, the BRC stands out as a unique event.

Barron River, Mareeba Shire
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