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Ahoy! It’s a classic!

Ahoy! It’s a classic!

The Tweed River is a beautiful river that begins its meandering journey on the eastern slopes of the Great Dividing Range. The great body of water flows generally northeast, joined by several tributaries before it passes through the urban centres of Murwillumbah to its mouth at Tweed Heads.

This part of the Northern Rivers region has a long history of boating starting with John Oxley sailing up the Tweed in the 1800s. The Dry Dock in Terranora inlet has had many vessels built there. Historically, in Murwillumbah, over 30 km upstream was regularly visited by large vessels until it became silted, which restricted larger vessels.

The river is an ideal boating destination, with over 60 km of navigable waterways and many interesting locations, including Stotts Island and trailer parks that cater for boaters.

Each year, the river hosts a number of major aquatic events. One of the most unique is the Tweed River Classic Boat Regatta. Originally conceived by Bob Modystack and Bruce ‘Stumpy’ Keir, who had a chance encounter on the river in the late 1990’s and found they shared a history of traditional boat building. Bob is a veteran who spent a long time in the ‘army’ posted around the world serving in the 32 Small Ships Squadron, Royal Australian Engineers. Bruce, who also lives in the area, was long ago a well-known builder of boats in Seaford, Victoria, and was also an Australian champion dinghy sailor.

A modest first regatta in 2001 saw seven boats attend. In recent years, the best attendance has been 43 boats. The participating boat owners originate from not only the southern Gold Coast and Tweed River region, but many participants are from as far north as Kingaroy QLD, and from the south all the way from Batemans Bay NSW.

Worth a mention are the Brisbane and Moreton Bay supporters who travel up to 14 hours out through the GC Seaway down the outside and back in through the Tweed Bar, then to do it all again two days later to get home. Bob conveys that it is a chance to show off your boat to other like-minded owners and the interested public.

Many owners make the effort to participate each year, so the event organisers are mindful to vary the on-water activities. The opening event is a meet-and-greet onboard a local cruise boat Golden Swan, a 50-year-old Norman Wright Brisbane ferry. There is a very interesting collection of vessels, such as old sailboats and mahogany speedboats. According to Bob, the boats that draw the most interest are always the steamboats. The largest participating boat was an ex-trawler Coral Sea, a local boat of the Tweed, and the smallest boat ever in attendance was Jimmy Hall, a lovely little putt-putt.

The annual flotilla is a visual spectacle, which is best viewed and photographed as they travel upstream line astern from Fingal Heads, Chinderah, and a picturesque riverside lunch stop at Tumbulgum.

In 2018, the event promises to be an exciting nautical attraction. The organisers are scheduling to navigate the back channel at Stotts Island, and the channel called Murders Creek (Myal Creek) joining the Rous River with the Tweed River. The vessels will be open for the public to inspect on the Saturday at the historic riverside town of Tumbulgum before travelling back to the Ivory Tavern/Marina for the evening’s awards and celebrations.

The next Classic Boat Regatta is scheduled for October 26-28. To register your boat visit: facebook/tweedriverclassicboatregatta or email:


By Andy Kancachian