Where to Kayak in South Australia
Kayak South Australia – Places to Explore
South Australia is the driest state, but has some of the most remarkable locations to kayak and many of these waterways are just a short drive from the Adelaide metro area.
The River Murray creeks and backwaters offer perfect kayaking trails. One must be alert to other water enthusiasts including houseboats, power boats and the Murray Explorer. But the diverse landscapes are a paddlers dream. Katarapko National Park is ideal for beginner paddlers and families and is located opposite the town of Loxton. Chambers Creek is popular as well as the waterways of Swan Reach and Morgan which have amazing wildlife and cliff views. Just near Renmark is Chowilla Creek, which is known for paddlers to see 3 states in one day (SA, NSW and VIC). For Sea Kayakers, the Fleurieu Peninsula, between Second Valley and Cape Jervis in particular is a great paddle.,We also recommend Kangaroo Island, the north coast end which is more sheltered and has perfect bays to camp.
We have put together some information on kayaking areas for you to explore.
Garden Island Ship’s Graveyard Maritime Heritage Trail (Located Garden Island in Port Adelaide)
The Garden Islands Ships Graveyard and the Mangroves of the Port River System are closer to Adelaide and offer some great experiences. An amazing place to explore and a kayak is the perfect way to see one of the largest and most diverse graveyards for ships in the world.
In the north arm of the Port River at the Southern end of Garden Island you will find these ships that date back to 1856 and are now abundant with sea life and bird life. This Trail is 2km (60 minute guide) and can be accessed through the Garden Island Boat Ramp. This is an easy paddle and is perfect for beginner paddlers.
Murray River (Just a few hours drive from Adelaide)
- River Boat Trail (Accessed from the lower section of the Murray River)
If history is your thing than you will be amazed at the historic sites along the river boat section of the Murray. Barges, paddle steamers, old buildings, over 60 shipwrecks, 24 jetties, 12 wharves and a lighthouse and the list goes on. Signage along the Murray make this a perfect paddle and the historic books you can purchase are a must to learn the history along the way. Information noted below in our useful links.
- Chambers Creek (Access from Barmera 5km North-West)
The Chambers Creek is a backwater that is abundant with bird life. This area has been developed for canoe access and has facilities to accommodate camping.
- Chowilla Creek (Start at Old Customs House)
The Chowilla Creek trail is located at Renmark. This area is rich with Aboriginal heritage, native wildlife and vegetation. An area where you can paddle for just a few hours or a few days at a time.
- Katarapko Creek (Located at Loxton)
This area is ideal for day adventures or overnight trips. The Katarapko Creek is so varied from open lagoons to narrow and highly dense creeks. This area can be found near the Loxton irrigation Area.
- Morgan / Swan Reach
This area of the Murray runs for 70 kilometres, plentiful with red gums lining the banks and an abundance of wildlife.
West Lakes (Located in Adelaide)
West Lakes is one of the most popular areas of Adelaide to paddle and is a great training lake with a 2000 metre rowing/canoeing course which is used for training and events.
This Lake has many launch points, including beaches and boat ramps. We would recommend Aquatic Reserve off Bower Rd, Dotterei Reserve on Dotterei Drive and Oarsman Reserve off Military Road.
An important consideration is the south-west winds which can make conditions very choppy, so mornings are a better time generally as it is usually calmer.
Deflin Island is a great spot for beginners on calm days, this island is located in the middle of West Lake and is great for paddlers to circle its 6 kilometre circumference.
Port River / Barker Inlet (Close to Adelaide)
This is abundant with bird life and a very interesting spot to paddle with plentiful mangroves, dolphin sightings and bird life. Known for its tidal flow and windy conditions, if you are thinking of checking out this area you are best to check the tide beforehand. Barker Inlet is popular and a good place to launch is the Garden Island Boat ramp
Onkaparinga River (Port Noarlunga South)
South Australia’s second largest River, the Onkaparinga, is a must to explore. This River has breathtaking gorges, and the extreme opposite in flood plains and wetlands.
Between the Sea and Old Noarlunga is Onkaparinga River which is a great spot to paddle. This is a paddle that you should check conditions carefully, as this is a very tidal river and at low tide can be shallow. Although don’t be worried it can be paddled through different channels but it’s good to be aware of the conditions first.
Coorong (South-East of Adelaide)
The 500,000 hectare Coorang National Park is a national archaeological site which has evidence of Aboriginal occupation and a great place for paddling.
A magnificent area to explore is Coorong National Park, home of the Ngarrindjeri Aboriginal people and known for wetlands which are recognized internationally. Stretching some 130 kilometres, this has many saltwater lagoons which are sheltered from the Southern Ocean and the sand dunes of the Young Husband Peninsula.
This area has strong weather conditions and although protected by the Young Husband Peninsula, it is suggested to check the local current conditions as the Southern Ocean can change rapidly. There are great Coorong Canoe Guides which are helpful in paddling these areas and you would be advised to check these for permits that may be required.
Innes National Park (Yorke Peninsula)
The Innes National Park has the largest range of native vegetation on the Yorke Peninsula. The rugged coastline and amazing surf breaks are a great feature. But be wary if the swell is up than it will be hard for you to land, so take your valuables in the cockpit. The best place to launch is from Stenhouse Bay and you will head West past China-man’s surf break where you may be lucky to see a surfer braving the elements.