Where to Kayak in South Australia
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).
The 500,000 hectare Coorang National Park is a national archaeological site which has evidence of Aboriginal occupation and a great place for paddling.
The Garden Islands Ships Graveyard and the Mangroves of the Port River System are closer to Adelaide and offer some great experiences.
For Sea Kayakers, the Fleurieu Peninsula, between Second Valley and Cape Jervis in particular, is a great paddle, and around the area of Victor Harbor is also worth a look. We also recommend Kangaroo Island, the north coast end which is more sheltered and has perfect bays to camp. To access Kangaroo Island you can catch the ferry or paddle across on a neap tide. If you like amazing than the Yorke Peninsula near Cape Spencer is a must and Pondalowie Bay will be the best way to access. Not to forget the islands south east of Port Lincoln, including Thistle, but the strong tidal flow need to be mentioned and the area is heavily exposed. The Sir Joseph Banks Islands are great also.
We love the beautiful areas in South Australia and have some information to help on some of these amazing areas.
Garden Island Ship’s Graveyard Maritime Heritage Trail
(Located Garden Island in Port Adelaide)
This is 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 birdlife.
This Trail is a 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.
(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 birdlife. 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 70kms, plentiful with redgums lining the banks and an abundance of wildlife.
(Located in Adelaide)
West Lakes is one of the most popular areas of Adelaide to Paddle and is a great training lake with a 2000m 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 6km circumference.
Port River / Barker Inlet
(Close to Adelaide)
This is abundant with birdlife and a very interesting spot to paddle with plentiful mangroves, dolphin sightings and birdlife.
This is known for its tidal flow and windy conditions and 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
(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.
(South-East of Adelaide)
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 sandunes 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
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 Chinaman’s surf break where you may be lucky to see a surfer braving the elements.
There are so many amazing places to kayak and canoe in South Australia and we have only listed a few here, for more information on Where to Paddle in SA please use these useful links.
- » Canoe South Australia – www.sa.canoe.org.au
- » Useful Info on the Murray River – www.murrayriver.com.au/kayaking-canoeing/
- » Canoeing Maps for SA – www.southaustraliantrails.com
- » Chowilla – www.southaustraliantrails.com/pdf/chowilla.pdf
- » Katarapko – www.southaustraliantrails.com/pdf/katarapko.pdf
- » Loch Luna – http://www.southaustraliantrails.com/pdf/loch_luna.pdf
- » Torrens Island – www.southaustraliantrails.com/pdf/torrens_island.pdf
- » Global Paddler – Click on the Logo below to see some great information on where to Paddle in SA