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The best places to paddle a kayak right now

18 Sep 2022 by Kate Hunter

The best places to paddle a kayak right now

While the water levels throughout The Murray region remain gloriously high, bringing the landscape to life, the best way to experience it close-up is from a kayak or canoe.

So, when you feel the need - the need for less speed that is - pack your paddles and head for one of the creeks, tributaries, lakes, and swamps that form the mighty Murray River system.

Save these canoe trails down for later and explore The Murray with this guide.

1. The Gunbower Island Canoe Trail

Located on Gunbower Creek on the tranquil wetlands of Safe’s Lagoon, with excellent canoe launching facilities, the Gunbower Island Canoe Trail is a 5km return paddle (approximately) marked by coloured triangular markers. There’s wildlife to be seen in, on, and around the water so look for platypus, kangaroos, and turtles. To reach the canoe trail take the Koondrook Track off the Kerang-Koondrook Road or loop in an eco-tour with Murray River Adventures by Sydney Harbour Kayaks.

2. Barmah Wetlands

With plenty of easy access points, the four canoe trails in the Murray Valley National Park and Victoria’s Barmah National Park offer experienced and new paddlers encounters to remember. Launch from Picnic Point, Barmah Lakes visitor area, Swift’s campground or Rices Bridge and enjoy the splash of oars and the creak of red river gum branches as you explore the Ramsar listed wetlands, a haven for waterbirds and freshwater fish.

3. Kings Billabong

Near Mildura and bordering a wide stretch of The Murray, Kings Billabong is a 2154-hectare haven for wildlife, particularly waterbirds, and a paradise for paddlers. There are lots of camping and picnic areas with launching facilities, including an all-accessible floating pontoon and canoe launcher at Psyche Bend. Find it on the northern side of the Kings Billabong feeder channel, with the easiest access via Psyche Pumps Road.

4. Edward River Canoe Trail

A relaxed alternative to the main river, the Edward River canoe trail near Mathoura is a top pick for paddlers. It also allows you to escape the crowds that can flock to Murray River during school holidays and over long weekends. You’ll discover many beaches and swimming spots; great places to stop for a picnic, drop a line and try to identify the native birds. Spend a morning, an afternoon, or even camp as you go and spend a week or more.

5. Lake Hume

An impressive body of water held by an awe-inspiring dam wall, Lake Hume is an easy 15-minute drive from Albury Wodonga. With boat launching facilities and a vast expanse of calm water teeming with Murray Cod, Rainbow Trout, Redfin and Golden Perch – a bonus for paddlers who like to fish (be sure you grab a Victorian Fishing Licence that covers the entire lake). The lake’s foreshore is the perfect place to enjoy a picnic, fire up a barbecue and experience the mountain views. Hire a canoe to explore at your own leisure from Canoe The Murray Albury or Murray River Canoe Hire or book in for a multi-day guided experience.

6. Lake Mulwala

Perfectly complimented with the accommodation and eateries of the twin towns Yarrawonga and Mulwala, Lake Mulwala is a hub for water-based activities. If you’re looking to take a scenic paddle, Lake Mulwala sets the scene with an abundance of birdlife to spot as you glide past the river red gums. Cast a line and try your luck at luring a prized catch for dinner or paddle out and end the day with front-row seats to the sunset.

7. Lake Boga

Home to a 3km watery oasis, Lake Boga is known by kayak lovers for an abundance of fishing spots and bird watching. Located in the Swan Hill region, the lake’s Turtle Lagoon provides a haven for native wildlife including the Long Neck Tortoise and a diverse range of bird species making for a truly special experience.

8. Doodle Comer Swamp

Quirkily named Doodle Comer Swamp is part of the 2,024-hectare Henty's wetland habitat. Kayakers and canoeists will love exploring the mysterious waterways, admiring 400-year-old ancient River Red Gums which attract countless species of birds and other animals. Near the township of Henty, in Greater Hume, Doodle Comer Swamp is the perfect place to experience a tranquil part of The Murray, away from motorboats and crowds.

9. Gum Swamp Reserve Walla Walla

A nationally significant wetland, two kilometres north of Walla Walla, Gum Swamp is a magnificent river red gum swamp woodland with fabulous original large hollow-bearing trees, ringed by rushes and grasses. When the swamp is as full as it is now, rare aquatic plants and threatened animals can be spotted, and local canoeists and kayakers relish the freedom to explore the more remote reaches of the wetlands.

Remember, the ever-changing nature of the river and possible risks in navigating it mean paddlers of all abilities need to take a little extra care on the waterways, but happily there are plenty of wetlands to explore while the main river remains high.