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DESTINATIONS - TRAVEL DESTINATIONS

KAYAKING DESTINATIONS
Going up the creek with a paddle

 

Australia is a fantastic destination for tourists looking for natural beauty and adventure. Even for locals, there are hundreds of places to explore that will feel just as special as visiting a foreign country. 

 

Kayaking is a unique way of travelling and provides the paddler with a totally different perspective. Australia has so many beautiful spots to choose from that it’s almost impossible to decide what to do first. In this article, we’ll be taking a look at the very best places to visit if you decide to spend some time paddling. 

 

Port River: shipwrecks and wildlife in the city

 

 

Port River is an estuary that runs through the city of Adelaide in Southern Australia. Kayaking in this waterway gives you a view of Adelaide’s industrial shores; this river has been a shipping channel for almost two hundred years. 

On the flip side, Port River is home to a number of protected environmental areas, animals, and spots of natural beauty. To top this off, you can explore several ship graveyards in the estuary. And you can take a look at the Kaurna Heritage Trail that features six sites originally belonging to a specific Aboriginal group forced out by colonists. In stark contrast to the industrial nature of the channel, a dolphin sanctuary gives visitors the opportunity to see these wild dolphins up close. These are the only wild dolphins in the world that live in a city. 

 

Katherine Gorge: spectacular nature 

 

 

Formerly known as Katherine Gorge National Park, this site sits in the southern part of Nitmiluk National Park in the Northern Territory of Australia. As with many beautiful places in Australia, the gorges in this area are important in the culture and history of the Aboriginal group: the Jawoyn people. 

The river running through this landscape is perfect for a kayaking trip. It is an incredible experience to explore magnificent gorges, but also an excellent opportunity to spot animals, including freshwater crocodiles.

 

 

There are hosts of other attractions in the region, including hikes and helicopter tours. If you’re driving a 4WD, this is a great place to pause and soak up the natural beauty of the area and appreciate its cultural significance. 

 

Ningaloo Reef: whales and whale sharks

 

 

This region–Ningaloo Coast–is on Australia’s western coast, about 1200 km north of Perth. It is a World Heritage Site and just offshore lies the Ningaloo Marine Park and Ningaloo Reef. A 260 km stretch of coral reef that is home to whale sharks, humpback whales, and turtles. 

You can join a group to kayak along the reef, sticking to calmer lagoons and stopping off to swim and snorkel along the way. Tour operators offer packages lasting half a day, a full day or multiple days and can help you get the most out of your trip to the Ningaloo Coast. Coral Bay, a small town just south of Ningaloo Marine Park, can also be a good base camp, especially if you’re taking a road trip.  

 

Hinchinbrook Island: land and sea adventures

 

 

 

Known as Pouandai to the Biyaygiri people of the area, Hinchinbrook Island is off the coast of Queensland. It forms part of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and the Hinchinbrook Island National Park. 

It’s recommended that you sea kayak off the island’s east coast, but off the west coast you may run into saltwater crocodiles. It is a protected island, so visitors are subject to restrictions. However, kayakers and hikers should not miss the island. 

For landlubbers, the Thorsborne Trail promises to be an interesting, 32 km hike, while the surrounding waters are becoming known as the best kayaking destination in Queensland. The trip along the east coast can stretch over five days and includes regular stops to explore the coastal trails. 

 

Rottnest Island: conserved and undisturbed

 

 

Rottnest Island is off the coast of Western Australia and is a Class A Reserve, meaning that it is thoroughly protected in terms of conservation. The island is around 1900 hectares and is home to about 300 permanent residents. 

It has become more and more popular as a tourist attraction for various reasons, and it’s certainly an excellent spot for kayaking. Some companies even have clear bottom kayaks so paddlers can watch the marine life straight beneath them. 

 

Noosa River: River of Mirrors

 

 

Noosa River in South East Queensland offers paddlers a relaxing cruise (albeit manually powered) from Lake Cootharaba all the way through Lake Cooroibah and down into Tewantin National Park. 

Your trip can take you all the way to the Noosa Heads, or you can stick to a shorter section of the river. This area is full of bird life and insects to watch from the water, as well as waterlilies and vegetation acting as a soft ceiling in some places. The Noosa River is nicknamed the River of Mirrors for the way it’s still, smooth surface reflects the sky and surrounding scenery, and it’s a very apt description.  

 

Sydney Harbour: see landmarks from the water

 

 

Kayaking isn’t just something to do when you’re out of the hustle and bustle of city life. Locals and tourists alike can kayak in Sydney Harbour to get a unique view of the city. 

Tour operators offer various guided kayak trips, and watching the sunrise from the water is definitely an experience to remember. It’s possible to paddle up to the Sydney Opera House and under the Sydney Harbour Bridge, although this is generally reserved for those who have perfected their paddling technique and have plenty of experience. Sydney is an international hub and considered a gateway to Australia, so the time you spend off the water allows for plenty of other activities. 

 

Staying safe in your kayak

 

 

It’s important to remember that although kayaking is fun, it’s a water sport, and it can be dangerous. Always wear a life jacket or personal floatation device (PFD), have a whistle attached, and know how to get safely back into your kayak if you capsize.

You also need to be aware of hazards in the water, especially when paddling in busy channels. As you sit low in the water you may not be easy to spot, even from a jet ski or small power boat, let alone a larger vessel.

Make sure you wear high-visibility clothing, and if possible, use paddles that have reflective or neon strips or paint. Steer clear of other vessels and never assume that they can see you, even if you can see them. Always navigate on the starboard (right) side of a river or channel, carry a radio to call for help, and be vigilant at all times.

Before setting out, tell someone where you are going and what time you expect to return. Check the weather carefully too and make sure you’re not in for any nasty surprises.

 

Take to the water

Travelling is one of the great pleasures in life. When travelling to a place with such a unique and striking natural environment, it would be silly not to dive into activities that bring you as close to nature as possible. Kayaking, hiking or taking your 4WD into the wild are all great ways to explore. For these locations, kayaking is the way to go.

 

 

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