The backwaters and creeks of the River Murray provide some of South Australia’s best canoeing opportunities. As a rule the trails don’t have discernible trail markers or defined edges – in contrast, they are marked by the extremities of the river, its creeks and waterways.
Katarapko National Park, opposite the town of Loxton, is an ideal canoeing destination for novice paddlers and families. Chambers Creek, located near Barmera and Cobdogla, as well as the waterways connecting Morgan, Blanchetown and Swan Reach provide an array of paddling experiences featuring protected, sheltered backwaters, open exposed lakes and rivers, abundant birdlife, aboriginal heritage and spectacular cliff views.
The Chowilla Creek, located near Renmark, gives canoeists the opportunity to paddle in three states (SA, VIC, and NSW) in one day. It’s set within the Bookmark Biosphere, where the lands are managed to combine both conservation and sustainable use of natural resources.
The Coorong National Park also offers good canoeing. This 50,000-hectare park is a great spot for seeing birdlife and wildlife in its natural habitat, and is of national importance as an archaeological site with middens and burial sites giving evidence of Aboriginal occupation over many thousands of years.
Closer to Adelaide, the Garden Island Ships’ Graveyard and the Mangroves of the Port River system provide paddling experiences in tidal conditions with the chance to see dolphins and marine life.
Canoes and kayaks can be hired from a number of outlets – check out the Yellow Pages for details. The education arm of Canoe SA provides courses on canoeing and kayaking for all skill levels. In addition, there are several tour operators offering half-day excursions and extended tours. Visit www.southaustralia.com for details.
- Wear suitable protective footwear
- Carry a change of clothes
- If the weather is likely to be cool, bring a waterproof jacket
- Wear a broad brim hat, apply sunblock
- Carry snacks and water (River Murray water is not suitable for consumption)
- Paddle with a friend
- Paddle in protected waters
- When canoeing on the Murray or its backwaters be alert for other water-users, including the Murray Explorer, house-boats and power boats. Canoeists should also keep well clear of the weirs, both upstream and downstream and take care when manoeuvring craft around and through locks.