It’s the perspective that can turn any boring every-day thing into the most spectacular experience ever – like the bird’s-eye view of your hometown when you approach the airport by plane, or slowly cycling along a road that you usually zoom along in a car or bus. Suddenly you become conscious of details you never noticed before, and somehow this place you thought you knew, seems unfamiliar, new and exciting.

Although I like the bird’s-eye view from a plane, a high building or a parachute, and I’m a big supporter of the two-wheels (even though my daydreaming habits make me fall off too much), my favourite perspective is ‘from the water’. There’s nothing like sitting in a boat or a kayak and exploring a city, a national park or an island in this unique way.

10 Awesome Kayaking Spots in Australia by Kathi Kamleitner

A place, where I’d love to improve my paddling skills, is Australia. After Sophie’s post on her favourite water activities in Oz, I got curious as to why kayaking wasn’t included. I have never been, but I put on my journalist’s hat and researched. Turns out Sophie’s just not much into paddling, and there are actually endless options for tours in Australian lakes, rivers and the sea.

Some beautify places in Australia are only accessible by boat. So if you’re lucky enough to travel all around the continent, why not add to the almost obligatory car purchase and get your own second-hand kayak? This way you can set out to explore places from a completely different perspective. Here are 10 places to get you started.

Note: Independent kayaking should always be done withe complete safety equipment and good preparation of the route. Be aware of tides, landing points, safety instructions etc. If you are unexperienced, you should participate in an introduction course or a few guided tours to begin with; particularly when it’s about overnight trips or sea kayaking.

1. Sydney

10 Awesome Kayaking Spots in Australia - Sydney Harbour via Sean Smith

Like most other Australian major cities, Sydney lies right by the sea, which makes for an excellent opportunity  to explore the city and its surroundings from the waterways. For a unique perspective on the famous Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge, go for a paddle around the harbour. Watch out though, as there is a lot of traffic and the smallest boat always gives way to the bigger ones. Start in Rose Bay and work your way towards the city, where you can venture into numerous side arms of the bay – your options are endless.

10 Awesome Kayaking Spots in Australia - Store Beach, Sydney by Marie Colinet

Exploring Sydney’s waters by kayak opens the door to a beach inaccessible to anyone on foot, car or bicycle: Store Beach in the famous Manly Cove. Marie has written about its charms before, but let me just repeat: “This beach is about as secluded as it gets. It is also home to a colony of tiny endangered fairy penguins. Pray to your baby-animal angel and you might spot one of these black and white cuties!”

2. Hawkesbury River, New South Wales

10 Awesome Kayaking Spots in Australia - Hawkesbury River Anna Hutchcraft
by Anna Hutchcroft

Hawkesbury River is just north of Sydney and therefore makes for a good weekend trip or pit-stop on the way further up north. 2-3 days are recommended for the entire distance from Windsor to Brooklyn, but even just a couple of hours of paddling give you a good idea. The lower part in particular is amazing, as it slices through two national parks. The shores are covered in lush mangrove forest which forms green tunnels for you to explore.

3. Moreton Bay, Queensland

10 Awesome Kayaking Spots in Australia - Moreton Bay, Dugong via

The tropical waters of Moreton Bay stretch over 125km of the Queensland coast right by Brisbane. Many species live in the shallow bay, some of them endangered, others absolutely unique to the Australian wildlife. Kayaking is ideal here, because of its low impact on the marine world. You can spot all sorts of animals, from various birds by the shore, to colourful fish, sea turtles and dugongs in the water and even dolphins and humpback whales further out in deeper water.

4. Lady Musgrave Island, Great Barrier Reef

10 Awesome Kayaking Spots in Australia - Lady Musgrave Island, Great Barrier Reef via Ben Southall for Queensland Tourism

Crystal clear water, colourful fish in all shapes, bizarre coral formations below you – that’s what expects kayakers at the Great Barrier Reef. Without a doubt this is one of the best places to kayak in the world. I stumbled upon numerous possible trips, but the one that really caught my eye was a day-trip to Lady Musgrave Island in the southern outer reef. Although it is too far to paddle there – even if you are a professional paddling the 80km distance from the mainland without a safety support crew is not recommended – it can be reached by chartering a cruise ship to drop you off in the morning and pick you up at night. Bring your snorkel as well as plenty of drinking water, and explore this pristine paradise off the beaten track. Learn more about the Great Barrier Reef here.

5. Katherine River, Northern Territories

10 Awesome Kayaking Spots in Australia - Katherine Gorge, Northern Territories via Percita

Katherine River in Nitmiluk National Park is a very popular destination for canoeing and kayaking trips. The first bits can get quite busy with tourists on day tours, so it’s best to take some time and head out for on an overnight adventure instead. The further you get away from the starting point in Katherine Gorge, the thinner the crowd gets and the more scenic the landscape becomes. There are 13 interconnected gorges in total. The river has been cutting into the red sandstone longer than you can think, and as a result you will paddle between two majestic red walls standing straight up into the air. This area of Australia gets very hot and the trip is physically challenging – make sure to bring enough water and take a dip in the river from time to time.

6. Rottnest Island, Western Australia

10 Awesome Kayaking Spots in Australia - Rottnest Island, WA, by Sophie Saint by Sophie Saint

Rottnest Island is a little island paradise just off the coastline of Perth in Western Australia. Sophie has made us all jealous about her adventures there before, and even locals say it’s a must-do for day trips from Perth. Skilled sea kayakers can paddle directly to the island (19km), but if you’d rather save the energy for a circumnavigation (30km) or an easy-going splash around the coast, you can also take the ferry. The island convinces with dreamy turquoise water, white sandy beaches, and a glimpse into the past and onto the limestone buildings built long ago when the island was a penal colony. The island is also the only place where you find the cute little quokka, a kind of wallaby endemic to Rottnest Island.

7. Port River, Adelaide

10 Awesome Kayaking Spots in Australia - Port River, Adelaide, Dolphin Sanctuary via Brian Frisk

Port River is not actually a river, but rather a part of Port Adelaide. It lies a mere 15 minute drive from the city centre and should not be missed. There is a dolphin sanctuary home to a group of about 30 animals. Due to their curious nature, dolphins and kayaks make for a good combination if you want to get up close with them. There are also a 5 ships’ graveyard sites with over 20 shipwrecks from the 19th and 20th century. Much to explore!

8. Great Ocean Road, Victoria

10 Awesome Kayaking Spots in Australia - Great Ocean Road, Victoria via YY

Great Ocean Road is one of Australia’s most scenic drives, making it a mekka for road trippers from all over the world. Majestic pinnacles stick out of the ocean along this coast, forming ‘The 12 Apostles’, and the iconic arc of ‘London Bridge’. The sea here is known for its ruggedness, but there are sea kayaking spots for every level of difficulty. From sheltered and calm bays to the thrilling waves of the open water. The best routes start from Apollo Bay, Lorne and Anglesea.

9. Gippsland Lakes

10 Awesome Kayaking Spots in Australia - Gippsland Lakes, Victoria 3 via amanda

Gippsland Lakes consists of three interconnected lakes, Wellington, Victoria and King. You could explore the shoreline forever, as the 7 rivers that feed the lakes are responsible for diverse geological features, and there are campsites all over. Discover marshes, lagoons, sand dunes and the extraordinary Mitchell River silt jetties. This place is particularly great for beginners, as there is hardly any tidal effect and there are numerous of pull-out points for breaks ashore. For the full experience, bring your tent and pitch it in one of the two national parks for a night under the starry sky – sounds romantic, no?

10. Tasmania

10 Awesome Kayaking Spots in Australia - Freycinet National Park, Tasmania via Jolene Faber

Tasmania is a great for anybody who loves to kayak – kilometres of unspoiled coastline, hundreds of little islands and a vast river network with calm and wild waters. What more could you ask for? If I had to narrow it down, I would probably go for a two-day excursion around the white sandy beaches of Freycinet National Park and paddle into the most beautiful sunset over the ocean…

 

Australia seems like it is the kind of water-paradise I need to explore in the near future. What about you – are you an experienced paddler and have tips on buying a second-hand kayak? Or do you have favourite kayak spot in Oz?