Clyde River

The Clyde River rises in the Budawangs west of Milton and runs through uninhabited forests and national parks to its meeting with the coast at Batemans Bay. Unspoiled surroundings mean that these waters are always exceptionally pure.

WATERWAY Clyde River
REGION South Coast, NSW
DISTANCE 25 kilometres
TIME 5 hours
START Shallow Crossing, The River Road, Mogood
GPS DMS: 35° 31′ 47.5″ S, 150° 11′ 56.4″ E
DD: -35.529861, 150.199000
FINISH West Bridge Boat Ramp, Wharf Street, Nelligen
PARKING Shallow Crossing – on street, Nelligen – large car park
TOILET Shallow Crossing Campground and near finish
CONDITIONS Open areas, tidal, some heavy traffic, shallow areas
FISHING Bass, bream, estuary perch, flathead, jewfish

Clyde River Map

Some say the Clyde River has “the cleanest, least polluted waters of any major river in Eastern Australia”. Healthy native fish and platypus populations in its upper reaches and thriving Sydney rock oyster farms near the mouth of the estuary provide strong support for this claim, but a true appreciation of the purity of this place only comes to those who experience it for themselves.

Clyde River Photo 1

The Aboriginal people of the region called this river Bhundoo. The English name was given to it by Lieutenant Robert Johnson and Alexander Berry who navigated the waterway in 1821 and decided that it reminded them of the River Clyde in Scotland.

This paddle takes place on the tidal estuarine part of the Clyde River between Shallow Crossing and Nelligen (GPS: 35° 38’ 56.1” S, 150° 8’ 32.6” E). The map and logistics for this guide suggest that you start at the former and head south to the latter but the best idea is to let the wind and tide conditions guide your decision as to whether to do it that way or in reverse. High tide at Shallow Crossing is one hour later than at Nelligen and one and a half hours later than at the Clyde River Bridge in Batemans Bay.

A one way trip involves leaving a vehicle at the finish point of your trip so you can get back to the start, but an alternative in this case is to take advantage of the accommodation that has been conveniently provided at each end and paddle back the next day. If you plan on spending a night in Nelligen, it is worth noting that the Big4 Nelligen Holiday Park has its own boat ramp (see map) for the use of people who are staying with them. Anyone who isn’t staying at the holiday park but would like to make use of their ramp and hot showers can do so for a small fee.

Shallow Crossing is exactly what you might expect; a spot on the river where it is shallow enough to cross, often even by car. This is also the point where the running fresh water section of the Clyde River meets the tide.

Hardly any large boats venture north of Nelligen as the water is very shallow in parts. This means you will probably only share your time in this natural playground with other paddlers and the occasional tinnie.

The village of Nelligen was established in 1854 and connected to inland Braidwood by road a couple of years later. It had its heyday in the late 19th century at a time when there were no bridges across the river. It was home to a port from which steamers picked up minerals, timber and farm produce to be shipped to Sydney and beyond.

Care has been taken to preserve much of Nelligen’s historic charm and if you take a wander around, you can read all about it on informative plaques that have been created to explain the significance of various buildings and landmarks. Considering the comparative sizes of Batemans Bay and Nelligen these days, it is amazing to think that this little place with its population of just two hundred and twenty was once by far the busier of the two.

Clyde River Photo 2

“There is a love of wild Nature in everybody, an ancient mother-love ever showing itself whether recognized or no, and however covered by cares and duties. ” John Muir

EAT Café Nelligen, 7 Braidwood Street, Nelligen, (02) 4478 1109
DRINK Steam Packet Hotel, Kings Highway, Nelligen, (02) 4478 1066
SLEEP Big4 Nelligen Holiday Pk, Kings Highway, Nelligen, (02) 4478 1076

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