Central – Melbourne

Want to know the best places to go kayaking, canoeing, and stand up paddleboarding in the Central – Melbourne district of Victoria? These guides are free for Global Paddler members and yearly memberships are available now from the Global Paddler online store. To download a detailed trip description for a great paddling destination with photos, paddle map, GPS coordinates, and recommended places to eat, drink, and sleep, simply click on its name in the table below.

Trip Locator Map for Central - Melbourne

1. Barwon Heads The final stage of the Barwon River’s 160 kilometre journey from high in the Otway Ranges to the sea at Barwon Heads follows a winding tidal path through an open landscape decorated with distinctive and sometimes rare plants, and frequented by wide variety of birds.
2. Brighton A wise man once told me that you can’t write a paddle guide for Melbourne without telling everyone where they can find a good coffee. That’s not a problem on this paddle from the Middle Brighton Baths to Sandringham Yacht Club as there are baristas at both ends ready and waiting to serve you.
3. Christmas Hills Thirty five kilometres east north east of Melbourne, the Yarra River traces the southern boundary of the festively named Christmas Hills. There isn’t any holly and you won’t find any mistletoe of the Yuletide variety, but the plant life is just as decorative… and an equally good excuse for a kiss.
4. Corio Bay Geelong is the second most populated city in Victoria and the sixth largest port in Australia in terms of tonnage, but it’s not all about statistics. It is beautiful and historic, and its photogenic face gazes out across Corio Bay ever ready to offer a warm welcome to seafaring friends and strangers alike.
5. Dights Falls One of the most interesting chapters in the life of a river that runs to the sea takes place when it halts its long push downstream to surrender to the ebb and flow of the tides. The Yarra River yields more theatrically than most at Dights Falls. This is your chance to witness that transformational moment.
6. Fyansford Like an athlete approaching a big event or a student facing a crucial end of year test, the Barwon River is quiet and subdued as it slowly makes its way through the long tunnel of river red gums and black wattles that leads to its inevitable encounter with Fyansford’s famous Buckley Falls.
7. Kananook Creek Kananook is ‘The Little Creek That Could’. It is challenged with forever flowing into the open water of Port Phillip at Frankston, and it continues to succeed despite seemingly insurmountable hardships along the way. Listen very carefully and you might just hear it whispering “I think I can, I think I can…”
8. Lake Burrumbeet Lake Burrumbeet is like an organic piece of fruit. It might not be the shiniest apple on the shelf or the most curvaceous banana but when you bite into it you realise that it is just as nature intended and delicious to the last mouthful.
9. Lake Connewarre Connewarre is an Aboriginal word meaning black swan and it is easy to see how the lake got its name, but swans are only one of one hundred and fifty species of birds that can be found in this delightfully secluded wetland of international significance.
10. Maribyrnong River The Maribyrnong River is recreation central for Melburnians who like to spend their leisure time immersed in the blues and greens of Mother Nature. Scores of picnickers, walkers, cyclists, rowers, and of course paddlers are drawn to this city stream and its surrounding parklands every day.
11. Melbourne City Paddling down the Yarra River into the City of Melbourne is an experience worthy of being at the top of any bucket list. The Yarra is to Melbourne what the Grand Canal is to Venice. A watery main street that allows users to marvel at the history and culture in a way that people on land can only imagine.
12. Newtown Every paddler dreams of having a beautiful place to paddle right outside their front door. For many urban dwellers that seems an impossible dream, so the people of Geelong are understandably stoked to have this delightfully natural stretch of the Barwon River running through their suburbs.
13. Patterson Lakes Get up at the crack of sparrows, load the day hatch with Tiny Teddies, Lays chips, and Footy Franks, and come prepared to declare “that’s noice, that’s different, that’s un-ewes-ewe-al” as you peek inside the back doors of all the hornbags and foxymorons that live in Patterson Lakes.
14. Powlett River The Powlett River trickles down from the rolling green South Gippsland hills north of Inverloch and Wonthaggi and then winds between flat open pastures and attractive swampland before squeezing through an impressive row of sand dunes to reach its final destination in Bass Strait.
15. Rhyll Inlet This paddle into Rhyll Inlet is one of the secret delights of a nature lover’s island paradise which thanks to a string of Aussie legends like Wayne Gardner, Mick Doohan, and Casey Stoner, is now world famous for being the home of the Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix.
16. Ricketts Point The good people at Parks Victoria aren’t going overboard when they say that Ricketts Point Marine Sanctuary is “a coastal haven in the suburbs”. This slice of paradise is a welcome refuge for marine flora and fauna, and a fantastic place for harried humans to get some much needed R&R.
17. Rutherford Creek Ecologically essential and impressively tidal Rutherford Creek is an important resource and refuge for a vibrant variety of aquatic and avian wildlife in the white mangrove forests of the north west corner of Western Port less than one hour’s drive from the centre of Melbourne.
18. South Geelong South Geelong is blessed with a glittering ribbon of Barwon River water surrounded by attractive green parklands. It’s a popular strip with locals who love to play outdoors and arguably one of the safest places in the Central region of Victoria for people who are new to paddling.
19. Swan Bay One of the great things about kayaks, canoes, and stand up paddleboards is they provide access to places that are unreachable by any other means. This is one of those places. The only way to truly explore the shallow protected waters of ecologically vital Swan Bay is with a paddle in your hand.
20. Tooradin Tooradin is a fishing village on the northern rim of Western Port named after a frightening emu-like bunyip that is said to inhabit its waters. It has been a while since the last reported bunyip sighting, but there’s no reason why it wouldn’t still be here… and your encounter could be the next.
21. Werribee River Werribee River Park, the market gardens of Werribee South, and the Werribee Park Golf Course dress this waterway in a jacket so green it would make any Augusta Masters champion envious. Its rugged features are also clearly a hit with the birds as they flock to it in impressively large numbers.
22. Williamstown The story of the Williamstown waterfront is both culturally colourful and wonderfully wild. This was the first permanent European settlement in Victoria and it was originally earmarked to be the capital of the colony, but it isn’t just a tale of the people. There is some amazing natural history too.
23. Yarra Bend Featuring wonderful natural scenery, a canoe club, two places to hire kayaks and canoes, two additional places for paddlers to launch their own craft, a tea house, and a café, this might well be the most delightfully civilised nature based paddling opportunity in the whole of Australia.
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