39 great paddle trails
Finding a great place to go kayaking, canoeing, or stand up paddleboarding in the Illawarra and South Coast regions of New South Wales is easy with Global Paddler. All you need to do is pick a number on our trip locator map and click or tap on the trail name with the same number in the list below. The Global Paddler guide for your chosen paddle trail will then be displayed.
Each Global Paddler guide includes a map, colour photographs, logistical details, a route description, local points of interest, quirky facts, and recommended places to eat, drink, and stay the night so that every day you spend on the water is fantastic.
- Douglas Park
It speaks volumes of Douglas Park that Major Thomas Mitchell, who led three extensive surveying explorations of eastern Australia and therefore knew better than most what this part of the country had to offer, chose to build a mansion right here. Douglas Park truly is an extraordinary place.
- Koong Burry Bay
Koong Burry Bay is the hub of an adventure that explores two secluded creeks, circumnavigates two amazing islands, takes in a World War II installation, visits an inspirational “Place of Healing”, and even offers the possibility of a paranormal experience with a pair of poltergeists.
- Minnamurra River
The Minnamurra River is a degustation menu of delectable delights that should be sampled and savoured slowly. Speed is not of the essence if you want to experience, understand, and appreciate everything this remarkable place has to offer.
- Bundanoon Creek
If you have ever paddled in the Illawarra region of New South Wales, there is a good chance you are familiar with the wonders of Shoalhaven Gorge. Neighbouring Bundanoon Creek is less well known but equally as stunning. See for yourself. Go right instead of left next time you launch from Tallowa Dam.
- Shoalhaven Gorge
The hardest thing about describing this place is doing it justice. There’s something very special about Lake Yarrunga and the Shoalhaven River in Shoalhaven Gorge. Paddlers are given a communion with nature that rejuvenates their spirit and makes their hearts sing.
- Broughton Creek
Broughton Creek has a paddling history that is hard to beat. The Thurawal people who were here 20,000 years ago were admired for their canoeing ability; the first European came by canoe; and until relatively recently it hosted a marathon paddling event every year.
- Comerong Island
Comerong Island is home to a nature reserve that protects remarkable mangrove forests, abundant oysters in important reefs and productive farms, scores of native shorebirds, and one of Australia’s largest summer gatherings of migratory wading birds. It’s a great place to disappear for a few hours.
- Crookhaven River
The Crookhaven River is a quiet estuary in the Shoalhaven that excels at producing delicious oysters and so much more. The Shoalhaven River gets the lion’s share of the region’s limelight but the Crookhaven River is a significantly greater contributor than its humble demeanour suggests.
- Coonemia Creek
One person’s hidden gem is another person’s sparkling showpiece. So it is with Coonemia Creek. If you are a visitor to the area, this lovely waterway in Jervis Bay National Park is probably not the first paddling place you will discover. If you are a local, it is bound to be one of your favourites.
- Currambene Creek
Cruisy Currambene Creek meanders slowly through mellow mangroves, serene saltmarshes, and peaceful waterside villages on its way to a relaxed get-together with picture-perfect Jervis Bay at Huskisson. It has a calm unhurried approach that is thankfully very contagious.
- Wandandian Creek
This waterway has an air of mystery that is hard to resist. Its single public appearance is for travellers on the Princes Highway near Jervis Bay where it reveals nothing of its future or its past, saying only that its name is Wandandian; the home of lost lovers.
- Sussex Inlet
Sussex Inlet is the name of both a lovely winding waterway that connects St Georges Basin with Wreck Bay on the coast and the town that rests on its shores. This paddle trail traces the waterway’s path and follows canals into town for an inside look at the idyllic daily lives of locals.
- Swan Lake
Featuring the natural bushland setting of Conjola National Park, sheltered creeks, soft sandy beaches, scores of black swans, and some of the most impressive sand dunes in southern New South Wales, this is your next paddling holiday waiting to happen.
- Lake Conjola
The Conjola experience is so much more than just a paddle around a lake. The trail showcases the Conjola National Park as you traverse Conjola Lake on your way to Fishermans Paradise on the Conjola Creek shoreline. If you find the call of the ocean irresistible, you can even paddle out to catch a few waves.
- Narrawallee Inlet
A Narrawallee Inlet paddle is a meandering voyage through three strikingly different environments, the crystal clear sandy lagoon, the verdant nature reserve, and captivating rural farmland. The ever-changing scenery adds a definite “Ooh… Aah…” factor to the day.
- Stony Creek
Stony Creek is the primary tributary of beautiful Burrill Lake. It collects lovely rainwater that falls in its catchment area near Ulladulla and trickles it into the northern end of the lake. Burrill Lake is familiar to most who have explored the NSW South Coast, but Stony Creek is still a delightful hidden secret.
- Burrill Lake
When you just can’t decide whether your perfect paddling environment features the translucent turquoise shallows of a sandy seaside estuary or the tranquil depths and forested slopes of a drowned river valley, you need a place that has the best of both worlds. That place is beautiful Burrill Lake.
- Lake Tabourie
Lake Tabourie is a lovely coastal lagoon south of Ulladulla. Glimpses of it from the Princes Highway are enough to tempt you in but glassy reflections of Pigeon House Mountain and the treasures of the five creeks of Tabourie are what will keep you coming back for more.
- 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.
- Durras Lake
Pristine is a word that has lost value because it has been used far too liberally to describe less than perfect places, but there isn’t a worthy alternative so I am going to use it anyway. Perhaps more than any other lake in NSW, Durras deserves to be called pristine.
- Tomaga River
The Tomaga isn’t the longest river on the south coast but it packs a lot into a comparatively short distance. Rugged coastal rock formations, lush vegetation, oyster farms, grazing cattle, and the Mogo Zoo provide a captivating backdrop for this very special trip.
The laid-back country town of Moruya reclines beside the river with two names. In the hills, where it is flowing and fresh, it is the Deua River. Near the coast, where it is salty and tidal, it is the Moruya River. This trail is an exploration of the Moruya River between the town and the tidal limit.
- Coila Lake
Coila means something different to everyone. To the Brinja Yuin people, it is a place of great cultural and spiritual significance. To geologists, it is the location of remarkable granite and basalt rock formations. To kids, it is the place where Grandad taught them how to catch prawns. What does it mean to you?
- Tuross Lake
Nothing gets your inner explorer out of bed in the morning quite like the excitement of visiting a maze. Tuross Lake is filled with islands that combine to create a labyrinth of casuarina lined corridors, teeming with birds, and decorated with staghorns and native orchids.
- Bumbo Creek
If you’ve ever heard of Bodalla, the mere mention of its name will send you running to the kitchen to look for the Jatz. Bodalla is famous for its cheese. However, there is another reason Bodalla should be celebrated and that is the Bumbo Creek paddle trail.
- Wagonga Inlet
The crystal clear and incredibly clean waters of Wagonga Inlet are not just perfect for growing oysters. They provide a fantastic view of Mother Nature’s underwater show. Vast seagrass meadows and large groups of stingrays are highlights for the watchful.
- Corunna Lake
Corunna Lake is a pretty coastal lagoon south of Narooma set between the natural wonders of Eurobodalla National Park and the open pastures of peaceful Corunna farmland. The succulent cherry on this picturesque cake is an excellent winery right at the water’s edge.
- Gulaga National Park
Gulaga is a focal point in both the landscape of the NSW south coast and the creation story of the Yuin Aboriginal people. She watches closely over Wallaga Lake and keeps it safe by wrapping a gorgeous green blanket around its western shores.
- Black Lagoon
The movie Frozen increased tourism to Norway big-time. Braveheart supercharged Scotland’s visitor numbers. Sadly, Creature from the Black Lagoon was not as beneficial for this place but you should definitely still visit. This Black Lagoon is a sanctuary zone and all of its creatures are very nice.
- Bermagui River
There’s an unwritten law that says anyone who hears of a waterway with a name that refers to paddling must go paddling on it. The Bermagui River’s name is derived from the Aboriginal Dyirringanj word permageua which means canoe with paddles. Go on. Add it to your to-do list.
- Brogo Dam
The highlights of Brogo Dam include incredible wildlife, striking geology, excellent fishing, and the stunning backdrop of Wadbilliga National Park. It is also a rare opportunity to paddle on flat fresh water in the South Coast region of NSW. This is definitely not one to be missed.
- Cuttagee Lake
Cuttagee is the lake you paddle when you’re not paddling a lake. It is more like a collection of lovely lagoons and labyrinthine melaleuca fringed creeks than a lake. Bring this guide and sense of adventure, and you will discover so much more than you could ever read in a tourist brochure.
- Wapengo Lake
Oysters are indicators of the purity of an aquatic environment because they filter and absorb their food directly from the water. The fact that multi-award-winning rock oysters are grown in Wapengo Lake is a sure sign that it is a wonderfully wholesome place to paddle.
- Bega River
The “magic of Bega” owes a lot to the presence of the Bega River. There isn’t always a lot of water in it near the Bega township itself these days but the 11 kilometre stretch near the coast always has more than enough for this enchanting paddle.
- Wallagoot Lake
Wallagoot Lake is a wellness retreat that is just as nature intended. Expensive health spas promise to help you leave your cares behind, relax, rejuvenate, and float gently through life in total tranquility. Wallagoot can do that for you too, and it won’t cost you the earth.
- Merimbula Lake
Every now and again you find a paddling destination where it is clear that the community understands the awesomeness of paddle sports because they provide paddlers with everything they need to have a great time on the water. Merimbula is one of those destinations.
- Pambula Lake
Pambula Lake is the hub of an adventure that allows you to glide through the delightful Ben Boyd National Park, sample delicious rock oysters, and explore the undeniably de-lovely Pambula and Yowaka Rivers. In the immortal words of Cole Porter, “It’s delightful, it’s delicious, it’s de-lovely.”
- Towamba River Estuary
The Towamba River estuary is best known for the historic Davidson Whaling Station at its ocean entrance but this is also a place with an awe-inspiring geographical and geological setting, and a feeling of rugged remoteness that combine to create a truly extraordinary paddle trail.
- Wonboyn Lake
Wonboyn Lake is cocooned in rugged wilderness and perfectly preserved by the presence of Ben Boyd National Park and Nadgee Nature Reserve. Simply getting here feels like an adventure and that amplifies the anticipation of something special. It is a promise on which Wonboyn Lake definitely delivers.