73 great paddle trails
Finding a great place to go kayaking, canoeing, or stand up paddleboarding in the Mid North Coast and Northern Rivers 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.
- Cobaki Creek
Cobaki Creek is the most northerly paddling destination in New South Wales. The name suggests a single waterway but this trip actually takes in three creeks and the scenic Cobaki Broadwater as well. Throw a few islands into the mix and the result is a venue with a plethora of possibilities.
- Terranora Broadwater
Terranora Broadwater is a tidal lagoon linked to the Tweed River two kilometres from where it spills into the Coral Sea. Side creeks, islands, and the convenience of the Seagulls Club right beside the water ensure that this is a fantastic multidimensional paddling experience.
- Cudgen Creek
Cudgen Creek runs south from the urban development of increasingly cosmopolitan Kingscliff to the sanctuary of the wonderfully preserved Cudgen Nature Reserve; an important refuge for koalas, sea turtles, and many other natives.
- Tygalgah Island
Our planet is constantly in a state of flux with its features reshaped over time. This island is at the heart of a volcanic landscape at the junction of two rivers carved by flooding rains. It is an amazing opportunity to witness the results of eons of change.
- Stotts Island
It almost defies belief that the largest remnant of sub-tropical floodplain rainforest in New South Wales should be on a little island in the Tweed River between Murwillumbah and the coast but that’s exactly where you’ll find this rare and precious jewel.
Being present at the coming together of two flowing freshwater rivers and watching them swap stories about their amazing journeys is always an experience to treasure. Water is life and there is great comfort in dwelling in places where it is abundant. Byangum is one of those places.
- Hastings Point
Hastings Point is a beauty spot on the lip of the Coral Sea. It is home to the heavenly waters of Cudgera Creek and Christies Creek. These estuaries are wonderfully non-threatening venues for beginners and fantastic places for experienced paddlers to relax and go with the flow.
The passage of time turns countless traditions and events into hidden secrets but the inquiring and imaginative mind can still find historical whispers in the landscape and there are several of those in and around the waterways of Pottsville.
- Clarrie Hall Dam
Peaceful Clarrie Hall is wrapped in blankets of thick forest and cradled in the protective arms of Wulambiny Momoli, the towering patriarch of mountains. Its many arms offer a different view every time you visit. Clarrie Hall may not be the largest lake in NSW, but it might just be the most scenic.
- Marshalls Creek
Marshalls Creek is a symphony in four movements – ‘Shallow Waters’, ‘Leafy Corridors’, ‘Seaside Sanctuary’, and ‘Ancient Rainforest’, that is played with a paddle and magnificent support from the Mother Nature Philharmonic Orchestra.
- Brunswick River
No one can deny that the Byron Shire is an incredibly alluring part of NSW, but to really appreciate its inner beauty you need to grab a kayak, canoe, or stand up paddleboard and take the scenic route from Brunswick Heads to Mullumbimby.
- Simpsons Creek
Simpsons Creek is a favourite destination of Northern Rivers paddlers. It’s a little waterway that runs south from the delightful village of Brunswick Heads into Tyagarah Nature Reserve; a protected coastal haven for sub-tropical flora and fauna.
- Toonumbar Dam
Camping in beautiful bushland right next to the water is icing on the cake for any paddling adventure. Toonumbar Dam has that and more. Wonderful wildlife, gorgeous geology, and fantastic fishing are all great reasons to stay for more than just one day.
More often than not, the best way to find out what makes a region tick is to ask the locals where they like to go in their spare time. For people from Lismore to Ballina, Byron Bay, and beyond, an increasingly regular answer to that question is Eltham.
Ride historic bow waves from the commercial centre of the Northern Rivers region of NSW to one of the last remnants of what was once the largest subtropical lowland rainforest in eastern Australia and you will find there is a lot more to Lismore than meets the eye.
- Leycester Creek
Leycester Creek follows a winding 69 kilometre path from the dizzy heights of the Tweed Volcano caldera rim to its meeting with the Wilsons River in the City of Lismore. Come with us as we take a look at the delightful final stages of that journey.
- Maguires Creek
Maguires Creek is a picturesque stream in the volcanically formed and agriculturally scenic Teven Valley just outside of Ballina. Up until now, it has managed to avoid detection by Google Maps or tourism guides of any kind but the beans are about to be spilled.
- Emigrant Creek
Looking down from a bridge, a creek is a symbol of infinite possibility. It disappears into a secret world of landscapes and creatures you can only imagine. Leave the bridge and plunge bow first into this one’s remarkable journey.
- North Creek
Anyone can simply launch into a waterway and go for a paddle, but to find all the really cool stuff you need the advice of a local who has been there many times before. As I ran kayak tours on North Creek for several years, the local in this case is me.
- Ballina Island
Did you know that Ballina is actually an island? This trail takes you all the way around the island and through a refreshingly diverse range of environments. There’s a historic manmade canal, a sheltered creek, an expansive river, and even some waves you can catch.
- Tuckean Nature Reserve
Tuckean Nature Reserve is a protected wetland interspersed with an enticing array of paddler-friendly canals. These waterways are blessed with a huge variety of birds and lined with lilies that produce an amazing blanket of purple flowers in spring.
- Jabour Weir
Casino is best known for beef production and art deco architecture but the true topaz in its tiara is the long stretch of fresh Richmond River water behind Jabour Weir. It is a provider of life-sustaining water for the town, essential habitat for wildlife, and a superb venue for paddling.
The Richmond River is never going to win the prize for the fastest way to get from Casino to Coraki but if you are paddle-fit, up for a challenge, and you value the joy that comes from allowing a long trip to evolve in an unhurried way then you will love everything about this secluded stretch of water.
There aren’t many who can say they have seen a koala in the wild, and even fewer can boast of seeing them from the water, but if you paddle north up the Wilsons River from Coraki you’ll get the amazing opportunity to add your name to both those lists twenty times over.
Little Woodburn is too shy to trumpet its best features to the world. It calls itself Traveller’s Rest like it is resigned to being a stopover rather than a destination. But don’t be fooled. Now that the highway no longer runs through town, its waterfront position and paddling potential are pure gold.
Broadwater is a small town on the Richmond River, 20 kilometres upstream from Ballina. If you’re struggling to put a face to the name, you might know it better from the column of steam and smell of molasses from its sugar mill. Yes, Broadwater is Sugar Town.
- Bungawalbin Creek
Some people like winding country roads and others prefer long straight freeways. If you are the country road type then secluded and peaceful Bungawalbin Creek will no doubt find a place at the top of your list of favourite paddling destinations.
- Evans River
The Evans River ebbs and flows between the Coral Sea at Evans Head and Tuckombil Canal at Woodburn. With tranquil streams, a secret waterfall, astonishing wildlife, more fish than you can poke a rod at, and the blessings of not one, but two national parks, this truly is a paddler’s paradise.
- Jerusalem Creek
Jerusalem Creek has the perfect blend of accessibility and isolation. A well-equipped campground and convenient launching pontoon deep inside the Bundjalung National Park make it something close to heaven for the nature-loving paddler.
- Esk River
Many places lay claim to the ‘wilderness’ title but on the NSW coast, only three have been officially recognised as worthy of that distinction. One of those provides a wonderfully natural setting for this memorable paddle up the enticing Esk River.
- Warregah Island
A paddle around Warregah Island is a tour of New South Wales sugar country north of Maclean that features a rare Australian thong tree, historical sugar cane barge remains, and the chance to venture deep inside magical Mangrove Creek.
- Broadwater Creek
- Sportsmans Creek
Sportsmans Creek flows into the Clarence River at Lawrence. This is a paddle from its historic weir into the Everlasting Swamp National Park which is home to one of the largest coastal floodplain wetlands in New South Wales and a refuge for a staggering array of wildlife.
- Orara River Mouth
Just around the corner from you now, there is somewhere beautiful that few people ever see and even fewer people talk about. A well-kept secret. Just around the corner from Grafton, that place is the mouth of the Orara River. Prepare to be included in the Grafton circle of trust.
- Sandon River
The Sandon River is the holiday destination you thought only existed in dreams. Glazed eyes and hushed reverential tones are common when people recount Sandon stories from their youth. The often full campground is a sure sign the secret is out, but this is still a beautiful and well-preserved spot.
- Wooli Wooli River
There isn’t a whole lot of tourist information about the town of Wooli and its wonderful Wooli Wooli River. Maybe that’s because the five hundred or so people who live here know how lucky they are to have it to themselves for most of the year.
- Station Creek
Reclining between Station Creek’s smooth-barked apple trees with family and friends, it’s not unusual for the conversation to simply melt away. The relaxed silence is only broken momentarily for someone to softly ask “Why don’t we come here more often?”
- Corindi River
Somehow the little village of Red Rock and its beautiful Corindi River have slipped under the radar of all but the most inquisitive Mid North Coast tourist, although it’s hard to imagine that a special place like this will stay a secret forever.
- Moonee Creek
Moonee Creek runs through the lovely seaside town of Moonee Beach just north of Coffs Harbour. Its eastern bank is embraced by the gorgeous Moonee Beach Nature Reserve. This turns down the volume of everyday life and presents a procession of natural wonders for the watchful to enjoy.
- Coffs Creek
This little waterway is the raison d’être and main attraction of a lovely ribbon of green space that winds into the centre of Coffs Harbour. It’s an impressively natural environment that acts as both the lungs of the city and a provider of ecotherapy for the people.
- Boambee Creek
Boambee Creek is one of those family friendly places that come to mind when a bunch of relatives are about to land on your doorstep. Safe swimming, fabulous fishing and prizeworthy paddling are all on offer, and there is a lovely picnic area in Boambee Creek Reserve.
- Bongil Bongil National Park
Bongil Bongil National Park is near Sawtell just south of Coffs Harbour. In the language of the Gumbaynggirr people, its name means “a place where one stays a long time”. Launch into its delightful twin creeks and you too might find it hard to leave.
The most common word used to describe the Bellingen Shire and the town from which it gets its name is magic. There is a fantastic creative atmosphere in this place. An intangible “feel good“ quality that has made it the cultural hub of the Mid North Coast.
- Urunga Island
The Bellinger and Kalang Rivers both rise on the Dorrigo Plateau in the heart of the ancient Ebor Volcano and they both spill into the Tasman Sea at Urunga. They enter the ocean together after linking flows just inland at Urunga Island to create the venue for this excellent paddling adventure.
- Newry Island
Just before the Kalang River joins the Bellinger to flow into the sea at Urunga, it opens its arms to give the mainland a last big hug at Newry Island. This creates a rare opportunity for a one-way river trip that starts and ends in the same place.
- Picket Hill Creek
Picket Hill Creek is a picturesque tributary of the Kalang River on the western side of Urunga. Beautiful eucalypts, casuarinas, melaleucas, and mangroves provide magnificent shelter which ensures that the water is invariably glassy and the trees’ reflections are completely perfect.
- Deep Creek
Deep Creek is a family-friendly highlight of the charming seaside settlement of Valla Beach just north of Nambucca Heads. Kids swim in safety, mums and dads find peace in casting out lines, and paddlers disappear upstream to take in everything this enticing waterway has to offer.
- Nambucca Heads
It is said that when you are travelling you should take an interest in what the locals are doing and where they frequent. This stands true for the Nambucca River at Nambucca Heads. The locals utilise it well and every weekend you will generally find a group of paddlers heading in some direction.
- Upper Warrell Creek
This is a quiet, relaxed, and often shaded paddle that takes in Warrell Creek upstream of the Pacific Highway as well as some of Upper Warrell Creek. It is a local favourite because it is simple to find and easy to access yet it seems so far away when you are on the water.
- Warrell Creek
The tall dense vegetation and sheltering landscape of Warrell Creek make it both a lovely nurturing environment for natives of the Mid North Coast and the perfect getaway for world-weary people in desperate need of some paddle therapy.
- Macleay Arm
Macleay Arm is a sparkling waterway that runs parallel to the coast between Grassy Head and the Macleay River at South West Rocks. Its many islands and inlets entice paddlers to stay for more than one day and the warm hospitality of the waterfront village of Stuarts Point makes staying here a pleasure.
Water-based arrival routes were favoured by the Dhungutti and Gumbaynggir people who met in this “sharing place” up to 9,000 years ago when most of the area was under the ocean. The waterways have changed a lot since then but Clybucca is still a cherished meeting place for people who paddle.
- Telegraph Point
We are gathered here today to celebrate the union of two rivers; Wilson and Maria. There is something romantic about the place where this pair comes together. A secret world of hidden passages lit up by blushing flowers and enlivened by fluttering wings.
- Limeburners Creek
The delightfully untouched natural beauty of Limeburners Creek Nature Reserve lies on the doorstep of the bustling metropolis of Port Macquarie. It is a little patch of paradise that is unquestionably best seen with a paddle in your hands.
- Kings Creek
Paddling in any location is a great way to escape the pressures of everyday life but some waterways have an extra intangible something that makes them more relaxing than most. It’s not the X Factor. It’s the GP Factor. And Kings Creek has it in spades.
- Cathie Creek
Cathie Creek links two lakes to provide a serene and beautiful paddling opportunity with plenty to explore. Interestingly, it would never have existed had it not been for an ecological blunder made in an attempt to open up farmland and further commercial interests.
- Camden Haven River
You already know that waterways are places of inspiration and paddling is like poetry in motion but you can’t help but feel a little bit cleverer when you learn that one of your favourites was also a well of creativity for the beloved Australian wordsmith Henry Kendall.
- Watson Taylor Lake
Expansive Watson Taylor Lake can be found in the care of the Three Brothers mountains midway between Port Macquarie and Taree. It’s not far from the Pacific Highway but its attractively forested shoreline keeps it remarkably well hidden from the world.
- Stewarts River
Stewarts River is the least known paddling destination in the Camden Haven area. This could be because the highway crosses it at a place which is enigmatically called Johns River. No matter what the reason, it is a very pretty waterway that you are likely to have all to yourself.
The Manning River at Taree is surprisingly cool and not just because some of it was once snow on the hills of Barrington Tops. Two gorgeous nature reserves, interesting geography, and a fascinating history make it very cool in a Fonzie kind of way.
- Jones Island
A circumnavigation of Jones Island near Taree is a fantastic opportunity to glide across the open waters of the Manning River, weave through the winding Lansdowne River and cruise into the sheltered environment of Ghinni Ghinni Creek, all in the one day.
- Wallamba River
Forster-Tuncurry is a premier NSW holiday destination and the Wallamba River is one of its star attractions. The area’s glorious beaches, sumptuous dining, and treasure-filled shops delight even the most discerning of visitors, but it is the waterways you will love the best.
- Wallis Lake Nature Reserves
There are eight nature reserves in and around the captivatingly blue waters at the northern end of Wallis Lake at Forster-Tuncurry. Most are island paradises only known to a select few and you can get up close and personal with all but two of them on this adventure.
- Wang Wauk River
One of the best things about paddling is being able to visit lovely locations other people can’t reach. The shallow water and rocky reefs of the Wang Wauk River make it just such a place. Take advantage of the capabilities of your craft and enjoy a delightful discovery tour of this peaceful stream.
Coolongolook is well known to motorists travelling between Sydney and Brisbane because it is one of the few places where the brake pedal still needs to be pressed. Press a little harder next time you pass through town and you will discover there is a lot more to Coolongolook than meets the eye.
- Wallingat National Park
The very name of the Great Lakes region tells you it is awash with paddling opportunities. Many are brilliant but if your most-loved places to float feature peaceful seclusion in a natural environment then the Wallingat River in Wallingat National Park should be at the top of your Great Lakes to-do list.
- Smiths Lake
Smiths Lake is the smallest of the three bodies of water that give the Great Lakes area of New South Wales its name. However, it is the largest intermittently closed and open lake in the state so there is plenty of room for what is invariably a very peaceful paddle.
- Myall Lake
Myall Lake is the star of the largest fresh-brackish water lakes system on the New South Wales coast. It is surrounded by a national park, included in the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance, and it’s a great place to paddle and camp.
- Two Mile Lake
If paddle camping in an internationally recognised wetland sounds like your cup of tea then Two Mile Lake in Myall Lakes National Park is the place for you. An amazing seven campgrounds surround Two Mile Lake and an overnight stay provides plenty of time to soak it all in.
- Mungo Brush
Mungo Brush is the location of one of the better-known camping grounds in the Myall Lakes National Park. It’s also the perfect place to launch your kayak, canoe, or stand up paddleboard for an exploration of the top end of the lower Myall River.