48 great paddle trails
Finding a great place to go kayaking, canoeing, or stand up paddleboarding in the Sydney and Hunter regions of New South Wales is easy when you are a Global Paddler member. 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. Global Paddler memberships are available from our online store.
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.
- Lake Glenbawn
Lake Glenbawn is an impressive body of water that stretches out from the largest earth-filled dam in the country. It’s the big bass capital of New South Wales, the turtle capital of the region, and it’s just down the road from Scone, the horse capital of Australia.
- Lake St Clair
Lake St Clair is a photogenic family-friendly water sports venue nestled in the rolling hills of the Hunter Valley. Many visitors take advantage of the waterfront camping to stay for more than just one day and there is always peace to be found in its secret outer reaches.
Allworth was once a famous Karuah River port from which steamships collected timber and farm produce for transportation to Sydney. Those days have gone and it is now just a quiet village, but that is exactly why it should be on your paddling tourist trail.
- Clarence Town
In 1801, Colonel William Paterson ventured up what is now known as the Williams River in search of its navigable limit. He believed he found it at the site of present-day Clarence Town. Pick up where he left off and find your own navigable limit.
Seen recently on Facebook… Ivanna Paddlenow is looking for recommendations. “Hi Guys, Anyone know a great place to go kayak camping?” Nobody suggested Karuah but they should have. This trail features two national park campgrounds and enough water for at least two days of paddling.
- Tea Gardens
The town of Tea Gardens lies at the mouth of the Myall River on the northern shore of Port Stephens. Immediately upstream, an inland archipelago divides the river’s path into an array of secret channels and secluded inlets that are way too enticing to ignore.
- Hunter Wetlands
This adventure promises the opportunity to appreciate the sheer majesty of the mighty Hunter River estuary, a chance to lose yourself in the Hunter Wetlands National Park, and the prospect of observing critically endangered migratory wading birds in their summer home.
- Cockle Creek
Cockle Creek is a sheltered little waterway behind The Five Islands at the northern tip of Lake Macquarie. It has a surprisingly colourful history that it whispers to visitors through place names, geographical features, and human footprints.
- Blackalls Park
Blackalls Park is a community that has grown up around a lovely pair of bays at the northwestern corner of Lake Macquarie. The residents’ focal point is a pretty peninsula parkland which is a fantastic place to start an exploration of their hometown waters.
- Dora Creek
This is a paddle trail for every intrepid explorer who believes that variety is the spice of life. Partly on the open waters of Lake Macquarie and partly inside the peaceful sheltered environment of Dora Creek, it is more like two adventures than one.
- Pulbah Island
If wide-open spaces are your kind of thing then you will love paddling around Pulbah Island in the southern end of the incredibly expansive Lake Macquarie. This stunning body of water is the largest coastal saltwater lake south of the equator.
- Wallarah Creek
Apart from an unusual claim to fame when its name was used for a Pacific Motorway interchange, Wallarah Creek has remained relatively unheralded to anyone except locals and meticulously inquisitive explorers. This little natural wonder definitely deserves more time in the sun.
- Wyong River
Some places have spiritual energy that inhabits the headspace of the creative and compels them to express their feelings in works of art. The Wyong River is just such a place, inspiring a gorgeous contemporary folk song by musicians Nick & Liesl.
- Webbs Creek
Webbs Creek is a place where you can discard the “responsible adult” onesie that the world of grown-ups forces you to wear at most times in your life and you can just be a kid again. The only people you are likely to see here are other paddlers who have discarded their onesies too.
- Mangrove Creek
The best reason to paddle Mangrove Creek comes from the largest yoga retreat centre in the southern hemisphere. The Mangrove Yoga Ashram bases itself here because “people have always enjoyed travelling to beautiful locations to get away from it all”.
Alchemy, magic, charisma, call it what you will. Some places have an irresistible blend of beauty and charm which compels you to make a special home for them in your heart. The tiny village of Spencer at the junction of the Hawkesbury River and Mangrove Creek is one of those places.
- Mooney Mooney Creek
This is an aquatic exploration of the Brisbane Water National Park using creeks that are traced by the “Somersby & Mooney Mooney Creek Loop” section of the Great North Walk, so it’s a great chance to test the theory that paddling is just like bushwalking on water.
- Mullet Creek
Mullet Creek runs alongside the train line between Sydney and the Central Coast and is just a few kilometres from the Pacific Motorway, but the laid back lifestyle of the oyster farmers that use it makes it feel remote in both distance and time.
- Woy Woy
The Sydney rock oysters grown in the Woy Woy area are regarded by some as the best in the world and lucky paddlers can get them fresh from the farm. Woy Woy is also a wonderful place to explore with an enticing array of bays and channels, and the added bonus of a lovely secluded waterfall to discover.
There is something for everyone at Patonga. As the home and hub of heaps of paddling adventures, this hidden Hawkesbury hamlet has helped turn a host of heartfelt hopes into happenings, from the heavenly to the heroic. It’s a happy haven for hydrophilic humans.
- Juno Point
The trip from Brooklyn to Patonga is on expansive waters at the mouth of the Hawkesbury River. It’s a great place for budding sea paddlers to experience what it is like to be among the rise and fall of ocean swells without actually venturing off the coast.
- Berowra Creek
If you live in Sydney and your inner weekend warrior is crying out for a fix, a Berowra Creek adventure could be just what you need. It has a steep and often spectacular terrain that has preserved it from development and made it one of the city’s favourite day-tripper destinations.
- Pittwater Beaches
The Northern Beaches area of Sydney takes its name from the world-class surf beaches that line the coast between Manly and Palm Beach, but there are also many beautiful protected sandy bays in Pittwater, on the western side of “The Peninsula”. This is a tour that takes in nine of the best.
- McCarrs Creek
Venture out of the tranquil waters of McCarrs Creek into an area filled with natural bushland and secluded settlements not reachable by road. The only access is by boat across Pittwater or on foot through the Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park.
- Jerusalem Bay
The sheltered waters of Jerusalem Bay are in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park just north of Sydney. This is a pristine place that is only accessible by boat or on foot and the journey is most definitely just as good as the destination. It is a real luxury that we have somewhere so untouched this close to a major city.
- Narrabeen Lakes
Narrabeen Lakes is a popular paddling spot on Sydney’s northern beaches. Surrounding hills provide great shelter and the water is calm and accessible. Launching here also gives you the opportunity to say you have paddled in a place the Beach Boys immortalised in song.
- Smiths Creek
This is a return trip from Bobbin Head to the upper reaches of Smiths Creek through the bushland setting of Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park. There is a real feeling of wildness here. Development plans have been largely kept at bay so the area has been able to exist and evolve just as nature intended.
- Cowan Creek
For the most part, Cowan Creek is a deep, expansive waterway where you are just as likely to see large motorised craft as you are paddlers. That all changes upstream of Bobbin Head. The creek becomes shallower and narrower, and it winds through a peaceful valley to a place where the adults will never find you.
- Nepean Gorge
The Nepean Gorge is in the World Heritage listed Blue Mountains National Park. Its steep walls soar high on either side of this Nepean River paddle trail. Nothing takes your breath away quite like immersing yourself in the splendour of a magnificent natural gorge.
- Middle Harbour Creek
This paddle trail takes you through Garigal National Park in Sydney’s northern suburbs. It is a fantastic place for beginners because the waterways are sheltered, walking tracks follow the shores, and there is a lot to discover along the way. It is also a wonderful tonic for city life.
- Scotts Creek
In the late 1800s and early 1900s, in-the-know Sydneysiders travelled to the “Killarney of Australia” to let their hair down and engage in good old-fashioned fun and frivolity. Some things never change. Come and experience one of Sydney’s best-kept secrets for yourself.
- North Harbour
Manly is unquestionably a tourist mecca and a fantastic place to visit in its own right, but there is so much more to this area of Port Jackson. Highlights include the historic Quarantine Station and North Harbour Aquatic Reserve, an important breeding ground for the little penguin.
- Middle Harbour
This trail was devised by an experienced tour guide who knows the area well because he lived in Cammeray and worked for Sydney Harbour Kayaks at The Spit. It leads you to an Aboriginal fish trap, sunken wrecks, historic houseboats, the landmark Spit Bridge, and Middle Harbour’s collection of beautiful beaches.
- Lavender Bay
See iconic Sydney landmarks like the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the Sydney Opera House, and Luna Park like you’ve never seen them before as you explore bays on the northern side of Port Jackson and venture out to Goat Island, known to local Aboriginal people as the eye of Sydney Harbour.
- Lane Cove River
The Lane Cove River is part of the drowned river valley that is most commonly referred to as Sydney Harbour. The river winds its way through suburbia from Thornleigh to Woolwich just 10 kilometres northwest of the Sydney CBD, but thanks to enveloping parklands, it can feel a million miles from anywhere.
- Parramatta River
The Parramatta River is Sydney Harbour’s primary tributary. In shipwrecks, architectural heritage, and quirky monuments, its shoreline and bays contain lasting records and poignant reminders of the colourful history of what is undeniably one of the best-known and most captivating cities on earth.
- Sydney Harbour West
A day on Sydney Harbour is always a treat due to its wealth of world-famous landmarks and fascinating human history. The four islands, three bridges, and richly developed shoreline of this ultra-urban paddle ensure that it is no exception.
- Sydney Harbour East
Sydney’s Port Jackson is arguably the most beautiful harbour in the world so it is always tempting to wax lyrically about everything it has to offer. Stunning views of natural shores, and snapshots of the landmark features, are waiting here to be yours, on a paddle through its eastern reaches.
- Towra Point
Towra Point is close to where Captain Cook first landed in Australia. It is also one of the rare places in the Sydney region that have remained virtually unchanged ever since. Its ongoing importance to a wide range of species is compelling evidence that “look but don’t touch” is often very good advice.
- Simmos Beach
- Georges River National Park
The Georges River National Park is a beautiful narrow strip of riverside bushland nestled between Sutherland and Bankstown, 25 kilometres southwest of the Sydney CBD. National parks invariably provide brilliant backdrops for paddle trails and this one is no exception.
- Salt Pan Creek
Salt Pan Creek is a small tributary of the Georges River that separates the suburb of Padstow from Peakhurst and Riverwood. The area has something of a chequered history but it has now been rehabilitated as a peaceful recreational corridor in suburban Sydney.
- Lime Kiln Bay
Rehabilitation of wetlands at Lime Kiln Bay has improved the quality of water flowing into the Georges River and given protection to a variety of native birds. It also provides a quiet refuge for paddlers away from the hustle and bustle of the larger waterways of the area.
- Woronora River North
Approaching the beautiful Woronora River valley by road, the view is dominated by the broad sweep of a high-level bridge 38 metres above water level. A path suspended beneath the bridge offers a spectacular view of the river in the direction you’ll be paddling.
Woronora is a charming riverside village in a densely forested valley with one access road and several houses only reachable by water. It sounds and feels like somewhere remote but it’s in the Sutherland Shire, just 27 kilometres from the Sydney CBD.
- Port Hacking West
Port Hacking has a purity that is part nature, part nurture. It is open to the sea so its waters are naturally refreshed by the tides and the protective presence of the neighbouring Royal National Park ensures that it remains perfect for paddling.
- Boat Harbour
Four-wheel-drive may be the preferred mode of transport around Boat Harbour at the north end of Sydney’s famed Cronulla beaches, but it’s not the only way. For more adventurous paddlers, a visit by kayak or SUP offers a very different perspective.
- Cabbage Tree Basin
The settlements of Bundeena and Maianbar bookend the entrance to a hidden oasis on the southern shore of Port Hacking. Protected by the Royal National Park, Cabbage Tree Basin is a naturally formed deep water amphitheatre known to locals as simply The Basin.