23 great paddle trails
Finding a great place to go kayaking, canoeing, or stand up paddleboarding in the Central District of Victoria 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 Burrumbeet
Lake Burrumbeet is like an organic piece of fruit. It might not be the shiniest apple on the shelf, nor 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.
- Christmas Hills
Thirty-five kilometres east northeast of Melbourne, the Yarra River traces the southern edge of the festively named Christmas Hills. There isn’t any holly or yuletide mistletoe, but the plant life is just as decorative, and an equally good excuse for a kiss.
- Yarra Bend
Featuring wonderful natural scenery, a canoe club, two places to hire kayaks and canoes, two more places to launch your own craft, a tea house, and a café, this could be the most delightfully civilised nature-based paddling opportunity in the whole of Australia.
- 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.
- Melbourne City
Paddling down the Yarra into the city is an experience that should be on everyone’s bucket list. This river is to Melbourne what the Grand Canal is to Venice. A watery main street that lets you marvel at the history and culture in a way those on land can only imagine.
- 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 every day.
The story of the Williamstown waterfront is culturally colourful and wonderfully wild. It was the first permanent European settlement in Victoria and once nominated as the capital, but this isn’t just a tale of the people. There is amazing natural history too.
A wise man once told me that you can’t write a paddle guide for Melbourne without telling everyone where to find a good coffee. That is not a problem on this paddle from the Middle Brighton Baths to Sandringham because there are baristas at both ends.
- Ricketts Point
Parks Victoria isn’t going overboard when it says 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.
- Patterson Lakes
Get up at the crack of sparrows, load up with Tiny Teddies, Lays chips, and Footy Franks, and come prepared to say “that’s noice, that’s different, that’s un-ewes-ewe-al” as you peek into the backyards of all the hornbags and foxymorons of Patterson Lakes.
- Kananook Creek
Kananook is ‘The Little Creek That Could’. It is tasked with forever flowing into the open water of Port Phillip, and it succeeds despite seemingly impossible hardships along the way. Listen carefully and you might even hear it whispering “I think I can, I think I can…”
- Werribee River
Werribee River Park, the market gardens of Werribee South, and the Werribee Park Golf Course dress this stream in a jacket so green it would make any Augusta Masters champion envious. It is also clearly a hit with the birds as they flock to it in large numbers.
- 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 it gazes out across Corio Bay ever ready to welcome seafaring friends and strangers alike.
Like an athlete approaching a big event or a student facing an end-of-year test, the Barwon River is quiet and subdued as it passes through a tunnel of river red gums and black wattles on its way to an inevitable encounter with Fyansford’s famous Buckley Falls.
Every paddler dreams of having a beautiful place to paddle right outside their door. For many urbanites that is an impossible dream, so the people of Geelong are understandably stoked to have this delightful stretch of water running through their suburbs.
- South Geelong
South Geelong is blessed with a glittering ribbon of Barwon River water surrounded by attractive green parklands. It is a popular strip with locals who play outdoors and one of the safest places in the Central region of Victoria for people who are new to paddling.
- Lake Connewarre
Connewarre is an Aboriginal word meaning black swan. 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.
- Barwon Heads
The final stage of the Barwon River’s 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 rare plants and frequented by a wide variety of birds.
- Swan Bay
One of the great things about kayaks, canoes, and stand up paddleboards is they provide access to places unreachable by any other means. The only way to truly explore the shallow protected waters of ecologically vital Swan Bay is with a paddle in your hand.
- Rutherford Creek
Ecologically essential and impressively tidal Rutherford Creek is an important refuge for a vibrant variety of aquatic and avian wildlife in the white mangrove forests of Western Port, and it’s less than one hour’s drive from the centre of Melbourne.
Tooradin is a fishing village on the northern rim of Western Port that is named after a frightening bunyip said to inhabit its waters. It’s been a while since the last sighting, but there’s no reason it wouldn’t still be here and your encounter could be the next.
- Rhyll Inlet
This paddle into Rhyll Inlet is one of the secret delights of a nature lover’s island paradise which thanks to Aussie legends like Wayne Gardner, Mick Doohan, and Casey Stoner, is now world-famous for being the home of the Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix.
- Powlett River
The Powlett River trickles down from the rolling green hills north of Inverloch and Wonthaggi and 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.