The range of canoe, kayak and surf ski adventures in Western Australia is wide, and the number of people enjoying stand up paddle boarding (SUP) is growing rapidly. There are ideal places to explore rivers, inlets and lagoons, paddle to secluded beaches and islands and spot birds or drop a line (see fishing). There are also opportunities to surf waves or ride river rapids (in season) and to tour, race or exercise in sea kayaks and on surf skis.
Tour operators provide safe and enjoyable tours at many locations in Western Australia. Tours are great if you’re new to paddling but also for experienced paddlers visiting and wanting to learn about new places.
You can find detailed information on canoe and kayak trails, including those managed by Parks and Wildlife, at Trails WA.
Wherever you venture onto the water you should observe some important tips.
- Your paddle craft and experience must be suitable for your choice of activity and the conditions.
- A properly fitting personal flotation device is essential and if you are not a confident swimmer do not go onto the water. Marine transport laws, including those on mandatory safety equipment, apply to ocean paddling and the Department of Transport has detailed information on the requirements.
- Always use canoe launches where they are available and avoid trampling access areas such as riverbanks and soft seabeds and riverbeds in shallow water.
Paddling conditions can vary greatly through the seasons and throughout the day. For ocean and estuary paddling, winds, tides and currents are important factors. Check the Bureau of Meteorology for forecasts and current boating information. The Department of Water and Environmental Regulation monitors river levels although paddlers will need local river knowledge to make full use of the information.
Water level and flow rate are important considerations when paddling in rivers including the Avon, Murray, Collie and Blackwood rivers. For example. the section of the Avon River between York and Perth can be virtually dry for long stretches during the summer. By the start of August competitors in Western Australia's biggest paddling event, the Avon Descent, are hoping for enough rain to test their skills and fitness on the rapids rather than have to carry their craft around them. The Murray River, in Lane Poole Reserve, can rise quickly following rain. The faster flowing water then becomes much more challenging and submerged objects and overhanging tree branches can become hazardous.
Find out more about canoeing and kayaking, including clubs, at Paddle WA and about SUP at SUPWA.