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5 places to cool off in and on the water these school holidays

Running out of school holiday ideas to entertain the kids (and yourself)? Looking for new places to use that Christmas paddle board or kayak? In Western Australia’s warm summer climate, spending time on and in the water is a great way to cool off AND experience nature at its best. So here are our top five in or on water experiences to get you started.

  • By Rod Annear
  • 28th December, 2022

Canning River Wetlands Paddle Trail

This is an 8km return trail (4kms one way if you can get picked up at Riverton Bridge) in the upper Canning River. You will experience narrow water ways, fish and lots of birds and completely forget that you are in the middle of suburbia. Start at the launch ramp at Kent Street Weir where it’s easy to launch your paddle craft and follow the trail downstream. There are lots of side streams to explore and there are cafes at each end of the trail! Wilson Park at Kent Street has great picnic facilities, a pump track and the Castledare Miniature Railway runs on the first Sunday of each month – tickets are available online. Find out more at Trails WA.  

Shoalwater Islands Marine Park Paddle

Less than 45 minutes from Perth, near Rockingham, you can kayak the Shoalwater Islands Marine Park. There's lots of wildlife, sandy beaches and you can surf, swim or snorkel along the way – this is a ripper. This 8km trail is best in low wind conditions so aim to be on the water early to avoid the sea breeze. Start at Point Peron and head south where you may spot sea lions asleep on the beach. You can stop in at Penguin Island for a breather and see the Penguin tour and feeding. If you are in luck, you will get a sea breeze on the way back to your car! Find out more at Trails WA.  

Kapagup Nornalup Paddle Trail Network

Shhhhh, don’t tell anyone – this is a big secret. The Frankland and Deep rivers and Walpole-Nornalup Inlets offer some of the best paddling in WA. With 14 trails to choose from there are options for beginner to experienced paddlers. All the trails are in the Walpole Nornalup Marine Park and surrounded by the Walpole Nornalup National Park. The inlets are permanently open to the ocean with a high diversity of marine flora and fauna. You can choose the protected rivers or the more open Nornalup Inlet depending on how much time and how experienced you are. You can start from Nornalup or Walpole town (or lots of other places nearby - its up to you). The inlets and surrounding national park are one of the states true treasures. There are lots of other things to do while staying in the area including the Valley of Giants Tree Top Walk, a visit to the Swarbrick Forest Art, Mount Frankland walks and much, much more. Find out more at Trails WA.

Greens Pool Snorkel Trail

Protected by the large granite boulders, the clean and crystal clear waters of Greens Pool are perfect for children and adults to safely explore this beautiful place and observe its diverse marine life. Greens Pool is in William Bay National Park and is an easy drive from Denmark or Walpole. The trail provides for beginner to advanced snorkelling adventures and while suitable at most times, assess the water and weather conditions prior to entry. Plan to get there early for the best conditions and less of a crowd. The park can get very busy by mid-morning and you may be turned away of the park is full. Find out more at Trails WA.  

Lake Kepwari and Stockton Lake - Collie

Near Collie, two hours south of Perth you will find Lake Kepwari and Stockton Lakes. Both are former mines that have filled with water and are now popular recreation areas. Lake Kepwari, which means ‘Playing in water’ in the local Wiilman language, has had a recent major investment to make it the premier water ski lake in the southwest. There is extensive car and trailer parking, a new boat ramp, picnic and viewing facilities and a campground with great facilities right on the lake. You can book your camping online at Park Stay WA. Stockton Lake is nearby and is a smaller lake with the crystal clear blue water that the lakes near Collie are known for. Stockton Lake also has a campground but is not bookable and operated on a first come, first served basis. Both campgrounds can get busy on weekends and during holidays, so plan ahead. You can find out more on the Explore Parks website to plan your visit to Lake Kepwari or Stockton Lake.