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Explore the Capital by Kayaking Canberra

Explore the Capital by Kayaking Canberra

There's no better way to explore a new city, or to see your home from a new perspective, than to take to the water. Canberra is an understated kayaking paddle location, with a menu of waterways to choose from.

Canberra waterways
Canberra is an understated kayaking location, with a variety of waterways to explore

So, let us help you take to the water for your next weekend adventure and enjoy all the fun of Canberra by kayak.

How much is kayaking in Canberra?

Hiring a kayak is a cost-effective way to explore the Canberra waterways, especially if you're a beginner or a visitor. You can expect to pay around $30-40 per hour to hire kayaks.

If you're not confident on the water, you may want to consider a group kayaking trip, where you will be looked after by more experienced kayaking professionals. There are a number of different companies offering anything from relaxing lake paddling, to white water trips near the city.

Where to kayak in Canberra

Canberra is famous for its artificial Lake Burley Griffin, where water sports enthusiasts find a variety of activities to choose from. However, Canberra also has numerous rivers near the city to experience paddling in your kayak.

Relax on Lake Burley Griffin

Best for: An accessible paddling experience for everyone

Top tip: Between the months of October and April, Paddle Hub operates for group bookings on Lake Burley Griffin at Yarralumla Bay, hiring out kayaks and paddle boards. Canberra’s first Stand Up Paddle Board and Kayak Hire service has moved to group bookings only - so book ahead to make sure that you don't miss out.

Lake Burley Griffin is the centrepiece of Canberra - an artificial lake, it is both a great recreation area and a viewpoint to see some of the city's famous landscapes and landmarks.

Lake Burley Griffin
Lake Burley Griffin is the centrepiece of Canberra, where locals and tourists alike engage in a variety of water sports

Locals and tourists alike take to the water for a variety of activities, including dragon boating, boat trips, and using their paddle board. Your chosen trip can be short or long on Lake Burley Griffin, so find the adventure that works for you.

Where should I start on Lake Burley Griffin?

We recommend Yarralumla Bay as a good start and end point, as you can enjoy a swim before, after, or even during your kayak trip from this designated swimming beach.

Famous for its bathing opportunities, Yarralumla Bay sits on the southern shore of Lake Burley Griffin, near Orana Bay and Blue Gum Point. Look out for the wide variety of local birdlife in this area, and enjoy other activities near here, including cycling and running.

There are two islands on the lake - Aspen Island and Springbank Island. You may want to park up and explore the islands - just make sure that your kayaks are secured.

Stay safe: The Lake may look calm, but conditions can change quickly. Strong winds can create choppy conditions, so make sure you check the weather and talk to experts before heading out.

Keen photographers will also enjoy the photo opportunities from the lake, so take your camera along (but keep it dry of course!), take your time, and try to capture that perfect shot.

Once you’ve exhausted yourself, chill out in a park around the lake, have a bite to eat and recover.

Good to know: Paddle Hub has some disabled access - contact them ahead of time to find out more.


Experience Canberra rivers

Lake Burley Griffin might be the most famous of Canberra's paddling spots, but you can uncover another paddle hub by enjoying Canberra's rivers.

Most people paddling the rivers will be more experienced, and so own a kayak - some will even be white water-specific. However, for those who are less experienced, you could join a tour group.

Murrumbidgee River

Best for: Intermediate to experienced paddlers who are comfortable with white water

Top tips: The Murrumbidgee River is very long. Starting in the Snowy Mountains in NSW, it passes through Canberra, ACT and then heads west to join the mighty Murray River. In total, it's 900km long. However, that length means that it has a menu of options for different paddlers.

River view
The Murrumbidgee River is a short distance from Canberra, and offers paddling options for a variety of skill levels
Bredbo to Collington

Drive time from Canberra: 1 hour

Paddle time: Approximately 4 hours

This stretch of the Murrumbidgee River is approximately an hour's drive from Canberra, and will take around 4 hours to paddle. Near enough to be a great option for a weekend day trip.

Turn right off the Manaro Highway after the Bredbo pub, and the road will take you down to the water's edge.

While there is a lot of flatwater before and after the gorge, you will also find some great rapids during this paddle. Try the 2m and 4m drops on this run, when the levels are right.

White water
Many of the kayakers on the Murrumbidgee River will be more experienced and own their kayak
Pine Island to Kambah Pool (Red Rocks Gorge)

Drive time from Canberra: 30 minutes

Paddle time: Approximately 3 hours

Pine Island (off of Pine Island Road) is only 30 mins from Canberra by car. But you could also make the trip by bike, being only 10km from the city.

This section is better known as Red Rocks Gorge. The first few kms is flat water and Grade 1-2 rapids. The first bigger rapid you reach is called Junkyard - a dog leg to the left followed by a fun 1m drop.

After Junkyard, there are a few more good rapids before the final flatwater paddle.

Stay safe: Check the weather conditions and water levels before heading out, and plan your trip to ensure that it matches your paddling skill level.

Kambah Pool to The Cotter

Drive time from Canberra: 30 minutes

Paddle time: Approximately 4 hours

This stretch of the Murrumbidgee River, only 30 minutes from Canberra, is easier than the Red Rocks Gorge and Bredbo to Collington stretches. You can reach this section via Kambah Pool Road.

There are a couple of grade III rapids within the first few kms, then mainly grade I-II and flatwater until the final 2.5m drop. The end of this stretch is Casuarina Sands, near Cotter Road.

Looking for more city paddle guides?

Have you caught the kayaking bug, and are ready for more paddling activities?

Check out our Sydney kayaking guide.

Prepare for the fun with our top kayaking blogs

Want to make sure you have the right clothing for your kayaking adventure? Read about how to dress for kayaking

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Taking the kids with you? Learn our top tips for kayaking with kids

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