10 rivers around Australia to paddle down

If you grew up in Australia, even if you didn’t live near the ocean, there’s a good chance your upbringing involved some element of water sports.


From casual kayaking to white water rafting, a day on the water is always a good time. Here are a few of the best rivers around Australia to dip your toe into a bit of adventure.


White Water Rafting on Tully River © Tourism and Events Queensland

Tully River, Queensland

Two hours south of Cairns in Tully Gorge National Park, Tully River is the perfect spot for white river rafting. Grade 3-4, intermediate to advanced, rapids make this river one of the perfect spots for those seeking out a challenge. You’re guaranteed to love the incredible backdrop of the bush while you make your way through the intensely fun rapids.

Tully River is widely considered to be one of the best rivers for whitewater rafting in the country. But some prior experience is necessary to navigate these rapids, and it goes without saying, safety equipment is a must.


Canoeing in the Katherine River, NT.

Katherine River, Northern Territory

One of the best ways to take in the stunning views of Nitmiluk National Park is by kayaking and canoeing down the serene Katherine River. Nitmiluk National Park features thirteen incredible gorges, carved into the ancient sandstone, serving as the perfect backdrop for a ride down the river.

Join a tour guide for a more informative – and potentially more daring – paddle down the river. Alternatively, take your time admiring the wildlife, waterfalls, and ancient Aboriginal artwork.


Rower on the Yarra River © Visit Victoria

Yarra River, Victoria

Looking for a spot to kayak in Melbourne? Look no further than the Yarra River. Running through the heart of the city, a paddle along the Yarra offers a moment of calm amidst the chaos.

You can rent a canoe and capture a unique perspective of the city from the water. For a little more thrill, venture further out of city and discover a series of rapids that will take the adventure up a notch.


Guided cultural experience. © Tourism and Events Queensland

Mosman River, Queensland

Promising a family-friendly adventure, spend some time snorkelling through the ancient Daintree Rainforest in Mosman River. A short drive from Port Douglas, Mosman River isn’t exactly the body of water that people travel from all over the world to see. The Great Barrier Reef takes that title. But those who venture inland will discover a variety of Australia’s most unique aquatic animals in a lush rainforest setting.

Crystal clear waters offer a view into the ecosystem that feeds the reefs, offering up the nutrients that help create the foundation of the coral. Take a moment to sit on the banks, enjoy a picnic and look for quirky creatures in and out of the water.


Kayaking near Sir John Falls.

Franklin River, Tasmania

A remote beast, the Franklin River arguably stands as one of the most beloved white river rafting spots in Australia. The river pours into canyons and gorges creating ideal rapids of all difficulty grades.

Love for the river was shown in full force after a dam was proposed in 1983, and environmental activists and adventurers alike joined forces to prevent the build. Years after their success, the Franklin remains dam-less and stands as a powerful staple of Australian aquatic adventure.


Kayaking on the Murray River © Visit Victoria

Murray River, Victoria

At the start of the Murray River sits the Murray Gates, known better by some as Hells Gates. These remarkably turbulent rapids are amongst the most technically difficult to navigate in the world.

If you’re seeking out big thrills, this is the place to find them. It’s a good idea to book a tour here as you’ll need someone on your team familiar with the rapids to stay safe. You’ll definitely walk away from any experience in the rapids with a new appreciation for the powerful beauty of nature.


Mitta Mitta River, Victoria

To get the adrenaline pumping, head down the Mitta Mitta River in Alpine National Park and into one of its sixty rapids. The rapids are all ranked between grade 2 and 4. These rapids offer up a challenge for beginners and veterans alike.

A bit further down the river, in calmer water, a self-sustaining wild trout population makes it a great spot for fly fishing. With fish more than willing to take lures, you’re practically guaranteed to walk away with a catch.


Canoeing the Blackwood River. © Tourism Western Australia

Blackwood River, Western Australia

One of the largest rivers in Australia, the Blackwood River is perfect for kayaking. The snaking waterway forms an incredibly scenic route through the bush. Stretching from Quelarup to Augusta, you can rent a kayak and launch from practically anywhere along the banks.

Go on a quick solo trip or bring the family along for some weekend fun. Be sure to keep an out for the infamous Nannup Tiger — rumoured to roam around the banks, quite a few locals have reported seeing the allegedly extinct marsupial.


Swan River © Tourism Western Australia

Swan River, Western Australia

Flowing through Perth, the Swan River offers up all sorts of aquatic fun, from windsurfing to jet-skiing and kayaking. Needless to say, it’s the perfect spot to satisfy any kind of water sports enthusiast in your family.

For the more adventurous among you, rent out a jet-ski to soar down the river. Or take it easy with a kayak and enjoy a leisurely paddle down the river. Make sure to allow take the time to soak up the peaceful bush surroundings.


Thredbo River, Snowy Mountains © Destination NSW

Thredbo River, New South Wales

In the alpine region of New South Wales, Thredbo River is a notorious spot for catching trout. Whether you’re a seasoned fly-fisher or just there for fun, you’re in with a good chance to catch dinner for the day. Trout weighing a whopping ten pounds have been pulled out of these crystal clear waters. Thredbo is one of only two rivers classed as a “trout spawning stream” so even the most unlucky fisherman might go home with a bounty.

Winding through the Snowy Mountains, the river has plenty of access points, and picnic facilities for making a day of it. If you’re visiting in the cooler months, be sure to look out for the winter wildflowers than line the banks.

These rivers around Australia aren’t the only locations for epic water adventures. To discover more places for swimming and kayaking in Australia, click here.

To discover Australia’s best adventure activities, including kayaking, hiking and caving, click here.


Inspired to check out these rivers for yourself? Head to the Rex website and check out the route map below to start planning your next holiday.

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