Recreational canoeing is simply paddling that is not competition based. Anyone can go for a recreational paddle. Recreational paddling involves sea kayaking, inland touring, whitewater paddling, social cruising with friends, yak fishing, kayak surfing, etc. Recreational canoeing is done within clubs, groups of friends, tourism and school programs.

Paddle Australia produces the National Safety Guidelines, which are the standard for organised activities, with training for individuals and leaders through the Paddle Australia Award Scheme.

For those people who are interested in recreational canoeing can obtain information about activities by contacting recreational canoe clubs throughout Australia through your State Canoeing Association.

Western Australia has an extensive coastline and paddling is an integral part of how we use it. Recreational kayak fishing, ocean paddling events, surf life saving events, adventure racing and much more all can be considered extreme. How extreme often depends on the chosen paddling environments, paddling route and each individual’s capability and preparedness to paddle in certain environments and conditions.

A framework has been developed to enable paddlers to think about what approach they should take to ensure safe ocean paddling practices. When the framework is applied informed decisions can be made about safe ocean paddling practices relevant to the paddling activity you are participating in. The framework is outcomes based and is supported by guidelines not rules or law.  It allows for every individual to take away what they need in order to be safe when ocean paddling.

The framework for ocean paddling safety is supported by key pillars:

  1. General and Safety Equipment
  2. Competency and Capability
  3. Environment & Climate
  4. Individual Behaviour
  5. Individual Awareness

So make sure every time you go out paddling – whether on your own, in a group, doing a race or at a club – Be Safe.

The South West of Western Australia is considered a high rainfall area and therefore has many rivers that make for great canoeing and kayaking opportunities.  In between the towns of Boyup Brook, Bridgetown and Nannup is the Blackwood River. Bridgetown is the start of the annual “Geegelup Cup” which is part of the State Championships Down River. In the Pemberton area are the Warren and Donnelly Rivers, and in the Walpole-Frankland area are the Deep, Frankland and Walpole Rivers. In winter when the waterways are fullest the more adventurous can go white water rafting.  However in summer the family can paddle the calmer waters and spend hours exploring the unique surroundings.

 In between the towns of Boyup Brook, Bridgetown and Nannup is the Blackwood River; a river known for its beautiful surroundings and abundance of wildlife.

Click HERE for more information about this river.

Warren River

In the Pemberton area is the Warren River. During winter this river is great for white water rafting and in summer it is great for simply exploring and enjoying what nature has to offer.

Click HERE for more information about this river.

In the Pemberton area is the Donnelly River, starting amongst the beauty of the tall karri trees, then opening out into the mouth of the ocean.

Click HERE for more information about this river.

Paddling is for fitness, challenge, relaxation – or simply to get to beautiful places.

Paddling is great to help you get fit. Some like it as a challenge. Others simply like it to relax and get to beautiful places. Whatever you use it for, it’s good to know about paddle safety so things don’t go wrong.

In 2014, the Maritime Management Centre published a Paddle Safe Strategy (pdf 194KB). It was all about doing the right thing to be safe and responsible when you’re using paddle craft. Part of this included how to make sure you’re visible and also wearing a lifejacket.

Below, you can look at a series of key safety videos with pointers on how to stay safe when you’re out on the water paddling.

Wear a lifejacket

Be safe be seen

Know the rules

The right equipment

Plan your trip

Know your limits

Legislation differs from state to state and in some cases from river to river and creek.

In most cases on larger rivers you can expect the bed and banks of any navigable waterway to the point of the mean high-water mark to be crown land.

The ‘high-water mark’, or in some states/territories, the ‘mean high-water mark’, refers to the highest point at which water normally rises. This does not take into account times of flood. It is recognised in the various legislation that this point is not constant from year to year with the changes in the shapes of waterways. In most cases the bed of the water body and the majority of its bank is governed by Crown Lands Acts or the equivalent in each state and territory. This makes it land owned by the government and therefore often accessible to the general public as long as they do not use private land to access the water.

In situations of very old freeholds, ownership/lease of land can extend to the centre of the waterway and landowners on either side may have jurisdiction over half the waterway each. On a limited number of waterways most notably in NSW, being on a river that passes through a farm could lead you to trespassing.

It would usually be interpreted that if a waterway can be entered through public access you can expect to be able to paddle the water and set foot on its immediate banks. If you wish to venture further up the banks you will require specific permission of the landowner or lessee.

In general the advice of legal professionals within relevant government departments is to check with the land titles office in your state or territory or the appropriate local council as to who owns the waterways you plan to paddle and if necessary contact the landowner/lessee for the appropriate permissions before setting out on the water.

The acts noted below provide the basis for much of the information outlined in this article: Australian Capital Territory Lakes Act of 1976, New South Wales Crown Land Act 1989, Northern Territory Crown Lands Act, Queensland Land Act 1994, South Australia Harbours and Navigation Act 1993, Tasmania Crown Lands Act 1976, Western Australia Land Administration Act 1997, Victoria Land Act 1958.

Water Ways Guide


Trails WA


Canoeing in Western Australia

Canoe Trails – Perth click here

Canoe Trails – Canning River click here

Unite on the Swan

Unite on the Swan

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Sea Kayak Fest

Sea Kayak Fest

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