Swag and Canoe along the Great Murray River

If you're looking for a great camping and canoeing experience in South Australia, then your best bet would be along the Murray River.

This river which measures over an amazing 2,000 kilometres is the longest river not only in the area but in the whole of Australia as well. It borders that states of New South Wales and Victoria, snaking its way through the plains and mountains before it reaches the Indian Ocean.

The Murray River and the lakes and other water systems that it is connected to is abundant with various marine life like cod, perches, catfish and carps to name a few. Thus, it is considered to be a fishing haven by the many fishing enthusiasts from the region and the country.

Aside from these fish, there are other marine creatures which comprise the aquatic wildlife of the river including turtles, crayfish, shrimp and others.

The overall ecosystem of the Murray River is composed not only of aquatic wildlife but of the diverse animal and plant life that thrive in the area. It has forests of red gum trees which are home to over 200 species of birds, whereas the banks of the river are frequented by other animals like kangaroos, koalas, and emus.

Thus, you can expect that while traversing the river's waters by canoe or kayak, or when camping in the different campsites which are pretty ideal for a relaxing camping, you will get to see and experience the unique Australian wildlife that has made the river and its surrounds their home.

River waters as blue and calm as the sky above it. Now, who could ever resist such a tranquil paddling adventure? Image from Mattinbgn (commons.wikimedia.org)

Canoeing and Kayaking in the Murray River

The Murray River is composed of a varied stretch and turns which makes it a very exciting destination for those who love canoeing and kayaking.

It may lack the thrills offered by rapids and white waters (given that the water only moves ever so slowly - thus the grade 1 canoeing classification), but what it lacks in that part it more than makes up for in its quiet and peaceful surroundings.

While canoeing or kayaking, you will see the fish darting to and fro in the streams and lagoons, and when you look at the banks you will spot a kangaroo and a joey drinking the river's cool waters or perhaps a goanna basking under the sun.

If you're an experienced canoe or kayak enthusiast looking for a relaxing flow to paddle upon, then you can basically organise your trip in one of the many trails in the river.

Gunbower Island Canoe Trail

The Gunbower Island is situated near the Cohuna, between the Murray River and the Gunbower Creek.

You can start your canoeing experience in the Ringbarking section, going around the island in a circuit. If you want to, you can stop by at any of the designated picnic spots for a quick snack before continuing your route. Alternatively, you can take the island circuit walk, which takes about seven to eight hours to complete.

Katarapko Trail

This is another one of those lovely canoe trails that you can take when exploring the Murray River. It is quite isolated from the rest of the trails and roads, and thus will require some basic navigation skills in order not to get in trouble. However, it is generally safe and no untoward incidents have been reported.

Murray Bridge Canoe Trail

Unlike the Katarapko Canoe Trail, the Murray Bridge Canoe Trail is located in the heart of civilization, but this doesn't mean that it doesn't have anything special to offer. This trail goes along one of the suburbs in the area, and passes under the road bridge and the rail bridge.

There are many stops in the area including several caravans and camping parks where you can pitch your camping tents, tarps and RV awning.

Who Can Take You There

Most people who go there for some canoeing and kayaking adventure usually bring their own equipments, but if you don't happen to have one, there are several shops in the area that rent out canoeing and kayaking equipments.

  • Murray River Canoes & Kayaks - This business is founded by a family of canoe and kayak enthusiasts who have years of experience behind them. They offer various services like individual or fleet canoes for groups and organizations wishing to explore the Murray waterway.
  • Murray River Canoe Hire - Aside from renting out canoes and kayaks, they also offer guided tours of the Murray River. They have been in the business for over 20 years so you can be sure that you are travelling with experienced guides.
  • Riverland Canoe - if you're getting of Renmark, then Riverland Canoe Tours is your best option for hiring canoes and kayaks. They are the recipient of various tourism awards so you can be sure that you are getting your money's worth.

Camping along the Murray River

The Murray River is very long, and thus, if you are planning a canoeing or kayaking expedition, you will definitely want to camp in the various campsites in the area. After all, since you're having fun in the water, why not bring the fun to the grounds by sleeping in a comfy tents under the dreamy Aussie sky?

Police Paddocks - this free campsite is located in the town of Rutherglen in Victoria, Australia. It is pretty close to the banks of the Murray River, so you can enjoy some water activities aside from canoeing and kayaking like swimming and fishing.

Euston Riverfront Caravan Park - the campgrounds are located near to Euston Township, and have sites which are pretty close to the Murray River.

Gunbower Island Camping Area - aside from the trails, you can also experience bush camping in GunBower Island which is an ideal place for swag camping.

Katarapko Campgrounds - pitch your swags under the shade of trees right next to the Murray River.

If you want to learn more about the available Bush camping campsites that fronts the Murray River, you can check out it here.

Stay awhile in the campgrounds indulge in some fishing - who knows you may be the next happy fisherman to catch a Murray Cod. Fishing in the Murray. Image from Wikimedia Commons (en.wikipedia.org)

What to Bring

You can bring your own canoe or kayak and other equipments. However, if you don't have any, you can rent them in the nearby canoe and kayak shops. Don't forget to ask for protective gears like helmets and safety vest. Of course , don't forget a lightweight swag and some food and water.

Virtual Tour

Here is a short video that gives you a glimpse of what you can expect on your canoeing and kayaking trip in the Murray River. From scaleandy on YouTube.

Additional Reading

If you want to know more about canoeing, kayaking and other adventures to be had on the Murray River, do check out the following reading resources:

Murray River (Adventure Pro) Contributed by Rowen Privett

Kayaking the Murray River: Source to Sea by Heidi Hutton

The Murray: Canoeing, Kayaking and Rafting