Kayaking the mystical Murray

All you can hear is the chirping of birds and the gentle ripple of water as you drift into the sunset.

Spectacular hues of orange, pink and scarlet lighting up the sky before you.

With only the slightest of breezes in the air the river is flat and glossy like a giant mirror, reflecting the sunset above and turning it into a dazzling 360 degree light show.

Kangaroos sit on the banks, quietly lapping at the river as they have their evening drink. Come to think of it, it's almost time for a glass of your own...

There's a gentle splash as your paddle hits the tranquil water.

Inhale... Exhale...

Relax. It's just you, a kayak and the wondrous Murray River.

You can spend thousands of dollars and travel thousands of kilometres to meditate in South East Asian temples – or you can have a transcendental experience right here in your own backyard.

Kayaking is a brilliant way to see the Murray River. In fact it's the only way to see some of the most beautiful parts, which are only accessible by kayak.

Paddling at Katarapko

One of the best spots to explore along the Murray is Katarapko, just under 250 km (that's about three hours' drive) from Adelaide, between Berri and Loxton.

Mostly contained within the Murray River National Park the Katarapko area is about 9,000 hectares of floodplains and wetlands encompassing about 38 km of waterways including The Splash, Sawmill and Piggy creeks, Katarapko Island Horseshoe lagoons, Katarapko Island swamps, Ngak Indau and Eckert Creek wetlands. All that water makes it perfect for kayaking.

A healthy river project

Katarapko is home to the Katfish Reach Project - an ongoing floodplain management project to improve the health of the river by using environmental water in the best possible way. Important work is being done here to help restore the natural environment and protect the general health of the ecosystem and some of our most threatened species, including native fish.

What to see

Dazzling sunsets and sunrises, incredible bird and aquatic life, tree lined banks straight from a Hans Heysen painting – stunning natural South Australian beauty.

Best time to visit

Kayaking is available all year round. As for the best time of day to go, sunset on the River Murray is simply magical. A Riverland tour operator we spoke to said 'At sunset the calm often settles, the birdlife is active and the reflections are beautiful.'

Who can go

Kayaking is suitable for all ages and no prior experience is necessary. Plus all the waters around Katarapko are rated as 'flatwater', with little or no current and protection from the wind – meaning they're perfect for first timers of all fitness levels, including kids.

While you are there…

There are heaps of other activities you can do at the River Murray National Park:

  • explore the river and creeks by boat and visit Bulyong Island.
  • go fishing at Katarapko Creek where you can catch golden perch, red fin and yabbies.
  • learn about the park's wildlife and history along interpretative walking trails.
  • bring your binoculars and watch for rare birdlife, such as the threatened regent parrot.
  • view the stunning contrasting landscapes along the Murray Pine Drive.
  • go camping along the river in designated campgrounds at Katarapko and Lyrup Flats.

So, why not take the time to explore the beauty of our magical Murray? Just you, and a kayak. 

Contact the local visitor information centre to find tour operators.

Photo credit: Canoe Adventures - Riverland

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