Waterbabies in Western Australia can shake up their summer routine by arming themselves with an oar. A great family day out, try your hand at paddling a canoe or kayak on rivers and open ocean. With littlies, stick to the calmer rivers for a couple of hours. If your mob is a bit older and wiser, camp with your canoe and make a weekend getaway of it. For the best scenic views, some great exercise (grown-ups will feel the afterburn!), some fresh air and some quality family time, check out these top WA canoe trips for families.
Read more: Totally gorge-ous canoe spots in the NT
1. Peel Canoe Trail
This designated canoe trail is ideal for visitors to the area as you can hire a canoe and pick up a map from Mandurah. It is ideal for families, as it is within range of Perth, is manageable in a half-day and has plenty to look at. Teeming with bird life (bring along a pair of binoculars!), the Mandurah Estuary is also a nice, easy paddle – perhaps a good first WA canoe trip if you are a family of beginners!
You can choose your own adventure and toss up between two routes, which both take approximately 3 or 4 hours depending on your pace and how far you go. The Serpentine River Trail passes Peel Inlet and Mandurah Estuary. The Murray River Trail goes from Pinjarra to King Carnival, Mandurah or vice versa, and passes attractions such as a historic mill, bridge and railway. Click here for a guide to Peel Region Canoe Trails.
2. Swan River
A stone’s throw from Perth, the Swan gets you paddling in view of the Western Australian capital’s skyline. The Swan is also home to one of the oldest paddling clubs in the country. You can therefore be sure it boasts some top-notch canoe trips!
The Swan River trail extends 50-kilometres from Upper Swan to Fremantle, but can be tackled bit by bit. From east Perth, you can canoe to south Perth or to Claisebrook Cove and the Maylands foreshore. Heirisson Island in east Perth offers paddlers a bit of protection from the elements. The sheltered water is ideal for all paddlers.
River Gods is just one provider that runs guided tours by kayak on the Swan.
3. Ningaloo Reef
For a slightly different experience, grab a sea kayak and splash your way through the Ningaloo Reef lagoons and coral gardens. There are marked kayaking spots in the area as well as ten moorings – the perfect opportunity to tie up your vessel and dive in to snorkel among the coral. These moorings (black buoys with white labels marked for kayaks) are found at Bundegi, Tantabiddi, Osprey and Maud Sanctuary Zones.
Guided tours operate in the area for a great insight into local marine life. You might spot turtles, rays, stag horn coral and more. You might want to try out Exmouth Adventure Co, Capricorn Sea Kayaking or Ningaloo Kayak Adventures.
4. Murchison River
For a more intrepid, experienced paddling parade, an excellent 2-day trip from Murchison House station to Kalbarri will showcase the best of the Murchison River. Campsites lie along the north side of the waterway. To organise access to campsites, get in touch with Murchison House station.
Kalbarri Canoe Safaris offer great half-day tour adventures. Jump in a 4WD departing Kalbarri Boat Hire and heading 15-kilometres up the Murchison River to paddle back down again.
5. Blackwood River
Another top WA canoe trip hand-picked for camping families is the Blackwood River. The Blackwood River is your gateway to Sues Bridge, Warner Glen and Alexander Bridge. All the campgrounds along this major river and catchment in the south-west have canoe launch spots and swimming spots you’ll love.
6. Avon River
Confident rafters and canoers after some white water rapids should venture on the infamous Avon River. These gruelling rapids run 130-kilometres from Northam to Perth. They are tackled by the experts in one of the country’s most famous paddling events each August, known as the Avon Descent. Be warned that the Avon in summer can get very dry for long stints of the river. You should be aware of water levels in all rivers before launching off.