Tasmania’s oceans and rivers have a well-deserved reputation as some of the cleanest in the world, and what better way to explore these wondrous waterways than up-close and self-propelled. Whether you are a novice looking for a gentle ocean paddle or an experienced river rafter after the thrills of white water, take the opportunity to enjoy our waters under your own steam.
Paddling on white water can be extremely hazardous. Before tackling any of the rivers listed be sure to check the safety information below, for information on difficulty and grading of white water rivers.
Where to do it
Mersey River – Mersey White Water Regional Reserve
The Mersey River in the state’s north-west is a popular location for locals and visitors to test their skills. Fed by the waters released from the Rowallan Power Station, the site is a former host of the National Slalom Championships and offers challenging white water rafting and kayaking.
Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park
The Franklin River is one of the most remote, challenging and committing rivers in Tasmania and should only be attempted by experienced paddlers or those in the company of a qualified, experienced guide.
This river contains numerous grade 2 – 5 rapids, with some grade 6 at high water, with water levels that can fluctuate quickly at any time of year. There are numerous hazards such as log jams and strainers requiring compulsory portages. If you are considering tackling this river be sure to check Paddle About Tasmania to learn about river gradings and see the safety information links below.
The Franklin River was the site of the most widely known wilderness conservation battle in Australian history, the Franklin Dam blockade. The success of this campaign has enabled this remote river in Tasmania’s south-west to retain its wild, pristine nature and an extended rafting trip through the area’s temperate rainforests is an exhilarating way to see this part of the world.
Freycinet National Park
Sea kayaking offers the perfect way to explore Freycinet National Park’s pure waters, calm coastline and towering pink granite cliffs. The relatively sheltered waters of Coles Bay allow for all experience levels to enjoy the waters. Tour companies in the area run a variety of sea kayaking experiences and are recommended if you are new to paddling.
Tasman National Park
Fortescue Bay is an excellent starting point for a day of coastal exploring that takes in fluted sea cliffs, sheltered coves, shipwrecks and sea life. This is an ideal place to catch a glimpse of dolphins, Australian fur seals and migrating whales as you paddle around the rugged coastline and striking rock formations. Weather is variable and the conditions on the Tasman Peninsula can change dramatically, so check the forecast before you head out. If the weather is favourable, you may be able to explore a few sea caves along the way.
Southwest National Park
Located in Tasmania’s remote south-western wilderness, Port Davey and Bathurst Harbour have acted as a beacon for adventure sports enthusiasts and nature lovers alike. Access to the area is challenging, so be prepared to walk for 6 to 8 days or take a flight to Melaleuca, a former mining settlement located in Southwest National Park. Guided tours operate in the area and allow visitors to explore the tannin-rich waters and quartzite shoreline for a remote wilderness experience.
Cradle Mountain - Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park
Dove Lake is a great place for kayaking and canoeing with sheltered sandy beaches, towering cliffs, cascading waterfalls and tiny islands to explore. The relatively sheltered waters allow for all experience levels, however visitors should check the weather forecast before paddling as conditions can deteriorate quickly. If you are new to paddling or need to hire equipment, there is a tour operator at Cradle that can assist. Please contact the Visitor Centre for more information.
Be sure to learn about the gradings and complexities of the Tasmanian white water rivers on Paddle About Tasmania. Also check Education and Safety information on Paddle Australia.
Know the conditions before you set out, check with the Bureau of Meteorology website.
Marine and Safety Tasmania (MAST) has paddle safety information to give you some hints and tips for paddling in Tasmania.