NSW has an abundance of rivers waiting to be explored via kayak, canoe or SUP. One of the most beautiful rivers you will come across is the Shoalhaven River.
The Shoalhaven River rises on the eastern side of the Great Dividing Range, below Euranbene Mountain, about 350 kilometres (220 mi) southwest of Sydney. The river works its way down into a remote canyon east of Goulburn and emerges into the coastal lowlands at Nowra in the Shoalhaven district, where it is spanned by the historic Nowra Bridge.
The traditional custodians of the land in the lower parts of the Shoalhaven are the Jerrinja tribal peoples. The upper part of the Shoalhaven river, in the district around modern-day Braidwood, is the traditional land of the Walbanga people. Some of the culturally important Aboriginal places in the Shoalhaven include Coolangatta Mountain, Cambewarra Mountain, Didthul or Pigeon House Mountain, and Kangaroo Valley.
In Kangaroo Valley, you can hire kayaks or canoes and paddle down the Shoalhaven Gorge, surrounded by soaring escarpments. From Tallowa Dam, the paddle to the campsite is about 12km / 3 hours.
The spectacular Shoalhaven Gorge is recognised as one of the most scenic flat water paddles in Australia, especially after rain with many waterfalls coming over the majestic sandstone cliffs.
Upstream, there are various slices of sand which all present camping options around Fossikers Flats. Some contain drop toilets and some do not (in which you need to take your own shovel for the night, supplied with canoe hire).
Once you've found your secluded slice of sand, set up your tent, take a dip, light a fire (noting any fire restrictions currently in the area), chill around camp, cook dinner and share campfire stories. All in a day’s adventure before letting the current take you back to reality the following day.
This adventure feels very tranquil - no roads, no phones, no powerboats, just the noise of birds to wake you up in the morning. At camp, we spotted some goannas, lyre birds and one small snake swimming across the river away from us (I think we stole his home for the night - he couldn't get away quick enough).
If you’re wanting something a little more unique and off the beaten track, this adventure is one to add to the bucket list when exploring NSW.
Where to hire canoes?
Kangaroo Valley Safaris will provide transportation to the start of the paddle at Tallowa Dam. They will also pick you up the following day.
Campsites are limited around the Fossickers Flat area and beyond to Canoe Flat so it is recommended to get the 9am Bus out to the Dam.
What to bring?
Kangaroo Safaris will provide watertight barrels to put your gear into. Pack all your dry, clean clothes and sleeping items in a dry bag for extra protection. If you don't have a dry bag, use thick garbage bags.
Packing list recommendations include:
- Plenty of water - you'll want to factor in 2L per person per day. You can transport it, which is bulky and heavy, or bring a water purifyer or purifying tablets
- Waterproof shoes / sandals
- Toilet paper
- Spade for a toilet hole (supplied by Kangaroo Safaris)
- One pair of clothes to canoe in on both days - lightweight, breathable singlet or t-shirt and shorts
- Another pair of clean clothes to relax around camp in - base layer and thermal layer (fleece), warm pants e.g. tracksuit pants (do not wear jeans)
- Rain jacket
- Head torch (with new battery)
- Lightweight backpacking tent
- Tarp (if due to rain)
- Ground mat or lightweight inflatable mattress
- Sleeping bag - compact and ligthweight
- Cooking gear - lightweight pot, or pan, cutlery, utensils, plates / bowls, cup
- Portable gas or fuel stove and fuel
- 1 x Lunch - prepared sandwich and apple to have on the river bank on route to camp
- 1 x Dinner - pesto pasta is easy!
- 1 x Breakfast - muesli, long life milk, banana
- Lots of snacks - snakes, muesli bars, fruit, muffins etc.
- Emergency beacon if with kids
- First Aid Kit including snake bite, stingoes, insect repellent
When to go?
This trip will be much enjoyed in the late spring, summer and early autumn months. Recommend to go November - March when the weather is mild. Avoid a weekend with heavy rainfall due to fast moving water. We went in February and it was perfect.
Is it kid friendly?
This adventure can be enjoyed with kids who are well versed with adventure and are 6 years and older. If your kid has never been camping before, I would do a few warm up trips before debuting with this one. They must wear a lifejacket and should be able to swim competently.
We hope this provides you with some inspiration and information to start planning this adventure for your Australian summer adventures.