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Places to BYO kayak near Eden, NSW

I realise this is a complete departure from the usual subject matter of this blog. However, as I was unable to find much information online about good kayaking spots around Eden, I thought I’d share the places we went here in case it is helpful to others.

These were recommended by the very helpful people at the Eden Visitor Information Centre.

Where is Eden?

Eden is a picturesque town in the South Coast region of New South Wales, Australia. It is about a 6 hour drive from Melbourne and around the same from Sydney. Aside from its farming and fishing industries, it is a premier whale-watching spot for the migration of humpback whales to Antarctica in spring. Up until the 1930s, it was a major whaling site. This brutal history is beautifully captured in its local museum.

After the fire and flood events of the past few years, Eden is developing its whale-watching and sports fishing tourism trade with a side hustle of oyster-farming.

Is Eden good for kayaking?

At time of writing (September 2022) there is no kayak hire outfit in town. However, we thought it would be suitable to bring our kayak with us because on the map it looked like Eden benefits from a confluence of calm rivers that feed out to the sea.

Turned out we were right!

The paddling is mostly easy with lots of sea birds on the rivers to see. There was also lots of wildlife about, including dolphins and large stingrays at the inlets.

Don’t worry, the whales don’t come in that close to the shore.

What do you need to look out for?

Fire damage and recovery

Two things: the wind and the tides.

In general, the wind comes in by noon so you want to get out there by 8 – 9 am at the latest. The closer to the sea you are, the windier it will be.

The area is tidal, so check tides at the Bureau of Meteorology website.

The rivers in the entire area flooded at least twice during the long La Ninã event (2021-23) so it is important to check local conditions before going out, especially after recent heavy rain.

Bushfire is always a risk in Australia, especially in summer. The area was previously affected by the 2020 bushfires and although the trees are still scarred, most of the forest has regenerated beautifully.

What kind of kayak is best?

This is when you find out I don’t know anything at all about kayaks. We have a two person, inflatable kayak called a Razor Kayak. It floated! It didn’t deflate after I accidentally rammed it into an oyster-covered rock! Here is a picture! That’s all I know!

Where did you go?

We went to the following places:

Towamba River, near Kiah

The shallowest part of the river is the launching place

Access: From Jim McMahon Drive off the A1 Highway, about 10-12 km south of Eden. Turn on to Jim McMahon Drive and follow down to turn onto Hazelnut Drive towards the river. The end of the track has a grassed area and access point to the river.

Water: We headed down river towards the ocean and back. There were one or two shallow bits that required us to wade through but the water was calm and deep enough for swimming most of the way.

Mobile coverage: Yes

Toilets: No

What to see: We saw a number of fish in the water, lots of trees, ducks, shags, a sea eagle, a few cows and some fancy houses.

What about the non-kayaker: There is a river beach to play/lie on and the water was around knee deep for swimming, if so inclined.

Notes: This was a great practice kayak for people like me with little experience, not much upper body strength and a lazy kid who refused to paddle (see picture above). There was a Kayak tour outfit based in Kiah that closed down in early 2022. I believe there may be a new outfit opening there at some point so check them out for more information.

Merimbula Lake

Access: Follow the highway to Merimbula. We launched on the town side of the lake at the public ramp on Beach Road (a little way down from Penguin Mews). There is parking and a grassed area there to set up.

Public launch ramp on Beach Road (low tide)

Water: We misjudged the tides a little so ran out of time for both of us to go out before our whale-watching tour. As you can see from the picture, it did get a little too shallow as the tide went out!

Mobile coverage: Yes.

Toilets: Yes

What to see: One part of the family paddled around the lake. Part of the lake is farmed for oysters so you can get up nice and close to check those out. From the jetty, we saw giant stingrays so I expect you can see them from the kayak too. They are gentle graceful creatures and won’t hurt you unless you try to ride them or do something equally as stupid to them.

What about the non-kayaker: The lake is right in town so you can walk around it, go for coffee or do some shopping.

Notes: You can’t use Mitchies Jetty unless you are hiring kayaks (and you can do that there) but there is parking and a beach next to the jetty that is public land and free to use.

Pambula Rivermouth

Access: Coraki Drive, Pambula Beach about 25 km north of Eden. The Rivermouth is also the start of the Pambula River Walking Track and both are pinpointed in Google Maps. There is parking and a grassed area that can be used for setting up.

Pumping up the kayak at Pambula Rivermouth

Water: Definitely best in the morning as this is where the river opens into the sea. Check the wind and tides in advance.

Mobile coverage: Yes.

Toilets: Yes, with a shower and drinking fountain too.

What to see: Dolphins playing in the waves, fish and rocky cliff scenery.

What about the non-kayaker: This is a very pretty spot! The rivermouth is easy swimming for young kids. A short walk around the headland is a surf beach great for boogie-boarding. There is a lookout a short walk up the cliff and the walking track is also very picturesque.

Nullica River

Access: Off the A1 Highway, about 6 km south of Eden, just past the bridge over the river. There is a track leading to the river with grassed areas.

Nullica River

Water: Patchy and shallow in places.

Mobile coverage: Yes

Toilets: No

What to see: The river is pretty but if it was a choice between Towamba River and Nullica River, definitely go for Towamba. There was a strong headwind coming back.

What about the non-kayaker: There is a surf beach on the other side of the sandbar and a pleasant walk along the beach towards the Seahorse Inn.

I've no doubt there will be other spots around but those are some options if you have your own kayak and are thinking of a trip to lovely Eden.

Hello, sailor!

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