Right, so we’re assuming you’re suitably inspired to explore the mighty Clarence River? Now you know what to pack…whats your next move? Well, it’s time to start planning of course. Here are the essential resources to get the boat in motion..

Where’s the Clarence?

First things first, where is the Clarence River? This hidden gem is tucked away in the Northern Rivers district of New South Wales, snaking out of the Great Dividing Range.

But I don’t own a canoe!?

You’re not getting far without a vessel. Its unlikely you’ve got a Canadian canoe in your garage, so renting one from a trusty provider in the region is the smartest move. All owners  of these businesses are fountains of local knowledge too so don’t be afraid to ask plenty of questions when you book in with them.

There are a number of operators who serve up wet and wild adventures on the Clarence river. The three major providers are:

  1. Nymboida Canoe Centre
  2. Mann River 
  3. Exodus Outdoor Adventure

Before you go:

  • It’s essential for safety (and fun) reasons that you check the river levels before your trip. These can be found on the WaterInfo or Bureau of Meterology websites.
  • Always let someone at home know what your trip plans are (including a pick up time and location for your support vehicle).
  • Familiarise yourself with the environment; the hazards, the camping spots, the entry and exit points. Set these points on your GPS if you have one.
  • Ensure you have enough food, water and fuel for your trip.
  • Never enter or camp on private property without first gaining consent from the owner.

canoe buccarumbi

Which section for me?

The Clarence Canoe and Kayak Trail is not a beginners river! With rapids and compulsory portages it’s imperative to assess your ability and choose a relevant section. Below is an outline of the 8 sections, and you can download detailed maps and information here.

Section 1 // The Junction to Cartmill Park

“A great open Canadian section with numerous grade 1-2 rapids and two grade 3’s.”

  • Skill Level: Intermediate
  • Grade: 2-3
  • Distance: 24km
  • Paddling Time: 6-8 hours
  • Camping: The Junction, Black Mountain Reserve (for canoeists only) and Cartmill Park

Section 2 // Cartmill Park to Buccarumbi

“A long but fairly easy day trip suitable for most paddlers with long pools seperated by occasional rapids. An early start is advisable as there is no easy intermediate access.”

  • Skill level: Intermediate
  • Grade: 2
  • Distance: 28km
  • Paddling Time: 7-9 hours
  • Camping: Cartmill Park or Buccarumbi Camping Reserve 

Section 3 // Buccarumbi to Nymboida River Campground

“Mostly long pools seperated by races and occasional rapids. A great open Canadian section if care is taken on the rapids.”

Section 4 // Nymboida River Campground to Jackadgery

“This stretch generally flows through the remote Nymboida National Park. Canoeists should be experienced and well prepared as there are a few long grade 3 rapids that can be difficult in higher water and several grade 4 rapids where portages are recommended.”

Section 5 // Jackadgery to Cangai Broadwater

“The river is generally wide with long pools broken by occasional rocky races or rapids. The rural outlook is pleasant and mostly cleared with low gravel banks. It is suitable for touring Canadians and novice paddlers in the company of intermediate canoeists who note the location of Cangai Falls Road.”

Section 6 // Cangai Broadwater to The Gorge

“The journey to the junction with the Clarence River is predominantly gentle with long pools interspersed with rocky races. 2km downstream of the junction with the Clarence, the Clarence Gorge is entered and needs to be treated with great care.” 

Section 7 // The Gorge to Winegrove

“After the gorge, the river down to Winegrove is predominently a series of long pools seperated by gentle races and a few easy rapids. This section would normally be canoeable in all bar the driest seasons, as the river has now become more reliable”.

Section 8 // Winegrove to Copmanhurst

“Mainly flatwater with some races. Suitable for novices wanting to experience Canadian touring.”

What to pack?

It’s easy to get carried away with adventure packing (did you see our list here?)  but if there is one area you must never skimp on, it’s the safety gear:

  • A lifejacket/PFD at all times
  • Helmets must be worn when paddling rapids
  • Hat, mosquito repellent and sunsceen
  • Map, compass and GPS
  • A water filtration kit
  • Enough food (and then some) for the entirety of your trip
  • A first aid kit and basic knowledge of CPR
  • Suitable footwear for water and submerged rocks
  • A throw rope in case of rescue
  • All canoes and kayaks should have fixed buoyancy with securing loops at each end

Most importantly folks be safe and have an epic time on the water!

This information has been adapted from The Clarence Canoe & Kayak Trail map packs.

lookout clarence river gorge