Kayak from Batemans Bay to Shallow Crossing, following the curve of the spectacular Bhundoo / Clyde River. Eva and Adam spent a wintery long weekend drifting with the tide, marvelling at the forests, and soaking up the sunshine.


We acknowledge that this adventure is located on the traditional Country of the Yuin people who have occupied and cared for the lands, waters, and their inhabitants for thousands of years. We pay our respects to them as the Traditional Custodians and recognise that sovereignty was never ceded.

Quick Overview

The Lower Bhundoo / Clyde River is a 38km stretch of river between Batemans Bay and Shallow Crossing on the Far South Coast of NSW.

Kayaking this section of the river usually takes three days of relaxed paddling, with plenty of time for riverside lunches, floating peacefully beneath the trees, and making a campfire at the end of the day.

Read more: Remember to leave no trace

About the Bhundoo / Clyde River

Although the Far South Coast of NSW is famous for its beautiful beaches, hiking, and wildlife, the river that flows out into Batemans Bay is an underrated treasure.

The Bhundoo is known as one of the cleanest rivers in NSW because of the thick surrounding vegetation, lack of polluting industry on its banks, minimal logging, and the fact that it hasn’t been dammed.



While you could explore it via car or a boat, taking the journey along the Bhundoo in a kayak is peaceful and a really special way to experience the river.

The banks are lined with stunning eucalyptus forest and thick mangroves and lyrebirds patrol the water’s edges while White-bellied sea eagles cruise above.

The water’s refreshingly cool, sometimes full of pink jellyfish, indicating that the river is healthy, and you might even spot the occasional seal cruising up the river searching for a fish on high tide.

Camping next to the river is quiet and calm, and it’s a brilliant spot for a morning wake up swim! If you’re looking for an escape to help you wind down and tune into nature, paddling the Bhundoo / Clyde River is the ideal journey to take on.

Bhundoo / Clyde River History

The Walbunja people of the Yuin Nation were the first occupants of the area and their name for the river in the local Dhurga language is ‘Bhundoo’ which translates to English as ‘deep water’.

The Aboriginal community around Batemans Bay still have incredibly strong connections to the river and are active caretakers of the Bhundoo.

In 1821, Lieutenant Robert Johnston, navigated along the river in his boat ‘Snapper’ and gave the river the colonial name of Clyde River after The River Clyde in Scotland.

In the 1800s and 1900s, logging was a big industry along the river, and you can still see evidence of old logging jetties along the upper sections of the paddle.

The main industry along the river now is tourism and oyster farming. You’ll see plenty of campgrounds, waterskiers, BBQ pontoon boats, and local oyster farmers along your paddle.

How to Get to The Bhundoo / Clyde River

Batemans Bay is roughly a four hour drive south of Sydney and a two hour drive east from Canberra on the NSW South Coast. The best spot to launch your kayak is from Wray Street on the northern side of the river, west of the Bridge.



Shallow Crossing can be reached via two ways. From Canberra, turn left onto The River Road about 5km before you reach Nelligen. Follow this road for 25km until you reach Shallow Crossing.

From Sydney, turn right onto Boardinghouse Road just south of Termeil. Follow this for 15km as it turns into the Old Princes Highway, The Sheep Track, and finally The River Road before arriving at Shallow Crossing.



Keep in mind that the crossing changes depth and is best crossed by 4WD at low tide.

This paddle can be done in either direction, depending on the tide. Regardless of which way you go, you’ll need to leave a car at each end. Ideally both cars have the capacity to carry all people, gear, and kayaks.

Where to Stay Along the Bhundoo / Clyde River

There are plenty of great campsites along the Bhundoo from Hipcamps, to national park campgrounds to caravan parks.

Between Batemans Bay and Nelligen you can stay at Little Island, Red Gum or Beach Campground in the Clyde River National Park. There’s also a Hipcamp if you paddle 2km up Buckenbowra River to the sandy point.



At Nelligen, a great spot to camp is at the Big 4 Holiday Park. It’s an easy spot to land and launch kayaks and they have amenities and BBQs. Luxury!

Between Nelligen and Shallow Crossing, there’s only one place to stay unless you happen to know a local with a farm along the river.

It’s a Hipcamp called Clyde River Campgrounds and it’s very conveniently located almost exactly half way.

Skill Level

Beginner – Intermediate

Although the paddling is quite easy and the water is flat, it’s good to have some knowledge of weather and tides to make sure it’s safe to go ahead with the trip.

You’ll also benefit from having camped before and owning some lightweight camping gear that’s easy to pack into kayaks.

While Batemans Bay has phone service, there’s very minimal reception once you get further up the river, closer to Shallow Crossing.


Distance / Duration

Batemans Bay to Shallow Crossing: approximately 38km / 3 days

I say this is the approximate distance because you’re gonna want to do some zig-zagging and take it all in!

It’s also worth mentioning here that this doesn’t necessarily have to be a three-day paddle or even a one-way paddle.

Heck, I don’t make the rules. You could be limited by time, gear availability, campsite bookings or even by how many cars or people will be on the trip.

You might choose to leave from Batemans Bay or Nelligen, paddle to a national park campsite for a night or maybe two, and then paddle back with the tide the next day! The choice is totally yours.


Essential Gear for Kayaking the Bhundoo / Clyde River

  • Kayak
  • Paddles
  • Life jacket
  • First aid kit
  • Paddling clothes (that can get wet)
  • Camp clothes
  • Food
  • Swimmers
  • Towel
  • Tent
  • Sleeping bag
  • Sleeping mat
  • Binoculars
  • Camera
  • PLB
  • Dry bags

You can fit a surprising amount into a kayak! Definitely more than you can fit in a hiking pack. They have hatches that are covered up with neoprene covers to stop most of the water getting in.

You’ll easily fit a small tent, food, cooking gear, clothes, and a few extra fun things, like maybe a bottle of wine and some games! We strapped little plastic fold out seats to the top of our kayaks and they came in super handy for a morning cuppa.


What it’s Like Kayak the Bhundoo / Clyde River

Full disclosure – I’ve paddled the full length of this river, and camped on it overnight, but I haven’t done the whole thing in one go.

My most recent trip was from Nelligen to Shallow Crossing with a one night camp in the middle and previous trips have been overnighters between Nelligen and Batemans Bay with a stay in the national park campgrounds.

Kayaking the Bhundoo / Clyde River is a great experience no matter how you go about it, but if I were to do it in one hit, this is how I’d space it out. This is tide dependent and you could easily do it in the opposite direction!


Kayak the Lower Bhundoo / Clyde River, Eva Davis-Boermans, kayak, flat water, river

Day 1 – Batemans Bay to Nelligen

Distance: 14km
Duration: 3-4 hours

On day one you’ll be paddling through the busiest section of the river. There are plenty of fishing boats, houseboats, BBQ pontoons, a big green and white ferry that goes up and back to Nelligen, and oyster farmers cruising back and forth tending to batches of delicious fat Sydney rock oysters.

While it’s busy, it’s also a really wide stretch of river, so there’s plenty of room for everyone. You can cruise through the oyster leases and take a look, but avoid touching the oyster infrastructure.

The farmers work super hard to keep it all running smoothly. Mangroves line the banks here and you’ll see evidence of where the 2019/20 fires burned all the way into the mangroves on New Year’s Eve.

Keep an eye out for fish, seals, and heaps of birdlife amongst the mangroves! Spend the night at Nelligan Big 4 Holiday Park.


Day 2 – Nelligen to Riverside Hipcamp

Distance: 10km
Duration: 3-4 hours

As you head up the river, you’ll feel more and more like you’re escaping humanity and retreating into nature. The river traffic gets quieter and the birds and windy trees get louder.

The water was glassy and flat when we paddled this section and I loved tuning into the tiny bubbly water sounds of my kayak gliding through the river.



I’d recommend paddling closer to the shoreline so you can spot lyrebirds and kingfishers frolicking on the water’s edge. We even encountered a seal while having lunch in this section! They often come up on the high tide to look for fish.

You can plan to stay in your kayaks and snack from there but you can also stop in on the riverbanks to stretch your legs. Keep an eye out for water-skiing boats along this section of the river. You’ll hear them before you see them!

Spend the night at the Hipcamp halfway between Nelligen and Shallow Crossing.


Day 3 – Riverside Hipcamp to Shallow Crossing

Distance: 14km
Duration: 3-4 hours

The final stretch of the river gets even more narrow. You’ll see evidence of old logging jetties as you continue to wind your way up the river.

Once you reach the little islands in the middle of the river, it gets quite shallow and the old logging ruins fade out into natural bush.


Kayak the Lower Bhundoo / Clyde River, Eva Davis-Boermans, kayaking on still water


We heard heaps of lyrebirds singing along the banks and watched sea eagles cruising above. If there isn’t much wind, this section can get incredibly glassy and can be almost like a mirror. It’s honestly mesmerising and you’ll want to spend time soaking it all in.

Arrive at Shallow Crossing – success!! Head on back to Batemans Bay for your car.


Kayak the Lower Bhundoo / Clyde River, Eva Davis-Boermans, kayaks next to river, sandy banks

Tips For Paddling the Bhundoo / Clyde River

This paddle is a choose-your-own-adventure kind of journey! You could head out for a day paddle, paddle all the way from Shallow Crossing to Nelligen in one day if you’re experienced, or you could even do a single out-and-back night to one of the campgrounds. The river is beautiful regardless of how long you spend on it or which section you choose to tackle!

  • Check the tides

The whole lower section on the Bhundoo from Batemans Bay to Shallow Crossing is tidal. There’s also an approx two-hour delay in the tides at Shallow Crossing. This means if it’s low tide in the Bay at 12pm, it’ll be low tide at around 2pm at the Crossing. Time your paddle to be in sync with the tides to make it easier and more relaxing.

  • Book in advance

All the campgrounds need to be booked in advance and there’s no option to free camp on the river as it’s national park or private property the whole way.

  • Do a car shuttle and take a 4WD

You’ll need two cars in order to shuttle back and forth to the start and end of the journey. The roads to Shallow Crossing are dirt so if you have a 4WD, take it with you. You need a 4WD to cross the river at Shallow Crossing and this should only be done at low tide.

  • You can tie kayaks to the top of your car

Make sure you secure kayaks to sturdy roof racks and tie down the bow of the kayaks to a point on your car’s chassis. It’s impressive what you can fit kayaks on – we fit two single sea kayaks on our Toyota Camry (to drive to Batemans Bay, not Shallow Crossing)!

  • You may need to hire some gear

If you don’t have the right gear, you can hire kayaks, dry bags, paddles, and life jackets from a local company Region X which is where we hired our gear. The team also do kayak drop-offs and shuttle services. If you’re really keen but don’t want to go it alone, they run guided overnight tours of the full length of the river.

  • Check the forecast before you leave

Make sure you check the weather before you go. Wind is particularly important as it can make it harder or easier to paddle and it can chop up the water making it uncomfortable and sometimes dangerous to paddle.

  • Pack the kayak correctly!

Packing a kayak is pretty simple – the main rules are to put everything you don’t want to get wet inside a dry bag, put the heaviest things closest to the middle of your boat, and try to evenly distribute weight between front and back. Apart from that, pack it however you please!

Kayaking Lower Bhundoo / Clyde River FAQs

Where is the Lower Bhundoo/Clyde River located?

The Lower Bhundoo/Clyde River is located on the South Coast of NSW, near Batemans Bay which is around 4 hours south of Sydney and 2 hours drive east of Canberra

Do I need to book my visit to the Lower Bhundoo/Clyde River?

Yes! All campsites need to be booked in advance

When is the best time of year to visit the Lower Bhundoo/Clyde River?

While any time of year you can go Kayaking on this river, you may choose to avoid the cold and opt for the warmer months between September and February.

Can you swim at the Lower Bhundoo/Clyde River?

You certainly can! There are plenty of places along the way to stop for a quick dip!

Do you need a 4WD to get to the Lower Bhundoo/Clyde River?

While Wray Street is 2WD accessible, Shallow Crossing needs a 4WD when crossing at low tide!