Melbourne, and the state of Victoria, provides some awesome sea, river and lake kayaking adventures. No matter what type of kayak you have.

From downtown Melbourne, to the neighbouring day trip tourist haunts of the Ocean Road and Mornington Peninsula, right out to the state border regions of the Grampians and Gippsland, there’s plenty of places to explore.

So where exactly are the best places to kayak in Melbourne and Victoria?


In The Melbourne Area

Yarra River

First up, it’s probably best to start off right in the heart of Melbourne.

The Yarra is a popular spot for paddlers. From beginners who want to try out kayaking, through to the more experienced. Not only is the river wide and gentle, but the city views are stunning.

There are a few launch sites to choose from. For the full experience, it’s best to start upstream of Church Street Bridge. The further the better, depending on your fitness levels. By starting further upstream, the transition from relative nature (for a city) into the urban area delivers a greater visual impact. Paddling past Federation Square, then through Southbank, South Wharf and then on into the Docklands area, this really is a unique experience.

Grab some lunch, and then enjoy it all over again on the way back.

Don’t limit yourself to daytime trips only! The same trip can be enjoyed at dusk or after. Some say Melbourne looks even more beautiful when lit up…

If you’re into sea kayaking, St Kilda Beach and Brighton are another two areas close to Melbourne CBD which are worth checking out.

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Mornington Peninsula

The Mornington Peninsula is just a 90 minute drive from Melbourne CBD (you can see the skyscrapers in the distance on a good day).

It has a gorgeous coastline to explore and is home to a wide range of aquatic nature.

The entire Peninsula coastline is beautiful, but towards the tip is Sorrento and Point Nepean. Launch yourself from here. Not only will you enjoy the beautiful scenery, but you have the chance to see penguins, seals and even dolphins up close.

The coastline is also lined with millionaires’ mansions, some with helicopters sitting out in the front garden. There are worse ways to see how the other half live!

If you are a very experienced sea kayaker, and want the challenge, you could venture onwards a little further towards the rip. Be cautious though, the currents are among the strongest in Australia.

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Great Ocean Road

The eastern side of the Great Ocean Road is our next port of call.

Both Apollo Bay and Anglesea provide great opportunities for some paddling, and again we’re talking 90 minutes away from Melbourne CBD by car.

Apollo Bay sits close to the gateway of the very scenic Great Otway National park. Just a few hundred metres from the shore lies Marengo Reefs Marine Sanctuary, which holds a colony of seals and other seal life. It’s possible to join a tour around the colony if that’s your thing.

A little further eastbound along the coast sit Lorne and Anglesea. Both these locations cater for all skill levels.

Head west and you have the inland options around Cape Otway (Aire River) and Princetown (Gellibrand River). Princetown sits next door to the world famous Twelve Apostles rock stacks. So it’s a good chance to kill two birds with one stone. Not literally of course!

For Overnight Stays (away from Melbourne)…

Gippsland Rivers & Lakes

This is a must-do if you are anywhere near Melbourne. You could sample this in a day trip from the city, but it’s recommended that you stay at least one night – and more if you can!

Gippsland has a series of lakes and rivers for those that love freshwater, but there’s also some cool spots to visit around the coastline too – like Ninety Mile Beach.

The top two river choices are Snowy and Mitchell River.

Snowy River is the calmer of the two, with awesome scenery. There are plenty of tours in the area which is great for those with little-to-no kayaking experience.

Mitchell River is a little faster with grade 3 and 4 rapids for the more experienced kayaker. This entices canoeists and white water rafters alike.

If you want a really leisurely cruise, head over to Gippsland Lakes. Often referred to as ‘Gippy’ lakes, and at over 100kms, this is Australia’s largest enclosed waterway. The main still waters are King, Reeve, Wellington and Victoria Lakes.

Mallacoota Inlet is another popular lake option, but it is a bit further to trek, as it’s close to the NSW border. You can also paddle up and down the Wallagaraugh River that flows into it.

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The Grampians

If you really want to get away from the hustle and bustle of urban life, take yourself out to the Grampians and go kayaking along the Glenelg River.

The Glenelg River is over 400 kilometres in length. Don’t worry, we’re not going to ask you to paddle the full length! Instead, head down towards the border town of Nelson. From here, there are around 30kms of stunning limestone cliffs that edge the river.

If you have the resources and 2-4 spare days, you can car shuffle and turn the trip into a kayamping trip (kayaking and camping trip combined). There’s even some dedicated kayak camp sites along the river for you to pitch up at. You can even book cute little wooden cabins if tents aren’t your thing.

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