Enter the Nambucca River and Warrell Creek from Nambucca Heads rivermouth, midway between Sydney and Brisbane. Explore this seldom-visited river combo by canoe or kayak and get amongst mangrove islands, newly established National Parks and 30m sand dunes. Kayaking doesn’t get any better than this!


The Lowdown

You’ll need either a kayak or canoe for this adventure (unless you’re a really good swimmer).

There are a few points you can launch from. There’s the Wellington carpark opposite the V-Wall café which provides great access to the sandbanks and waterways around Indicator Point. Or, further down the river, at Stuart Island (the golf course) there is a boat ramp that gives you access to Warrell Point connecting on to Warrell Creek.

Further south, Gumma Reserve and Gumma Campsite provide access to the more secluded creeks and estuaries of Warrell Creek. If you feel like going for a bigger paddle, why not connect Warrell Creek up to Indicator point which is just less than 7.3 kilometres.

calumn hockey, Kayaking the nambucca river, kayak, paddle, beach, sand, sunshine

Along the way there are a multitude of sand dunes backing onto South Beach National Park so take the opportunity for a break to enjoy this unique area.

The monster option is to paddle to Indicator Point from Gumma Reserve along Warrell Creek to the riverside town of Macksville. 18.6 kilometres of paddling!

Closer to the V-Wall and mouth of the Nambucca River lie golden sandbanks that are often patrolled by oystercatchers, pelicans and seagulls. These sandbanks are not always above water due to the tides so choose your own adventure.

You’ll have easier access to the islands of the Nambucca River during high tide but at low tide you can sit back and relax on your own little sand island.

calumn hockey, Kayaking the nambucca river, kayak, paddle, beach, sand, sunshine

Essential Gear

  • A kayak or canoe
  • A paddle
  • Life jacket/PFD
  • Dry pack
  • Long sleeved shirt, hat, sunglasses and sunscreen.
  • Towel
  • Camera gear – make sure you take waterproof housings or a waterproof camera (rain-x works really well on lenses)
  • At least two litres of water as it’s quite tiring being out on the water
  • Snacks
  • Dry clothes for when you finish

How To Get There

Nambucca Heads is bang-on half way between Brisbane and Sydney.

The Heads are located 47km south of Coffs Harbour (a thirty-five minute drive). Gumma Reserve, on the other hand, needs to be accessed through Macksville, which is south of Nambucca Heads and 65km from Coffs Harbour (fifty-five minutes).

Latitude & Longitude of Launch Points

Nambucca Heads -30.646873, 153.010292

Gumma Reserve -30.707257, 152.983599

Macksville -30.706890, 152.921683


  • Kayaking and canoeing
  • Swimming
  • Fishing

Skill Level

The waters around Warrell Creek and the Nambucca River are generally quite smooth. However, on an outgoing tide you need to be careful not to get taken past the end of the V-Wall and end up in the ocean.

Warrell Creek is a beginner paddle.

The Nambucca River is an intermediate paddle.

Not sure on the ins and outs of paddle craft? Check out our Wilderness Escapes.

Distance Covered

From Indicator Point to Gumma Reserve is 7.28km (via Warrell Creek). Around the mouth of the Nambucca River, distances vary from 500m to 3km (depending on the state of the tide). Paddling from Gumma Reserve to Macksville via Indicator Point is 18.6km.

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