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14th April 2014
The Northern Territory is home to some of the most impressive natural wonders of Australia. Whether you want an outback or coastal adventure there is plenty for paddlers to see and do. Strap your kayak or canoe to your car, pack in your mates and start your exploration with our top NT kayaking picks.
Note: Always check the local conditions and be wary of crocodiles that often lurk in the waters.
Where: 320 km southeast of Darwin
Difficulty Level: Intermediate
If you are planning a trip to the Northern Territory, Katherine Gorge should be right up the top of your list of places to see. What better way to see the dramatic sandstone than to get down between the Gorge in a kayak or canoe? Paddling the river can be hard work, but there are plenty of places to stop and take a break along the way - little beaches and obviously plenty of rocks to climb onto. A day trip will give you just enough time see all three gorges, but be prepared to lug your kayak across a couple of rocky areas in the dry season. If you’re a more adventurous type you can choose to spend the night under the stars and continue exploring the next day, or even spend a whole week working your way up the incredible river. Crocodiles are known to lurk in the water so it’s best to tackle the river with a tour group - plus you’ll get all the equipment you need and great local knowledge and info about the area. Experienced kayakers can explore the Katherine River and camp without a tour group, but it’s much easier to complete the trip with an experienced guide.
Where: 135 km southwest of Katherine
Difficulty Level: Easy
The Flora River has to be the Top End’s stand out picture of tranquility. Lined with dense vegetation and rich wildlife habitats, Flora River Nature Park is ideal for people who want a more relaxing paddling experience. Although it may be tempting to slide out of your canoe or kayak and have a swim in the sparkling clear water, it is strongly recommended that you don’t. Saltwater crocodiles are known to live in the river and as you can imagine they can give a pretty nasty bite. If you’re not sure where to start; Djarrung Campground has picnic facilities and a boat ramp for canoes, kayaks and small boats.
Where: Timor Sea, Darwin
Difficulty Level: Easy, intermediate
Although Darwin is the smallest capital city in Australia, it is home to an impressive Harbour. With pristine waters and plenty of areas to explore on your kayak, Darwin Harbour is a great place to take your kayak for a whole day or just a couple of hours. If you need any gear there are plenty of local shops to help you out and a number of kayak and canoe hire companies around. Conditions are well suited to all skill levels but check local information before you go out, particularly if you are inexperienced. Oh, and you’ll want to check the local information on crocs before you go paddling (don’t worry, they only inhabit the waters seasonally).
Where: Outer Darwin
Difficulty Level: Easy, intermediate
The coastline around the western side of Darwin Harbour to Cox Peninsula is ideal for sea kayakers who are keen to paddle along beautiful beaches and creeks. A few beach communities that are worth a visit along this coastline are Mandorah, Dundee and Wagait. The Cox Peninsula is quite large, so make sure you grab a map from the visitor centre to make the most of your stay and don’t be shy to get some local tips about the best places to kayak. If you are knackered by the end of the day, you can pull up some sand and enjoy the amazing sunsets that the Northern Territory is known for.
Remember: If you plan on going on a kayaking adventure it is always best to take a mate and tell people where you are headed.
Darwin image source: flagondry