Kayak the Mouth of the Murray River With Canoe the Coorong

An easy and civilised way to get close to some nature.

 I went on Canoe the Coorong’s first sunset kayak tour for Summer 2016.  Despite what most people think about kayaks, no one gets wet and no one gets cold. The paddling is easy despite the high flows. It’s a five-star iconic Australian experience.

Close to Adelaide.

Sugars Beach is on the southern end of Hindmarsh Island and you can look across the Coorong to the Murray mouth.  Hindmarsh Island is big (it takes around fifteen minutes to cross by car). You get to it by finding the bridge from Goolwa which is just over an hour south from Adelaide and was once an important river port, connecting the river Murray paddle steamer trade to the sea via a horse drawn railway to Victor Harbor. Sand dredges operate just inside the mouth of the river to ensure it doesn’t close, as it did for the first time in 1981 due to low flows, and it threatened to close again in 2010.  It doesn’t make any sense.

An interesting ecosystem.

The Coorong is a really interesting lagoon ecosystem where seawater and freshwater interact in a rich environment, now protected as the Coorong National Park. Migratory birds make their way from as far away as Alaska every year to breed. Five weirs of 600 gates spread across 7.6 kilometres to separate the estuarine Coorong from Lake Alexandrina. Right now there’s so much freshwater flowing downstream that the water in the surf just outside the mouth is fresh!

What to expect.

The tour starts at 3.30 pm (5.30pm daylight saving time) at Sugars Beach boat ramp with a quick run-down on how to paddle and some safety stuff. We get in our kayaks (without getting our feet wet and get set up with a spray skirt) for the easy paddle from Sugars Beach down the Coorong, gliding past pelicans, while sea birds wheel in the air constantly.

Getting the kayaks ready at the boatramp

Then we paddle over into the current and float back along the spit of sand dunes separating the Coorong from the Southern Ocean on the southern side of the mouth of the Murray River.

Here the tour stops to enjoy local food and wine and watch the sun set over the the Fleurieu peninsula. Brenton can answer any questions you have about the area and keeps the informative conversation going easily. He also brings the stuff for a game of cricket or bocce on the beach.

Local wines and cheeses on the dunes

Standing on top of the dunes we can see for miles and watch the river flow, spot seals, kangaroos and birds. Whatever you do it’s hard not to enjoy being on a beach that’s a 600 kilometre round trip to get to without a boat.

washed up dry treesun setting over the mouth


We start to head back to Sugars Beach and passes the mouth just as the sun sets, gliding silently along the calm waters of the Coorong past the Murray mouth. As the sunset lights up the sea mist the world becomes all crisp greens and golds, and the sound of seabirds surrounds you.

Right on sunset

When the tour gets back to the boat ramp, Brenton takes care of everything. He pulls the kayaks back up onto dry land and all you have to do is unpack your stuff from the provided dry sacks and cases, sign the guest book, grab your photos and head home, or maybe the fish and chip shop for dinner.

The three hour sunset tour costs $90 per person, or $120 with photos and is run regularly throughout the warmer months. Visit www.canoethecoorong.com to book.

Outdoorstype thinks all Australians should be forced to visit this place.

What? Kayaking on the Coorong

Where? Hindmarsh Island

How long? 3 hour tour, 1 hour and 20 mins from Adelaide

How do I get there? Car, bus, bike even…

Accomodation nearby: Hotels/Motels in Goolwa, Bed and Breakfasts, Apartments everywhere, there’s heaps around.

Beware of: Mozzies at sunset, Summer, Winter…


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