Australia may be one of the driest continents on the planet but it does have weather that is the envy of most other countries - weather that makes paddling a year round proposition.
Summer in Australia often means seeking out the cool solace of water, be that a beach, river, creek, dam or swimming hole and while beating the heat is the name of the game, the benefits for developing children are many and varied.
Floating objects are inherently unstable, so climbing into, standing on and jumping off them is perfect for children's core muscle development - a major issue for many who live highly sedentary, indoors lifestyles. Unstructured mucking about in boats not only addresses this issue, but also provides children with risk assessment and management opportunities while developing water confidence.
A less common activity in Western Australia is canoe or kayak touring, however there are some excellent waterways and camping areas that make this one of the more rewarding holiday activities.
Most of the major river systems in the southern half of Western Australia are easily accessible by paddlecraft and there are a number of hire companies that can hire provide equipment ranging from basic gear for those looking to give paddling a go right through to those looking to do multi-day tours.
Kids can start touring from about four years old in a double kayak or canoe with an adult paddler. As they grow, they can graduate to their own kid-sized touring kayaks with a sleeping bag, sleeping mat and clothes stashed in waterproof bags.
The traditional hero of this style of travelling is of course the venerable canoe. Sometimes called a 'Canadian', this open design has changed little from the birch bark designs of the North American First Nations.
Capable of carrying anything up to half a tonne of cargo including paddlers, provisions and shelter, these have been the backbone of river touring for generations.
Doubled black bin liners or screw top plastic containers offer waterproof storage and truly epic journeys of several thousand kilometres have been completed in all parts of the world.
Touring and sea kayaks are a great option, as they offer some protection from the sun and wind and younger paddlers find it easy to set their own pace, often well in front of the adults!
Skis and other sit on top style craft, while fantastic for general mucking about and short trips, are generally considered unsuitable because they have limited cargo carrying capacity and are far more exposed to the elements.
Overnight Kayaking Trips
There are plenty of rivers in Western Australia that are suitable for overnight trip. Here are a few to get you started:
Murchison River: the journey from Murchison House station to Kalbarri is a wonderful two-day paddle with fantastic camping sites on the northern side of the river. Contact Murchison House station to arrange camping access.
Murray River: the upper and middle sections of the Murray River near Dwellingup have great sections of river and excellent campsites. Pinjarra to Mandurah is a great overnight paddle with camping available at the Ravenswood Caravan Park.
Blackwood River: the Blackwood is probably the premier canoe camping river in the State with a range of sections available. The areas around Sues Bridge, Warner Glen and Alexander Bridge all provide great opportunities.