Warburton paddle - ride the Yarra River
|Trail||Yarra River Paddle Intermediate–Advanced|
|Grade (if available)||Grade 2–3 pending water levels|
|Start||Mayer Bridge (at the entrance to Warburton township, opposite the Golf Course Clubhouse), put in river left, behind toilet block next to Tea Rooms|
|Finish||Clearing prior to McKenzie King Drive Bridge, Millgrove, river right, access via Ronald Grove|
|Distance||3 km (return)|
|Features||Often clear water stream paddling along gum-lined banks with short rapids and plenty of pools making it great for introduction to white water trips and honing watercraft skills. Best river height is 1.5-2 metres, which makes for excellent grade 2-3 paddling. There are some rapids with clean lines, some ‘chutes’, and even some well-formed play waves when the conditions are right.|
|Facilities||Toilets: Warburton Highway, next to Tea Rooms at put in
Car parking: Car parking: next to old Tea Rooms, off Warburton Highway
|Notes||Can be enjoyed any time of the year, river levels are higher (and colder) in spring; lower (and warmer) in summer. For safety, always paddle with a partner/s.|
Warburton was once a key target for Melbourne canoe and kayak clubs, even holding regular slalom events on the stretch of the Yarra at the town’s entrance. It has recently appeared on the paddling radar once again for its accessibility and safe environment for those new to river paddling, while a few paddling events are returning to enjoy the unique, steep valley paddle environment.
At only 75km from the CBD, the Yarra at Warburton represents the closest Grade 2-3 paddling to Melbourne. While being dependent on rainfall and snow melt for river levels to reach the 1.5-2m sweet spot, paddling can be undertaken any time of the year on the entire stretch of river from the eastern side of town right through to Millgrove, the next village downriver. Indeed, the Yarra waters are ideal for Beginners and Intermediates to hone their skills, with smaller, less dangerous rapids separately by sedate flatwater and plenty of pools to pull up in.
Paddlers will need to be wary of riverbank hazards, especially after storms, which can bring down big branches to create sieve dangers.
It is strongly recommended that all paddlers visiting Warburton do so with a partner, avoid paddling alone.
- If looking to focus on the Intermediate section in 1.5-2m river heights, park at the clearing between the Tea Rooms and the public toilets, located just upstream from Mayer Bridge, opposite the Golf Course Clubrooms.
- Put in river left and set yourself to zip across river right for a nice S-shape drop as you pass underneath the bridge.
- There are several small rapids for the next 500m, with a number of right-left options. This riverbanks in this section can get clogged with fallen tree debris so be wary. There are several spots on river right to pull out and scout forward.
- The river will veer off to the north as it rounds the bottom of Surrey and Lincoln Roads, tracking alongside Dammans Road (excellent for car access to the riverbank for approx. 800m from put in).
- You will come to a large still pool on river right as the Yarra bends back to the west. Legend has it that this pool was created when a local dynamited the river bend! No matter how it was formed, it’s a great swimming hole!
- Continue paddling as you pass the back paddocks of Tommy Finns Trout Farm and Oscars on the Yarra on river left, with pristine bushland to your right.
- Approximately 2km along you will begin to point the bow around to the south as the river yields to the populace of the Millgrove Estate, albeit still protected by a fringe of Eucalypts.
- Keeping an eye out for pull out at approximately the 3km mark where there is a small clearing river right. Car access to the pull out is via Ronald Grove and a short walk in through some bushland. If you reach the McKenzie King Drive bridge (the only bridge you will come across after Mayers Bridge back at Warburton) you have gone too far!
ALTERNATIVE: For a paddle more suited to Beginners, or sit on tops, try putting in at the Warburton Caravan Park, located farther upstream. Put in at the clearing directly ahead of the entrance driveway. Please always check in with Caravan Park Office prior to entering. Paddle downstream and exit at the Swingbridge, at the western end of the Main Street, behind the tennis courts. You could also – if comfortable with water levels and feeling confident – extend this paddle down to the put in for the Intermediate section, exiting at Maher Bridge, river left, behind the Tea Rooms. Or, if you’re a competent paddler in conditions you feel comfortable with, keep on paddling to take in the entire length, exiting at Millgrove as per the Intermediate guide.
For those looking to a different kind of paddle, the section from the Caravan Park down to the Swingbridge makes a great lilo (or inflatable tyre) journey. Indeed this was once the ‘race course’ for a lilo derby event held in Warburton! Alternatively, for a skilled Stand Up Paddle (SUP) Boarder, the same length proves a challenging SUP course!
Information: a great recounting of journeying the length of the Yarra River, including the paddling sections through Warburton, by Konrad Marshall can be found here: http://beautyandstrangeness.com/up-the-creek/
Download the zip file and then upload to use on your GPS or KML-enabled device or Google Maps