Onkaparinga River Explorer

The Onkaparinga Paddle Trail offers an opportunity to explore a waterway most view from the bridges which criss-cross its length. A half day’s paddle can take you up the waterway from the sea to the town of Old Noarlunga, providing views of the abundant birdlife, with opportunities for photography, exploring backwaters, and even fishing.  Alternatively this paddle can be done in the opposite direction, from Old Noarlunga travelling to the sea.



Port Noarlunga
(31km from Adelaide)

14 km return

14 km return

Paddle Time Allow at least 2hrs – half day

Difficulty Level

Difficulty Level

Easy – Moderate

  • Paddle Distance

    Approx 7 km (14 km return)
    ‘Note that from Wearing St to the mouth is a further 1.6 km (3.2 km return)

  • Weather

    Always check weather and wind conditions before setting out.
    Visit BOM for weather conditions

  • Conditions

    Easy – Moderate - Flat water

  • Facilities

    Cafes and Restaurants Parking and Toilets Playgrounds and Parks

  • Parking

    Parking is available at all launch sites except River Road Park where parking is limited.

  • Park

    Onkaparinga River Recreation Park

Paddling five checks BOM
Paddle SA is the governing body of paddle sport and recreation in South Australia. It leads and supports paddling in South Australia and encourages the safe exploration of our waterways. Paddling Trail South Australia has a range of Paddling Trails to suit different abilities. Know your ability.

Trail 17

Paddling Trails South Australia Avenza mapsIf you have a smartphone or tablet you can download the free Avenza PDF Map app and have interactive paddling trail maps on hand when you need them. The app uses your device’s built-in GPS to plot your real-time location within the park onto a map. The app can be used without a network connection and without roaming charges. You can also measure area and distance, plot photos, and drop Placemark pins.

Trail Information

Launch Sites: 
Wearing Street (GPS: 35.1519 S; 138.4719 E )
From Saltfleet St turn into Clarke St and left into Wearing Street. Parking and access to the Onkaparinga River is from the car park at the end of Wearing street.

Jubilee Park (public) Boat Ramp (GPS: 35.1523 S; 138.4733 E)
This is on the opposite side of the river from the Wearing Street boat ramp but has more parking available

Market Square Reserve (if traveling from Old Noarlunga) (GPS: 35.1807 S; 138.5016 E)
This launch site can be muddy at low tide.
If traveling south on the M2 – South Road, enter the township by taking the Patapinda Road exit and follow the road around until you enter the township, Market Square Reserve is on the right with the Noarlunga Institute Hall on the corner.

River Road Park (GPS: 35.1530 S; 138.4892 E)
From Main South Rd take the turnoff Patapinda Road, turn left onto River Road, travel approx. 1.5kms turn left into Onkaparinga Recreation Park.
This launch point provides approx. 2kms paddle to the historic township of Old Noarlunga. The river becomes unnavigable approx. 1 km after passing under Main South Road bridge. Note: It is approx 5.6 km paddle to mouth (one-way) passing the Encounter Marine Park Sanctuary Zone (wetland) where paddlers can explore the backwaters at high tide.

Trail Points:
The Onkaparinga River is tidal so variations in flow are dependent on tides. This paddle trail can be tackled from either direction with the choice depending on the tidal flow and in this way can be tailored to suit the skill and fitness of participants.
Always check the wind and tidal information prior to departure.
For those wishing to learn moving water skills the river mouth with an outgoing tide is a good safe place to learn and practice (Note that from Wearing Street launch site to the mouth is 1.6km).
The Onkaparinga River provides an access point to Onkaparinga River National and Recreation Parks which include a network of cycle paths and walking trails.

Travelling to the mouth from Old Noarlunga
Market Square Reserve is the community hub of Old Noarlunga. First settled in 1840 the area was a fruit and vegetable growing district for the early colony. From here at high tide, the river is navigable upstream for approx 500m, downstream it is approximately 8.6 km to the mouth.
Time your visit to take advantage of the movement of the tide.

picnicParkingCafeParkBBQToiletsWalking trails
Cafes and restaurants are a short drive to Port Noarlunga.
Toilet facilities can be found at the Wearing Street launch site, also at Old Noarlunga and Jubilee Park.
Market Square has limited parking and toilets, also shady trees, a grassed area with picnic tables, and BBQ in a covered area.

Points of Interest

  1. Access point to Onkaparinga River Recreation Park including walking trails and cycle paths.
  2. Encounter Marine Park A sanctuary zone, part of the Encounter Marine Park can be found around Port Noarlunga and the Onkaparinga River. At this location the Encounter Marine Park covers an area to the south of the Onkaparinga River, the Noarlunga Reef and a wetland section of the Onkaparinga River. Sanctuary zones protect all animals and plants from harm and are set aside for conservation and recreation.  No fishing or removal of plants or animals is allowed, however recreational activities such as boating, diving, surfing and swimming are welcome.
  3. The Onkaparinga Canoe Club clubrooms are adjacent to the Wearing St parking area.
  4. Port Noarlunga Aquatic Centre also has a shed that opens onto the carpark.
Show us your photos on Instagram: #onkaparingariver
15 seconds of wind on the Onkaparinga estuary. Port Noarlunga, South Australia.
Don't vanish, carry on burning..
#timelapse #timelapsevideo #videotimelapse #halloween #fire #candle #ghost #spooky #horror #october #spookyseason #trickortreat #autumn #scary #horrormovies #creepy #halloweenparty#light #lightpainting #lightpaintingphoto #lantern #kerosenelamp #onkaparingariver #wetlands #night #nightphoto #nightphotography
reflections 🌅🌅
A chance encounter with nature.
This playful little guy sailed past whilst I was capturung a local kayaker. 💙🌊🦭
It’s a great time of the year to visit our parks and with Onkaparinga National Park right here in our backyard, what are you waiting for?
#oldnoarlunga #onkaparingariver #onkaparingarivernationalpark #itstheweekend #funandlaughter #harcourtswinecoast #harcourts
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Paddling Trail South Australia has a range of Paddling Trails to suit different abilities.

Know your ability

These are easy to access kayak and canoe trails through the Adelaide, Fleurieu Peninsula, Riverland, Murray River, and the Coorong.