Steve Howard's Lachlan River Maps Guide to Canoeing, Kayaking and Tubing


The Lachlan River collects water from almost as far East as Goulburn and Oberon, travelling over 1400 km across the plains to end in the Great Cumbung Swamp near Balranald, occasionally entering the Murrumbidgee in a big flood event.
This canoe/ kayak guide deals with the section of the Lachlan downstream of Wyangala Dam for 220 km, through DarbysFalls, Cowra and Gooloogong to Forbes. The river has been fully mapped between Darbys Falls and Paytens Bridge, with each section being paddled at least twice, some others much more. The section from Wyangala to Clearview Road and from Paytens Bridge to Forbes are sketch maps only - they have not been surveyed on the water so lack important details shown on the other maps. I have travelled Wyangala to Clearview Road many times but over ten years ago, but this was before I started mapping the river. If not for putting a hole in the bottom of my kayak in January 2016 I would have been able to able to fully map the sections between Paytens Bridge and Forbes!
The flat sections of river from Darbys Falls to Forbes have a good water flow most summers as water is released for irrigation, making for reliable paddling. The exceptions are after wet winters when little water is needed. The river downstream from Merriganowry to Forbes has lots more snags so needs more water for pleasurable paddling.
The river from Wyangala to Paytens Bridge can be considered in three sections:
Wyangala to Clearview Road (Darbys Falls): small rapids, lots of islands, plenty of snags, rocks etc. A very scenic but potentially dangerous section of river - great fun for the prepared. I used to do this section with a mate and sometimes others at least four times each year, but a few close calls when others came with us really opened my eyes. This section will be mapped in greater detail sometime down the track, but it is best avoided unless everyone in the party is extremely capable in inland fast flowing rivers.
Clearview Road (Darbys Falls) to Merriganowry: flat water, varying between sections full of willows to more natural river red gum/ casuarina lined banks. Generally flows at about 4 km/h, although slightly faster closer to Darbys Falls. Lots of sandy beaches and relatively few snags.
Merriganowry to Forbes: The river reaches the plains, meandering more and slowing, with river red gums lining the often dusty banks. Lots of red gum snags makes for better fishing but also more obstacles on some reaches. There are few beaches, so landings are generally on muddy banks, although with care old snags on the banks make clean stops. The speed of the river is generally about 3 km/h, although on some of the deeper wider reaches it can slow to 2 km/h, so any headwind can send you back upstream. Due to the large number of red gum snags from Merriganowry down, those sections of river are best paddled when the release is at least 2000 ML per day to reduce portages, although 1500 ML will do but expect portages.
Major flooding in Winter 2016 has made changes along the river that are not yet reflected on maps downstream of Merriganowry Bridge – see the last date paddled at the top right of each map to see if it has been surveyed since the floods.
From the sections of the river I have travelled since the flood, some snags & blockages have been washed away, while others have been moved or added in different places. Lots of sand has been moved about, with new beaches and sandbars being created. Most beaches and sandbars are larger, while a few have eroded. 

NSW - Lachlan
Canoeing guides / tours
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