A two family adventure along the Kangaroo Valley and Shoalhaven River.

Written by Sarah Louise

As we roll in to the town of Kangaroo Valley we decide to grab a coffee and a snack as we wait for the last of the drizzly rain to pass before we begin our adventure.

We see some sunshine in the clearing blue sky so we gear up and head to Tallowa Dam Picnic Area. We load up our canoes with all our gear (and perhaps a few extra luxuries since we don’t have to carry our gear on our backs) and launch! 4 adults and 4 kids under 8 are ready to explore.

We head west, upstream from the picnic area and admire the amount of water around us in an at capacity dam. Recent rains have boosted water supplies and also helped to nourish the surrounding bushland recently destroyed by bush fires. The resilience of Mother Nature and her ability to regenerate is amazing.

The cliffs that surround the dam are part of Morton National Park. Some sections tower high above us. We spot a few small waterfalls along the way and a part of the cliff affectionately named by the children as “Face Mountain”.

After a lunch stop and a couple of hours of easy paddling (we could often just float with the current for short stints) we get serious about looking for a camp. We stop at a few potential sites but none seem suitable to accommodate 8 of us with our gear or leave room to explore. Until, after approx. 9km of paddling, we discover the island!

It looks perfect. Enough space to set up two tents and with space for the kids to run around.

We unload our gear and set up site. This trip we came equipped with an early prototype of the UL6T by PAST Outdoors. It was large enough to house our family of four but small enough to fit under the seat in our canoe. It was not only practical but it looked spectacular and caught the eye of many other kayakers passing by. We explore our surrounds where we find streams, rock jumps in to small waterholes and vine tree swings.

We play, explore, eat dinner and explore some more to check out some noisy little frogs who sang their song beneath the stars. So many stars!

With no check-out time the following morning we’re free to relax and enjoy or surrounds. After a hearty breakfast of bacon and eggs, (a much nicer brekky than our overnight hike offerings) and a refreshing dip in the nearby stream we load up and head back toward the dam. Paddling back isn’t quite as cruisy as the paddle in.

We spot a large goanna on the river bank and check out a few other camp site options for potential future trips.

Back at the Tallowa Dam picnic area, after a return trip of 18km paddling, we declare this, “Our most favourite adventure yet!”


Further information:

The Kangaroo Valley is about a two hour drive south of Sydney

8928-2N BURRIER and 8928-3N CAOURA maps cover the trip and are available to print or download for free in geoPDF from NSW government spatial services SIX Maps

Camping bookings need to be made through NPWS

Information on NSW Waterways can be found at WaterNSW 

Leave a comment