Boating, kayaking & canoeing
Boating on the Brunswick
Tides and trip times
The river is governed by the tides. Tidal movements need be considered, especially when planning longer trips as some parts of the river are not navigable at low tide.
A boat ramp is provided to the west of the Fishermen's Co-op and some trailer parking is available. An additional ramp is available within the Ferry Reserve Caravan Park.
Tinnies, canoes, stand up boards, kayaks and other recreational watercraft (including 8 and 9 berth BBQ pontoon boats) can be hired from the pirate boat (Brunswick Buccaneers) moored opposite to the Brunswick Hotel and also at the Boatharbour. Find out more...
Boat tours & charters
There are a range of excellent tours and charters departing from the Brunswick Heads Boatharbour. Byron Bay Eco Cruises and Kayaks runs award-winning eco-certified cruises on the Brunswick River. During the whale season, Blue Bay Whale Watching and Wild Byron run an exciting Whale Watching Tours out of the Brunswick Boat Harbour. Whale Watching and diving tours also depart from Byron Bay.
Boating safety tips and rules
- Always ensure your vessel is in good working order with proper safety equipment. Do not overload your vessel or drink alcohol whilst in control of the boat.
- Obtain local knowledge of the waterways and check the local weather forecast before setting out for the day.
- Always tell someone (eg Rescue Tower) where you are going and when you are returning. Do not attempt to cross the bar without experience or local knowledge.
- Report boating accidents to the Waterways Authority on 131246. The Police have forms available.
- All vessels must travel at safe speeds. The speed limit is 4 knots (8kph) on the north & south Arm. Travel at low speeds near riverbanks and avoid motoring across shallow seagrass beds.
- Jet skis and waterskis are prohibited in the Brunswick River. Penalties apply. See the Marine Park map.
- Please take note of the tides. Several parts of the river are not navigable at low tide.
Canoeing is an excellent low impact way to learn about the estuarine environment. A number of stunning kayak or canoe trips of varying difficulty levels are possible on the Brunswick River, and its arms, Simpson's Creek and Marshall's Creek.
Riverbank erosion can result from movement of people and craft up and down unstable banks. Canoe launching is therefore restricted to the specified locations. Be prepared to carry your canoe a short distance.
Tides and trip times
The river is governed by the tides. Tidal movements need be considered, especially when planning longer trips as some parts of the river are not navigable at low tide. As it is easier going with the tidal flow, paddling around high tide is preferable. Published tide times refer to the river mouth. The tide times lag the further you are up the river system. At slack high and slack low tides the water is still. The fastest flow of water is halfway between the high and low tides.
Paddling speed can vary from 2km to 5km per hour depending on the tide, wind conditions, type of craft and level of fitness.
Hazards and safety
Beware of shoals, which are underwater hazards such as oysters, rocks or glass. Feet are easily damaged getting in and out of a boat so protective shoes should be worn. Stingrays and bullrouts also inhabit the river so tread carefully in cloudy water. Stay well away from the river mouth during run-out tide as a canoe can be easily sucked out to sea. Observe the signs. It's also a good precaution to travel in company and advise others of your intended travel.
Personal and Safety gear
Personal flotation device (PFD) • hat • sunburn protection • torch • footwear • towel • change of clothes • mobile phone in waterproof container • insect protection as mosquitoes on the river can carry debilitating viruses • bottled water and food • first aid kit
Brunswick River Guide
Pick up your copy of "The Brunswick River" - A concise guide to enjoying the natural beauty of the Brunswick River" from the Brunswick Visitor Centre.
Spending time on the Brunswick River boating, kayaking or canoeing is one of the most popular things to do in Brunswick Heads. Boat ramps, hire, tours and charters are available, while kayaking and canoeing is an excellent way to enjoy some exercise while exploring the river and creeks. Please note that jetskis and waterskis are prohibited in the Brunswick River.