Macalister River

Macalister again: When the kids were very little on a hot day we used to cool off by spending the afternoon canoeing/swimming from Cheynes Bridge down to 20 Acre Creek (@ 1.5 hours paddling which we stretched to 4-5!) Even at the current seriously low water levels this stretch should still be OK so long as you don’t mind dragging the boats here and there, or a little bottom scraping. There are only pebble races in this stretch, and one small rocky ‘drop’ which you can see from the road on your way up.

We used to call this spot ‘The Willows’  and used to lunch in the cool beneath them, but our emerald brethren have spoken – and removed them, for our good no doubt! The great thing about this stretch of river is that you only need one car. Drop the kids, boats and wife/husband at the bridge, drive back to 20 Acre Creek, (taking ONE kid with you for a sympathy vote) stick out the thumb and five minutes later someone will have you back at the bridge. This way, when you have finished the trip you simply (re) load the boats and go home! Our kids seemed to always want to eat roast quail at the Wan Loy restaurant in Traralgon on the way home (which made the trip expensive)! YOU may have better alternatives! Another trip we used to do then was on the Tarwin River from the Buffalo Rd to Tarwin Lower boat ramp. You needed two cars for that, but as we lived in Tarwin Lower then, this was no problem!

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3 thoughts on “Macalister River”

  1. Hi, I’ve been reading through a few of your posts in regards to canoeing in Macalister river and I just would like some advice.
    My friend and I have sit-on kayaks and were looking into going there for a couple nights of camping along with a paddle. As we’re just beginner kayakers and have really only been out a couple times on flat water, would you recommend Macalister river or is this more for advanced beginners? And would it make a difference using our sit-on-top kayaks rather than being sit-in?
    Otherwise, are there any other rivers or lakes around that area (anywhere around 100km’s from Traralgon) that would be better suited for us which we can camp by as well (bear in mind we don’t have a 4WD either)

    1. Hi Denise, As I have remarked elsewhere (Try a search for ‘Canoeing’in the search box in the top right hand corner of my site) the major rivers have become well-nigh uncanoeable over recent summers. As I observed in one of my posts about the Macalister I reckon the minimum gauge height to be 1.67 (today it was 1.42 – so impossible. River heights here: If you are novices you should get some practice in on flat water first. The section of the Macalister from Cheynes Bridge down would be more suitable then that down from Basin Flat – but this is a good section once you have some skills as it becomes more challenging as you go along – and has two Grade 3 rapids (one had a tree stuck in it last time I was there though) and offers some lovely camping spots. The Latrobe downstream from Tom’s Bridge would be good flat water practice. The only major river around with water at the moment is the Thomson. The section Coopers Creek to Bruntons could be tried after you have some skill. Someone I know did it last weekend. The section downstream from Bruntons is much more challenging, but presents wonderful camping opportunities. Don’t tackle it till you have some white water experience. The Tanjil is probably a little low (but you need a 4WD). Some sections of the Latrobe might have enough water. You could go look where the road to Hill End, etc crosses it, but you will need some more experience before you come down from Noojee – and i’m not sure yet of the necessary river heights. The Tyers downstream from the W12 (needs some clearing, See: for an overnight, or the W3 (@ 4 hours). The environmental flows mean that there is usually (just) enough water, but you will scrape your boats a bit. There are a couple of bits you will have to walk around. happy paddling. Cheers, Steve. PS: Sit on is fine, maybe not quite so easy to balance in really rough water though.

      1. Hi Steve, I really appreciate your feedback! We’re new to this so I didn’t want to risk going out onto a river without knowing and then further down get hit with some rapids etc. It wouldn’t be pleasant for us. We also haven’t ever been around that area so any experienced knowledge is very helpful. Looks like we might try your suggestion of cheyne’s bridge and see how we go, if there’s enough depth though. Either way we might also just view other stops along the river and gauge the difficulty of them for future reference.
        I gathered that a sit on would be a bit tougher in that sense and more suitable to flat water given we have no other experience. We’ll slowly build on this anyway and hopefully in time be able to upgrade and get onto those challenging areas. Thanks again 🙂

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