|Trail||Yarra River Paddle Intermediate–Advanced|
|Grade (if available)||Grade 2–3 pending water levels|
|Start||Mayer Bridge (at the entrance to Warburton township, opposite the Golf Course Clubhouse), put in river left, behind toilet block next to Tea Rooms|
|Finish||Clearing prior to McKenzie King Drive Bridge, Millgrove, river right, access via Ronald Grove|
|Distance||3 km (return)|
|Features||Often clear water stream paddling along gum-lined banks with short rapids and plenty of pools making it great for introduction to white water trips and honing watercraft skills. Best river height is 1.5-2 metres, which makes for excellent grade 2-3 paddling. There are some rapids with clean lines, some ‘chutes’, and even some well-formed play waves when the conditions are right.|
|Facilities||Toilets: Warburton Highway, next to Tea Rooms at put in|
Car parking: Car parking: next to old Tea Rooms, off Warburton Highway
|Notes||Can be enjoyed any time of the year, river levels are higher (and colder) in spring; lower (and warmer) in summer. For safety, always paddle with a partner/s.|
Warburton was once a key target for Melbourne canoe and kayak clubs, even holding regular slalom events on the stretch of the Yarra at the town’s entrance. It has recently appeared on the paddling radar once again for its accessibility and safe environment for those new to river paddling, while a few paddling events are returning to enjoy the unique, steep valley paddle environment.
At only 75km from the CBD, the Yarra at Warburton represents the closest Grade 2-3 paddling to Melbourne. While being dependent on rainfall and snow melt for river levels to reach the 1.5-2m sweet spot, paddling can be undertaken any time of the year on the entire stretch of river from the eastern side of town right through to Millgrove, the next village downriver. Indeed, the Yarra waters are ideal for Beginners and Intermediates to hone their skills, with smaller, less dangerous rapids separately by sedate flatwater and plenty of pools to pull up in.
Paddlers will need to be wary of riverbank hazards, especially after storms, which can bring down big branches to create sieve dangers.
It is strongly recommended that all paddlers visiting Warburton do so with a partner, avoid paddling alone.
ALTERNATIVE: For a paddle more suited to Beginners, or sit on tops, try putting in at the Warburton Caravan Park, located farther upstream. Put it in the Eastern end of the Caravan Park. It’s easy to get into the water to start the floating adventure. Please always check in with Caravan Park Office prior to entering. Paddle downstream and exit at the Swingbridge, at the western end of the Main Street, behind the tennis courts. You could also – if comfortable with water levels and feeling confident – extend this paddle down to the put in for the Intermediate section, exiting at Maher Bridge, river left, behind the Tea Rooms. Or, if you’re a competent paddler in conditions you feel comfortable with, keep on paddling to take in the entire length, exiting at Millgrove as per the Intermediate guide.
For those looking to a different kind of paddle, the section from the Caravan Park down to the Swingbridge makes a great lilo (or inflatable tyre) journey. Indeed this was once the ‘race course’ for a lilo derby event held in Warburton! Alternatively, for a skilled Stand Up Paddle (SUP) Boarder, the same length proves a challenging SUP course!
Information: a great recounting of journeying the length of the Yarra River, including the paddling sections through Warburton, by Konrad Marshall can be found here: http://beautyandstrangeness.com/up-the-creek/