Canoe The Shoalhaven Gorge from the Tallowa Dam

Rate this Adventure Australia Tallowa Dam

Added by David Gregory

The Shoalhaven Gorge is a hidden gem, featuring stunning vaulting cliffs alongside a beautiful wide river. Only just over two hours south of Sydney, near Kangaroo Valley, this is a stunning paddling experience for anyone wanting to escape.

Even though the Shoalhaven Gorge is only about 120km from Sydney, it's a remarkable, rugged and remote adventure for those wanting a unique weekend away. Part of the Morton National Park, The Shoalhaven Gorge features stunning vaulting cliffs and remarkable pockets of rainforest that line the rugged waters edge.

Unless you're prepared for a massive hike through the challenging Ettrema Wilderness, The Gorge is only accessible via Lake Yurrunga in the East, so good preparation and considerations for an overnight stay is needed. Once you're up there, there's only one way back, which thankfully in itself has kept many crowds away from this stunning location.

Starting at Tallowa Dam (20km from Kangaroo Valley), a paddle up the Shoalhaven Gorge is a stunning, relaxing and memorable adventure, best done in a canoe or a sea kayak. Head West from Tallowa Dam up into the gorge. The lake is quite wide to begin with, but narrows considerably as you journey deeper and deeper into the gorge. You can paddle all the way up to Fossickers Flat, where there's a camping ground, however, be prepared for some rapids here, as the lake shallows considerably and turns back into the Shoalhaven River.

Whilst the paddle itself is only around 10-16km (depending on how far into the gorge you want to go), it's an amazing and picturesque flat water journey that's best done as an overnighter.

Due to the sheer cliffs and steep river banks of the gorge, there aren't many places to camp along the way. However, at around the 8, 10, 12 and 14km marks there are some nice camping grounds (some of which National Parks have installed toilets). There's a great National Park sign at Tallowa Dam showing all of the camping locations along the way. 

This is a fantastic get away, not too far from Sydney or Canberra and a magical experience for those who love to paddle! I've paddled this in both a canoe and sea kayak numerous times and I never tire of the amazing views and stunning remoteness of this hidden gorge.

Pack List

  • Paddling Vessel
  • Paddle
  • Topo Maps (Burrier, Bundanoon, Caoura)
  • Food
  • Water
  • Life-Jacket
  • Water-friendly shoes
  • Dry bag for your camera/sat phone
  • Camera
  • Tent
  • Stove
  • Sleeping Bag
  • Sat Phone and/or EPERB
Read More

Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More



Camping, Canoeing

Skill Level:



Year Round


Easy Parking
Family Friendly

Are we missing something?

Suggest an edit

How to Get There

Have you done this adventure? Have something to add? You could be the first to leave a review!

Added by David Gregory

With 15 years as an outdoor education teacher, I love travelling and I spend my free time between kayaking, hiking and snow skiing! Mainly snow skiing! I keep buying skis, I have a problem... but I know when to stop... Honestly!!! Maybe just one more pair...

More Adventures Nearby

Backpack to The Fortress and Mt Thackeray

Australia / Harrop Track Carpark

In the summer, this hike can be extremely dry, so make sure to bring lots of water. There are some creeks that offer water, but they can be mere trickles at certain times of year (as we found out!).

Katie Kessel
3 Saves

Backpack Cape Pillar

Australia / Cape Pillar Carpark

This hike has recently been newly built with a spectacular wooden boardwalk winding in and out of the forest and along the cliffs.

Katie Kessel
3 Saves

Backpack Mitchell River

Australia / Den of Nargun Carpark

The thing I loved the most about this hike is how isolated it was.

Katie Kessel
4 Saves