We escaped from the city to Tea Gardens on the southern end of the Barrington Coast over seven years ago. It was a no-brainer after enjoying many weekend escapes in Myall Lakes National Park. There is an endless amount of water here – the tranquil Myall River, expansive Myall Lakes, the sparkling northern shore of Port Stephens and the rolling Pacific Ocean. Now that we own a kayaking business we love sharing our knowledge of the area with visitors.

A view of the Myall River from the Singing Bridge in Tea Gardens. Image Lesley Goroncy
A view of the Myall River from the Singing Bridge in Tea Gardens. Image Lesley Goroncy

Tea Gardens is a quiet town on the Myall River and a great place to launch a kayak. There are a number of small sandy beaches alond the riverfront that allow for easy access to the water. Don’t forget your lifejacket and check the weather forcast before you go – you’re better off enjoying a long lunch at the nearby Mumm’s on the Myall than battling the wind. Speaking of lunch, we’ll often pack a picnic from home or grab a tasty take-away meal from the Tea Gardens Boatshed cafe.

We’re most likely to head up the river from Tea Gardens. There is less boat traffic in this direction and you can’t drive to many of the spots you can paddle to. It’s worth checking the tides too – if you time it right you can cruise the incoming tide up the river and ride the outgoing tide back to Tea Gardens.

Lazy Paddles Myall River group

If you have young children like we do an hour or two exploring the islands and mangroves close to Tea Gardens is usually enough before someone starts asking for ice-cream. The fact the you can see the bright orange signs of the Tea Gardens Ice Cream Shack from the water is no help!

While you’re on the water make sure that you look up occasionally – there are White Breasted Sea Eagles and Ospreys that can often be seen fishing in the river. Other birds we spot regularly include cormorants, black swans, herons and of course the ever popular pelicans. You might even be lucky enough to encounter a dolphin – keep an ear out for them breathing when they breach the water.

Keep an eye out for dolphins while paddling in the Myall.
Keep an eye out for dolphins while paddling in the Myall.

If you’d like a longer paddle head further up the river to the Myall River Camp, a private campground on a bend of the river. See if you can find Monkey Jacket Creek and listen out for Whistling Kites above the casurinas. The more adventourous can head further north and explore Pipers Creek before returning to town for a well earned refreshment at the Tea Gardens Hotel.

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