Whether you’re new to paddling or an experienced paddler, make sure you Paddle Smart!

The activity of paddling is rapidly increasing across Australia and so too are the concerns around safe and responsible use.

To ensure you have a great experience and can tell your family and friends all about it, the below Paddle Smart information has been prepared for your wellbeing.



Paddle Queensland has over 30 affiliated clubs throughout the State who can provide invaluable local knowledge and skills to ensure you have a great time on the water.

To find your nearest club please click here.



To make sure you get the most out of your paddling journey, your Local Paddle Club can help develop your paddling skills and techniques to suit your ability and goals.

Paddle Queensland’s Member clubs run a range of ‘Come ‘N’ Try’ and ‘Learn to Paddle’ programs on a regular basis.


Put a name or number on your craft which can identify you.

Your car registration or telephone number will help emergency services find you.


Being safe on the water starts with always wearing your lifejacket. A properly fitted lifejacket feels snug and comfortable to wear.

Find a lifejacket that suits you and your needs.

Let someone know before you go and tell them where you are going, your departure point and when you intend to return.

If you change your plans, let them know.

Stay clear of large vessels and keep out of shipping channels. Learn the right of way rules.

You must always navigate on the right (starboard) side of a river or channel.

Paddle within your limits – and that includes your craft, your experience, the conditions on the day and your level of skills.

Be realistic about your fitness and capabilities and save strength for the return journey.

Take note of these five vital checks when planning your boating trip:
• Warnings current for your boating area
• Weather conditions affecting safe navigation and comfort
• Wind conditions
• Wave conditions
• Tide times

Be prepared to defer your plans until another day if the winds are too strong and the waves are too big. Check the weather at bom.gov.au/marine.

Stay attached – using a paddle leash will help prevent you being separated from your paddle if you capsize.

If you do end up in the water, stay with your craft as it will be easier for rescuers to see you.

Paddle craft sit low to the water and can be difficult for other boats to see. Make yourself visible by wearing bright clothes and using fluorescent paint on your paddle.

Consider fitting a flag to your kayak, and use a bright all-round light at night.

You may need to communicate in an emergency or advise someone of a change of plan. Your means of communication can range from a mobile phone, flares or a distress beacon.

Carry a mobile phone in a waterproof bag.

Keep watch as to what is ahead, behind and to either side of you.

Look out for other vessels, swimmers and potential danger at all times.