Welcome to one of the most beautiful parts of NSW. Along with beautiful beaches, we have extensive waterways for anyone looking to enjoy paddle boarding in Port Macquarie. 

And after a hiatus, the Three Rivers Marathon is back! Find out about this event and the many highlights of paddle boarding in Port Macquarie. We’ve also rustled up some amazing paddling adventure stories. 

The Three Rivers Marathon

The Three Rivers Marathon is an amazing event for anyone with a self-propelled watercraft. If you have a paddleboard, kayak, canoe, dragon boat, surf ski or outrigger you should be eligible to come along and join the fun. 

This much-loved marathon got postponed last year to give the volunteers a break but it’s back in 2019, bigger and better than ever. 

All levels of competitors are welcome to take part in the race. Starting under the Tele Point Bridge, the marathon heads downriver and through the Wilson, Maria and Hastings rivers, the three rivers that give the marathon its name. Riding the outgoing tide, the competition finishes at the Port Macquarie Rowing Club. The Three Rivers Marathon is THE event for paddle boarding in Port Macquarie.

At the end of the race, there will be a bbq, a jazz band and general festivities. The great family atmosphere provides the ideal opportunity for friends and family to meet you at the finish.

To meet some of your competitors and like-minded water sports enthusiasts, there is even a pre-event dinner on the evening of Saturday the 10th. For just $30 a head, you can enjoy a full meal and a welcome drink.

boy on a stand up paddle board

How to get involved

The Three Rivers Marathon is open to literally everyone with a motorless craft but you need to register first! Thankfully registration is easy. Simply head to https://www.revolutionise.com.au/pmrc/events/40679/ and follow the instructions. 

Registration is open until August 10th, the day before the event so there’s no excuse not to register in time!

For those interested in helping out and volunteering, the Port Macquarie Rowing Club welcomes all. Feel free to contact the club, via this link https://www.revolutionise.com.au/pmrc/contact/ 

How to prepare for the Three Rivers Marathon

Training is essential to get yourself ready for an event like The Three Rivers Marathon. Spend as much time as possible in your chosen craft doing drills and distance practice. If you can paddle an equivalent distance at least once before the race it will help you test your stamina. Make sure you don’t overdo it though! Find time to rest as well. You don’t want to be out of steam when it comes to the race.

Some paddlers like to take supplements. They can help but these days many doctors will tell you that they are not necessary as long as you eat healthily and stay hydrated. If you wish to take supplements, make sure you do your research before you choose the ones that are right for you. 

Speaking of eating healthy, make sure you avoid junk and eat a well-rounded diet in the lead up to the race. A proper diet will keep your system working optimally and keep you in top condition. Many paddlers eat a protein-rich diet before a race, including fish, eggs and green leafy vegetables. On the day of the race, most eat only a light breakfast so they don’t feel weighed down.

To prepare yourself mentally, keep a positive attitude and believe in yourself. Remember not to let yourself get overwhelmed. If you have done your training and feel well on the day, you can do the event. Even if you come in last, it is still an achievement! Stay positive, relaxed and focused and you will get the most out of the day.

What to bring on the day

There are a few things you will want to have with you on the day. Here is a quick list of essentials:

  • Sunscreen: No matter the time of year, the Aussie sun can be vicious. Sunburn and sun exposure is the biggest contributor to skin cancer so make sure you lather on the sunscreen. Sunscreen should also be reapplied every two hours or less, so make sure you have some with you on the marathon.
  • Water: Whenever you are doing heavy exercise it is essential to stay hydrated. A bottle of water, preferably a re-usable and not single-use plastic bottle, or other hydrating liquid of your choice is a must. Another option is a camel-back bag so you can wear your water and get to it easily.
  • A Towel and Dry Clothes: Despite your best efforts, you are bound to get wet at the Three Rivers Marathon. Take a change of dry, warm clothes and a towel. If you have a support team who will be meeting you at the finish line they can bring your clothes. Otherwise, you may need to invest in a dry bag to keep your fresh clothes from getting wet.
  • Paddling Gloves: Without gloves, you may find yourself with some nasty blisters. Invest in a decent pair of gloves to save your hands.
  • Personal Floatation Device (PFD): Even the best swimmers can get into trouble in open water. A PFD will ensure that you stay afloat if you end up in the water. This is a safety device that no one paddle boarding in Port Macquarie should be without.
  • Pump: You never know when water might make its way into your craft. Sudden rain or windy weather can fill your bilge before you know it. A bilge pump or sponge will clear out water and save you from sinking embarrassingly. 
  • Water Footwear: River beds can be covered in all sorts of nasty debris. Should you need to hop out and push, you don’t want your feet lacerated. A decent pair of water shoes or sandals will save you from possible nasty wounds.

back of a girl sitting on a stand up paddle board

The history of paddling

Paddling has a long and varied history. Canoes and kayaks have been made by almost all cultures who have lived near or around water. From wooden dugouts, made by the likes of Australian Aboriginals or Amazonian Natives, to the wood and hide structures favoured by Native Americans and Inuits all around the world, people have used canoes to move on water. Many even travelled for hundreds of kilometres in basic vessels. 

Stand up paddle boards have a less precise history. Hawaiians, credited as the inventors of surfing, are believed to have also used stand up paddleboards and the modern iteration definitely hails from these sunny islands. Early surf instructors in Waikiki in the 1940s would stand on their boards and paddle, to better see their students.

In modern days, plastics and fibreglass have given us all kinds of craft to self propel ourselves on water. Most sporting and outdoor stores will sell some form of paddleboard or kayak and the sport is available to all.

Other good places for paddle boarding in Port Macquarie

Outside of the Three Rivers Marathon, there are lots of other places to go paddleboarding in Port Macquarie. Here are just a few:

  • Cathie Creek: Just 15 minutes south of Port Macquarie, Cathie Creek and Lake Cathie (pronounced cat-eye) provide quiet, still waters perfect for all paddlers. The town of Lake Cathie also has accommodation and all the amenities one could need for a day trip or a stay.
  • Limeburners Creek: Limeburners Creek boasts stunning landscapes perhaps best seen while you paddle its tranquil waters.
  • Rawdon Island: This is actually made up of two islands, Rawdon Island and Little Rawdon Island. The picturesque islands are nestled in the Hastings River and provide some true hidden gems of natural beauty.
  • Telegraph Point: Where the Maria and Wilson rivers meet, and a spot you’ll see if you participate in the Three Rivers Marathon, Telegraph Point is a favourite of residents in and around Port Macquarie. Easy to get to, it is worth finding out for yourself what all the locals already know.

Legendary paddling adventure stories

Paddlers through the years have done some amazing and heroic things. It is possible that the original inhabitants of Australia paddled to Australia from somewhere in South East Asia. A truly monumental journey!

During the Second World War, a small group of British marines became known as ‘The Cockleshell Heroes’. Quietly paddling their specialised canoes (dubbed cockles) into the port of Bordeaux by night, the ten men destroyed one enemy ship and damaged four more with specially designed mines.

In 1983, Donna Berglund and Pat Leonard spent ninety-nine days canoeing 3394kms across Canada. Of their six other companions that they set off with, none made the whole journey and Berglund and Leonard were the only two when, as they thought they were all but home, they were attacked by a polar bear and caught in a terrifying gale that trapped them on the water. Once they finally finished their mammoth journey Leonard was quoted as saying ‘I’ve got another ten years of anecdotes to tell.’

Proving that age need not stop you from paddling, Verlen Kruger started canoeing at forty-one and went on to hold the world record for greatest distance canoed in a lifetime. Over his canoeing career, he paddled over 160,000km. This included his 29,341 km “Two Continent Canoe Expedition” when he paddled from the top of North America to the bottom of South America, and his 45,130 km ‘Ultimate Canoe Challenge’ around North America. The ‘Ultimate Canoe Challenge’ stands as the longest canoe journey ever!

man on a stand up paddle board in a harbour

The social and health benefits of paddling

Paddling is not just fun, it’s also really good for you. It is a low impact aerobic exercise. That means that unlike high impact exercises like running, paddling won’t put excess pressure on your joints. Paddling won’t damage your knees or ankles while you work out hard. Proper warmups and technique will also mean that your arms and shoulders, while they may get very sore, will not be damaged. 

Paddling is more than just an upper body workout! Though it will certainly build strength in your chest, shoulders, arms and back, paddling will also work out your legs and core. The twisting motion of paddling is great for the core and proper technique includes pushing with your legs. Just think of a rowing machine at the gym.

Paddling can also be great for mental health. As a general rule, exercise is great in this regard, but the added peace and solitude of paddling can be amazing for a peaceful and meditative environment. 

The beauty of paddling is its versatility. You can gently paddle and contemplate life, you can push yourself hard for one of the best full-body workouts you can get or you can paddle with a buddy. 

Paddling is a social sport because the quiet on the water and the option of how much energy to expend means it is easy to chat while you paddle. 

How to be a social paddler in Port Macquarie

Port Macquarie is such a natural haven for paddlers that it is almost mandatory to enjoy this sport! Whatever your chosen paddle craft, there is a group for you. 

From the Port Macquarie Rowing Club, organisers of The Three River Marathon, to the Splash Kayaking Group, who offer social kayaking as well as lessons to The Port Macquarie Hastings Canoe Club, a friendly and inclusive club for all who love to paddle. There is even Sup Fun Stand Up Paddle hire and lessons for those who want to try paddle boarding in Port Macquarie.

Best of all, Port Macquarie is home to some of the best places to eat in the wider area. Once you and your friends have worked up an appetite with a good paddle, head to the Westport Club. 

Visit and have a relaxed cuppa at Hasting Coffee Co, or treat yourself at our fine dining Aqua Restaurant. You could even finish off the day at Jimmy’s Bar, and enjoy our extensive whiskey selection.