Recreational canoeing is simply paddling that is not competition based. Anyone can go for a recreational paddle. Recreational paddling involves sea kayaking, inland touring, whitewater paddling, social cruising with friends, yak fishing, kayak surfing, etc. Recreational canoeing is done within clubs, groups of friends, tourism and school programs.
This area of the sport is covered within the role of the National Coaching and Education Coordinator and through the Education and Safety Technical Committee.
The National Safety Guidelines are the standard for organised activities, with training for individuals and leaders through the Australian Canoeing Award Scheme.
The Safety Code is for the conduct of individuals and peer groups.
School outdoor education programs are not recreational paddling however their trainng and accreditation is also under the structure of the Australian Canoeing Safety Guidelines and Award Scheme.
For those people who are interested in recreational canoeing can obtain information about activities by contacting recreational canoe clubs throughout Australia through your State Canoeing Association.
New South Wales
Legislation differs from state to state and in some cases from river to river and creek.
In most cases on larger rivers you can expect the bed and banks of any navigable waterway to the point of the mean high-water mark to be crown land.
The ‘high-water mark’, or in some states/territories, the ‘mean high-water mark’, refers to the highest point at which water normally rises. This does not take into account times of flood. It is recognised in the various legislation that this point is not constant from year to year with the changes in the shapes of waterways. In most cases the bed of the water body and the majority of its bank is governed by Crown Lands Acts or the equivalent in each state and territory. This makes it land owned by the government and therefore often accessible to the general public as long as they do not use private land to access the water.
In situations of very old freeholds, ownership/lease of land can extend to the centre of the waterway and landowners on either side may have jurisdiction over half the waterway each. On a limited number of waterways most notably in NSW, being on a river that passes through a farm could lead you to trespassing.
It would usually be interpreted that if a waterway can be entered through public access you can expect to be able to paddle the water and set foot on its immediate banks. If you wish to venture further up the banks you will require specific permission of the landowner or lessee.
In general the advice of legal professionals within relevant government departments is to check with the land titles office in your state or territory or the appropriate local council as to who owns the waterways you plan to paddle and if necessary contact the landowner/lessee for the appropriate permissions before setting out on the water.
The acts noted below provide the basis for much of the information outlined in this article: Australian Capital Territory Lakes Act of 1976, New South Wales Crown Land Act 1989, Northern Territory Crown Lands Act, Queensland Land Act 1994, South Australia Harbours and Navigation Act 1993, Tasmania Crown Lands Act 1976, Western Australia Land Administration Act 1997, Victoria Land Act 1958.