If you Paddle Smart, it means that you have carried out the preparation needed to make your paddling experience as fun and safe as possible.  The below information has been developed as a checklist for all paddlers to use before they hit the water

Along with the information below, be sure to check out the rules and regulations in your State;

* New South Wales
(Transport for NSW – Safety and rules on NSW waterways)
* Queensland
(Maritime Safety Queensland – Safety equipment for boats in Queensland)
* Victoria
(Maritime Safety Victoria – Safety Equipment)

* South Australia
(SA.GOV.AU – Carrying suitable safety equipment)
* Western Australia
(Department of Transport – What safety equipment do I need)

* Tasmania
(MAST – Safety Equipment)
* Northern Territory
(NT.GOV.AU – Safety guide for recreational boating)

To make sure you get the most out of your paddling journey, your local State Paddle Association or Paddle Club may run some Come and Try programs and courses or look up a local, Guide, or Instructor who can help develop your paddling skills and techniques to suit your ability and goals.

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 one 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 paddling 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 reflective tap on your paddle. Consider fitting a flag to your craft, 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. Mobile Telephone: Carry a mobile phone in a waterproof bag.

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In an emergency you can dial 000. Marine Radio: Marine radios are an important way of notifying others in an emergency. They can also be used to stay updated on the latest weather conditions. • Use VHF channel 16 to listen out for weather broadcasts. • Know the procedures and keep your message clear. • In an emergency use VHF channel 16 or on 27MHz use channel 88. Distress beacons: A registered 406 MHz distress beacon with GPS is your best chance of being rescued. • In an emergency, activate your beacon to alert search and rescue services. • For the best chances, choose a beacon with GPS, deploy it correctly, and look after it by storing it safely and keeping your batteries in date. Flares: Ensure your flares are in date and only activate when you believe that you will be seen.

Keep watch as to what is ahead, behind and to either side of you. Look out for other craft, swimmers and potential danger at all times.

Paddle Prep has been designed for all paddlers: from those who are new to paddle sports to those that are already hooked on this great lifelong activity.

The objective of Paddle Prep is to provide guidance and education on safety matters to encourage paddlers to develop their skills, knowledge and experience safely while having fun on the water.

Paddle Prep is available on Apple and Android. There is also a desktop version which can be found HERE

Where to Paddle


Paddle Smart is information that is relevant to us all.  As a reminder, local regulations may also be in place and the best place for information relevant to each state is the website of your local State Paddling Association.  Click on the relevant logo below to visit your State Paddle Association’s website

Paddle NSW Logo
Paddle Queensland Logo
Paddle South Australia Logo
Paddle Tasmania Logo
Paddle Victoria Logo
Paddle Western Australia Logo