Chowilla Island Loop Trail

This is a 2-3 day loop trail starting and finishing below Lock 6. The trail travels through the Lock upstream to the Isle of Man. Once off the river the trail enters quiet backwaters and circumnavigates Chowilla Island. Emerging downstream, the final 4 km upstream then returns paddlers to the original launch site.

Paddle overview : Chowilla Island

Chowilla Island Loop Trail

Region Riverland
Nearest Town Paringa (265km from Adelaide)View in google map
Distance 38km
Paddle Time 2-3 days
Difficulty Easy – Moderate Murray River and through backwaters
Facilities Parking and Toilets
Conditions Visit BOM for weather conditions
Conditions Flatwater – see caution below
Parking At the boat ramp
National and recreation park link Chowilla game reserve


Even blue tick telstra phone coverage is unreliable in this area and a satellite phone is recommended.

Campsites need to be booked prior to arrival (see National Parks website). Firewood must be carried in. National Parks will close Chowilla in high river levels because navigation becomes confused and the campsites become inundated.

A Trip Intention Form is required to be lodged with National Parks

Navigation is important so make note of the GPS points where they are provided and remember to take note of the location of Regulators which will affect the local water levels from time to time as environmental flows are directed to specific regions (Ref: you may wish to subscribe to Weekly Magazine called ‘The Drift’ published by Natural Resources SA – Murray Darling Basin, or email ( Always check for current information before departing.

If possible, book your passage through Lock 6 (Phone (08) 8595 8025) before leaving Murtho Rd as phone coverage is poor along the low ground.

The lock is only open 8.00 – 11.30am and again between 1.00 – 4.30pm 7 days a week, except for Christmas Day.

When approaching the Lock give 3 prolonged blasts of 4 seconds each using a whistle or electric horn. It is probably not possible to use a mobile phone in this area. A RED-flashing light on top of the control boxes will indicate the Lock attendant has acknowledged your intentions and the chamber is being prepared for you to pass through. Do not approach within 150m of the Lock until the signal to proceed has been given by the Lock attendant. This will be indicated by a GREEN-flashing light.

DO NOT tie up your craft within the lock (otherwise you will become stranded). Simply hold onto one of the ladders on the side while the water level falls or rises.
This trail incorporates 2 portages around regulators one on Pipeclay Creek and the other downstream on Chowilla Creek.
Note: if the regulator in Pipeclay Creek (Day 1) is open then the flow can be quite fast and there are obstacles in the creek that can be dangerous for novices.

Trail Notes

Lock 6 boat ramp GPS: 34.0159 S; 140.8885 E

This is a loop trail, starting and finishing at Lock 6 Boat Ramp. 

It provides the paddler with the opportunity to explore and camp along Pipeclay, Monoman and Chowilla Creeks before returning upstream along the Murray River to the launch point. 

Start at the boat ramp on Lock 6 Road (off Murtho Rd)
Paddle 4km upstream through Lock 6 and to the Isle of Man (13 kms). Take the second opening to the oxbow lake around the isle and into Pipeclay Creek (Point T) GPS 33.9657 S 140.9340 E.
Note: The lower entrance to the oxbow lake at Isle of Man is usually blocked by reeds.

After about 1km turn right into Pipeclay Creek (Point V) GPS 33.9599 S 140.9283 E.  You will then need to portage around the weir.

Note: if the regulator is allowing strong flow and there are obstacles in the creek, it can be dangerous for novices immediately below the regulator and you may choose to portage to a safer point downstream.

Continue downstream on Pipeclay Creek (approx. 3.7 kms) to the junction with Chowilla Creek (Point E: GPS:  33.9348 S 140.9172 E ).

Turn left into Chowilla Creek and paddle for approx. 2.5 kms to the junction with Monoman Creek (Point D: GPS 33.9532 S 140.8987 E ).

Note: There are a number of designated National Park camp sites along Monoman Creek, if camping overnight. 

If camping, turn right into Monoman Creek or alternatively, continue along Chowilla Creek passing Boat Creek on the LHS at Point C (GPS  33.9605 S; 140.8946 E). The next landmark is a bridge approximately 2Km from Boat Creek, then it is plain sailing until you reach the junction with Monoman Creek where it rejoins  Chowilla Creek at Point B (GPS 33.9814 S; 140.8624 E)

Continue in Chowilla Creek for approx. 3 kms to the Regulator which may be closed between August and early December. If so, portage around it and after another 1 km paddling you will return to the Murray River at Point A (GPS 34.0132 S; 140.8585 E).

Turn Left into the Murray and continue back to the Lock 6 Boat Ramp (approx. 4 kms).


ParkingWalking trails

Rubbish skip at Lock 6 Boat ramp

Points of interest

    1. Chowilla Game Reserve

    With its great stands of the majestic river red gum and the hardy black box Chowilla Game Reserve provides habitat for a diverse range of wildlife. Discover the peaceful waterways of the Murray River and its anabranches by canoe or kayak while observing the amazing array of birdlife. Due to its remote nature, Chowilla provides great opportunities for secluded bush camping and reconnecting with nature.

    This game reserve  is an integral part of the Riverland Biosphere Reserve, comprising 18,000 hectares of floodplains and wetlands.  Chowilla is an important refuge for waterbird populations. It is recognised as a Riverland Wetland of International Importance declared under the Ramsar convention, and one of the six ‘The Living Murray’ icon sites in the Murray-Darling Basin. Regulators allow the area to be flooded in cycles that mimic natural river behaviour before the locks were installed in the 1920-30s

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Paddling Trail South Australia has range of Paddling Trails to suit different abilities. These are easy to access kayak and canoe trails through the Adelaide, Fleurieu Peninsula, Riverland, Murray River and the Coorong.