Big River

Big River Bridge to below Burnt Bridge

Verified! Intermediate Winter Spring CLASS III


NE Victoria. 170 km NE of Melbourne

Contributed by Michael Lyons


Class: II+ - III

Season: August to November depending on the season and local rain

Time: 3 Hours

Level: Minimum 0.5m, very pushy and continuous at levels approaching 1.6m

Gauge: Big River Bridge (not an automatic gauge although an approximation is to times the level on the Goulburn at Doherty’s by 1.1m) the gauge is located just upstream of the bridge on river right.

Shuttle: 10 km

Character: Long rapids, rocky beaches and play waves.

Suits: River running kayaks, canoes and inflatables

Forming in the hills behind Lake Mountain and Mt Torbreck and being relatively close to Melbourne the Big River is a very popular ‘first’ river trip for many Melbourne paddlers after leaving the waters of the Yarra River.

This section has the usual selection of long rapids and after Burnt bridge an excellent gorge. The section after Burnt bridge is only white water if the Eildon dam is low, otherwise it insinuated with the back flow of the dam. If it is then this can be some of the best paddling on the river.

Bounded by tea-tree along most of its length, when the water is high very little room is left for eddies unless it is amongst the foliage. Care should be taken at these levels.

If you are only paddling to Burnt bridge, this about an hours paddle from the Big River bridge.

Daniel S November 03, 2010 - No point paddling this section if Lake Eildon is above 55% capacity, it turns into flat water very quickly.

Here is the link to see the lake's current capacity.

Best section of this river is Enoch Point to Chaffeys Creek.

James Ray December 21, 2011 - There is no point going below Burnt Bridge for quite some time to come. As you start paddling on Lake Eildon before you get to Burnt Bridge.

David Platz May 25, 2015 -  Paddled this section at 0.5m with the dam at 57%. The small gorge below Burnt Bridge was certainly not washed out, and both rapids (Shoulder and Elbow) were good fun.  Perhaps it was aided by the river being at minimum paddling height; or perhaps this section is fine to paddle with the dam at 60% or even higher capacity.

Putting In: From Melbourne follow the Maroondah Highway NE through Healesville till, after 110km the town of Taggerty is reach, turn right toward Thornton and then at Thornton right again toward Eildon. Approx 2km before Eildon turn onto the Jamieson Road and follow this until the Big River Bridge is reach. The get in is just after the bridge on the left at the camping area.

Taking Out: The take out is reached by continuing along the Jamieson Road for about 10 km, a sign for Eildon State Park is by a steep track. Down the track is the get out, it is worth going down to the river and leaving some mark as it is hard to see from the river. Alternatively, if you are only paddling to Burnt Bridge, turn off at the Burnt Bridge campsite (Signposted)

Camping: Excellent camping can be found at the put in and at Burnt Bridge.

Entry Date: 11 May 2002

Verified Date: 03 November 2010

Verified by: Daniel S


Do YOU know MORE or BETTER than this?
Want to offer your own experiences / opinions on this paddle?