Sportsmans Creek canoe trail

Everlasting Swamp National Park

Open, check current alerts 


Canoe, kayak and fish the tranquil waters of Sportsmans Creek in Everlasting Swamp National Park. Perfect for families, this easy flat-water paddle takes you back to nature in a birdwatcher’s paradise beside the Clarence River.

11km return
Time suggested
4hrs 30min
What to
Drinking water, hat, sunscreen, raincoat, snacks, sturdy shoes, suitable clothing, first aid kit
Please note
  • To paddle the route as a one-way trip, arrange a car pick up where Sportsmans Creek meets the Lawrence Downs State Forest fire trail, which is accessible by high-clearance 2WD.
  • When you canoe this route as a return trip, it’s a good idea to take a picnic lunch.
  • You can enter and exit the canoe route at many points, wherever creekbanks are low enough.
  • Sportsmans Creek and Woody Creek water levels are always high enough to paddle.
  • Remember your fishing rod to cast a line for bass and mullet.
  • From the south end of Woody Creek you can also paddle west into Reedy Creek, then to Teal Lagoon in the heart of the wetland. To reach Teal Lagoon, you’ll need to carry your canoe around fallen trees lying across Reedy creek.

Explore a rare coastal wetland with an easy paddle along the tree-lined creeks of Everlasting Swamp National Park. Canoeing gives you a rare opportunity to quietly see jabiru and brolgas in their natural habitat.

Launching at Woody Creek you’ll paddle to the right, gliding past green rushes and violet water lilies as ducks take flight. Leave the outside world behind as the sounds of frogs and calls of birds take over.

Where Woody Creek meets Sportsmans Creek, paddle left along Sportsmans Creek for 5.1km, shaded by old red gum, swamp oak and paperbark trees. Keep your binoculars handy and go quietly for your best chance to see plentiful wildlife drawn to this wetland, known to birdwatchers as the ‘Kakadu of the south’.

Continue right for 200m, past the park’s western boundary where Sportsmans Creek meets the Lawrence Downs State Forest fire trail. Then return the way you came or arrange for car pick up.

For directions, safety and practical information, see visitor info


Map legend

Map legend

Current alerts in this area

There are no current alerts in this area.

Local alerts

For the latest updates on fires, closures and other alerts in this area, see

Park info

See more visitor info

Visitor info

All the practical information you need to know about Sportsmans Creek canoe trail.

Getting there and parking

Sportsmans Creek canoe trail is in Everlasting Swamp National Park. To get there from Grafton:

  • Drive 20km north-east on Lawrence Road.
  • Veer left onto Weir Road on the bridge across Sportsmans Creek.
  • Continue on Weir Road for 4.5km to the park entrance.
  • As you reach the end of the sealed road, drive past 4 gates and follow the creek edge to the park entrance.
  • The canoe route launch point is at the carpark, just inside the park boundary.

Road quality

  • Mixture of sealed and unsealed roads

Vehicle access

  • 2WD vehicles


Parking is available. Use the carpark at the park’s Weir Road entrance. This gravel carpark has space for 5 vehicles.

Best times to visit

In Everlasting Swamp National Park there are always new things and places to explore as the wetland changes with the seasons. Here are some highlights.


This is high season for twitchers. Bring your binoculars for a good look at black-necked storks in their nests and other wading birds. See large migrating flocks pass through, especially in wetter years. It’s your last chance to fish for bass as the season ends on 30 April.


It’s a great time to see black swans with their cygnets and if you’re lucky, pairs of brolgas or jabiru guiding their young. If you’re coming for a paddle, bring your rod and reel because bass season opens on 1 September.


As summer rains fill the wetland, it truly comes alive and frogs begin to breed. Now's the time to fish and explore new areas of the park by kayak or canoe. Come prepared because there’s not a lot of shade in this park.


The wetland dries and birdlife retreats to patches of still-deep water. Come in mid-August to witness brolgas bob and leap in flamboyant courtship dances—a must-see. Cool, sunny days are perfect to explore Everlasting Swamp by bike and canoe down Sportsmans Creek.


There are no facilities and no drinking water in Everlasting Swamp National Park. Please bring plenty of water with you.


Maps and downloads

Safety messages

Bushwalking safety

If you're keen to head out on a longer walk or a backpack camp, always be prepared. Read these bushwalking safety tips before you set off on a walking adventure in national parks.

Camping safety

Whether you're pitching your tent on the coast or up on the mountains, there are many things to consider when camping in NSW national parks. Find out how to stay safe when camping.

Cycling safety

Hundreds of cyclists head to our national parks for fun and adventure. If you're riding your bike through a national park, read these mountain biking and cycling safety tips.

Fire safety

During periods of fire weather, the Commissioner of the NSW Rural Fire Service may declare a total fire ban for particular NSW fire areas, or statewide. Learn more about total fire bans and fire safety.

Fishing safety

Fishing from a boat, the beach or by the river is a popular activity for many national park visitors. If you’re planning a day out fishing, check out these fishing safety tips.

Mobile safety

Dial Triple Zero (000) in an emergency. Download the Emergency Plus app before you visit, it helps emergency services locate you using your smartphone's GPS. Please note there is limited mobile phone reception in this park and you’ll need mobile reception to call Triple Zero (000).

Paddling safety

To make your paddling or kayaking adventure safer and more enjoyable, check out these paddling safety tips.

River and lake safety

The aquatic environment around rivers, lakes and lagoons can be unpredictable. If you're visiting these areas, take note of these river and lake safety tips.


Disability access level - hard

  • Wheelchairs can access this area with some difficulty.
  • The canoe launch site is located 25m from the Weir Road carpark.
  • From the carpark you can access the canoe launch site with assistance or if you have a wheelchair with inflatable tyres, a TrailRider all-terrain wheelchair, or a beach wheelchair.



Please note there are no campgrounds in this park.

Gathering firewood

A current NSW recreational fishing licence is required when fishing in all waters.


Gathering firewood




Pets and domestic animals (other than certified assistance animals) are not permitted. Find out which regional parks allow dog walking and see the pets in parks policy for more information.


NSW national parks are no smoking areas.

Learn more

Sportsmans Creek canoe trail is in Everlasting Swamp National Park. Here are just some of the reasons why this park is special:

All about the birds

Brolgas in Everlasting Swamp National Park. Photo: Jessica Robertson/OEH

Birds are the real drawcard at Everlasting Swamp. After flooding rainfall this wetland really goes into overdrive. Wading birds are drawn to the park and large flocks of migratory birds pass through. Watch pelicans land like sea planes or look up in trees for huge stick nests of endangered black-necked storks—Australia’s only stork. Come to spot other birds including teals, swamp harriers, black swans and white-bellied sea eagles. With some of the largest flocks of vulnerable brolga in NSW, you may see up to 70 of these majestic cranes bob, bow and strut in courtship.

  • Woody Creek walking track Take a tranquil walk into the heart of Everlasting Swamp on this easy, family-friendly walking track near Grafton. This shimmering wetland in the Clarence Valley is a top spot for birdwatching.

Wild wetland refuge

Aerial view of water lilies and the bank of Woody Creek. Photo: J Spencer/OEH

Bursting with life, Everlasting Swamp National Park is named for the large number of waterfowl living in the backswamp next to Clarence River. Sportsmans Creek meanders through the wetland’s heart, then into Clarence River. Its banks are shaded by swamp oak, gum and paperbark trees. Beyond these raised creekbanks you’ll see lower-lying sedgeland of grasses, rushes and endangered reeds—a haven for wading birds. When summer rains flood the area, the creekbanks work like sides of a giant bathtub, holding water in the wetland then slowly letting it drain.

  • Woody Creek walking track Take a tranquil walk into the heart of Everlasting Swamp on this easy, family-friendly walking track near Grafton. This shimmering wetland in the Clarence Valley is a top spot for birdwatching.

A history of hunting and farming

Historic weir in Everlasting Swamp National Park. Photo: John Spencer/OEH

Vast, forested and always wet, Everlasting Swamp was so-named in the 1800s by European Australians who came for easy game. In Sportsmans Creek they caught huge fish and shot birds in disturbingly large numbers. From 1910, landholders worked to tame the wetland’s extremes. They cleared forest, built weirs to prevent natural inflows of salty water at high tide and built drains to turn the swamp into pasture land. Part of Everlasting Swamp’s heritage, you can still see some of these structures today.

Plants and animals protected in this park


  • Eastern snake-necked turtle on a rock. Photo: Rosie Nicolai/OEH

    Eastern snake-necked turtle (Chelodina longicollis)

    Found across most of NSW, the eastern snake-necked turtle, also known as the eastern long-necked turtle, can be found in swamps, lakes and inland waterways. This freshwater turtle is carnivorous and lives most of its life submerged on the water’s edge, searching for worms and snails.

  • Eastern water dragon. Photo: Rosie Nicolai

    Eastern water dragon (Intellagama lesueurii lesueurii)

    The eastern water dragon is a subaquatic lizard found in healthy waterways along eastern NSW, from Nowra to halfway up the Cape York Pensinsula. It’s believed to be one of the oldest of Australian reptiles, remaining virtually unchanged for over 20 million years.

  • Brown-striped frog. Photo: Rosie Nicolai/OEH

    Brown-striped frog (Lymnastes peronii)

    One of the most common frogs found in Australia, the ground-dwelling brown-striped frog lives in ponds, dams and swamps along the east coast. Also known as the striped marsh frog, this amphibian grows to 6.5cm across and has a distinctive ‘tok’ call that can be heard all year round.

  • Swamp wallaby in Murramarang National Park. Photo: David Finnegan

    Swamp wallaby (Wallabia bicolor)

    The swamp wallaby, also known as the black wallaby or black pademelon, lives in the dense understorey of rainforests, woodlands and dry sclerophyll forest along eastern Australia. This unique Australian macropod has a dark black-grey coat with a distinctive light-coloured cheek stripe.

  • Tawny frogmouth. Photo: Rosie Nicolai

    Tawny frogmouth (Podargus strigoides)

    Found throughout Australia, the tawny frogmouth is often mistaken for an owl due to its wide, powerful beak, large head and nocturnal hunting habits. The ‘oom oom oom’ call of this native bird can be heard echoing throughout a range of habitats including heath, woodlands and urban areas.

  • Wedge-tailed eagle. Photo: Kelly Nowak

    Wedge-tailed eagle (Aquila audax)

    With a wingspan of up to 2.5m, the wedge-tailed eagle is Australia’s largest bird of prey. These Australian animals are found in woodlands across NSW, and have the ability to soar to heights of over 2km. If you’re bird watching, look out for the distinctive diamond-shaped tail of the eagle.

  • White-bellied sea eagle. Photo: John Turbill

    White-bellied sea eagle (Haliaeetus leucogaster)

    White-bellied sea eagles can be easily identified by their white tail and dark grey wings. These raptors are often spotted cruising the coastal breezes throughout Australia, and make for some scenic bird watching. Powerful Australian birds of prey, they are known to mate for life, and return each year to the same nest to breed.


  •  Grey mangrove, Towra Point Nature Reserve. Photo: John Spencer

    Grey mangrove (Avicennia marina)

    Grey mangrove is the most common and widespread mangrove found within intertidal zones across Australia, and throughout the world. Growing to a height of 3-10m, they thrive best in estuaries with a mix of fresh and salt water. They excrete excess salt through their long thick leaves, and absorb oxygen through their aerial root system.

Environments in this park