Seeing Sydney from the water is something everyone, including locals, should do at least once. Lisa Perkovic
I mean FROM the water – either swimming in it or as I was on this empty and sunny Friday, paddling around on a kayak. Sydney Harbour is such an iconic and inspiring place it seems remarkable that there is space for all those who want to be on it. And yet today, its empty. How lucky.
Hopping into a bright orange kayak, I’m off in about two minutes. No boat license required. Although maneuvering between the vessels moored in the bay might require one. We veer right, following the coast, before heading across open water to Shark Island.
It’s an easy paddle if the wind is on your side. It’s my lucky day as I, and my fellow kayakers, slice easily through the water, watching the local ferry practice reversing and steering. Sydney ferries don’t have the best track record for avoiding other vessels so I kept one eye on Shark Island and the other on the L-plated ferry.
After just twenty minutes we’re pulling up on the rocky beach and squelching towards Shark Island’s picnic area. The grassy 1.5 hectare island at the mouth of Rose Bay is part of Sydney’s National Parklands.
Prior to 1975, the site was used as an animal quarantine centre and before that it was the unsuccessful location for Australia’s first vegetable garden. Today is perfect for picnics, parties and school excursions. Our BBQ lunch is an easy, casual affair and we drag our feet back to the beach.
The entire exercise was the launch of outdoor shoe manufacturer Teva’s new sandals. Not exactly a fashion item but I can safely say, sensible canoeing ware.
After lunch we rush back into our kayaks in order to beat a flotilla of yachts coming our way. A ferry conducting training exercises and the rising wind are other obstacles but it’s an easy paddle straight back to Rose Bay’s sandy beach.
Renting kayaks off the beach is a great way to spend a day on the water and a past time few Sydneysiders seem to know about. During the week OzPaddle even runs its own fitness programs from bays around Sydney.