Back in early 2012, we discovered that kayaking was a fantastic way to discover a new city when the two of us paddled around Hobart.
But the opportunity to paddle around the world-famous Sydney Harbour, including going directly under the Harbour Bridge, is something that should be on bucket lists right around the world.
My day started at Lavender Bay Wharf at 7:00am, meeting the friendly Patrick from Natural Wanders. I was lucky enough to be the only person on his tour that morning and being a public holiday in Sydney, the Harbour was relatively quiet and perfect for a morning of kayaking.
After re-introducing me to the basics of kayaking and the safety procedures, Patrick and I set off from the wharf in a double kayak and headed straight past the much-loved Luna Park and towards the Harbour Bridge.
“Slow down”, Patrick warned me, letting me know that slow and steady would prove much more effective than my fast-paced start with the paddle.
I took Patrick’s advice and settled into a reliable stroke, working in tandem with him to glide through the water as we approached the iconic Harbour Bridge.
Before long we were directly underneath this epic structure and we were able to take a moment to soak it all in. The photo below doesn’t even do it justice!
After passing underneath the Bridge, we paddled our way around to Kirribilli Point – the location of the Sydney residences of Australia’s Prime Minister and Governor-General.
When our PM is in town she resides at the gothic-style Kirribilli House, built in 1854. You could get quite a good view of the property from the water, much better than you could ever see from solid ground.
As we continued to paddle, we passed the Royal Sydney Yacht Squardon which was founded in 1862 and headed into Milsons Point. Patrick impressed me tremendously with his knowledge of the boats housed at R.S.Y.S. and their history.
From “Nerida” which was built in 1933 and won the 1950 Sydney-to-Hobart race on handicap to “Australia”, the 1977 and 1980 challenger in the America’s Cup finals, he seemed to know anything and everything and my countless questions didn’t phase him.
It wasn’t just boats that Patrick knew about though – it was the historic buildings in the area. From “Sunnyside” built in 1862 to “The Walder” built in the 1920s, this man was an expert. One of the most interesting was “Once Upon A Time”, built in 1936 at Potts Point and moved by barge during WWII to make way for a naval dry dock construction.
There was also plenty of wealth on show around the Harbour with one example being a home that was purchased for $13 million and demolished to make way for a brand new luxury mansion. We kept on paddling around to Cremorne Point and Robertson Lighthouse, which was quite some distance from our starting point.
After seeing some more impressive houses and getting a glimpse of a stingray in the water at Mosman Bay, Patrick offered me a well-earned rest. I wasn’t one to say no so I sat back in the kayak and enjoyed the views of Sydney’s skyline through the trees before it was time to head back.
We slowly paddled back through the Harbour past the Opera House and under the Harbour Bridge for a second time. It was a little busier now that a couple of hours had passed and the water wasn’t quite as steady but it was just as memorable.
By now I was starting to fatigue and my hands were getting sore from the paddling, but I couldn’t resist Patrick’s offer to head over to Goat Island and see one of Sydney Harbour’s hidden gems – a sea eagle sitting in a tree just watching the world go by.
The eagle had a massive wingspan and was a beautiful site to see at the end of this adventure around Sydney Harbour. We eventually returned back to Lavender Bay Wharf having covered a whopping 17.3km in just under 4 hours.
Patrick offers very personalised tours with small groups and can also do private tours for 1-2 people. If you’re looking for a unique perspective of Sydney that you’ll never forget, a kayak around Sydney Harbour is something definitely worth considering.
Experience Sydney in 360˚
A brand new innovation from Destination NSW allows us to participate in some of these iconic Sydney experiences before we even book a flight there.
We can now surf on Bondi Beach and kayak on Sydney Harbour without getting wet! We can also fly a helicopter over the Harbour without leaving the ground thanks to the new 360˚ video developed and launched by Destination NSW.
Check Sydney 360˚ out at sydney.com/sydney360