When the British colony was established in the area of what is now Sydney in the late 1700’s, there was a rush to explore this new and promising area. The Royal Navy set off to explore the area around what is now the Blue Moutains, and discovered a river, which they named the Hawkesbury river, naming it after a Baron, as was the fad at the time.
Meanwhile, another explorer from the Royal Marines discovered the exact same river which he named the Nepean river, which guess what, he named after another British politician. (Oh the creativity!)
Despite all this naming confusion, (the river actually switches name part way down it’s course), it is still renowned for its natural beauty and as an important fresh water source for Australia’s largest city. The river cuts through the Nepean Gorge which is situated in the Unesco world heritage listed Blue Mountains National Park. The area is recognized by Unesco for it’s natural criteria, and for the biodiversity that the area represents.
Kayaking the Blue Mountains with Life’s An Adventure
We set off from Sydney early, when the roads were still clear, and made our way to the launch point for our days activities. The sky was grey and threatening to rain on us, but at least we didn’t have to worry about sunburn! Even despite the gloomy weather, the area was already busy with recreational boaters and jet skiers getting ready to enjoy the river.
But before we got jump in our boats, there was a bit of housekeeping necessary. Unlike some other kayaking and canoeing experiences I have had in the Southern Hemisphere, the tour guides at Life’s an Adventure really took the safety of the group seriously. They helped us fit the peddles in the kayaks to match our individual height and leg lengths, and took us through a thorough description of how to use the equipment, how to paddle efficiently, and what the safety and communication signals were going to be for the day. This was a start contract to my kayaking experience in the Waikaremoana region of New Zealand, where the safety and equipment lecture consisted of “I think these flares might still work…. see ya in two days!” Although I have done quite a bit of kayaking in the past, not everyone in the group had the same level of experience, and everyone was quite grateful for the attention paid to safety and detail.
It was only a short paddle to our first break point. About a 20 minute paddle up the river brought us to a little tributary in the gorge where there was a great natural area to pull up the kayaks. To enter this area, we had to navigate through some shallow water and around some rocks – a perfect way to test if we had mastered our steering lessons.
As we paddled further up the river, there were great opportunities for bird and wildlife spotting. We had two avid bird watchers in our group who pointed out many species of birds that we would have normally not even noticed at all. One bird we couldn’t help but notice were the Bell Birds. These birds live in large social groups and are known for their distinctive call. The birds make loud bell like noises whenever they see something moving in their territory, as a way to warn the other birds. The original Aboriginal inhabitants of this region used the Bell birds behaviour to their advantage, using them as an early warning system to alert them to either an approaching enemy or an approaching meal.
Speaking of approaching meal, all this paddling made me quite hungry. Even though let’s face it, I did take frequent paddling breaks while leaving the majority of the work up to Dan – but that’s what he’s for right? The picnic lunch put together by Life’s an Adventure was actually pretty impressive. The guides starting pulling lunch bags out of the storage areas of everyone’s kayaks. We had wraps, salads, prawns, pasta – lots of healthy high energy foods to feed our aching muscles and give us the energy to paddle back to the pick up point.
The one thing that you won’t see on the Lower Blue Mountains kayak trip with Life’s an Adventure, is the Blue Mountains themselves. And those really, are not to be missed. Luckily there are several other tours available to help you explore the region. Too tired after a long day kayaking to do anything strenuous like hiking or biking? Then check out some of the great 4WD tours available.