Kayaking on Middle Harbour, Sydney

It was hard to believe that we were paddling on one of the world’s busiest harbours.

All that could be heard was the gentle splashing of the water as the oars sliced through it from one side of the kayak to the other.

boats docked in water

Megan and I, friends only since yesterday, already had fallen into a silent rhythm softly interrupting the stillness of the air around us.

“The water is like glass today. I have never seen it so still before. Perfect kayaking conditions” Our guide, Carly, a Canadian on an Australian working holiday experience informed us.

a kayak in water

After a week of rain and a summer of horrid weather, I soaked up the sun on my skin as it beat down from a clear, blue sky highlighting just why Sydney Harbour is the known as one of the most stunning harbours in the world.

We were on Middle Harbour.

I am ashamed to admit, I did not know about it until the kayak tour. Sydney Harbour’s foreshores extend for over 150  miles so you can be forgiven not knowing everything about it.

I know the suburbs that sat on Middle Harbour: Mossman, Clontarf, Sea Forth, and Northbridge. I certainly knew about the wealth that lived there anyhow.

We marveled at the mansions sitting on the cliff face as we slowly paddled by, wondering about the life lived in a place where the only entrance in and out were steep stairs and inclinators, as the cliff face elevators are called in these parts.

“How do they get their furniture up there? Where do they park their cars? What must their boats look like?

We chose our favourites from the little cottage tucked into the corner with its own private beach, the $17 million mansion with vine covered balconies and palm trees obstructing our intrusive eyes, or the wooden cabins camouflaged into the foliage of the bush.

Civilisation soon gave way to the natural bushland of the Garigal National Park. The cicadas deafening sound greeted us, alongside the squawks of crows and cockatoos.

a harbour

Our kayaks soon ran up onto the sand underneath, the low tide forcing us to say goodbye to our journey through the mangroves of the National Park-that would be for a story another time. Our entrance was forbidden, but they were not shy in farewelling us with an empowering stench of rotten egg, similar to that of a puffing volcano.

Maybe the stench is a protective mechanism to stop humans, once again, destroying a very important part of our ecosystem. The mangroves being responsible for depositing tonnes of leaves each year into the ocean which is the start of the food chain. Maybe the smell is a reminder to us to live harmoniously with the branches that feed us.

Our conversations across the three canoes were filled with banter as we traded stories of dangerous animals, outdoor activities, and food of the five nations that separated us: Australia, England, US, NZ and Canada. The talk of food prompting our bellies to paddle up to the beach of the the small cove that appeared around the bend for a cuppa and a snack.

Did it have something to do with thoroughly enjoying every present moment paddling in such a beautiful setting that made the watermelon so fresh and juicy and the instant coffee so creamy? Let’s not even go there with the double choc cookies.

Our morning tea break was enough to fuel us up for the second half of the morning, although the heaviness of the arms became noticeable once we started paddling again. I welcomed it though, as a sign that I as moving my body and hardening up; I had become way too soft.

We battled with the wake of passing cruise boats, becoming like those Olympic athletes we saw training on kayaks in the distance, racing across the channel to avoid being T-boned by the larger vessels we shared the harbour with.

In reality it was because Carly had just informed us that we were sitting above the black hole, the deepest part of Sydney Harbour; an abyss where sharks liked to play. Sore arms or not, nothing gets me moving faster in water than the S word.

It was satisfying, yet disappointing end when our paddles hit the sandy bank of home. Our time in the water was far too short. I’ve known Sydney Harbour all my life and spent plenty of ways getting to know her.

This was my first time experiencing her on a kayak and I discovered a different side: quiet, calm, and natural.

I liked this new side to her.

a harbour


Our Middle Harbour Eco Tour was with Sydney Harbour Kayaks
The tour runs for 4 hours every Saturday and Sunday starting from 8.30am at The Spit in Mosman. Cost: $99 per person
All paddling equipment, morning tea and  bottled water are included in the tour cost.

Sydney Harbour Kayaks also offer a range of kayak tours and lessons.

For all kayak instructors in Australia on working holiday visas: Sydney Harbour Kayaks are always looking for kayak instructors. Apparantly they are hard to find!

Want more information? Read what other travelers have to say at TripAdvisor

Where have you enjoyed kayaking before?

My stay in Sydney was hosted by Destination NSW and our kayak trip by Sydney Harbour Kayaks. All opinions are of my own.

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8 thoughts on “Kayaking on Middle Harbour, Sydney”

  1. Wonderful photos Caz! I’m really so excited to see the harbor in such a way that I’ve never seen it before. How come you have taken these magnificent photos so naturally? I wish if I could be there right now. Thanks for sharing post.

  2. Really wish it didn’t rain on us during our time in Sydney – would have loved to try this! Gerard and I recently did kayaking in Bay of Islands, New Zealand. Even got a chance to do night kayaking! It was incredibly beautiful. Next time we’re in Sydney though, I’m adding this to my list, rain or shine. πŸ™‚ Nice photos!

  3. The water looks so clear, I love the photos. Your morning sounds like a lot of fun. I went kayaking only once so far, in New Zealand, and after I moved through the fear, it was fun going up and down the waves! I love how being present made the watermelon and coffee taste even better πŸ™‚

  4. What a great way to explore Sydney Harbour, as long as you don’t think about all the sharks underneath :). What’s next on your kayaking agenda? Maybe Port Phillip Bay in Melbourne?

  5. This type of harbor view I have never seen before. I wish if I could be there for a month trip with some of my friends and doing as like as you did.
    Really all your photos look so rich natural beauties hidden in the harbor. Thanks for the post.

  6. It is because of posts like this that make me miss Australia! Me and the Mrs went kayaking in Katherine Gorge when touring the outback which was an incredible experience.

    Oh how I miss the sun πŸ™‚

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