Have you ever visited a city, sat by the banks of the river and watched in envy as rowers glide past, cocooned in their serenity, far from the hustle and bustle of pedestrian life?
I’ve often thought it must offer such a wonderful new perspective on a place. There’s time to take things in; to truly see what’s going on. And so it was with this in mind that I decided to discover more of my adopted hometown and booked the Melbourne Moonlight Kayak Tour.
There is an afternoon tour available, but I’m a bit of a night owl so opted for the later night-time tour, which kicks off from the boat sheds at the Docklands, just below the Bolte Bridge.
Here we gathered at the front of the sheds and had a quick lesson on how to maneuver a kayak. Both rowers need to paddle in unison and the person in the back is responsible for steering – push the left pedal to go left, the right to go right. Easy peasy, even for total newbies and the unfit, like me!
Once everyone was in the water we practiced our rowing skills around the edge of the dock, limbering up for the next few hours of self-imposed fitness ahead.
The pace was leisurely, and at intervals our guides Kent and Matt would check we were coping while dropping little morsels of local info on the way.
Not too long into the tour we parked the paddles and tied up together at a berth at the side of the dock, just as the sun was going down.
The sky turned from blue to indigo and orange as we sat side-by-side in the kayaks munching on fish and chips while quizzing Kent on the history of the area.
I took a moment to zone out, and listened only to the lap, lapping of the water against the kayak, while watching the colors reflected from the sun shift and dance on the surrounding glass skyscrapers. It was then I wondered why I don’t take to Melbourne’s waterways more often and made a pact with myself there and then that I would.
Once everyone was fed and watered we headed off towards the Bolte Bridge, now silhouetted by the setting sun.
Just after the bridge we turned left into the Yarra, narrowly avoiding collision with a scenic cruise coming from the other direction. It’s amazing how quickly you can paddle if you have to!
On we rowed, under the intricate Webb Bridge, past the Melbourne Exhibition Centre, until we reached the Crown casino where we pulled up on the water to watch the fire ball show that takes place every night.
Eight tall tubes, known as Gas Brigades, line the banks of the river, and every hour on the hour they release a series of fire balls up to 7 meters in diameter. It certainly makes for an impressive sight, and was, for some of the group, a highlight of the night.
From there, it’s a short paddle past the Eureka Sky Tour and Flinders Station, under the Princes Bridge to the tour’s end point at the rowing sheds on the banks of the Yarra.
With only slightly numb behinds and aching arms we clambered ungracefully from the kayak, thanked our guides and headed home, each a little more enlightened by what Melbourne has to offer.
If you’re looking for a different way to see the sights, no matter what your fitness or skill level, the kayak tour offers a fun new way to explore this wonderful city.
Photos courtesy of Linda McCormick.
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– Linda McCormick