Melbourne is the kind of city that it’s a pleasure to simply wander through. This is facilitated by its regular and reliable trams, speedy trains, rentable bikes and even horse-drawn carriages. But for a truly unique perspective, Kayak Melbourne offers a variety of Melbourne kayak tours along the city’s Yarra River.
I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to join the City Sights tour with Kayak Melbourne’s owner Kent. Originally from Canada, it was clear he’d grown up a fan of outdoor sports and his passion for kayaking, combined with knowledge of the city made for a very enjoyable paddle.
I met Kent on the Southbank opposite Federation Square and he stored my bags securely in the boot of the van before handing me a life jacket with a pocket big enough for my camera.
Before we got on the water, he went over the basic paddling technique. I’ve been kayaking before in Abel Tasman in New Zealand as well as in Manly, Sydney, but Kent’s comprehensive instructions taught me some great techniques I’d never been taught before. He showed me how to use twists of my torso to add strength to each stroke and when to lift the paddle out of the water so as not to splash myself or him.
After manoeuvring the kayak into the water, I climbed into the front. Kent then pushed it further forwards and got in the back with such expertise I barely noticed the boat move. He told me to paddle and said he’d follow my lead.
MELBOURNE KAYAK CITY SIGHTS
The City Sights tour follows the Yarra River west through the centre of Melbourne. With the CBD to your right and the Southbank to your left, you are able to take in views of this attractive metropolis from a different perspective than would be possible on foot.
POINTS OF INTEREST
Kent pointed out particular buildings and sculptures and explained their history. He also gave me some great tips on places to visit in the city during the rest of my stay, including bars with incredible panoramic views and a fire display that happens after dark on the hour every hour on the Southbank between Queens Bridge and Kings Bridge.
We continued past South Wharf to Yarra’s Edge, where the recognisable twin towers of Bolte Bridge came into view.
Yarra’s Edge Marina is particularly photogenic, with views of the city behind as you turn the kayak around and head back upstream.–
OTHER MELBOURNE KAYAK OPTIONS
Of the other tour options offered by Kayak Melbourne, the Moonlight tour looks especially spectacular. Setting off as the sun sets and including takeaway fish and chips, eaten in the kayak before you start paddling, this is unlike any other kayak tour you will have experienced before. Melbourne looks arguably more beautiful after dark as the city buildings glimmer and various structures put on light displays.
Starting in Victoria Harbour, you will have views of the Etihad Stadium, Bolte Bridge and the colourful Melbourne Star Observation Wheel. Kent also times the tour to pass the Crown Casino just as its fireball display kicks off.
RIVER TO SKY
This tour is the Moonlight tour with access to the Eureka Skydeck 88 included. The Eureka Skydeck is the highest public vantage point in a building in the Southern Hemisphere and has fantastic views of the city, especially at night.
Setting off from Boathouse Drive after a yoga session to awaken your body and stretch your limbs, the Yoga Sunrise follows the same route as City Sights, but with a beautiful morning sunlight glow basking the city.
Kayaking isn’t particularly strenuous. You can go at your own pace, and the boats used are very stable, with adjustable foot rests to suit people of different heights. The tours are recommended for people over 10 years of age.
You can wear your street clothes and there is plenty of space for any additional belongings, which will be placed in waterproof bags.
You’ll be supplied with a life jacket and bottle of water, as well as fish and chips on the Moonlight tour.
The City Sights tour lasts 1.5 hours, of which 1 hour is paddling. Yoga Sunrise is about 1 hour 45 mins combined. The Moonlight and River to Sky tours both last 2.5 hours, of which approximately 2 hours is paddling. With the latter, you will then be able to explore the Eureka Skydeck 88 in your own time.
Check the website to make sure you know where your tour begins, as different tours have different starting points.
Kayak Melbourne also runs bike tours and corporate events.
City Sights: $72
Yoga Sunrise: $82
River to Sky: $118
NB: These prices are accurate at the time of writing (June 2014) and are subject to change.
MORE FUN IN MELBOURNE
Join a city discovery tour with Contiki and you can explore some of Melbourne’s top sights in the company of likeminded travellers. The four-day experience includes highlights like St Kilda and the 12 Apostles.
SEE MELBOURNE WITH CONTIKI
AND HAVE NO REGRETS!
WHERE TO STAY IN MELBOURNE
For my three-night stay in Melbourne, I was a guest at the Exford Hotel. Located at the crossroads of Little Bourke Street and Russel Street in the heart of the CBD, the location couldn’t be handier.
The Exford Hotel was built in 1854 and has its own historic pub as well as a lounge bar, providing plenty of entertainment, from indie nights to comedy. They serve a free breakfast of toast and cereal and there’s a large kitchen, computer area and lounge with a wide selection of DVDs as well as Foxtel. All of this combines to create a cosy English bed and breakfast feel. Dorms start at $27 per night, but there are also twins and doubles available. The beds are very comfortable, and there are lockers in the rooms to keep your valuables safe. Staff were on hand 24/7 to answer my questions and were very knowledgeable.
I was a guest of Kayak Melbourne. Any opinions expressed in this post are my own. For further information on Melbourne kayak tour options, check out their Facebook page here.