Words By Marco D'Alessandro
Images by Dale Baldwin
It was around 8am when I rocked up at the boat sheds of a small Sandy Bay beach to meet Roaring Forties Kayaking. As someone that has been a Hobart local for most of his life I really wasn’t sure what to expect of a tour that would take me through largely familiar territory.
When I arrived both Sue and Reg from Roaring Forties came over and greeted me warmly, in turn facilitating introductions with the other members of the group before delving into a safety briefing. All abilities were catered for; although I had kayaked before it was clear that no kayaking experience was necessary. The basics were well covered by the guides and any extra questions clients had were answered to quash any lasting reservations.
Soon enough we pushed off into the choppy, shallow waters off the beach, a stiff head wind offering some resistance. The pace was relaxed. This tour isn’t about rushing, the ground covered over the three hours was relatively small and could have been covered in a fraction of the time. Plenty of time is taken to properly take in the sites, drift under jetties and listen to the explanations of the knowledgeable guides.
The group slowly started off by making their way around the headland of Battery Point, Hobart’s most affluent suburb, coming in close enough to see the modern architectural feats forming extensions to some of Hobart’s oldest properties. Sue pointed out a house that had been featured on Grand Designs for its fusion of new and old elements.
Drifting on we rounded the point into the harbour proper, revealing the docks beyond, nestled at the foot of the omnipresent massif of Mount Wellington. We passed a curiously placed over water cabin which the guides explained to be the judging booth for the annual Sydney to Hobart yacht race, unknown to the local guests. We continued on, the warehouses and shops of the waterfront ahead appearing miniscule from this angle against the bulk of the mountain.
Despite living in Hobart for most of my life I had never seen the city from the water, a perspective that sheds new light on life in the city. We gave way to a couple of yachts and a tour boat on our way into constitution dock, navigating the numerous jetties lined with moorings. After weaving our way through the lines of yachts the functioning part of the harbour finally gave way to the calm, collected waters of constitution dock.
Sue helped everyone raft up to a buoy in the centre of the dock, the sandstone edifice of the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery standing at the far end and the right side lined with fish venders, the smell of freshly cooked sea food wafting our way. Fresh fish and chips was brought to us on the water, giving us time to simply float, talk amongst ourselves and people watch.
Once everyone had finished their food and was content to move on we untied and one by one pushed away from our moorings, slowly but steadily retracing our steps. This time we took the northern side of the harbour, paddling adjacent to a cruise liner, dwarfed by the sheer magnitude of its hull. Half an hour later we made our last few paddle strokes, grounding ourselves on the beach where we had begun.
The Hobart City Kayak runs daily over the warmer months and on weekends over winter. If you are looking for a unique Hobart experience or looking for an interesting way to spend a morning or afternoon then make sure to add this tour to your itinerary.