SYDNEY'S waterways are simply stunning, from the famous harbour to the hidden Hawkesbury. They offer activities for all ages, from adrenalin junkie teenagers to genteel great-grandparents. Whether you've got a couple of hours or a couple of days, here are some options for getting out on the water.
While Sydney is a busy working harbour with ferries, tugs and cruise liners, it's also an exciting playground for boats of all sizes, from kayaks to cruisers, tinnies to tall ships.
1. Historical sailing
If you have an affinity for old ships, spend a day aboard the James Craig, a 19th century barque lovingly restored by the Sydney Maritime Museum. It is 70m long and has 21 sails on three masts. Sit back and relax or haul ropes with the volunteer crew. More: Sydney Heritage Fleet, (02) 9298 3888.
Hooning around in a jet boat is heaps of fun. Bounce over waves and skid across the harbour at 80km/h before surging to a power brake stop. Prices and packages vary from pure thrills to sightseeing combos. More: Harbour Jet, call 1300 887 373; Jetcruiser, call (02) 8296 7255; Oz Jet Boating, call (02) 9808 3700; Sydney Jet, call (02) 9807 4333. Wildcat Jetboats, call (02) 9264 7377.
3. Fabulous ferries
Children love a ferryboat, even if its name isn't Fred, and it's an inexpensive way to get out on the harbour. Take a round-trip from Circular Quay under the harbour bridge, past Luna Park and into Darling Harbour and back, or jump on a ferry to Manly and spend a day at the beach. More: Sydney Ferries, call 13 15 00.
Catch a ferry to Fort Denison for lunch surrounded by convict history or pack a picnic to have on tiny park-like Shark Island. More: Matilda Cruises, call (02) 9264 7377.
4. Harbour cruising
For a different perspective on the city, take a leisurely sightseeing cruise. Combine coffee, lunch, dinner or cocktails with views of harbour icons and a commentary. More: Matilda Cruises, call (02) 9264 7377; Captain Cook Cruises, call 1800 804 843.
See the harbour from an Aboriginal viewpoint when you hop aboard the Deerubbun. Listen to stories from local clans and visit cave shelters.
Experience a welcome ceremony on Clark Island with Tribal Warrior Association. More: call (02) 9699 3491.
5. Paddle power
You don't need a motor to see the harbour. In a canoe or kayak, you can get into some of the hidden coves and inlets. Join a paddling tour or explore on your own. More: Bridge Paddle, call (02) 9899 1001; Manly Kayaks, call 0411 247 917; Ozpaddle, call 0416 239 543; Sydney Harbour Kayaks, call (02) 9960 4389.
Once the main route between the western fertile plains and Sydneytown, the Hawkesbury River has retained much of its colonial feel.
6. Last Riverboat Postman
Take a trip back in time with Australia's Last Riverboat Postman, a service running since 1910. Board at Brooklyn and take a peek at riverside life as the boat makes its deliveries. Learn about the river, its history and characters. More:: call (02) 9985 7566.
7. Water taxi to lunch
There's something decadent about catching a water taxi to lunch, but unless you've got your own boat it's the only way to reach Peats Bite restaurant. Near Berowra Creek, it combines stunning views, great food and friendly service. More: Peats Bite for weekend lunches, call (02) 9985 9040. Water taxi, call 0400 600 111.
8. River cruising
Love seafood? Learn to catch a crab and open an oyster while finding out about local life with Crazy Dave on the MV Islander. More: Crab'n'Oyster Cruises, call (02) 9985 8237.
Sip a wine with lunch while cruising from historic Wiseman's Ferry aboard the riverboat Erringhi. First Sunday of the month. More: Leisure Lass River Cruises, call (02) 4566 4585.
If you've got a group, design your own cruise aboard the MV Emily Melvey (minimum 20). Departures from Brooklyn or Berowra Waters. More: Hawkesbury Cruises, call (02) 9985 9900.
9. Houseboat high jinks
Whether you're after a romantic getaway for two, a quiet family break or a fun-filled holiday with friends, there's a houseboat on the Hawkesbury to suit. Cruise quiet backwaters, visit river communities or head ashore to a protected beach.
More: Able Hawkesbury River Houseboats, Wiseman's Ferry, call 1800 024 979; Holidays Afloat, Brooklyn, call (02) 9985 7368; Luxury Afloat, Brooklyn, call (02) 9985 7344; Paradise Afloat, Lower Portland, call (02) 4575 4099.
If you want to captain a "real" boat then skipper a clipper. These stately cruisers look elegant, are easy to drive and no licence is needed. Clipper Cruiser Holidays, Akuna Bay, call (02) 9450 0000.
10. Tinker in a tinny
Hire a tinny or small runabout for a couple of hours or a day to explore the bays and inlets of Cowan Creek, see Aboriginal rock engravings, picnic on secluded beaches or go fishing. More: Cottage Point Kiosk and Boat Hire, for tinnies (holds up to six), single/double kayaks, call (02) 9456 3024; Boat Hire, Bobbin Head, call (02) 8004 1041.
article from Daily Telegraph
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