David Fitzsimons gets back to nature — with a few luxuries — on the far south coast
Ahhh, life is good in the outdoors. The water, the view, the wildlife... the scented towel. Normally I’m sitting in a Chinese restaurant when handed a hot towel, so I am pleasantly surprised to be given a lemon-scented one while seated on a riverbank halfway through a kayak trip about as far south in NSW as you can go.
Tourism executive-turnedtour operator Jenny Robb is so keen to show tourists her backyard, she goes that extra mile.
Robb runs guided kayak trips along a coastal estuary at the foot of her home at Kiah, south of Eden.
“It’s so easy to do when you live on the river,” she says of her job and organisational skills. “I love doing it; I’m pedantic and I travel widely.”
It’s early morning when we set out on what locals call the Kiah River but is officially called the Towamba.
Robb helps us into our boats and we push off across the shallow waters.
We’re heading upstream and before long we’re spotting water dragons on shore logs, a kingfisher in a tree, its unique orange and blue plumage catching our eyes, and plenty of wild deer. Pests here just as much as closer to Sydney in the Royal National Park, the deer make a strange sight in the bushland above the water.
Recent rains have given the water a murky colouring but Robb assures me it’s usually clear enough to spot fish.
After a couple of hours meandering along, with a shore break for early-morning exercises, we reach the halfway point of the 5km journey. And it’s here that the towels come out, followed by fruit muffins that Robb has baked, and coffee delivered in individual plungers.
Kayaking is about getting into a rhythm and this is a great river for beginners — the water is gentle and on the return journey you move with the current; the main concerns are getting caught in the shallows. The single kayaks are well-balanced and all gear is provided, making the trip even simpler.
Robb takes groups of up to six people on the four-hour adventure. “I time it to go with the tide both ways,” she says. “I have people of all ages do the trip. Eight is the youngest, as long as they can paddle, and I’ve had a couple of women over 80.”
She plans to introduce double kayaks to allow younger children to ride along, and is looking to expand into full-day trips across Eden’s famous Twofold Bay to the historic Davidson Whaling Station site.
Having lived in the area for 33 years, Robb has a close affinity to Eden and its history.
Her son is the great-great grandson of Eden’s most famous whaler George Davidson.
“I’ve always been passionate about regional development and tourism,” she says. “It’s a no-brainer. I love showing it (the region) off. You can show people without wrecking it.”
Kiah Wilderness Tours, off Princes Hwy, Kiah; SeptemberJune, $80 per person, $95 with lunch, 0429 961 047, kiahwildernesstours.com.au
Nature sightings while kayaking at Kiah (main) include
herons (left) and kingfishers (above). Pictures: