David Fitzsi­mons gets back to na­ture — with a few lux­u­ries — on the far south coast

The Daily Telegraph (Sydney) - Best Weekend - - PLANNER - David.fitzsi­ Twit­ter: @FitzAtLarge The writer trav­elled cour­tesy of Sap­phire Coast Tourism

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, ki­ah­wilder­ness­

Na­ture sight­ings while kayak­ing at Kiah (main) in­clude

herons (left) and king­fish­ers (above). Pic­tures:

Jenny Robb

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