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Published March 13th 2021
An out of the ordinary nature experience
It's not difficult to entice me to head out to explore and enjoy nature. Considering going for a bushwalk, I'm there. Heading out on the water in a canoe or on a paddleboard, count me in. Fancy a bit of forest bathing, where do I sign up? However, I am aware that there are some people that need that extra little bit of encouragement. If you're one of those people, I've got some great news for you.
There is a place where you can enjoy all the sights and sounds of nature and still indulge in the finer things in life. Introducing the Canoes, Cool Climate Wines and Canapésexperience.
Need an incentive to head outdoors? Try this unique nature experience
Canoes, Cool Climate Wines and Canapés is run by Experience Nature Group in association with Paddle and Portage Canoes. Sessions are run on select dates in two locations – Kangaroo Valley and Canberra.
We chose the Kangaroo Valley option and our meeting point was Bendeela Recreation Area, around a ten minute drive from the main street in Kangaroo Valley. Our guides for the session were Travis and Dan from Paddle and Portage Canoes while Amanda from Experience Nature Group provided the food and beverages.
We were blessed with beautiful and sunny, although very humid, weather for our session so sunscreen and hats were a must. After everyone had checked in Travis explained the geography of the area, the relationship of the river to the Tallowa Dam downstream, and the part this plays in the regions water supply. Then there was a short safety briefing, which included the correct way to hold the paddle, and after donning our life vests we were ready to step into our canoes.
The custom-built canoes are not your average hire model. Imported from Canada, the attractive Wenonah canoes are rigged up to be a double canoe separated by a large central board which becomes your dining table. This set up greatly enhances the stability of the canoes making them virtually impossible to capsize according to our guides.
Our group of 20 participants was split up into groups of four and Travis and Dan assisted everyone into the canoes. Some people opted to remove their shoes so as not to risk getting them wet, however it is also possible to get into the canoe without touching the water if desired. The seating arrangements are up to you but if you want to talk easily to your partner you are better off sitting in separate canoes, directly across from one another, rather than one person at the front and one at the back of an individual canoe.
On this particular day, there were quite a number of other people on the water who were canoeing and kayaking. However, once we moved past the busy section of the river, near the campground, the natural attractions became more apparent and it was a very peaceful experience.
A relaxing & peaceful way to spend a couple of hours
There was no set destination for our session. In fact, it is entirely up to you how far you would like to travel on the river. We headed downstream for a couple of kilometres before pulling over to the riverbank to enjoy the surroundings. Some people opted for a swim in the river, while others were happy to remain in the canoe. It's important to mention that the water here is still, there are no rapids or rushing water of any nature, ensuring that paddling is not strenuous at all.
As you would expect the food and drinks are one of the highlights of this experience and they did not disappoint. The table on the canoe is decked out with a water bottle, bento box and cutlery for each person. There is also a bottle of wine for each couple. For those who prefer beer, this is supplied on demand by Travis and Dan, who dart between the groups in their single canoes, sharing their knowledge and delivering beers from their esky.
The bento boxes held a variety of gourmet canapés including savoury treats such as mushrooms, mini smoked salmon pikelets and a chicken sandwich. Sweet treats included chocolate cake, passionfruit meringue, berries, grapes and dates.
You choose your beverages before you go and there is a choice of white wine, sparkling wine, red wine or beer. The cool climate wines are from local wineries and I enjoyed quite a few glasses of Sauvignon Blanc from Cupitt's Estate, while the sparkling wine was Blanc de Blancs from Tertini in the Southern Highlands. By all accounts the choice of beer was also a winner, it was a dry ale Ration Beer from Eden Brewery in the Southern Highlands.
It's not every day you can enjoy a glass of wine in a canoe on the river
Canoes, Cool Climate Wines and Canapés is run by Experience Nature Group. I would recommend it to those who enjoy spending time in nature as well as to those who need an extra incentive to head outdoors. With this experience all of the hard work is done for you, all you need to do is turn up and enjoy it.