If you are looking for a unique, fun activity for a group of friends or family, or a romantic day with your partner, then pedal a swan down the Lane Cove River. This is your next fun weekend outing in Sydney.
The Lane Cove River is located within the Lane Cove National Park, just 25 minutes by car, or just over an hour by train and bus from Clarence Street in Sydney CBD. Situated on the river is the Lane Cove Boatshed, that rents out boats by the hour or longer. My friend and I heard about a swan pedal boat that sounded like a fun activity, so we headed for an adventure on the river.
We walked into the park and saw families enjoying picnics along the riverbank, against a backdrop of Sydney Red Gum trees. While a picnic on the grass is fun, there's also covered barbeque areas, with tables and benches in various locations around the park. It would make a perfect spot for a family get-together or a great day out in nature, with birdlife such as ducks, currawongs and bush turkeys.
One of the covered BBQ areas - Photo by Phoebe Hackett
About a 10-minute walk from the park entrance, we arrived at The Lane Cove Boatshed. The swan boat was out and was due back within the hour, so we put our name on the waiting list and were next in line (they don't take bookings, you just show up and add your name to the list). While we waited, we chatted to the staff and found out the swan boat was imported from the USA, arriving by a shipping container and then assembled here, at a cost of over $10,000.
As luck would have it, we were invited to jump in a two-seater pedal boat, until the swan returned. We pushed off and pedalled well, avoiding sticks and the river bank itself. Along the way, ducks swam right up to the boat, assuming we had food for them. Half an hour later, we headed back to the pier and saw the swan making her way back in.
The Lane Cove Boatshed - Photos by Phoebe Hackett
We eagerly jumped into the swan boat, a roomy five-seater, and pedalled away, each taking turns at steering. The steering and pedalling were easy and responsive, however, if we stopped, the river would slowly take us where it wanted to (easy to rectify though, as the current was weak). There was a canopy above our heads, so we didn't have to worry about rain or sun. Lucky for us, the weather was perfect, and it was calm and peaceful out on the water.
Pedal down Lane Cove River - Photos by Phoebe Hackett & Fiona Scott
If you decide to give pedal boats a go, make sure you bring your camera with you to get shots from a fresh perspective. The scenery changes with the light along the river, so you will get some interesting shots. Bring your binoculars too, to sight some wildlife along the way.
Duck spotting on Lane Cove River - Photo by Fiona Scott
Further up the river, we saw glimpses of families out enjoying the day. The smell of BBQ filled the air. On the river itself, only a few other pedal boats were around, so we felt like we had the river pretty much to ourselves. The birdsong all around us made for a nice and relaxing soundtrack too.
The peaceful Lane Cove River - Photo by Phoebe Hackett
Our time was almost up so we headed back to the boat shed. We were a bit nervous as the pier came into view, wondering how we were going to park it. After a few moments of hesitation, we managed to manoeuvre the swan in perfectly, even getting a "Well done!" from a waiting family. This was very encouraging as neither of us had ever parked a boat before.
Our legs held up well after all our pedalling. All in all, we had a great day, with lots of laughs. Plus, the staff were helpful and friendly, making sure everyone had a safe and memorable time on the water. It was such a fun way to see a part of this beautiful national park.
Want to do more while you're at the Lane Cove National Park? After your trip down the river, a great way to see the park is to walk through it – You can join part of the Great North Walk which passes through the park and take in the scenery as you follow the convenient signposts along the track. Note: The Great North Walk is 250 km's long and takes 16 days to walk the length of it – If you're up for the challenge. The part of the walk that is within the Lane Cove National Park has benches and lookouts that are perfect for taking photos of the stunning water views or resting your legs.
Explore the park and wildlife - Photos by Phoebe Hackett & Fiona Scott
There is so much to see and do within the park, such as exploring cycling trails, running, hiking, tours, and driving, so you can mix it up on your next visit.
This map will show you all the trails, walks, cycling tracks and tours available.
National Park Hours: The park is open from 9:00 am – 7:00 pm in daylight savings time, and until 6:00 pm at other times.
National Park Entry fee:Vehicles: $8.00 per vehicle per day to enter the park, there is a coin machine to pay, so bring the correct change.Walking: Entry on foot is free.