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Sydney's Coolest Water-based Fun For Kids

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by Carolyn Hopping (subscribe)
I'm a freelance writer based in Perth, Western Australia, who enjoys writing about the things I love: travel, nature-based activities, the arts, spirituality and creative, fun activities for children.
Published January 24th 2017
Chill Out And Have Fun This Summer
Summer in Sydney is a time of the year that's synonymous with sun, fun and family holidays. However, as the long sweltering months roll by, the relentless heat and humidity inevitably take their toll on our energy levels and fray our tempers, leaving us hankering for the cooler temperatures of autumn.

Image courtesy of Hornbaker Chelsi / Wikimedia Commons
Image courtesy of Hornbaker Chelsi / Wikimedia Commons


Despite their seemingly unlimited stockpile of energy, children are especially susceptible to the summer's heat, and for that reason it's handy to know a few quirky ways that the whole family can cool off and chill out. With our beautiful beaches and extensive inland waterways, Sydneysiders have plenty of awesome places and activities to choose from in order to gain relief from summer heatwaves. The following paragraphs contain some helpful hints for discovering some of Sydney's coolest water-based fun for children.

An Evening At The Beach Paddling and Beachcombing
Children are so easy to please, and a great way for the whole family to unwind after a scorching hot day is to head to the beach for a picnic dinner, followed by some paddling and beachcombing. Despite Sydney's ever-growing population, it's still possible to find some lovely shells and driftwood cast up on many of the local beaches, and children of all ages easily get caught up in the excitement of the 'treasure hunt'.

Image courtesy of Brian Gatwick / Wikimedia Commons
Image courtesy of Brian Gatwick / Wikimedia Commons


Ocean baths
Although most of us love the local beaches, swimming in the open ocean can be a little scary for very young children. Fortunately, however, Sydney is blessed with a terrific range of beautiful ocean baths - many which are totally free of charge. While some are barely more than tiny rock pools, quite a few have swimming lanes for older kids who take their water-sports more seriously. Check out this website to learn more about Sydney's unique and natural salt-water pools the perfect way to enjoy sea-side fun without getting dumped by big waves.

Image courtesy of Ruth Ellison / Wikimedia Commons
Image courtesy of Ruth Ellison / Wikimedia Commons


Children's Surfing Programs
Surfing is a national pastime here in Australia and many of the country's best surfers first took to the waves in their childhood. Weetbix Surf Groms is supported by Quicksilver and provides ideal summer fun for Sydney's budding pro-surfers and stand-up paddle-boarders. Aimed at primary school aged children, the program encompasses two distinct categories Mini Groms, for those who are five to eight years of age, and Super Groms, for big kids from nine to twelve. While the focus for younger participants is on the cultivation of fundamental movements such as balance, agility and coordination, older children build on this knowledge, alongside developing an appreciation of beach safety and ocean awareness. Surf Groms programs are held at various locations in Sydney. To find out more, check out their website.

Image courtesy of the Weetbix Surf Groms website
Image courtesy of the Weetbix Surf Groms website


Surf Lifesaving for Kids
Another iconic image in Australian popular culture is that of the bronzed surf lifesaver, fearlessly battling the ocean in order to rescue hapless swimmers and body-surfers. With the immense popularity of television shows such as Bondi Rescue and Surf Patrol, surf-lifesaving has been enjoying an resurgence in popularity over recent years, and there are now 'Nippers' classes run by many Sydney surf lifesaving clubs, especially formulated to teach youngsters the basics. The programs vary, depending on the specific age groups that they're catering for, but some of the topics that are covered include surf safety and awareness, how to identify rips and other hazards, lifesaving skills, surf rescue skills and how to perform CPR. In addition, skills such as paddling a board, flag placement, sprints and board rescues are covered, as well as personal development considerations such as self-confidence, leadership skills and working as a cooperative team member.

Image courtesy of the Surf Living Sydney website
Image courtesy of the Surf Lifesaving Sydney website


There are many surf-lifesaving clubs situated in Sydney's beachside suburbs, and quite a few of these host their own 'Nippers' programs. To find out more, contact your local club, or check out the club directory on the Sydney Surf Lifesaving website.

Kayaking
Kayaking is an enjoyable activity for children of all ages, and Sydney's numerous waterways provide ample opportunities to join in the fun. Situated fairly close to the city, yet a world away in ambiance, the sheltered waters of the Lane Cove River are perfect for families with young children and very little experience to experiment with paddling. If you're total beginners, or without your own kayak, Lane Cove Boatshed situated in the Lane Cove National Park, by the river is a reputable place to hire everything that you'll need for a big day out on the river. As well as kayaks and canoes, you can even hire row boats or pedal boats. To find out more, including contact details, take a look at their website.

Image courtesy of Alex Proimos / Wikimedia Commons
Image courtesy of Alex Proimos / Wikimedia Commons


Another idyllic sheltered spot, perfect for beginners, is beautiful Kangaroo Creek in the Royal National Park. Once again, with this location, it's not necessary to have your own kayak or gear, as historic Audley Boatshed is located close by the river, providing plenty of options for water-based fun. The boatshed offers kayaks, canoes, boats and aqua bikes for hire, from one hour to an entire day. Go to the Audley Boatshed website to find out more.

For those with their own kayaks and a bit of experience, the possibilities for paddling adventures in Sydney are endless. To learn more about some of the best locations in the metropolitan area, check out this terrific article.

Diving lessons
The underwater realm is often considered to be one of our world's last great frontiers, and scuba diving is the ideal way for nature-lovers and thrill-seekers - to explore its mysteries. If you have teenagers who are getting restless over the holidays, enrolling them in one of Sydney's PADI-certified courses might be the beginning of a fabulous hobby that they will enjoy throughout their lives. There are numerous places throughout Sydney where youngsters (and the not-so-young) can learn how to dive from highly trained and experienced instructors. A few that have been highly recommended to me are the Dive Centre Bondi, Dive Centre Manly, Frog Dive and Abyss Scuba Diving.

Image courtesy of P. Lindgren / Wikimedia Commons
Image courtesy of P. Lindgren / Wikimedia Commons


Snorkelling
Taking into account the fact that children need to be strong swimmers in order to participate in scuba diving, and that courses held by reputable companies tend to be a little on the pricey side, you might find that snorkelling is more suitable for both your kids and your budget. Best of all, even very young children can get involved. Goggles, snorkels and flippers can be purchased for a reasonable price at many retail outlets throughout Sydney, and once you've explained to your kids what to do, all you have to decide on is where to go. A few places that are highly recommended include Cabbage Tree Bay near North Head, Gordon's Bay in Clovelly, Little Bay in Port Botany and Bare Island. However, there are definitely plenty of other local secrets, so be adventurous and see what you can discover. Take a look at this article for a few more ideas to get started.

Image courtesy of Hikmah Cut Ramadhana / Wikimedia Commons
Image courtesy of Hikmah Cut Ramadhana / Wikimedia Commons

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Why? So you can chill out and have fun - even when the summer temperatures are soaring.
When: During the hot months of Summer
Where: On Sydney's beautiful beaches and inland waterways
Cost: It varies
Your Comment
Nice article, so many activities to do :)
by RC (score: 3|1221) 874 days ago
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