Story by Gary Brown
(edited for visittheshire.com.au)
The Shire! God’s Country! The Jewel in the South! Home of the Sharkies! Call it what you like, what I’m sure we can agree on is the Shire is a place where you can spend plenty of your time in or on the water.
Whether you want to fish, swim, surf, snorkel, dive, kayak, wakeboard, water ski, enjoy a cruise or just want to get wet, the beaches and waterways here offer something for everyone.
In 1796 explorers Bass & Flinders discovered the Port Hacking River and they spent three days exploring and mapping the area. In as little as three hours, you can learn about the history of the river aboard the MV Tom Thumb 111. Take in spectacular views and be amazed by some of the magnificent waterfront properties.
Cronulla and National Park Ferry Cruises is a multi-award winning service that operates a variety of services. You could take a 3-hour scenic river cruise, dine on the T.S.M.V Gunnamatta, enjoy a breakfast, lunch or dinner cruise, kick up your heels on the live music cruise or take the plunge with a few friends on the Swim ’n Dine cruise.
They also operate the ferry service between Cronulla and Bundeena. Just 20 minutes across the Hacking and you can explore the small community nestled on the edge of the Royal National Park. Take your swimmers and snorkel your way along Jibbon Beach or Bonnie Vale.
If you’re a bit more adventurous, spend the day game or sport fishing in the deep blue. All at Sea Charters promise and deliver a great time on the ocean and can accommodate groups and individuals.
CANOEING AND KAYAKING.
Hire a kayak or paddle board from Bundeena Outdoor Adventures and explore the Hacking and beautiful Royal National Park at your own pace. Or join one of their learn to Kayak or Stand Up Paddle Board sessions that are run from Wednesday to Sunday. They cater for groups of 8 to 80 people, for the young and young at heart.
Hire a row a boat, canoe, kayak or aqua bike from Audley Boat Shed in the Royal National Park. Escape into a natural wonderland with hidden swimming holes and breathtaking views. Open 7 days a week, every day of the year, including Christmas day. audleyboatshed.com
The Boatshed at Woronora is situated on Forbes Creek, which leads onto the picturesque Woronora River. It offers a range of delightful food, smooth coffee, a relaxing view and very affordable canoe and kayak hire. With the café looking directly onto the water, it’s the perfect place to experience the beauty of the river any day of the week.
WATER SKIING AND WAKEBOARDING.
Port Hacking River is suitable for water skiers and wake boarders of all skill levels. Try South West Arm, Gymea Bay and the stretch downstream to Lilli Pilli. Or try the area between Jibbon Beach and Oak Park. For those who don’t mind a bit of open water, there is always the back of the waves Shelly Beach to Boat Harbour in the north.
For a list of boat ramps and wharves, check out Sutherland Shire Council’s website.
There are a number of different styles of public swimming pools in the Shire. Sutherland Shire Leisure Centres comprise of Sutherland, Engadine, Caringbah Leisure Centres, Como Swimming Complex and Menai Indoor Sports Centre. sslc.com.au
The Shire also has four patrolled beaches, three ocean pools and a number of secluded spots ideal for swimming. See here for more info.
LEARNING TO SURF AND SUP.
At the age of 14 I taught myself to ride a surf board down at Werri Beach. There were many thrills and spills and even though I don’t surf anymore I always miss the thrill of catching a wave on one my Wave Creation surf boards.
Always wondered what it would be like to have a go at Stand-Up Paddle Boarding? If so, why not test-drive one of the latest models for free. The folk from Cronulla SUP are at Gunnamatta Bay the first Sunday of every month between the hours of 8am to 10am.
There are so many places in the Shire you can dangle a line, but there are not too many places you can hire a boat.
Try Boab Boats where you could hire yourself a 6m centre cab, a 5.7m Sportsrider or a 4.5M Runabout. Or Como Marina where you can hire an open runabout, one with a canopy, a larger cruise about, an 8-person pontoon, a 10 or 12-person BBQ pontoon.
SNORKELLING AND DIVING.
I prefer to be in a boat above the water or snorkelling on top of the water, rather than under it. But for many the thrill of exploring the underwater world is what determines your next holiday or weekend getaway. So pack your wet suit and flippers, check your tanks are ready, and dive into the Shire. Contact one either Cronulla Pro Dive or Cronulla Dive to arrange your dive experience.