A rambling paddle to Barangaroo

Walking through Darling Harbour past the Barangaroo development with a group of Year 10 students on an urban growth and decline field study, last Friday, pricked my interest in having a closer look at Barangaroo’s Headland Park.

Munn Street Reserve at Millers Point provides an excellent view of activity at Barangaroo and the seemingly untenable overseas cruise ship berth right in the middle of the project.  I couldn’t help wondering how passengers must be feeling about the noise and dust from the latest foundations work on the site.

Current developments at Sydney's Barangaroo project.

I also noticed that the Headland Park development was beginning to take shape.  From the Reserve it resembled a pile of rubble so I planned to return for a closer look at water level.

Saturday was a great day for paddling on the harbour and I set out around 8.00am to paddle from Drummoyne to Darling Harbour.  Like so many kayak journeys, nothing unfolds quite as planned.  I took a meandering course that eventually led me to Gore Cove, just to the east of Greenwich Point.

The True Valletta at berth in Gore Cove

Here there was a large tanker at berth and since Sydney has all but lost its status as a working industrial port I wanted to take a closer look at the vessel that was discharging its cargo of oil. Some years ago I’d actually accompanied a friend who worked as a tugboat captain on the harbour while we undertook the delicate task of nudging one of this impressive craft into its Gore Cove berth.  Since then I pretty much forgotten about Sydney as a working port.  Apart from the insistent sound of machinery it was also the Maltese flag fluttering at the stern that caught my attention, so turned into the bay.

Gore Cove is just one of the places where commercial shipping is still found in Sydney Harbour.  Overall there are  still 11 berths, including dry bulk, bulk liquids, general cargo and cruise. Facilities covering a total of 41.7 hectares are located in Walsh Bay, Glebe Island/White Bay and Circular Quay. Private facilities are located at Gore Cove and Blackwattle Bay.

A couple of weeks earlier I’d also paddled into White Bay for the first time.  This was once a very busy stretch of the harbour withe the Glebe Island terminal at its entrance, as well as coal loader and bulk grain loading facilities.  While the silos remain, it seems that the main activity these days in dry bulk materials handling.  On the day I went in there was a small vessel loading chemicals.

Bulk chemicals being loaded at a White Bay berth.

The vapour trail in the sky was an accidental addition.

So, after missing the shot of progress on the Headland park that I wanted, I’d set out again.  What a beautiful morning it was on Sydney harbour.  I was joined by my eldest son who was paddling his sleek, light weight and very fast surf ski .

Setting out towards Darling Harbour from Birkenhead it was difficult not to meander a little, so instead of a direct path we headed our between Snapper and Spectacle islands and along the northern shore of Cockatoo Island before crossing the main channel from Longnose Point to Balls Head and then along the north shore to Blues Point. From here we cut straight across the harbour to the Headland Park. While Rob made a quick detour into Walsh Bay to look at Jones Street Wharf and the luxury waterside apartment of at 19 Hickson Rd, I bobbed around just off Millers Point trying to line up a clear shot amongst the parade of passing motor boats making the surface like a huge washing machine.  Finally I grabbed the shot I wanted on the iPhone and then realised it was in video mode.

Headland Park Millers Point.

Happy with anything at all in the wash I made for clearer water further out towards Goat Island.  Coming about to see where Rob I noticed that the Captain Cook cruise ship had just rounded the headland from Darling harbour.  It looked huge from the vantage point of my kayak.  I’d never remembered it being quite so large.  Certainly I wasn’t on the same scale as the passenger vessel Arcadia, moored in Circular Quay, but it did look unusually large.  Suddenly its horn blasted, then I realised that it was Rob attracting all the attention.  He was right in the crafts path with his back to all the action, attempting to picking up little runs in the chaotic turbulence that was swirling around the headland.  Suddenly Rob was in the drink and in the next moment scrambling back up onto his ski and paddling furiously away from the looming white hull.

The course of our journey.

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