Frequently asked questions
I am new to all of this. How do I register for a trip?
It’s easy! Take a look through the list of Upcoming Paddles, select one or more and click the green button to reserve your spot.
You may book one or more people, just be sure to detail their names and email addresses in the box during checkout.
Generally, if a trip is on the Upcoming Paddles list there are availabilities. Otherwise, you may register on the waitlist (no payment required) and we will contact you if availabilities occur.
You may pay by Visa, Mastercard or PayPal. If you are booking one of the longer overseas trips, we accept the deposit via credit card or paypal, but the balance must completed by bank-to-bank transfer.
If you have a question we haven't covered here, please let us know: contact page
Is it a good idea to attend a kayak training session?
Technique is very important in kayaking and everyone benefits from regular training. If you are new to kayaking or just need a refresher, our Kayak Technique Workshop is highly recommended. You’ll learn how to set up your boat so that you are sitting comfortably, the best way to get in and out of it, how to stroke correctly, steering (all our kayaks have rudders to make that easy), posture, how to conserve energy on longer day paddles and how to minimise muscle soreness. There will also be a demonstration of self rescue so you’ll know what to do in the unlikely event that you fall out of your boat.
Our Intermediate Workshop is intended for people comfortable with the basics and keen to take their paddling to the next level. Our most advance class is the Wind & Chop Workshop for paddlers who want to be capable of paddling in open ocean conditions. Attending a workshop is a good investment. We also offer one on one training with an instructor.
What is the difference between the grades in the trip descriptions?
Our trips are graded Easy, Easy/Medium or Medium.
These paddles cover a distance of 12kms or less on waterways that are usually wind protected and slow moving. Our half day paddles at Narrabeen, Bobbin Head/Cowan Creek and our slightly longer one through Lane Cove River National Park are usually graded Easy, as are our Kayak Technique Workshops. Trips graded Easy typically involve 2 to 3 hours of paddling with one or more breaks. The pace is relaxed.
The distance is usually between 12 and 22kms, on waterways that most of our paddlers can cope with comfortably. They typically involve up to five hours on the water with breaks for morning tea and lunch (sometimes afternoon tea as well). The majority of our paddles fall into this category.
These paddles tend to be between 22 and 28kms in length in conditions that sometimes involve tidal influences or chop. Average or better fitness is desirable. They are not ideal for first time kayakers.
If you are looking for a good workout and already have considerable kayaking experience and above average fitness, tell us and we will advise when these paddles are scheduled. They are not featured in our regular list of paddles and participation is by invitation only. Paddles rated Hard involve distances up to 45kms and may be conducted without breaks. They are often race events and are ideal training for paddlers who want to compete or achieve a high level of cardiovascular fitness.
Important note: Grades are a guide only. Weather, particularly winds and tides can impact on conditions.
With double (2 seater) kayaks, do I have to bring a partner?
You are most welcome to bring a friend – and in fact we often have whole family groups attend. If you do come on your own, we will partner you up. We try and ensure there is an experienced paddler in each boat. Quite often paddlers change boats as trips proceed to gain additional experience and meet new people. It’s all lots of fun and very social.
How soon should I pay for my trip after making a reservation?
Reservations are not confirmed until the deposit is received, so it’s best to pay your deposit as soon as possible. Delay and someone may grab your spot! Note that no cancellations, transfers or refunds are permitted in the week leading up to each day paddle. No cancellations in the month leading up to weekends away. Special cancellation conditions apply to our longer and international trips. These are specified in the brochure for each trip.
What fitness level is required?
Our paddles are relaxed affairs. All we ask is that you be of average or better fitness. It’s not appropriate to paddle if you are suffering from an upper torso or arm injury. Check the waiver document that will be sent to you a week before your paddle and don’t hesitate to ask if you think you may have a condition that would make participation difficult. Paddling involves rhythmic torso movement that’s good for joints and muscles. It’s a very healthy exercise.
Are there any age limitations I should be aware of?
Only one – we don’t cater for children under 14 years.
How often do you organise overseas trips?
We do four or five overseas trips every year. Kayaking is the focus of these journeys, but we also look at the history and culture of the areas we visit. Often they include walks and sometimes optional cycling. Recent destinations have included New Zealand (Abel Tasman National Park), Fiji, Italy, Antarctica, Ningaloo Reef in WA and September 2018, we’ll go to Croatia for the first time. Our longer trips usually fill very quickly – sometimes in as little as a week. As soon as you see a trip you’d like to do, contact us. Don’t hang back. Details of our upcoming trips are on this website.
Do you do charter trips – can I organise a trip exclusively for my friends or office colleagues?
Yes, we often organise trips for groups of friends, clubs and companies. We discuss your objectives and then propose a plan for a great day on the water. Private Christmas parties are especially popular.
How safe are your trips? Am I likely to tip the boat over?
Paddler safety is our number one priority. Prior to launching we take all paddlers through a pre-trip briefing. All paddlers are required to wear life vests (we provide them) and our boats have positive buoyancy. This means that if they tip over and/or fill with water they will remain afloat. Our boats are Barracuda AR Duos and singles – designed and made in New Zealand – to strict specifications. They are extremely stable. It is highly unlikely that you will find yourself in the water.
How clean are Sydney’s waterways now?
Sydney Harbour and our waterways and rivers are in great shape these days. They are tested regularly. Paddlers sometimes notice scum on the surface, particularly when paddling in our National Parks. This is naturally occurring gum from trees. After periods of heavy rain authorities sometimes recommend against swimming in waterways where there has been run off from roads and drains. You will be advised if an alert is in force.
Do you provide lunch?
Our paddlers tell us they prefer to bring their own food. Not having to provide meals helps us keep our hire fees down to probably the lowest in the market. At the end of the paddle, tea, coffee, hot chocolate and cake is provided at no charge while we chat about our day.
Is Freedom Outdoors licensed and insured?
We are licensed by NSW Maritime (HDO 500) and submit detailed plans to the Authority for all the trips we operate. We hold an Eco-Pass issued by NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service. We work closely with Australian Canoeing and Paddle NSW on safety and other issues. Our trip leaders hold Flatwater Guide and in many cases Kayaking Instructor qualifications. All have their Senior First Aid Certification. Insurance is provided by Nautilus Marine (includes $10million in third party liability).
Do you provide information on what to bring and how to get to the location?
A week before each trip an email is sent to all participants with details on what to bring, what to wear and how to get to the location. We are always available by phone and email to answer questions. The trip leader carries a kit with useful everyday items, including sun screen and loo paper!
Should I wear gloves and bring a dry bag and special footware?
The answer is yes, yes and yes! Gloves stop blisters forming and with a dry bag your sandwiches won’t be soggy. Flip Flops are not suitable for kayaking. We recommend specially designed but inexpensive kayaking shoes, as they protect feet from rocks, mud, oyster shells, broken glass and other nasties. We carry a supply of quality kayaking gloves, dry bags and kayak shoes on every trip. They are inexpensive and you can purchase them on the day, prior to the commencement of the trip. Bring your money with you. You can also purchase them right here on this website and we will hand them to you on the day of your paddle.
Can I bring my own boat?
Paddlers may bring their own boats if they are suitable for the conditions. Sit-on-tops and narrow racers are not acceptable and owners should be trained in self-rescue. Insurance for boat owners is provided by Paddle NSW at a cost of $10 per person (payable on the day of the paddle). Boat owners provide their own PFDs and paddles.
How far in advance should I register for a trip?
Our schedule is announced six months in advance. Some of our locations are so popular they sell out quickly. Our two-day weekend trips and longer overseas paddles often fill rapidly. Keep an eye on the schedule and book at least a month in advance. However, sometimes people drop out at short notice so there can be odd spots available right up to the date of a trip. It’s always worth going to the trip page and registering on the waitlist. That means we will contact you if a spot becomes available.
How can I find out about upcoming paddles?
Join our mailing list and you will receive monthly updates delivered to your inbox. You can also check Upcoming Paddles right here.
Will I be able to keep up?
Our trips are run at a leisurely pace to suit the skills and fitness levels of paddlers. We try and schedule an off water break every 60 to 90 minutes and pause on the water to allow everyone to regroup and chat every 15 minutes or so. We take decent lunch breaks – usually around an hour.
Will I see much birdlife?
Our locations are selected for their flora and fauna. Bring your camera – you’ll see much of interest. At some locations we invite experts to tell us about the history and ecology.
Does Freedom Outdoors contribute to the protection of the environment?
Yes, we pay $2.30 to $4.80 to NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service for each paddler we take into a national park. We are also members of NSW National Parks Association and are fully supportive of organisations like Friends of Narrabeen Lagoon Catchment and Friends of Lane Cove River National Park. Whilst in a National Park we ask our paddlers to behave responsibly. Tony Carr is the recipient of a Prudence Tucker Award from National Parks Association for his environmental work.
What if the weather isn’t suitable for kayaking?
We go ahead if showers are predicted but not if continuous rain, high winds or thunder and lightning are on the agenda. A final decision is made at 7am on the day of the paddle and this is based on the forecast the Bureau issues around 5am for the area we are paddling in. Sometimes mornings dawn cloudy and wet but by 9am the weather fines up and paddling conditions are wonderful. If we have to postpone a paddle, an email is issued to all participants at 7am.
Does Tony run all the paddles?
Freedom Outdoors has a team of highly experienced qualified guides who share guiding responsibilities. You will be advised who will guide your trip when you sign up.
Do you run paddles during winter?
Yes - and many people believe this is the best time of the year to go paddling. Crowds are down, the bush looks wonderful and paddling keeps you warm.
I want to take up racing. Can you provide training?
Kayak racing is a fast-growing sport with events held most weekends and sometimes during the week as well. There are a number of kayak racing clubs in NSW and most hold weekly time trials which are well attended. Kayak racing is a great way to improve fitness. Race distances range from 10 to over 100kms. Tony’s passion is kayak racing – he won the Men’s Health Ocean Racing Series in 2006, a silver medal in the World Masters Games Marathon in 2009, was Lane Cove River Club champion in 2010 and won a bronze medal in the NSW Marathon 10 series in 2013. He’s also completed five Hawkesbury Classics (111km overnight) in an average of around 11½ hours and won a gold medal in the 2017 World Masters Games in Auckland. Tony can assist with on water training, race strategy and planning for big events.