Paddlers make a splash at Penrith Beach

Western Sydney residents enjoyed kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding at Penrith Beach over the first weekend in March.

Supported by Paddle Australia ambassador, Olympian Jess Fox OAM, who attended both days, the first-time event was hailed
as a success by organisers and promoters.

The free paddle activation was delivered by experienced Emu Plains operator, Horizon Line Canoes, who supplied equipment and staffing for free for kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding.

“We were thrilled to see hundreds of spots booked and so many happy faces on the water”, said Richard Fox MBE, who led the event promotion for Paddle Australia.

“People heard about the event via social media and booked in online. If there were gaps, others were able to sign up from the Beach. Penrith suburbs like Cranebrook and Jordan Springs were well represented, and we also saw people from the Hills, Campbelltown, the Hawkesbury and the Blue Mountains, which shows how popular the beach has become.”

The agreement with the NSW Government for the activation at Penrith Beach was for one weekend, and Richard Fox said he would like to see similar programs at Western Sydney Lakes, and around Sydney, in the future.

“It is one paddle stroke at a time,” he said. “We would love to see more people across the city getting out there for a paddle, it’s a great way to stay active and spend time on the water.”

Action at Penrith Beach.  Photos courtesy of Pixflix.

Paris 2024 Australian Olympic Team member, Tim Anderson, one of the Horizon Line water guides, said: “We were kept busy doing safety briefings, putting people on water with the right equipment and then guiding them through the basics like forward paddling and turning. It was fantastic to see people enjoying themselves and discovering a new activity in a safe environment”.

In addition to the free Paddle Australia activation, countless recreational paddlers showed up to enjoy the clean water and natural mountain backdrop.

Emmie Barratt, coach of the Western Sydney Whitewater Club, brought down the club’s junior “Slay Squad” for a training session. Jess and Noémie Fox both joined in to lend a welcome hand, before heading overseas for a training camp at the Paris 2024 Olympic venue.

“It was our first time at Penrith Beach and everyone really enjoyed the change of scene and the clean water, which is great for practising our eskimo rolls. Now the opening has been extended to ANZAC Day, we will definitely be back,” Barratt said.

Local paddler Eileen O’Callaghan brought her grandchildren down for a splash and said: “My seven-year-old had an extra slalom lesson when Jess and Noemie came over to give some rolling tips to some of the kids, it had a really good vibe.”

Penrith Beach opened at Western Sydney Lakes in December last year and is being operated by the NSW Department of Planning, Housing and Infrastructure (DPHI).

Close to 200,000 visitors have enjoyed Penrith’s new beach, with the opening extended on weekends through to ANZAC Day on April 25.