Out on the Water

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By Meredith Blair

I don’t think I’ve felt more one with nature than when I went stand up paddleboarding with Hunter Valley SUP at the idyllic Lake Glenbawn.

With my friend of 10 years, Jess, riding shotgun, we took a trip through the Upper Hunter, turning off at Aberdeen and travelling the scenic roads out to Glenbawn.

We had been worried because the previous afternoon it had stormed and the weather forecast was looking iffy, luckily though it was clear skies for us, feeling the warmth of the sun beat down on us and even having the fish leap out of the water to say hello.

The owner of Hunter Valley SUP and our stand-up paddleboard instructor for the morning, Sharna, met us at our launch location ‘The Gig’ and got us sorted to head out on the water, giving us a run down on technique and safety.

While I was a complete beginner, Jess, who has practically lived in the water her whole life had been stand up paddleboarding multiple times before, putting to test the skills of beginner and intermediate paddleboarders.

I have to admit, whilst I was excited to give it a go, a part of me definitely thought I was going to fall off the board and swim with the fish, but I had enough trust in my ability to leave the clothes I’d worn over my swimmers on.

Whether this was a mistake or not was yet to be seen. 

Using Sharna’s teachings, we got on our knees on our boards and paddled out to the centre of the lake where Sharna stood up with ease.

Jess followed suit and I decided I would join.

I was certain that standing up, the namesake of the type of paddleboarding I was doing, would be my demise, potentially falling in to the water fully clothed.

Sharna had told us though that when standing up to look at a fixed point, whether that be the land or our board to ensure we didn’t wobble too much as we stood and even if you did fall into the water, once you’d fallen in you wouldn’t be worried about falling again.

ATCF 34 Fun 4

The whole experience of standing up on the board made me feel like a baby trying to stand for the first time, legs wobbling, trying not to fall.

However, once I got the hang of it and found my balance, I began to feel much more comfortable out on the water and I’m proud to share that I didn’t fall once.

Listening to Sharna’s story as to how she started stand up paddleboarding and opened her business was fascinating, having bought a stand-up paddleboard with leftover money given to her for her thirtieth birthday trip to Bali.

She soon fell in love with the activity and had her friends interested, asking to borrow her board, getting her thinking that she could make a business out of something she loves.

Working at BHP’s Mount Arthur operation driving trucks, Sharna started her business as way to relieve stress and do something different to her regular job.

Her passion for what she does and her knowledge of Lake Glenbawn made the experience even more special, telling us about the history of the dam and taking Jess and I near the side of the lake where if you yell loud enough you can hear your voice reverberate.

While the “cooee” I sent out didn’t echo back at me because of a voice crack, my disappointed swear word because of my failed attempt was heard back loud and clear.

ATCF 34 Fun 2

Overall, not only was it a great bonding experience for Jess and I, but Sharna just might have inspired a new passion in me because after going stand-up paddleboarding for the first time, I’m wanting to go again.

Book your own amazing day out on the water at www.huntervalleysup.com.au or check out their Facebook page – Hunter Valley SUP

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