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The Resident, Laura Stone

By Kyrenia Blanshard

This month we chatted to Laura Stone from McMahons Point. Laura and her husband, Ben, have lived in the area for 14 years and have set up a local business in the community, running kayak tours on Sydney Harbour. Head down to Lavender Bay and you’ll see their fleet of colourful kayaks either floating around in the bay or lined up, ready to hit the water! Now juggling the joys of parenthood, welcoming young Levi (4) and baby Isla (3 months) to their kayaking family.

Laura shares her local favourites with us, why she loves living in McMahons Point and how her business, Sydney by Kayak, began.

How long have you lived here and why did you choose McMahons Point?
I moved to Australia in 2007 and my first job was in recruitment in North Sydney. I wasn’t familiar with the area and went for a walk where I discovered beautiful McMahons Point. Everyone was really friendly, giving it a lovely village feeling and the views were stunning! This was the place I wanted to call home.

Best thing about the area?
The sense of community here is amazing! I love being a stone’s throw from the city, with spectacular harbour views, but feeling like I’m in a small community where everyone knows each other and says good morning to you.

Best coffee in the area or close by?
We love the San Antonio Bakery in Kirribilli. We buy about 200 coffees from them every week for our Sunrise kayak tours. Our customers, our team and our family love their Morgan’s coffee and fresh pastries.

What’s your favourite café in the area?
This is a tough one. We get asked by our customers for breakfast recommendations after our Sunrise tours and we give a range of options, based on variety, instagrammability and price. If I was heading out with my family for breakfast, I’d choose The Foliage cafe on Blues Point Road. The food is delicious, and the staff are friendly, it’s also reasonably priced. Their chai latte is a favourite of mine, especially during my pregnancy with Isla

Any local hidden gems you’d be kind enough to share with us?
Anchor restaurant in Milsons Point. It’s a family favourite for our weekly pizza night and we try to have regular get-togethers with our team there too. Their pizza is so good!

What’s your favourite room at home and why?
I LOVE our kitchen. It is open plan and has a huge benchtop breakfast bar where my son can sit and colour-in while I make dinner.

What does your perfect weekend involve?
We enjoy family walks and picnics on weekends. One of our favourite spots is Narrabeen Lake as it’s mostly pram friendly and has a great play park for Levi. We love being by the water and enjoying the fresh sea air.

And can you tell us more about Sydney by Kayak and why you started it?
I started out as a Personal Trainer, but I also loved being on the water. I wanted to find a way of incorporating my love of the water into my business, so I qualified as a kayak instructor and started running kayak fitness sessions out of Lavender Bay.

Most sessions were a 6am start, so naturally, I brought a coffee with me. My regular paddlers would text me the night before asking if I could bring them one as well.  Before I knew it, I was bringing 10 coffees to the boat ramp and people weren’t really doing fitness anymore. We were simply paddling to a beautiful spot on the harbour and enjoying front row seats of the sun hitting the horizon. It was a beautiful way to start the day!

People started booking kayak fitness sessions with me and messaging with their coffee orders. I quickly realized there was a market for enjoying a coffee whilst kayaking at sunrise, and so our flagship tour, the “Sunrise Kayak and Coffee” was born.

People now travel from all over the world to enjoy our sunrise tours, which now includes personal photos and stories of Sydney’s history. Post sunrise we give back to the environment and our local community by running a “Clean-up Eco Tour”.  On these tours, we collect rubbish from the waterways and donate $15 from each seat sold to local conservation projects.

In 2019 we contributed $4,000 to purchase a Seabin for Darling Harbour, in conjunction with the SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium. In 2020 we raised $16,500 and purchased a Seabin for our home bay, Lavender Bay.  We are now working on having a Living Seawall installed as well. Our latest conservation project we are involved in is the Berry’s Bay project which focuses on growing and planting mangroves and regenerating the harbour’s foreshore.

The pandemic has been challenging for our family business, but our local community has been very supportive so we have gone back to our roots and are offering 1:1 Kayak Fitness sessions again.  Our locals, who live within 5km, can come and enjoy some fresh air out on the harbour. We feel incredibly lucky to live where we do.

If you would like to find out more about Laura’s Sydney by Kayak or to book a paddle, visit www.sydneybykayak.com.au or follow them on Instagram @sydney_by_kayak

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