Experience the serene waters of Tuggerah Lake
Cate and Chris Williams-Dawes sound like they still can’t quite believe their luck. And looking out over the serene waters of Tuggerah Lake it’s easy to envy their lifestyle.
“We’re lucky enough to live on the water so quite often we come to work via the lake and moor our boat out front” says Chris.
Although you will regularly see Chris at Canton Beach Paddle Shack, the business is actually Cate’s. While Chris is a long-term Coastie, Cate made the move from the Northern Beaches more recently to start a new life with Chris.
The Williams-Dawes clan, which includes Cate’s seven and nine year old boys, and Chris’ 12 year old son, are all keen on watersports. Chris had ten years in the navy teaching sailing and Cate also has a sailing background.
It was on a personal shopping trip that the family first discovered Canton Beach Paddle Shack. When Chris later saw a social media post announcing the business was for sale he thought it was the perfect venture for Cate.
“Work can be tough to come by on the Coast and Cate was struggling to find something suitable after the move. So this seemed perfect!”
The business had been established for a few years, specialising particularly in kite boarding. After taking over the business Cate moved the focus to stand up paddle boards (SUPs). With the calm lake right out front it seemed to make sense.
Tuggerah Lake is an impressive sight. On a calm day it is 80 square kilometres of glassy water, perfect for SUPs. Out at the buoy line (demarking the limit for boats) the depth is only one metre. Even in the centre of the lake the depth is only around 1.5 metres.
“The calm water and shallow depth make it ideal for kids to come and learn. And parents can be confident that their little ones can get in, have some fun and be completely safe,” says Cate.
Life jackets are available and are always fitted to younger paddlers. Parents can either get involved or watch from the shore.
“SUP is a very inclusive sport, available to all ages and and abilities, and Canton Beach is especially ideal for beginners and children.”
Beyond the business, Cate and Chris are very active within the community. Both are members of the Rural Fire Service, with Chris having served for more than 20 years. They are also keen supporters of local schools and organisations, often contributing donations for fundraisers.
They have also started working with local schools on their sports curriculum. They recently offered Lakes Grammar a successful sport program with their SUPs, kayaks and canoes, and beach volleyball. Lakeside soccer and boules were poor weather backups if needed.
They also recently hosted an adult group of hearing impaired, first time paddlers and a visiting international school group.
“It’s just wonderful to see groups out on the boards. It’s such a great bonding experience and also fabulous for individual confidence. It’s really one of the perks – being able to share this with literally anyone regardless of age or ability,” says Cate.
Despite Tuggerah Lake looking pristine the day we visited it does have its moments … Canton Beach is protected to the north by Toukley but south and south westerly winds can whip up conditions making paddle boarding difficult.
‘When conditions aren’t suitable here at Canton Beach we have two reliable alternate locations nearby for launching. We just pack the boards up and transport them.”
Cate also has to closely monitor the regular water testing of the lake to ensure paddlers are safe.
One of the charms of the lake is the flourishing birdlife, including one fifth of the nation’s black swan population. The majestic birds are a treat when paddling the lake but they can occasionally cause issues with water quality.
“The lake is tested very regularly and we are kept well informed. We always put safely first and don’t let boards go out in bad weather or poor water.”
For young paddlers, or those new to SUP, there’s plenty of space out to the buoy line for you to get your footing. For the more confident paddler, Canton Beach Paddle Shack is happy for you to take your board as far onto Tuggerah Lake as you like, for as long as you like.
The lake extends south to Long Jetty and adjoins Budgewoi Lake to the north. Wyrrabalong National Park to the south offers a great destination, with the Central Coast’s last remaining patch of coastal rainforest an easy paddle from Canton Beach.
Cate is keen to eventually add a social paddling club and also adventure paddling.
“We are ideally situated to offer the chance of exploring some fantastic areas of the Coast by water, with beaches, lakes and National Parks all easily accessible.”
As well as hiring at Canton Beach Paddle Shack, you can book lessons and there is a great range of SUPs, kayaks and accessories available for purchase, with free delivery for locals. It is also an ideal activity for a child’s party and corporate events.
For more information about Canton Beach Paddle Shack.