Handling a canoe

Canoes were usually only a few centimetres above the water. Coastal people were very skilled canoeists and there are accounts of canoes being paddled through a large swell off the coast between Sydney Harbour and Broken Bay without capsizing.

When paddling, canoeists usually sat up straight, with one paddle in each hand. They paddled first with one hand then the other, but if people were in a hurry they bent forward and used the paddles together. One of the Russian sailors who visited Sydney Harbour in 1814 noted that people also paddled with their hands.

Dr Val Attenbrow , Principal Research Scientist
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