The Hunter River is certainly a far cry from the clear turquoise waters of Port Stephens, but for a group of Maitland women it provides just as much aquatic fun.
The group, known as the SUP (stand up paddleboarding) Sistas, have taken to the river and are causing quite a spectacle.
Friends Cindy Cawsey, Kate McLaughlin and Gwen Teasdale, were discussing the Summer holidays earlier this season and learned that several friends either owned SUP boards or were planning in buying one.
"Kate had inflatable boards for herself and her kids which means we have some spares for others to try,: CIndy said. "We're all pretty new to SUPPING," she said.
Armed with their boards the women have taken to the water with great gusto - one of their favourite launch locations Lorn 'beach'. "We love putting in there and heading either up or down the river," Cindy said.
"The Hunter River is beautiful and has a surprise around every corner. It can be quite secluded," Kate said. "There are many places to explore and many enjoyable experiences. My sons love to explore bridges from underneath - especially Morpeth Bridge with its great heritage and current restoration," she said.
"SUPPING offers many opportunities and different experiences. We can concentrate and work a bit harder, go a bit faster and have a decent workout or we can go slowly and quietly and look at the birds and wildlife. We can talk and reconnect and enjoy quality time to exercise and explore parts of our local area that we haven't been able to access before we all had SUPs," Kate said.
The girls run a Facebook group to discuss when they will hit the water which is usually twice a week weather permitting.
And the river paddling doesn't come without its challenges, especially after heavy rain. Recent rains, debris and strong current have kept them off the water for a few days. "But we were out on Tuesday and conditions are back to perfect," Kate said.
On the question of water visibility, the women said it can be a little off putting when you can't see what's under the surface but they are getting better at staying upright and have had few problems falling off.
Morpeth, Hinton, Newcastle Harbour and Throsby Creek are other favourite locations for the group. "We're trying to find out if we can SUP on Grahamstown Dam - no response yet, but it would be an ideal spot too. We haven't been up to Lostock or Glenbawn dams yet, but they're also on the list."
The girls said they support Maitland Cirty Council's recent initiatives to open up the river to more users with people now able to hire SUPs and kayaks at Morpeth's Queen's Wharf.