14 May is an auspicious date in the annals of kayak expeditions. Right back in 1932 one of the longest expeditions ever (if not the longest) commenced. Oskar Speck headed down the Danube in a folding kayak leaving depression-era Germany with hopes of finding work in the copper mines of Cyprus. Somehow along the way his ambitions and destination changed with Australia becoming the aim.
Surviving many adventures, hazards and crazy experiences, Oskar reached Saibai (amongst the northernmost islands of Australia) in September 1939. World War II had broken out, he was promply arrested as an enemy alien and spent the war years in an internment camp. Released in 1945 he stayed in Australia, never to return to Germany.
Today, 14 May 2011, Australian kayaker Sandy Robson will start her journey, retracing the route of Oskar Speck in stages over the next five years. Sandy’s own expeditions are legendary amongst Australian kayakers. Her journey (2006-2007) to follow the paddle strokes of Paul Caffyn around Australia was going really well – until she was attacked by a large male crocodile. The story of Day 166 is heart-stopping (ignore the security certificate, Sandy assures readers that site is safe).
All the best Sandy! I’ll be following your journey.