Where have I been?

Sitting at my desk, working at my computer, pulling together eight issues of NSW Sea Kayaker, the magazine of NSW Sea Kayak Club; enough to send me running far from the desk and the computer for quite some time.  So while I have been absent from this post, I have been out there, adventuring.

September 2011: relishing the waterfalls of the Royal National Park, earned after paddling up South West Arm.

SWArm_Waterfall

Walking slowly and quietly past the wildlife along the Spit to Manly bushwalk.

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Delighting in Spring, a season that Arrives in the Blue Mountains.

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???????????????????????????????And then I went out to sea off Sydney in the Orca…

Photo by Peter

Photo by Peter

…and took it around the cliffs of Beecroft Peninsula to the pretty Silica Beach.

Silica Beach, Jervis Bay

Silica Beach, Jervis Bay

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View from Silica Beach to Bowen Island

In early December 2011 we went to the Blue Mountains, training for our holiday trip to Kosciuszko National Park, and walked the National Pass and other tracks.

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So while I haven’t been here, I have been elsewhere…

SoulFood

Talking with a good mate the other day we considered how we each find food for the soul – her in live music, me in being on the water.

Now I’m just home from a 34km paddle up the Parramatta River, my soul is well fed and my heart is singing. 

Matt and I launched from his regular spot; seeing him arrive on foot, pulling the kayak along is cool.  We met up with Ian on the water, and headed up river.  With a strong westerly forecast it wasn’t a day for going out to sea, or even heading east as we usually would.  Fortune favoured us, we had an incoming tide as we faced the headwinds going upstream, and an outgoing tide for our return journey.

This waterway was once the main artery for the early settlement of Sydney, connecting it with Parramatta.  Now it is a mix of waterfront mansions, sailing and rowing clubs, the occasional boatshed, bushy headlands, new housing developments in cleaned-up industrial areas, ferry wharves, some light industrial buildings and mangroves.

We took it all in, watching constantly for the silent and dangerous River Cats and other river traffic.  At Concord we had a break from the wind, disappearing into the mangroves.  We travelled under Gladesville Bridge, Ryde Bridge and the railway bridge of unknown (to us) name.  The tide turned and so did we, unfurling our sails, scooting and hooting along.  I reckon my face mirrored the “alert but not alarmed” and “ain’t this fun?” faces of Ian.  Matt?  He kept having Viv-moments, being taken by surprise by moored craft and buoys. 

With the sun shining, we screamed under sail across the channel to Cockatoo Island with its chimney stacks, drydocks, cranes of many vintages, ship-building sheds, renovated houses available for holiday rental and tents for ‘glamping

Matt rescued a young gull, not quite able to launch itself into the air from its position in the water.  We farewelled Ian and met the challenge of the headwinds for the final 3km.

Pulling back into our launch spot, I could feel the humming inside.

He’s done it!!!

Stu Trueman has circumnavigated Australia!  What a man!  What a feat! 

From April 2010 to July 2011 he has solo-paddled his way around, facing many trials including serious dehydration on his very first day and a long night paddling a cliffline while ten kilos of water in a loosely-tied drybag on the back deck created an unknown source of constant tension. 

He suffered on his arrival into Sydney when all his mates offered him to eat was an old banana!  He has made many new friends and admirers along the way, including some who remembered when Paul Caffyn passed by.  With infrequent and short emails, he has kept us entertained.  And the home brew supplies of those in isolated places dotted along the northern coastline must be seriously depleted.

Stu, tonight I stand in toast to you mate!

Closing the Gap and Joining the Dots

Stu after a training weekend back in June 2008

In Western Australia Stu Trueman is less than two weeks from closing the gap on his round Australia kayak adventure.  How amazing to think back over what he has seen and done and experienced since he started out from Broome in April 2010.  His tales of this expedition are just incredible.

Last night I watched Spot dots for three hours.  Yesterday Mark, Rob and Chris paddled an open crossing of 80km from Fraser Island to Lady Elliot Island off the Queensland coast at the start of their North Reef Expedition.  Sitting in the comfort of home it was somewhat bizarre to join the dots on the map while trying to imagine their journey, checking weather observations to find out what conditions they were encountering and using Google Earth to select the likely landing place on the reef-fringed island.  Mark’s post today fills the gaps with their story of a thirteen hour crossing and a most welcoming landing.

Hats off to all four!