THE lats are probably still burning on three local kayakers who recently returned from an epic adventure along Australia’s iconic Murray River.
Bruce Lew and his wife Elaine of Forster and Elizabeth Reece of Nabiac paddled their kayaks over a massive 2450 kilometres from Khancoban Pondage in NSW to the Southern Ocean at Goolwa in South Australia.
“It’s all about the thrill and freedom of getting out there,” said Elizabeth, who met Bruce and Elaine at Robinvale in Victoria having previously completed the early part of the paddle from Towong to Robinvale in 2009.
“You need to have that passion for kayaking and the outdoors because you’re out there isolated for a long time, but it’s just amazing. From the water you can go places and see things you just can’t on foot or by car.”
The trip down the river from Robinvale was a pleasant one as inflows from the Ovens, Goulburn, Murrumbidgee and Darling Rivers were still at a reasonably high level from the flooding rains that Southern Queensland, NSW and Victoria had experienced earlier this year.
Weather conditions were generally mild with only a few frosty mornings however the group had to wait at Wellington in South Australia for five days for the winds to die down before they attempted to cross the dangerous open waters of Lake Alexandrina.
Elaine finished her paddle at Wellington and Bruce and Elizabeth left Wellington Ferry at 4.30am on May 28 and made their way to Pomanda Island, where the Murray runs into the lake, until first light.
Paddling conditions on the Lake were reasonable with a slight chop from a cross wind however light rain and fog made navigation difficult on the 26km of open water.
Fortunately the fog and mist lifted at one stage and they were able to take a bearing on Point Sturt which makes the end of the Lake and the start of the Goolwa Channel where they were accompanied on their journey to Goolwa Barrage and the Southern Ocean by a group of seals.
“That was the most amazing part of the trip,” Elizabeth said. “Those cliffs in South Australia as you approach the ocean just stretch so high straight up from the water’s edge, and you just couldn’t see them any other way. It’s just spectacular.”
Elizabeth reserved special praise for Bruce who was the only one of the trio to complete the whole trip.
“I joined them at Robinvale and Elaine went all the way to Wellington, but Bruce went the whole way and that’s incredible,” Elizabeth said.
The trio are all members of the local Just Paddlers kayak club which paddles in various locations around the Manning Great Lakes on Tuesdays.