Home' The Australian Senior Traveller : April 2010 Contents 4 THE SENIOR TRAVELLER April, 2010
AN OSPREY circles slowly in a pale
blue, hot sky. A summer change is
imminent and a thin high, wispy cloud
shows from the north-west.
The turbid white-grey River Murray
water is cool to touch and the kayaks slide
with the rhythm of our steady strokes.
The familiar slip-slop of wavelets, like
the creak of a rucksack, lends a meditative
air to this form of travel. Occasional drips
and splashes relieve the heat. In the first
hour our muscles and sinews accept and
work perfectly to accomplish the glide and
thrust progress of the kayaks.
We are just north of Loxton in the South
Australian Riverland on a three-day loop
trip around Katarapko Island. Three young
seniors travelling in kayaks.
It is hot for early December with a very
high chance of rain forecast.
Kayaks are the perfect slow travel vehi-
cle. Much bigger than a rucksack, they can
carry a complement of gear to cover events
for days, even weeks.
My companions are novice kayak trav-
ellers, my own experience a little more,
stemming from a book I bought 50 years
ago, Canoe in Australia by Major Rowland
Raven-Hart, a part-time but prodigious
Bought for a penny, water damaged --
appropriately -- from the Owen Institute
library fire sale, the book awakened my
imagination for this sort of adventure.
The major's tale of his journey along the
river in the summer of 1945 is an amazing
snapshot of life at that time. His account is
frank, sometimes funny, written for an
audience in England with a lot of curiosity
about the possibilities of life in Australia.
On the advantages of canoe travel, the
major waxed eloquently, "One advantage
of canoeing is that you are continually
tempted to digress, to poke into odd cor-
ners and creeks and inlets". And so he did,
poking into the river and all the characters
who lived along it 65 years ago.
Today on our own journey we expect to
another Englishman, Dave
Cornthwaite, who is on a similar long dis-
tance venture to the major.
Before we turn from the main river we
find him at a photo shoot at tree 500 -- a
marker denoting that it is 500km to the
Unlike Raven-Hart, Dave's sponsored
craft is laden above and below decks with
rather more than a calico tucker bag, pipe
He's surprisingly fit and keen to chat.
Later that night he will log the pictures
he's taken of us onto his website.
Katarapko Island on the west bank of
Loxton contrasts with the wealth of irri-
gated and dry cropland to the south.
Previously pastoral country it is a slice of
now seldom flooded reserve well inside the
driest state of the driest continent.
All this river water and still not enough
for the occupations along the river and the
environments of floodplains, let alone the
lower lakes and Coorong.
Kayak travel proves its worth several
times. After a short day's paddle we set up
camp on a sandy corner and swim. A long
meal follows from cookers and stoves with
a nicely blended local red wine.
Our sleep on sandy beds is disturbed at
Lazy days on a canoe loop in our
local riverland can be a low cost
and invigorating experience for any
age -- DAVID INVERARITY reports.
Sights and sounds make
paddling the way to go
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