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Published: March 1st 2018
So there I am at home one morning in Sydney minding my own business when I get a call from an old mate (let’s call him Bill) to see if I’m interested in joining him and two other guys on a 3 day kayaking and camping trip on the Wallagaraugh River into the wilderness of Victoria. My first reaction is that at this stage of my life this could take me a bit out of my comfort zone, and when I get an email from one of the other planned participants (let’s call him Roger) telling me I won’t need to bring much gear, “just bring your banjo and lots of condoms”, I know I’m definitely out of my comfort zone! Still, never one to shrink away from a challenge, I sign up for the trip.
It’s an 8 hour drive down the south coast from Sydney to the Victorian border, which we broke in two with an overnighter in Broulee. We reached our campsite base at the Wallagaraugh River Retreat early afternoon, which gave us plenty of time to set up camp and
take each of the kayaks out to check the proficiency of their operators. The guy managing the campsite (let’s call him Joe) was very loquacious with lots of stories to tell (some of which might require considerable censoring) along with his lovable wolfhound (let’s call it Samson), who seemed to thrive on jumping up on everyone and dry-rooting everything in sight.
The kayak trip itself was a great experience. I wasn’t aware of it before but the modern kayak is powered by pedalling, rather than paddling, which makes it much easier for amateurs like me. Roger and I had a tandem kayak, which made it much easier still (especially when Roger was paddling and I was resting!), while Bill and the other guy (let’s call him Garry) had singles. Almost the whole way the river was flanked by thick vegetation and tall southern blue-gum eucalyptus trees, and there was almost an eerie silence for the duration of the trip, punctuated only by the occasional splash from jumping fish (Tailors, so I was advised) and the periodic sound of the crested bellbirds, with their high pitched bell-like call, which stood out against
the otherwise deafening silence. We basically saw no signs of civilisation throughout the journey, and thankfully didn’t run into any rednecks brandishing weapons or banjos! Fortunately there were no casualties and no one got lost, as one of the walkie-talkies taken along to cover such potential incidents was dropped on the transfer from one kayak to another and now rests at the bottom of the river.
At one of the very few places on the river where it was possible to pull up for a break, we took a brief stroll into a clearing and witnessed a sight that even I hadn’t seen before in all the years I’ve lived in this great country of ours. About 50 metres ahead of us, resting under the shade of a long line of low hanging trees, was a troop (yes, that’s the collective noun) of kangaroos and there must have been at least two hundred of them, all quite small (less than a metre high) including a large number of obvious baby kangaroos. As we moved towards them, we noticed under a separate clump of trees, just to their right, around a dozen
other kangaroos, all of them at least two metres high and watching us very carefully. Not wanting to come to blows with the latter, who we assumed were the protective males, we decided to keep our distance, but even for an Aussie this was a rare sight and would have blown the minds of any visitors to our country.
So all in all a great experience, albeit an unexpected one, and a great opportunity to experience a part of the Australian landscape that we Aussie city-slickers don’t get to see in our every day travels.
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