Friday, 7 January 2011

Paddling with Kiri

I had a memorable two day paddle with my eldest daughter Kiri over the New Year, up the majestic Shoalhaven Gorge. She has been asking & asking me to take her on a paddle 'into the wilderness' since watching (& watching & watching) the 'Douggie down the Pet' segment on Justine Curgenven's 'This is Canoeing' DVD.
After finally showing her Mum that she could wet exit the kayak & swim to shore, Nicole allowed us to go on the trip.
Because it was an 'expedition', we planned & shopped for the food, studied the map of the route, packed everything together & ticked it all off a list, then finally set off on a hot New Years Day, 2 hours south to the Tallowa Dam. We paddled Rob & Sharon's North Shore Atlantic II, which is a roomy & very luxurious double, which clipped along nicely at about 8kmh in the smooth clam river, when I decided to crank it along. It was rather a departure for me from my normal paddling, dawdling along the river bank looking for lizards, but a great experience with my little girl.
The paddle is a meandering 13km trip up the stunning gorge which gradually narrows & grows more precipitous until you reach a set of rapids that are a serious portage for a boat of this size. There are a smattering of beautiful sandy camp spots around these rapids, of which we picked out the shadiest as the temperature nudged 40 degrees. Although we saw a few groups heading back to base there were no other campers in the entire gorge for our night in the bush, blissful solitude! There was happily no competition for camp spots, although we had a healthy debate about which one would be the best. 
Kiri & I spent the afternoon exploring the shady bush finding goannas, lizards, wild goats & kangaroos, broken by plenty of swims in the beautiful warm water of the Shoalhaven.
At night we read books & cooked our dinner on the stove, shared marshmallows & had a night time bath in the river to cool down. Kiri even did the washing up, after I'd explained the importance of teamwork on an expedition! 
The next morning we cleared all the firewood away from the fireplaces that campers had built, packed away our gear & any other rubbish left by previous visitors & made sure we left only our footprints. It's amazing what traction an idea like 'leave no trace' has with kids, pity that more of us weren't given the same lessons in our younger days, or these amazing camp spots would be a little less cluttered with human mess.
Our trip was a great experience for both of us, & Kiri made the movie above to share with her classmates when she returns to school. With her permission I've put it on the blog to share.
The meandering route up the Upper Shoalhaven from Tallowa Dam

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