Category Archives: Diary entry

The day by day account of Steve’s trip

21st January

Lyn    DAY 21   (My last day as support crew on the ocean leg)

8am – We put Old Yella in at a small wharf nearby and Steve headed out to await the radio signal to come in for the official welcome at Horseshoe Beach.

In the meantime I went to Horseshoe Beach and met the organisers, I received a call from NBNnews and organised for them to be there at 10am to film Steve and the flotilla coming into the beach.

The crowd began to swell and many kayaks arrived; Emma Giles one of the organising party arrived on board the safety Boat. The call went out over the loudspeaker from the M.C. Jack  Thieme for all crafts to take to the water to accompany Steve into the beach.

It was a great setting with Steve in the forefront, Nobby’s Lighthouse in the background and  numerous watercraft accompanying him to the beach.

The feeling amongst the crowd was very spontaneous; there were about 100 people there. Then out of the crowd a lady stepped towards Steve to welcome him, Steve got a surprise when he realised it was Kerry Chalmers, an old school friend from Grafton High School days.

Steve recorded an interview with NBNnews and then gave an impromptu talk on the beach to a great reception. Thank you to NBNnews who have covered Steve’s journey all the way from Ballina.

Today marks the halfway point to Moruya; while it has had its tough moments Steve’s journey to this point has gone well.

I now pass the support crew baton onto Warren Birkinshaw, an old uni mate of Steve’s.Have fun, look after him Warren, I will see you both in Sydney on the 28th January at the Opera House Man O’ War Wharf.

One final thank you from me to all the amazing people I have met along the way, they gave us shelter, support and friendship. I also thank them for all the work they are doing in their local areas  to make this world a better place.

Lyn           Yin Yang

IMG_3183Not bad to get most of them together eh.

IMG_3212Even gottem back to the beach . NBN were great again (see FB page)

IMG_3222MC Jack

IMG_3253Fantastic surprise. Kerry Chalmers (nee Arndell for you Grafton lot) came down the beach as I got out of the kayak. We went through school together and competed academically. She has been lecturing at Newcastle uni for many years.

IMG_3260Beware the nannas. They are everywhere. See what I am wearing Rosie!

IMG_3251Way too many people to thank. It was a great turnout, terrific organisation and really motivating for me!

 

 

 

20th January

Easy set off from Boat Harbour at 7.30am after two great nights with Marny. The wind was up early and from the east, supposedly shifting from the north and building to gale force. Yee haa bring it on! Passing round the rocks I took a photo thinking that it might be my last chance because the wind was only twenty knots. It died a little and I got another shot down the sand dunes that run for a very long way…. boring.

We had bought a large bacon, mayo and cheese scroll and I had a piece of that for morning tea at 9.00am. By 10.00am I was really feeling tired. Everything hurt, the wind had stopped blowing and I still couldn’t see Newcastle. I thought I knew what the trouble was so had a banana and a sugary drink. Within ten minutes I was powering on again. So much for white bread and some tasty crap. Next meal would also be a banana.

A couple of planes came and went from Williamtown airport. There was a roar from behind my left shoulder. When I looked for the plane I found it already ahead of me and streaking towards its base. Must be bloody fun to fly one of those airforce jets.

With a strong northerly wind forecast and hardly any wind at all I looked at the clouds over Newcastle with a bit of trepidation. Maybe the southerly was coming. The BOM has been wrong before, even on this trip, so I hurried to Newcastle as fast as I could, arriving about 1.30pm after 38.5km

That’s halfway for the paddle leg and the end of paddling with Lyn. She goes back to work for three weeks and Warren does the support down to Moruya. What a great three weeks it has been with her. I have loved it.

Reception at Horseshoe Bay 10.00am tomorrow.

6 KnucklesThere are a number of ways to get started. You can go out through the waves first and then put the skirt on but that is after you sponge out the water that gets in. You can sit right near the water and have the waves drag you out with the skirt half on and fill up with water or you can put the skirt on above where the waves come and knuckle push into the water. I like the latter.7 seagullsSeagulls wave goodbye

1 WavesBit of swell still about

2 sand hillsBoring… these sandhills go on forever

8 Dredge 3This guy dredges toxic sand for a new coal port facility and dumps it off shore. He is on his way out here

3 DredgeLook really closely. That’s him getting rid of his muck  at maybe 2km offshore, maybe less.

4 Dredge 2Coming back to get some more

8 signNo wonder the walk out to Nobbys is popular. Who could resist such an enticing sign

9 entryInto the Hunter

9 wavingLyn likes this one

10 nobbysPaddling towards Horseshoe Beach

11 rain startsThe rain arrives just after me

Lyn       DAY 20     We said our farewells to Marny and planned to get together when Gordon and her were resettled back in Alstonville.

Steve left Boat Harbour with the Seagulls waving him off at 7.30. No stops in between today, our radio call is scheduled for 1pm at the break wall in front of Nobby’s Head Light. Steve’s guestimation for landing at Horseshoe Beach is 1.30.

It took me an hour and 15 minutes to get to Nobby’s Beach. Interestingly they have a large ocean pool tucked in the southern corner. I have seen a few along the way; as well as the netted pool at  the entrance to the Lakes at Forster. The Forster pool was by far the busiest. With all the interest back home at Ballina re an ocean pool it was good to see which was the most popular.

I sat and watched the surfers at Nobby’s Beach for a while, then I set out to find Horseshoe Beach. It was just on the other side of Nobby’s Head Light. It offered an easy entry into the Hunter River and Newcastle.

As I was there early I had plenty of time to explore the area. There were numerous historical buildings and old cottages mixed amongst the high rise apartments and hotels looking over the ocean. After being caught out a few times during the trip with Steve arriving early I didn’t want to get caught short on time today, my last official day as support crew, on water. So I returned to Nobby’s Beach got a salad sanger and a cup of tea and chilled out for a while.

I set out along the path next to Nobby’s Light at 12 noon, thinking that I had plenty of time. At 12.15 my phone rang, the voice said “Gedday.”

“Where are you?” I asked.

“About 2 km out from the Lighthouse. I’ve been paddling like buggery to get here before the storm hits.”

Like I said, be there early (note to Warren).

We had both been watching the storm brewing, but fortunately it was not too bad just a bit of rain dumping on us. It took Steve about 30 minutes to reach the breakwall and by the time he got there it was raining.

We packed up “Old Yella” and headed for our hotel, very wet and bedraggled.

We drove to the address we had been given for the Hotel Aspire. This was a little out of the way  but Steve had spent a stressful previous night dealing with the third party hotel booking company  (Advice always  book directly ) so in the end he just booked this one.

We stopped out the front, in the rain, and Steve got out to find reception….”No reception here”…so I suggested we look around the corner…”no reception here.” But we did find the car park! “No reception here” … another car pulled. Steve said “Do you know where reception is?”

“No we have just arrived.” So off they went in search of reception.

We pushed doors looked through windows…but no reception anywhere.

Mind you it is still raining and we are progressively getting wetter. We looked up the hotel in white pages and online but all that came up was the booking service.

I decided to go back and have another look. I looked through the doors and read a message which said,  if you are now in you have used your code correctly. What the …

Then I remembered my brother in law, Peter telling me some years ago about the new style of hotels where you just book online and turn up and let yourself in. I can UNDERSTAND why they never took off! However there was a number under the message so I rang it…no answer just music, this went on for ages so I hung up and rang again…more music, THEN a voice. It turned out that they were supposed to have sent us and the other people a text message with the code for the front door and another code for our room. Guess what no one received a code! She said I will send it to you. “Please just give it to us now.” She did, and then I gave my phone to the others and they could get their code and HEY we were all inside. She did resend us all our codes BUT I didn’t close the door until we received them.

As this is my last on water blog I want to thank the many people who have helped and supported us along the way. I also want to thank all the people who have signed the petition and hope that many more will during the rest of the journey.

The journey has been at times, full of anxiety, both for Steve and for being there for him, full of laughter and most of all full of love.

For now it’s back to work for me for a few weeks. However I will see you in a few weeks at Moruya  for the slog up the hill to Canberra.

 

 

19th January

We didn’t leave Tea Gardens bridge until 11.30, after doing a radio interview with 2NURFM. The river heads west after the bridge so I got a little help from the sail as I sailed across the oyster beds. There is a maze of small islands so I thought it best to stick with the channel markers meaning that lots of boats and a ferry went past. The river snaked south and then I was in Port Stephens.

The icy air sliced my screaming body… No it didn’t but Iiked the idea. It was great to have a cool breeze compared with yesterday’s blistering gale. Within two hours I was at the heads and able to turn a little to the right and set the sail on a tight reach. It was very bouncy near the cliffs with lots of little peaks on the ocean but I powered on thrusting through them. Past Fingal Lighthouse on Shark Island, past Fingal Bay and then One Mile Beach, but I was unsure where I was in relation to Boat Harbour. A discussion with Lyn, who could finally see me managed to right that situation although the waves were crashing on the rocks and the entrance looked a bit tricky. Not to worry, there was a big enough gap so I dropped sail and committed. A powerful current washed me towards the southern rocks so I just powered on and easily beat it. A lot of foam on the grey sea made me feel uncomfortable but logically there was nothing to worry about. Old Yella slid onto the sand at 3.45pm with 28.3km on the clock

4 bye bye Tea gardensBye bye Tea Gardens

1 Pt Stephens entranceEntrance to the bay. I think it might just be the Karuah River but I have always called it Port Stephens or Nelson Bay but they seem to just be suburbs

2 sailing boatI tried hard to get the sailing boat but with the delay on the camera and the boat appearing and disappearing I only managed to half get it

6 battling a currentComing across against the current

3 boat harbourClose up of the foam from the waves

Lyn     DAY 19     Not having to start out so early today allowed us to spend time with Marny. Gordon is in Lismore settling into his new job with OEH (Office of Environment and Heritage) Marny will shortly join him there and they will once again be Northern Rivers residents. They have both been and still are tireless workers for the environment.

It was interesting to learn more about Marny and to hear the history of Australian Seabird Rescue. She was there from its inception and nobody knows more about it that she does. Marny and Lance took it from a hobby of saving pelicans to the Australia wide organisation that it is today.

Just as Steve was about to shove off at Tea Gardens I received a call from Garry at 2NUR to see if  I could organise an interview with Steve. (I love being a P.A. – sounds good, bit of a hoot really) Talk about perfect media timing, ABC also rang for an interview not long after he landed at Boat Harbour.

Next he radioed in to Marine Rescue at Port Stevens so they could log him on as leaving Tea Gardens with an estimated E.T.A. Of 1600 hours (4pm) at Boat Harbour. The radio operator could have been a radio announcer he had the smoothest voice and a great presence. Although when he called Steve the  Skipper of Old Yella Steve replied “That’s a bit of a grandiose term!” Then he inquired as to the colour of the kayak. “It’s yellow like a banana.” Steve replied. “Ok that stands to reason. Have a good trip, Port Stevens out.”  Steve finally left Tea Gardens at 11.30.

I arrived at Anna Bay at 12.30 heaps of time to look around and check out the landing spot. I headed straight to Boat Harbour; Mm looks a bit tricky, only a narrow passage in and the waves were crashing over the Rocks on either side. As the tide was still quite low I was hoping it would be a bit gentler by high tide at 3.15 when Steve was due to come in.

Next I went exploring. First off I went to One Mile beach, this was just to the north of Boat Harbour. It was a nice little bay and the waves weren’t too big, but there was no beach access (only for emergency vehicles). Next I went to Birubi Point. Well what a shock. Ok it does have  a long surf beach which was quite rough today. BUT then you go over the sand dunes and it’s like ‘What the hell!’

There were 10 camels with queues of people waiting to have a ride on them. There were 4 Wheel drive adventure tours, sand boarding and horse rides. Where have all these people come? Then I noticed that there were bus tours bringing in more people. I thought this was a quiet little out of the way town. OMG.

Steve came into Boat Harbour at 3.45. It was a tricky ride through the narrow entrance up to the beach, but as he glided up onto the sand he said ” I didn’t like that, a lot of white water a lot of bouncing and a lot of foam, anyway it’s alright when you get through all that white stuff.”

And so ends another day….

CamelsBirubi

 

18th January

It was always gonna be hot with westerly winds then a southerly coming through after lunch. There is nowhere for a pickup between Seal Rocks and Port Stephens so I decided to put in way up in the Myall Lakes and paddle inland to Tea Gardens, same distance but less worry about the southerly.

Things went well at the start on what is a magnificent waterway with the westerly just starting to puff a bit. There are a few doglegs to go around and as I turned East towards the Bombah Point ferry the wind picked up. Without paddling Old Yella reached 9km/hr so I knew it was getting strong. Lyn got some photos as I shot past and then turned right towards the entrance to the Myall River that runs to Tea Tree.

A hobie trimaran scuttled out from the windward shore as I struggled to hold the line reaching across the wind. Their sail flapped and I wondered how they would get back but that was their problem. I waved but they pretended not to see me. The wind grew to more than 30 knots and I regretted not putting the skirt on as wave after wave slopped into the cockpit. I just held the line but when I got there I found that I was at Mungo Brush and had to paddle straight into the wind for 45 minutes to get to the entrance. Turning left and into the calm waters the trees roared and danced above but it was hot, very hot. Morning tea time, sat in the water on the bank and contemplated how to fill my water bottle that had turned over and emptied in the turmoil.

Just down the river I started calling to fishing houses. A big black dog started barking and ran towards me just as I spotted a human. When I pulled into the sand the dog came over to tell me to bugger off. It was close enough that I could smell his breath but I figured he was just noisy and climbed out anyway. The young bloke filled the water bottle from the tank and I was off.

The Myall River meanders a lot but most of the time I seemed to be against the wind and until it dropped below 30 knots it was bloody annoying. At 2.00pm Lyn and I had a brief chat on the phone while I got blown into the trees. Call over, there was about 300m downwind run before the next bank so I raised the sail and we took off at better than 9km/hr against a significant tidal run so speed over water had to be better than 11km/hr. Tea Gardens arrived at 3.00pm. The temperature was over 40 degrees and that had sapped my energy so it took a while to recover before loading up.

Marny, a good friend who runs the Lismore Car Boot Market met us and took us back to their place where she served a very welcome cold beer.

3 before windBefore the wind

2 funThis is fun

1 FerryPast the ferry

5 the hobieThe hobie

6 wind and wavesWaves building

7 swansThree kids for this pair

8 fish feetThe fish found my feet interesting

9 waterWater stop

4 sea eagleBeing watched

11 magroves vs she oaksMangroves vs Sheoaks

Lyn         Packed up at the Taree motel ready to move on. Steve said, “We seem to have a lot more to pack into the truck this time.” It does seem like this, but we still have the same stuff. When you first leave home everything it neatly packed and everything has a place. As time goes on all the spaces seem to fill up. It’s a bit like a middle age spread it’s what we all started with but it just expands.

Back to paddling. Steve had planned a 60 km paddle down the coast from Seal Rocks to Port Stephens but with the southerly predicted for early afternoon and with no alternative pick up points along the way, he decided on a change in tack, so to speak. Instead he will now paddle through the Myall Lake system until he reaches the Myall River and then continue onto Tea Gardens. I meet up with Steve as he paddles towards the Bombah Ferry. He has the sail up and is powering along at this stage.

As I follow the road I am in the midst of National parks and I find it tricky sometimes to read the wind direction accurately, I can feel the wind shift but is it true north or north west this makes a difference to Steve’s times as he can use the sail with the northerlies and this means he will get to his destination by anything up to an hour sooner. As it so happened a couple of days ago when I was placing my binoculars in their case I found an old compass, they are both about 30 years old,  and both have come in handy. I remembered buying the compass so my sons could learn some bush skills. We lived on a farm and they loved to go adventuring.

This is what our journey and the Climate Emergency Declaration is all about we want to enable our grandchildren to be able to enjoy this amazing country and have their own adventures. However if the government doesn’t address the problems of climate change future generations will be battling the elements rather than enjoying them. Please sign the Climate Emergency Declaration petition and encourage everyone you know to do the same.

I arrived at Tea Gardens at 10.15, I am early today after the fiasco yesterday. It is HOT! I drive around to check out the ramps there are numerous ones here, it just depends on where Steve chooses to come in. Then I tried to find a cool place to wait. All I could find were outside cafes, too hot to sit there. Then I spied an ice cream/coffee shop, I stepped inside and it was just right, however everyone else had the same idea and there were no empty tables inside only outside; then this friendly voice said. “Would you like to join us.”

This turned out to be an eventful meeting. We discovered that we were both visitors to Tea Gardens and chatted about our reasons for being there. I explained about our kayak4earth trip and the petition. Then Sonia who was accompanied by her young daughter began to tell me about herself. She had a farm near Dungog where she ran cattle. I mentioned during the conversation that I worked for Richmond Landcare then the conversation got even more interesting. She briefly described an environmental waste project that was going to be set up on her property, I had heard of similar projects but the one she described would take the experiment to a different level. We exchanged details and I said that I would like to hear more about the project when it was underway; Sonia said that she would check out kayak4earth and as her daughter who had been very patient was anxious to have some fun we all moved on.

Steve and I have met lots of interesting people along our journey; many of whom are working to raise awareness as we are about climate change. We hear from them about the other work they are also doing to improve their own local  environment. If only the Australian Government would listen.

3pm     Steve has had a long hot trip. When he lands at Tea Gardens he takes time to re-energise. He just lays in the water to cool off before we go about the routine of packing up Old Yella.

A friend of Steve’s, Marny Bonner who some of you may remember from the Northern Rivers has been living at Tea Gardens with her husband Gordon Fraser for a couple of years. She has come to meet us as Steve arrives. Marny has generously offered us a place to stay and Steve is Looking forward to the catch up.

As we sit on Marny’s deck enjoying a cool one, the southerly arrives, while it is a welcome relief from the heat it does not play out well for tomorrow’s paddle; luckily it’s a shorter paddle tomorrow  to Anna Bay.

 

17th January

Lyn took a video as I eased out over the bar at Forster into a glassy blue pacific at 7.30am. You follow the cliffs east so the sun was in my eyes but only threatening to be hot at that stage. By 10.00am it had made good its threat and by 11.00am I was roasting again.

The GPS died at 10.00am. Cheap Varta batteries last maybe three days but I change them at two. They have been very dependable for me around the world. They ran out so I bought Eveready. Silly me for not changing them after a day. Funny how attached one can get to a GPS. It is sort of like a companion. I only use speed, average speed and distance travelled. I missed it when it died. Probably nothing like I am going to miss my support crew next week when she goes back to work though. Luckily she is coming to the Opera House. I know we should not fly like that but bugger it. We don’t fly for pleasure or holidays. With a son and his fiancé in Canada I have also decided even though it is wrong, that I will fly over occasionally to see them. No excuses, I’m just gonna do it. Funny how a lot of people call themselves environmentalists and then fly overseas for their holidays.

A kilometer off Charlotte Head the waves reflected back making smooth peaks with the easterly swell. It was scorching. For relief I would take my hat off, fill it with Pacific water and tip it on my head. The cool water would run down my back but in five minutes my head was baking and my body steaming. Temperature was in the high thirties and vigorous exercise in a shirt, a sheet of plastic (that’s the skirt) and a life jacket makes one think of removing some of it. But you don’t. Shit happens. It is called shit because it happens when you least expect it. I have been caught before paddling down the coast so I make sure that I am always ready.

I paddled on. A big splash of white water materialized ahead. What’s that? A small marlin launched into the air ahead of it, and then again and again. Maybe it was enjoying a brief sauna. A large group of the brown birds sat on the water to my left. I tried taking photos as some took off and skimmed past me. The group grew to maybe a hundred and then splash. A group of dolphins came toward the kayak. There were about ten of them swimming beside me, in front of me and rolling sometimes to show their light bellies. I was exhilarated and shouted with joy as I raced along as fast as I could with them. Gradually they changed. They popped into the air in front of me steering me to the right. I changed direction. Up ahead to my left a great commotion was occurring in the water. When the dolphins were satisfied that I was headed away from it they disappeared, heading in the direction of the commotion. I must say that it made me a bit emotional. It all took just a few minutes but wow!

The wind came up just enough to raise the sail but coming into Seal Rocks I had to take it down again. It is more of a hindrance when paddling faster than the wind. I beat Lyn to the beach, paddled in behind the biggest wave I could find and beached. Gracefully I stepped out of the kayak, fell over backwards and the kayak washed back down the beach onto me, filling with water before I managed to stand and drag it out of the waves.

P1173001This is in Forster. There is a big sandhill behind the cliff. You can see the top of it. Would love to be there in a big southerly and watch the plume of sand blowing over the top of the cliff.

P1173007Look at the folds in the rocks. They have been there for millennia. See the houses behind the beach, a civilization with a very brief history. How long until the earth moves on and discards it?

P1173012Gotta look closely here. This is the first lot of brown birds. There is one skimming along midway between the horizon and the bottom of the picture near the centre of the photo

P1173015Seal Rocks. A once sustainable fishing industry destroyed by the trawlers who dragged everything and turned the bottom into a desert. Greed prevails.

Lyn    I can’t believe that it’s day 17 already; it’s easy for me to say that as I am not the one paddling 30 to 50 Km a day. Steve has a short paddle today only 36.5 km!

It all started at Forster at 7.30am. There was a gentle but consistent roll as boats approached the bar.  Steve was still a fair distance back, not long having left the boat ramp. I parked the beast and walked out the wall to get some photos of him crossing the bar. I watched as the cruisers approached the bar. It was their sound that I noticed the most whoosh…ker-thud.  Whoosh…ker-thud as they rose and fell with the waves. Then one cruiser increased its speed and lifted up and planed over the waves, rather than slop about. Meanwhile Old Yella approached, he silently rose and fell with the waves as he cut his way towards the bar.

“Where’s he off to today?” I’m asked by a gentleman also watching Steve cross the bar.

“Seal Rocks.” I reply.

“I bet he’s enjoying it.” He comments.

“He will unless the southerly hits.”

Steve crosses the bar in front of us on his way to Seal Rocks.

It’s almost 1pm, radio check in time and I should be at Seal Rocks by now. It has taken me longer to drive there than I expected. I see a sign on the right that says picnic area, I pull in as I can see a sand pathway. I think to myself that if I walk out the pathway to the water I may pick up Steve’s radio signal. As I am pulling into the parking area my phone rings. “Where are you? Did you get lost?” Can’t mistake Steve’s voice.

He’s already at Seal Rocks, been there for half an hour he tells me. I’m usually at our check in spots at least an hour early, the one day that I’m late he’s EARLY.  No problem he says I’m just relaxing and catching up with the locals getting some inside knowledge for tomorrow’s paddle.

“Ok I’ll see you soon.” And I set off towards Seal Rocks.

Some days just get worse. It takes me nearly another 15 minutes to get to Seal Rocks (or so I thought). I parked illegally so I was close to the beach track, most people are ok when I do this as the signs all over the car look a bit like an EMERGENCY themselves!

I can’t see Steve or the kayak, both of which are hard to miss. I try to phone, it just goes to message, I try again looks like no coverage. So I turn on the 2 way radio. Yes we have contact.

“Where are you, I can’t see you.” I say. (it’s only a very small beach)

“I think you’re at the wrong beach.”

Like I said some days just get worse…..

We finally meet up and all is well. Nothing ruffles him. I said that he could admonish me in the blog tonight.

“I wouldn’t’ do that.” He says.

P.S. However he did tell me that there is no such word as ker-thud. I replied that I like it and it’s staying in.

Foster 17th & 18th Jan 2017 (29)Finally ready to leave Seal Rocks

16th January

Headed out of Crowdy Head at 7.15am with the heat already building. Rounding the headland a light south westerly ruffled the surface and cooled things a bit. Showers travelled with me but they were about 20km inland and no amount of thought control could get them to come over and cool me off.

Passing Harrington I looked again at how one might get into the Manning River but as in 2008 it eluded me. Waves broke all along the beach. There is a rock wall which probably was a northern breakwall at some stage but it just goes back to the sandy beach.

It was quite misty so it took a long time to be able to see Black Head and when I got there at 1.00pm I could just make out the buildings at Forster. Luckily a light nor’easter maybe 8knots allowed the sail to go up and stay full of wind. By the time I got to Foster at 3.30pm it was blowing properly and propelled Old Yella up the racing out tide.

The distance at the end was 48.5km and I was buggered – couldn’t walk properly and my body hurt. Luckily masseur Lyn found the knot in my back and sorted it out with deep heat and a shower. All in all a very satisfying paddle even if things started to seize up when I finished.

Oh, and by the way, it was a three shark day. One about 1.5m, one about 2m and one big one that did send prickles up my back.

aLeaving Crowdy Head

bHarrington with North Brother in the background. Over here rain…please!

dSome sort of slick on the water with lots of blue bottles in it

gfWould love to know what these are. There are hundreds and they spend all day either sitting on the water or skimming along just above it.

e1I needed the gun again. Can we have a season when we are allowed shoot ‘em?

c1Safely in at Forster Tuncurry

Lyn     DAY 15     The southerly came in yesterday right at the end of the get together at Westport Park with the local Climate Change group. We packed up the kayak and headed back to camp, not sure what we would find. Good news, Steve’s big tarp had done the job! All was dry he backed up the truck and rearranged the tarp and once we were settled inside we were very cosy.

It rained most of the night and was still raining in the morning. As the southerly was still blowing there was no paddling. So we packed up camp and headed for Forster, however the camp sites at the caravan park where we wanted to stay were over $80 per night. “Lets re think this.” Steve said.

So he searched the net and came up with comfortable motel accommodation for $115 at Taree, which is still central for the next three days paddling. So here we are once again drying out at another motel.

In the afternoon we found a spot for a quiet drink and then noticed that there were races on the river in front of us. It was quite a large race between rowing eights, there were 14 boats stretched across the river. It took some time for the officials to get them started. I noticed a couple at the same bar who seemed to know what was happening, so I sidled up for a chat. It turned out that they were from Mosman Rowing Club and the Lady, Linda Read was the junior rowing coach.  After an interesting chat we returned to the motel. We enjoyed a quiet night over a couple of glasses of wine, hence why this blog didn’t get written yesterday!

DAY 16     Back to Crowdy Head for today’s start. We have a routine each morning before Steve sets off, so we thought it might be interesting to film the procedure. Might I say here that Steve is no Russell Crowe when it comes to acting, although when he got lost in the skirt it did make me laugh.

We varied our usual routine today of regular radio checks. As it has now been a couple of weeks since the holidays commenced most of the media networks returned to work today. Along with the Sydney event organisers I set about making contact. I also had another couple of ideas for a quirky promotion. More on this later.

Sometimes Steve can’t make radio contact with the Marine Rescue towers for various reasons, so once he is away I will ring them and they then log him on and note his destination and arrival time. As I have previously stated . Marine Rescue have been great along the way. Today at 7am I spoke to Aron at Crowdy Head, he was keen to get all the details correct. Marine. Rescue don’t often get a kayak logging on. Then later in the day, 11am Aron rang me to see if Steve was ok, he was just checking and then was going log Steve over to Forster.

Steve had a big day, 8 hours paddle in the heat.

15th January

Packed up camp in the rain and headed for Taree. Big4 caravan park at Tuncurry had a powered site available – $90 per night less 10% club discount. Decided on a motel in Taree for a bit more. Sitting at a real desk drinking a red, contemplating 49km to Forster tomorrow and thinking about where we all are at with delivering the facts.

It seems to me that the more multi-pronged the better. Lyn is much better at peaceful persuasion and is more tolerant. That doesn’t mean that a bit of confrontation is wrong though. A bully must be confronted.

The following email this morning is from a brave man.

Dear Steve Posselt and supporters,

I have learned of your kayak 4 Earth campaign, culminating in delivering a petition in Canberra on the climate emergency.

I agree we have a climate emergency, but I do not fully agree with your statement that “for people under 20 now the effects could be catastrophic, not just the wild weather we are experiencing with just one degree of warming.”

Unfortunately, I think catastrophic effects for many are already happening, contributed to by climate change and a range of other “risk multipliers”.  Partly for this reason, I became the first, and to date the only Australian IPCC contributor to be arrested for climate disobedience, protesting coal exports at the Maules Creek mine.

I do hope the decision makers in Canberra hear you, but I think real change can only come from enough people recognising the peril we are in, and changing their behaviour; not just regarding climate change but in a host of other ways. Your unusual mode of reaching Canberra may attract some interest from mainstream as well as social media. I hope it pays off!

Kind Regards and good luck

Colin (Adjunct Professor Colin Butler, Health Research Institute, University of Canberra)

At Port Macquarie I spoke about bravery and I have met many brave people. Anyone who confronts their demons, who can recognize they were wrong and change their ways, who can see a really hard road ahead but still travel it because it has to be travelled, is brave.

So what is the opposite to this? What is someone who will not accept science because it does not accord with their beliefs? What is someone who so badly wants to preserve the status quo because they have a comfortable life style supported by corruption and special interest? One of these people used the words “girly man” in derogatory comments about his political opposition. To him and to all of his neo-liberal mates who are prepared to sacrifice the lives of my children and grandchildren, I say you are cowards. That is not a nice thing to say but I can’t see it any other way. Their abject cowardice places everything as we know it at risk.

Is that too harsh? If you think so please comment on the Facebook page.

RowingWaiting to go to the Taree motel we saw a rowing carnival. To anyone who has watched kayak, outrigger or dragon boat starts please spare a thought for the starter here. He had 14 eights to line up. Took him 20 minutes!

14th January

Up at 4.00am for 6.15am start at Camden Haven. Forecast on Meteye was for strong northerlies. Winds turned out to be variable and often on the nose at about 5knots so progress was a bit slow. The day warmed up and I cooked. Then the Thai from last night wanted to exit but had to stay there for another 2 hrs of discomfort. Into Crowdy Head, a fabulously easy harbour and ramp after 4hrs 15mins and 26.5km on the log

Back to Port for the final official work where the kayak with its sail up at the markets attracted signatures. Apparently crowds were down to less than a third due to the heat. Finally a few photos on the water with a storm looming and then back to camp to see how everything worked in the rain. All good. The support crew is happy. Last effort, at Wooli, the support crew accrual said a rude word. Sure we had a bit of rain but it was only between 2 and 3 inches. Sure the mattress soaked up the leaks but I did put a space blanket over it so she didn’t have to lay in a puddle. Sure the floor might have been muddy and water was flowing down the sides of the gazebo and across the ground, but my back pack was soaking up most of it. Sure the umbrella blew away and turned upside down but I did then tie it down. But to swear…..

 14 Dolphin sendoffA classy send-off

16Crowdy signNot sure this worked it is hard to read on this

11 Cliff Point perpendicular

10 High tideHigh tide on our way back into Port Macquarie

13 Inside Stuarts boatThe electric motor on Stuart’s yacht. You can see where the diesel engine was. Same weight with the six batteries but no need to take 150L of diesel

16 PaddlersPaddlers practicing to be media tarts

17 Dog underThere is a big dog under the splashing

18 another lotThe approaching storm is behind them

Lyn      Very early start, up at 4.00am.  We have to be at a 1.00pm flotilla event for the local Climate Change group, waiting until then to head onto the next leg is fraught with trouble as a southerly is predicted. So the decision has been made to set out really early and paddle to Crowdy Head, arrival time at Crowdy is estimated at approx. 11.00am. This will give us time to be back for the event. This is a risk but hey Steve is all about risks and he says. “This is hardly a risk.”

As an aside I am pleased to report that the beast and I are now comfortable driving up onto footpaths, navigating through large boulders, in search of close access to beaches to load the kayak, and reversing down boat ramps is a piece of cake.

6.10 Camden Haven – What an exquisite morning. Just a wisp of breeze, calm seas and the sun is sneaking over the craggy rocks of the break wall. Steve is ready to shove off the beach, as he heads towards the bar crossing a lone dolphin appears and accompanies him out of the Harbour. It’s special to share these mornings on our journey.

While Steve explores the ocean and interesting sightings along his journey, so do I on shore as I explore the many and varied coastal towns that I encounter. The towns or villages are similar in many ways yet varied and unique in their own way. There are often two parts to these towns. The original beach houses, now dated but still in demand. Then there are the oversized and often overstated new beach getaways. Then there are the towns where both are mixed together in harmony. Perhaps these towns are a metaphor for life itself?

8.30 I’m sitting in the shade of the Crowdy Head Lighthouse enjoying my morning tea. Steve is due to radio in at 9.00. What a place for a cuppa! Not another soul around, only a friendly young magpie wanting to keep me company. It begins to sing and moves closer and closer. After a short while two more magpies join us; they also begin to sing. They remind me of my sister who loves magpies and has many who visit her home. I manage to take their photo, they are not shy at all.

The ever present black helicopter appears above us, it circles the Lighthouse searching both the southern and northern bays each side, satisfied it moves on.

Steve calls in and the wind has turned more south and he is not making the miles he had hoped for. He says he will call again at 9.30, he does and then his next call is 10.00.  He says he is getting close, so I head down to the Harbour. He comes into the Harbour at 10.30.

We head straight back to Port for our arranged meeting at the Westport markets with the Climate Change group, who are holding a stall. We arrive at 12.15; Steve sets up the kayak and it helps to attract people to the stall. The group are collecting signatures for the Climate Emergency Declaration.

After the markets it’s a final gathering on the water with various water craft and it’s farewell to Port Macquarie.

Thanks Port for all your help and the many signatures you have collected for the petition

19 magpieMagpie serenade

20 Support crewIt is pouring with rain outside. Snug as a bug in a rug the support crew contemplates the next words of her blog or maybe why her slack partner has not topped up her wine glass.

13th January

Before I start here is Lyn’s account of the day off on the 12th.

Lyn:        Catch up day, as a Southerly is blowing. We are staying at the Edgewater Holiday Park, and our camping skills are improving. We are pretty sure that we are now waterproof. Steve went out and purchased a ginormous tarpaulin, however we don’t really want rain to prove our theory.

After a bit of early morning catch up, we went into Port Macquarie for a big breakfast. Steve drove to the house he lived in when he was 17, it’s still there. He even pointed out the window to his room and told me. “That’s where I used to throw my sleeping bag out the window at night, I’d meet my girlfriend and we would go up to the headland. I learnt a lot up there!”

We noticed that the Port News was just along the street, their reporter, Peter Daniels had been trying to catch up with Steve for an interview, so as we were there we popped in. The receptionist was super helpful and tried to locate Peter, but to no avail, she said. “I bet as soon as you go he will turn up.” We had also noticed that the ABC radio studio was across the road, so we walked over there. Steve introduced himself and sure enough just before we stepped inside the studio we noticed a man waving at us from the Port News. You guessed it Peter. It’s a wonder Steve’s head fitted through the door! Before we knew it we were in their studio doing a recorded interview with Fiona, their breakfast announcer. After this we walked back over to the Port News and Steve did do an interview with Peter.

Back to me and as you can see I didn’t edit Lyn’s comments. We had a late start on the 13th, arriving back at Town Beach at 8.00pm where Peter arrived for a few shots before I set off for the paddle in and greeting at 9.00am. There was no need to paddle up the river because the current was flowing at 8.5km/hr. Confirmed with Lyn at 8.50am that everything was in place and arrived two minutes early. You can see from the photos that for a weekday turnout was pretty good.

Formalities over I headed back to sea against the run in tide and then scooted off to Camden Haven where I arrived with 36km on the log and 18.7km/hr top speed. Woo hoo, that was fun with a strong northerly and not a big swell.

Then it was back to Port for the presentation. Stressed a bit when the computer didn’t recognize the projector and probably should not have said “Shit!” quite so loudly but all was well. Met an old teacher, Mr Landy (I think Bill but we didn’t use Christian names then, just Sir) gave me a year book from 1970 when I was there plus a 50th school anniversary book. The presentation took 1 hr 15 mins which when I checked people were happy with. That gives me time to relax and throw on some humorous anecdotes and still cover all the way to Paris.

On my way to the bottle shop for a drink with dinner I passed the old court house where they took my driving licence from me when I was 18 but that is another story.

Lyn     Friday 13th       The local Branch of Climate Change Australia had organised a welcome for Steve to Westport Park at 9am.  Before Steve launched from Town Beach to paddle around the corner through the bar to reach the park at 9am he did another interview with Peter Daniels; a filmed interview this time for their online news. Peter has taken an interest in Steve’s story and has a good grasp of the Climate Change dilemma.

The Climate Change members and friends were excited to meet Steve and to be part of his journey. They have done a brilliant job informing the media of Steve’s trip, its purpose and the Climate Emergency Declaration.  He was front page news in the Port Express and page 3 of the Port News, plus online articles in the Port News.

After the official welcome the crowd cheered him on his way! He hit the water paddling at 9.30 ready to paddle as far as possible with the late start; keeping in mind that we had to be back at Port for his presentation that night at 6pm.

We did a radio check at Tacking Point Lighthouse at 10.30. He pulled into the lee of the headland for morning tea. As he was getting ready to paddle off, a curious tourist boat pulled up next to him for a chat; they wanted to know more about the interesting little kayak with its sail. Visitors departed, he was on his way. He had a favourable wind and he took off towards Bonnie Hills.  12.30 Steve radioed in, he was travelling well and making good time so he decided to push on towards Camden Haven. He guessed his arrival time to be around 1.30.

I was walking along the breakwall at 1.15 ready to film the action as he came through the bar.  Damn, I wasn’t quite in position and I could see him approaching. He was powering along, surfing the waves in. I did however manage to get some good action shots. Steve called out as he neared the wall. “Gees that was fun.”

With no time to waste we headed back to Port to get ready for Steve’s presentation that night. Once again the local group were well organised. It was held at the Port CWA room, a good venue.  The wonderful Kerri-Anne was already there setting up when we arrived. It was a great night, with an enthusiastic audience of 50. Steve delivered a great presentation and fielded many questions from the audience.

These presentations work two ways. Firstly, Steve inspires people to continue with their Climate action work and even build on their work. Secondly they inspire Steve to continue spreading his message and his knowledge on the problems that lie ahead if our governments persist on ignoring the emergency that climate change has become.

3. Wecome groupI think their name might be Climate Change Australia

Nicholas 1Too right Nicholas. It is great to see young people involved and it is also good to show young people that some of us oldies are trying to do something.

4 Mississippi practiceAnyone contemplating paddling up the Mississippi in a flood could use this for practice. Current in is 8.5km/hr and you have to pick when to turn right. It is just like paddling past barges and log jams only not as hard and nowhere near the consequences if you get it wrong. Look closely and you will see me.

5 Chat at sesaA friendly chat at sea

6. ChopperThe helicopter that  seems to do a three hour shark patrol each morning

7. Camden Haven barScooting into Camden Haven

15 into the sunSome of the crowd for the presentation. Bit hard looking straight into the sun but all good talent does as it is told. Ron, pick your old teacher. I got him first look but it was only 47 years ago.

11th January

Hit the water at 7.00am and paddled out past the headland where I had caught many a wave in my youth. In fact one ten footer really hurt when I took off too late and the board dropped away underneath me. I landed on my side on the board which would have snapped a modern surfboard but in those days the board won and my ribs didn’t.

We were expecting 25knots from the north but it didn’t happen. I had the sail down most of the way and just north of Racecourse it came head on. Luckily it was light but the situation made it difficult to keep to the radio sked. The Racecourse area has a headland with a cut right down the middle and what looks like a sunken headland out to sea with a series of rock islands leading out to it. There is a cliff about halfway out that used to amuse some of the Port Macquarie blokes back in my day. Before the wind came up the boys would catch waves and in the afternoon they would swim out to the island and jump off the cliff. I wonder if that still happens.

Lyn was up on the cliff at Point Plomer but she reckoned it was a bit messy to go in. Judging by the headland just to the north I agreed and so had my sandwiches about a kilometer out, drank as much as I could and headed for Port Macquarie. Lyn followed to the end of the point and took some photos. Now that I am a media tart and performer for the camera I went as close to the rocks as I was game to.

There is a long beach down to Port and we had agreed Lyn would go the long way, back through Kempsey. We had agreed 11.30 for the radio sked and Lyn arrived at 11.35 because of all the roadworks. We planned that she would drive down into the southern corner and I would come in near the big rock. In front of the entrance to the Hastings River I could see it was all a lot different to what I expected. The fierce run out tide was directed to the south, not far off the Flagstaff rocks and the wind had become a strong nor’easter. Bugger.

I called Lyn and advised that I would watch and plan so not to worry if I was a bit slow. Waves crashed into the runout stream so I stayed to the north until a set had passed through. With power on and heading towards the rocks the next decision was where to turn right. A huge wall of white water was coming over my left shoulder roaring like a freight train so that made it easy. Go right now, and be bloody quick about it. There were a couple of surfers on my left as I passed to the south of the big rock. The waves threatened to pick us up and dump us unceremoniously but with a bit of back paddling and then full power forwards I was onto the sand where Lyn grabbed the front to make sure I didn’t wash sideways and back out.

I was pretty pleased with the effort I must say. We chatted with the lifesavers who helped carry Old Yella up to the car park and I logged off with Marine Rescue.

35.4km on the log.6-north-of-plomerThe sunken headland near north of Pt Plomer

24-shagsPassing through the sunken headland. Three shags stayed and did not take off.

22-cracked-headlandCracked headland. Look closely

7-for-the-cameraPlaying chicken with the rocks for the camera

8-timing-is-everythingComing into Port Macquarie. Timing is everything.

10-dont-want-this-oneApplying the brakes

Lyn      DAY 11            Take off today is from Crescent Head, Steve launched at 7am. Today’s first radio call in, is Point Plomer at 9am. Steve said, “You will enjoy the drive to Point Plomer, it’s an interesting trip. It’s a dirt road but you’ll be ok.”

Ok, I think about this but now that the beast and I are friends I look forward to the drive. For many kilometres it’s just straight road running alongside mostly National Park. Then the ocean starts to appear, I stop to see if I can see Steve, but no luck, I continue on the road. Small camp areas start to appear; without stopping they look to consist of approx. 20 sites. There are a few more of these campsites along the way. Then I encounter the bends quite steep with a long drop off over the edge. No problems the beast is responding to my touch, it may not like Steve’s heavy hands after this trip! ✊

When I arrive at Point Plomer it’s overcast and cool, not too many campers up and about. I don’t imagine Steve will land here as it’s pretty rough.

9am “Old Yella to base, over.” The conversation continues between us and Steve explains that it’s a bit rough out there today, hence it’s taking a little longer that first thought. He calls back in at 9.30 and has decided not to come in; wise move I think. He sits off the Point and has his morning tea. I get some good photos as he heads out around the Point on his way to Port Macquarie.

I enjoy writing this blog and my postings on Instagram, it keeps my mind busy helping not to focus and worry about Steve out there in the ocean. While there isn’t a lot of time for sightseeing on this journey, I have still had the opportunity to visit places I never even new existed, such as Point Plomer and Hat Head.

Our radio call is due for 11.30 and it has taken me longer than we thought to drive from Plomer back through Kempsey and down the highway to Port Macquarie; mainly due to the highway roadworks and lower speed limits. I pull into the car park at Town Beach Port Macquarie at 11.35 turn on the radio and call “Base to Old Yella over…” and to his word he is there calling back.

I can see him outside the wave zone, he’s sitting out there watching the waves and judging the tide. Once again on shore I notice the lifesavers observing the strange craft in the water. It’s a hairy ride through the surf to shore, I got some good photos this time. When he gets in the lifesaver on duty comes down and meets him and has a chat. More onlookers come up to have a chat and find out what it’s all about. One lady shows us the local Port Macquarie newspaper and Steve is front page news. The lifesaver on duty organises for one of the other lifesavers to help Steve carry the kayak to the car as no ramps here.

Another full day but a very successful trip.

Life SaverLyn thinks he is a bit of a hunk. I think we look about the same.