Murrumbidgee River – 26 March 2011

– By Chantal Bronkhorst

Water level: 1.62m at Mt McDonald

Paddlers: Jiri, Chris, Martin, Scott, Melanie, and Chantal

Swimmers: Chris, Melanie, and Chantal

Half swimmers: Scott

Non- swimmers: Jiri and Martin.

On Saturday, the 26th of March, six eager kayakers awoke in the early hours of the morning to go on an epic adventure trip. (Insert Lord of the Rings music here).

At 5 am the Sydney Uni kayakers, from the USA, France, Germany, South Africa and Australia met at the container to pack their gear and load their boats. Some of us (not mentioning names) wanted to start the adventure early and thought it would be wise to venture through the streets of Redfern in the early morning hours to see if it would be possible to arrive at the boat shed alive. *I’ll give you a hint. The South African thought she had enough ninja skills to take on anyone who tried to attack her.*

Our boats and gear were packed and we were almost ready to hit the road, but first Jiri required some breakfast from the bakery and Chris bought himself some hot cross buns for the river. Finally, we were off to Canberra.

We arrived at the Murrumbidgee and the water level looked promising at 1.62m. We did a quick car shuffle and we were in the water by 10 am ready for a day of Kayaking. Following Jiri’s lead, we went down the first rapid. Despite the first rapid being a fairly easy one where, I quote, “no-one should swim”, Chantal swam…. Her excuse? “I just wanted the honour of the first swim”.

The day progressed and we were being productive by practicing some eddy hopping for the upcoming grade 3 rapid, followed by grade 5 rapid and then another grade 3 rapid. As I am sure you are all aware, you do not want to be swimming down those!

Our practice came in handy as we reached the first grade three rapid. We all got out of our boats and with the help of Jiri established which would be the best line to take. We got in our boats, and down we went. I still remember Melanie’s face before going down, she was psyching herself up. May I add she had a very successful run. Martin liked this rapid, so much so that he carried his boat all the way back up to run it again. A few meters on we encountered our next challenge- the grade 5 rapid. This is where we tragically lost Scott :( … I’m joking, geez. RELAX! No, we had one look at the rapid and knew there was no way we would be attempting this rapid. Chris did almost convince Jiri to run it, however, common sense took over not too long after, and Jiri did not attempt it! (That says a lot)

After a long stretch of flat water, we stopped for some lunch. Scott, Martin, and Chris, however, had more of a hunger to JUMP DOWN 10M CLIFFS than a hunger for food. See the video at Yes, that’s right, now you wish you came on the trip with us. Don’t you?

We were re-energized and ready for some more kayaking. During the second half of the day, there was quite a number of interesting events. To name a few:

  • Scott went down a rapid and tipped, however, we got to him soon enough and managed to roll him back up. However, in the process, Scott’s deck popped. His boat was slowly but surely staring to sink (insert dramatic music here). Scott, however, was committed not to have a swim beside his name and paddled all the way to the side of the river, with a half sunken boat.
  • Martin decided Kayaking down the river face first was boring and as a result traveled down the rapids backward on numerous occasions. (Anyone up for a backward Kayaking weekend? Contact Martin.)
  • Chantal did not like the lines Jiri suggested and established her own lines, also on numerous occasions. (Sorry Jiri :D )
  • Chris challenged Jiri on which lines were easier to take. What was Jiri’s comeback you ask? “It is not about the easiest line Chris, it’s about the most enjoyable line”. Well said Jiri, well said.
  • As a result of Chris’ challenge, karma took over shortly after with Chris loosing his shoe while he was swimming down a rapid. (I believe it was established that Chris now owes us a jug? :D ). On a serious note, however: Up for some charity work and have a spare shoe lying around at home? Contact Chris. I joke, I joke.
  • Melanie got stuck in a rapid and paddled for approximately 2 minutes on one spot to get out of it.
  • FINALLY the funniest moment of the day: Wait for it…. Wait for it: We paddled past a nudist colony! It crept up on us quite unexpectedly, and whether it was the sight of a starkers, fat, balding, old nudist man that frightened/ excited Melanie OR the rock in the river -Melanie chose that very moment to go for a swim.

We reached our destination and it was time to decide who was up for the next day. Scott was the most excited. Scott (with his American accent): “I want to paddle!” So Melanie, Scott, and Jiri decided to stay for the second day and do the Shoalhaven. The rest of us; Chantal, Martin, and Chris decided to head back to Sydney to sleep in soft beds!

It would not be a kayaking trip if we did not stop at the bar afterward to “refresh”. So before we set off our separate ways we went in search of a pub and after quite a search found one. That’s all for day one folks!

Jealous? Then don’t miss out next time!