Why we Kayak
WHY DO WE KAYAK?
It’s Sunday morning. Saturday is behind you and Monday and another week loom ahead. Your kayak was loaded the night before, your paddle likewise, so you are ready to go. Turning off the bitumen, you drive down a dirt road and pull into a quiet alcove amongst some trees. The air is still cool but the cicadas are warming up. Birds are singing and ahead of you, at the entrance to a quiet creek, dragonflies hover, their wings shimmering above a cluster of blue waterlilies. Fellow kayakers start to arrive and soon a colourful flotilla of canoes pushes out from the bank and into the creek.
No noise, no fumes, no mobile phones, just the quiet sound of paddles breaking the water, a breeze in your face and people chatting and enjoying the natural beauty of their surroundings.
Stands of melaleucas, their bark shedding like dead skin; rows of whispering casuarinas, eucalypts with gnarled trunks and twisted limbs, mysterious mangroves, tangled creepers and flowering vines, wild orchids, elk and stag ferns and waterlilies; they are all there as you glide along, peering into the understory along the creek bank, below the canopy of trees.
Flashes of brilliant colour…blue, sometimes aqua or yellow jolt you into alertness as birds play hide and seek with us. An azura kingfisher, an Australian regent( bower) bird or perhaps a sacred kingfisher do reconnaissance flights, letting us know we are in their territory. A well camouflaged bittern watches us from his home amongst the mangroves, and a sudden splash nearby lets us know a water dragon has just broken his cover, alerting us to his presence. Nervous cormorants and darters forget about drying their outstretched wings on a fallen tree trunk and fly off awkwardly to another more distant perch. Overhead, the desolate cries of black cockatoos cuts through the air and kookaburras laugh raucously in the tree tops.
It is easy to become mesmerized by the minutia of nature going on all around you, and paddling becomes a natural extension of body functioning so you are almost unaware of it, like breathing. Suddenly, the group is pulling over for morning tea, a stretch of the legs and to compare notes on what has been seen, heard and photographed. The billy on the boil reminds you that you are far away from it all, even if it just for awhile.
Back on the water the journey continues, often through water that no tinny can navigate. Along anabranches, through mangroves, under overhanging branches and over the top of underwater grasses with their beautiful pearl like flowers bobbing on the surface. Those at the front enjoy the beauty of mirror reflections on glassy water, unbroken by wind or other craft, and always the sound of insects and birds.
Sometimes, if you look carefully, or get the feeling that something is watching you, you may see a kangaroo or wallaby observing you through the vegetation, while overhead osprey and brahminy kites glide on air currents, occasionally treating us to displays of aerial acrobatics or sorties.
Lunchtime rolls along; another billy boils and a cuppa helps to wash down lunch and fuel our bodies for the return trip.
Before we know it we have back into ‘reality’ and we prepare to leave the creek, its inhabitants and its forest guardians to melt into twilight, nightfall and a time without human interaction. But not before afternoon tea, sometimes around a campfire, which enables us to linger awhile longer to reflect on the day’s experiences before loading up, saying our goodbyes and driving back up the dirt road and turning onto the bitumen and into the world of cars, trucks and B Doubles……that is until next Sunday.
That’s why we kayak. It’s the journey that counts. The destinations are just an excuse to get out on the water and enjoy the paddling experience.