Monday 13 May 2013

Up the creek with a paddle

Out on my constitutional today, I saw a couple unloading their kayak at an inner-harbour beach and thought, what a lovely way to spend a still, sunny morning. It seems ages since I've been kayaking. The last time was in Halong Bay in Vietnam, which was a bit of a bun-fight to be honest: the karst island scenery is magnificent but there are so many tourism operations going on there that it's hard to appreciate it properly, or feel laid-back about it, which is a shame. I liked the evening kayak I did to Browns Island in Auckland harbour, for dinner and drinks at sunset and a return trip shimmering with bio-luminescence, but that was years ago now.
So too was the morning paddle I did on the Gordon River in the wilderness of western Tasmania, but it was so lovely I remember it perfectly. It was a still morning like today, but silver rather than golden, and the water instead of being blue was black: deeply stained with tannin from the temperate rainforest that the river winds through. That made for mirror-like reflections, so that skimming silently along with the clouds both above and below me, I felt as though I was floating in the sky. We'd motored in our fancy catamaran way up the river, far from the civilisation that is the little town of Strahan, and spent the previous night on the water in total darkness.
We were out so early that I disturbed a platypus, and it swam away trailing a V through the water behind it. The whole experience was kind of surreal, because it was so still and so silent, the platypus the only sign of life. There weren't even any birds, because the forest is ancient, the trees having evolved pre-bird, so they don't have the flowers and seeds that would attract them. Almost creepy, so it was good to paddle back round the bend and smell bacon.

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