K2inCanada's Blog

April 25, 2010

Australia Report – NSW Part 2

Filed under: Australia, Travel — K2 in Canada @ 4:15 AM
Sorry for the long delay in getting posts up but I figured I had to send out a couple resumes. What a waste of time though.

More pictures: http://AustraliaNewSouthWales319Oct2009

Day 7 (Oct 8, 2009): The drive to the Illawarra County was nice. The road went through eucalyptus forest before we dropped down the escarpment to Bulli to drop of Neville and then continue on to Wollongong to drop off the boats onto the trailer and pick up the VanDusen K2 Jeff and I were supposed to try. We continued the drive along the coast and Illawarra Lake to Minnamurra – a small community in the Kiama district, approx 120km south of Sydney. What a place. Darren’s house is right on a small side arm of the Minnamurra River – although it’s tidal and boat access is only possible at high tide. Nevertheless, a short walk from the house is a boat launch that provides access at any time. And from there it is only a short paddle out onto the ocean – although I would not have made it through the break on such a windy day. The other river bank is all national park (Killalea NP) – and a short walk from there through the bush gets you to a great surfing beach. BEAUTIFUL!!!! These are areas you only get to see if you know the locals. Thanks Darren!!! We went out for dinner to the local golf club with Darren, his wife Michelle, daughter Rachel and boyfriend (at the time) Ben. Michelle’s and Darren’s two boys, Mitchell and Brandon, stayed home. Darren had another nice surprise for us – we got to sleep in “our” own townhouse – well, it was Darren and Michelle’s townhouse of course but they hadn’t moved into it yet. They are in the process of moving from their house on the side arm of the river to a house right on the river which wasn’t build yet. The townhouse will be their in between accommodation. But for tonight it was Jeff’s and mine and each of us had our own bathroom!!!

Day 8: Ah, it was still blowing hard but sunny when we woke up. Neville showed up at 8am and we walked the boats to the river – it took less than 1min. Jeff and I had the VanDusen K2. I looked at the chop on the river which wasn’t too bad but the gusts were hitting us pretty hard. The VanDusen felt MUCH better than the Nelo – although we were leaning pretty bad to the right. That was fixed once Jeff straightened his seat out. Someone must have used the boat with the seat being 3cm higher on one side than the other. Not sure how he didn’t hurt his back sitting like that until we fixed it. We, Darren in his K1, Neville in surf ski and us, went upstream. The river narrowed after some time which also got us out of the wind – finally. It was very scenic. Rainbows, hills in the distance, Australian bush and mangroves along the river. And despite the wind, Jeff and I did okay in the VanDusen – although to be able to race it we would have to get rid of the wind. We paddled an easy 12km that morning and crossed over to the national park at the end to have a peak at the beach. The guys were running across through the bush – STUPID. Sure, it started to cloud over but the promise of rain was never enough to make me run. The beach was beautiful and eerie at the same time – a bit like storm watching in Tofino. After our paddle Darren made us a great breakfast before we headed back to Wollongong to meet Gary – another of our Aussie friends from Edmonton. He was giving us a ride to Narrabeen, some 10km north of Sydney, where we were visiting David and his wife Carol. We never met those guys before but David is the twin brother of a good friend of ours from Vancouver Island. So they were happy to entertain us for a couple days. They had the pizza already on the table when we arrived and we spent a wonderful evening chatting away, petting the dogs Kudo and Bluey and cat Purdy. And what did we chat about? You might have guessed it already, David is of course an avid paddler himself. So he invited us for a 6am surf ski paddle the next morning.
Day 9: 5am came early. It was still dark and it was raining and it was actually cold and I didn’t bring any of the neoprene stuff with me to paddle in. So I wasn’t too sad when David changed the plan on us. He still went on his surf ski paddle with some big guns (such as Tim Jacobs and Dean Gardner) we could have never kept up with in these conditions even in a double and Jeff and I stayed in bed for another 2 hrs – how nice!!!! We got up with Carol and the two dogs and one cat and went to explore Narrabeen. Narrabeen is part of the Northern Beaches region. It’s a smallish community on a beach as well as a large lake that opens up to the ocean. And on that lake one of the biggest canoe & kayak clubs in NSW. Some good sprint paddlers come from the Manly-Warringa Canoe Club. And of course there were people in K-boats out training on the lake. On Sundays they have a mini-race series around the lake, 12km – for which David holds the course record of 50 odd minutes – that’s FLYING. Once David returned from his paddle we went to Manly Beach to watch the Surf Life Saving competition, part of the World Masters Games. There are multiple event going on such as surf ski, board, swim, run and surf boats. The later are huge open water rowing boats with 4 rowers and a steers person. All water bound races are fairly short but ALWAYS goes through the surf out and in. Pretty cool to watch and the weather which started out cool and cloudy turned into sunny with some spectacular storm clouds off-shore. We ran into Darren, Gary and Rob, our friends from Illawarra who were racing and eeach had medaled in some of the events. On the way back to Narrabeen we took the scenic route along the northern beaches such as Dee Why and Long Reef having lunch somewhere along one of those. Man the Aussies are spoiled with nice beaches!!!!! In the afternoon, Jeff and I took out a couple of David’s K1 – he brought them with him from South Africa so you can imagine their vintage appearance. Did I mention already that David has to walk 100 steps to a little creek where he can launch his boats to paddle into Narrabeen Lake and from their into the ocean? Those Aussies know how to pick their places to live!!!! Jeff took a Cleaver X and I tried a boat called Lizard. Oh man, I could NOT keep that lizard upright – okay I didn’t go swimming BUT I was wobbling side to side like Jeff in his best days and it hurt my back. So we ended up both using the Cleaver x for a quick 20-30min spin instead. We finished off the day with indian food, beer and wine at David’s and Carol’s place.
Day 10: We woke up to heavy rain and the sound of David loading up his surf ski again. We lounged around in bed for another hour before getting up and taking David’s K1’s for another spin. The rain had stopped. This time I took his marathon K1 – no idea what brand/style it was – which was a touch more stable than the Lizard. We managed to paddle around Narrabeen Lake trying to avoid, not always successfully, all the shallow spots. Besides a few portages and lots of bracing on my side it was a nice paddle. Afterwards David, Carol, Jeff and I all went for a HUGE breakfast at a nearby cafe (the most expensive breakfast I ever had but it was tasty – going out is not cheap in OZ) before driving north into Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park known for Australian bush walks and Aborigine carvings. David is an arborist and we learned a lot about the different trees and seeds on the walk through the bush. Unfortunately we didn’t get to see any of the wallabies that call the park their home. The weather turned from overcast to rain on us again. When we returned back to Narrabeen it was time to say good bye to Carol and David and we took the bus into Sydney followed by train back to Penrith. Awesome two days, thanks to Carol, David, Bluey, Kudo and Purdy. Back in “our” cabin in Penrith Alex and Leah surprised us with chicken stir-fry for dinner.
Day 11: Another day waking up to parrots – it was sunny but relatively cool. We had to move cabins one last time into the 12 person villa Darren arranged for all the paddlers for the duration of the games. Jeff and I did a quick paddle on the Nepean River which was almost crowded with paddlers – official training day for the marathon event tomorrow. Since the WMG were already in full swing we decided to go to the Olympic Park with Alex (who was competing in the swimming events) and Leah (support) to check out some other events. Not much else to see though. The athletic stadium was nearly empty except for a couple females practicing high jump – not very successfully. We watch a couple volleyball matches which were good caliber. Overall, not much and we didn’t last long before returning to Penrith. The cabin started to fill up. Darren arrived, then Rob, his wife Margret and Neville. All of us went for dinner at the local sport club “Panthers” featuring several restaurants. Our favorite pick was a place called “Carvers” – quasi buffet style food – tasty, good portions and affordable since it was self-serve. Darren is, like me, a huge chocolate fan and I kid you not he arrived with TONS of treats. So we had chocolate for dessert after returning to the cabin.
Day 12-17: These are the racing days during the world masters games. A full report can already be found here: https://k2incanada.wordpress.com/2010/04/25/world-masters-games-sydney-report-dec-7-2009/. After the racing was done we headed back to Minnamurra for another day before flying to Western Australia.
Day 18: First “official” day of our vacation. It was a beautiful sunny day and Darren woke us early to – guess what – go for a paddle. This time we took surf skis/ocean skis instead of sprint boats and headed for the ocean. It was quite calm out there with a very low swell and some light wind chop. Nothing out of the ordinary but for whatever reason I could not get comfortable in the Robberg I borrowed from Darren. Jeff was in an even tippier ski – what we call a spec ski while the Aussies call it surf ski. For Australians a surf ski is an ocean ski. We made it all the way into Kiama harbour. Darren even paddled into the blow hole it was so calm – Jeff and I chickened out on this. We left the skis on the beach and went for ice cream in town. Very good start to our vacation. On the paddle back Darren tried to teach Jeff how to start a Surf Life Saving race by jumping onto the ski. I am sure Jeff hurt baddly afterward. After having lunch with Darren and Michelle at a cool place high up the cliff with great views over the coast line and beaches, they took us to the back country – Kangaroo Valley, one of their favorite camping spots. It was really scenic and to my surprise, we even got to see a “wild” wombat feeding on the fresh grass of the camp ground. It was tame enough to be petted. Back in Minnamurra, we spent half the night packing – staying again in the empty townhouse which offered lots of space to make a mess. The idea was to leave our paddling gear with Darren and squeeze everything we need for the next 6 weeks – clothes, tent, sleeping back, therma rest, cooking gear… – into our two backpacks. We did succeed and stayed below the allowed 18kg as well. Oh, I should mention the awesome prawns we had for dinner – huge and tasty!!!

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