With the fifth week of the Shaw and Partners Paddle of Aus. wrapped up, we take a deeper dive into the week gone by.
“Day 29 started in Point Lonsdale, I paddled over 107K finishing the day 7K west of Apollo Bay at 11pm under the full moon. I had the immense pleasure of being joined by some of the Victorian paddling community, with over 20 paddlers sharing energy, conversation and well wishes during the initial 30K stretch to Torquay. As the day began to turn to night, I was treated to one of the most spectacular sunsets I’ve ever witnessed. Pinks, Purples, and oranges filled the sky as the full moon ascended to light the way to Apollo Bay.”
“The paddle Began 7K west of Apollo Bay with the plan of doing up to 50K before the headwinds kicked in. This was the plan but after rounding Cape Otway the strength of the winds made paddling inefficient and I finished the day paddling just 20k finishing at Aire River. One of the positives was taking a mid-paddle break with the Jet Ski crew Ben and Blake in a beautiful little cove called Parker inlet in the Great Otway National Park. It was lovely to have a break from the howling winds of the Southern Ocean, before going back out and battling the headwinds for 11 more kilometres over 2 hours!”
The plan for this day was to paddle out from Aire River and get 30-50 kilometres done, but with huge surf the support Jet Ski was forced to turn back from apollo bay and was unable to meet me at Aire River. Although I wanted to paddle out considering the lack of mobile reception, large seas, and no support ski it was decided to take a long-term approach and wait it out until the next day.
“Started at Aire River and paddled 121k to Port Fairy. I enjoyed big swell and tail winds; these ideal conditions made paddling past the 12 Apostles an absolute dream! It was interesting to observe albatross flying along above me for almost the entire day and at one point I was followed by one for so long I named it Albert. It was good to finish the day strong in Port Fairy after a day in amazing conditions!”
“Starting in Port Fairy I once again smashed my distance PB, this time by 20k paddling the 145K to Port MacDonnell. It was an amazing feeling passing the 2000k mark today celebrating with a champagne shower. The sea life was out in force today with a pod of dolphins following me for 60% of the day and at one point I was even chased by a seal. The sounds were similar to barking and this large male growled very deeply at me, getting a little too close for comfort.
With such a huge day on the water, the fatigue and back pain in the afternoon really began to take its toll but the strong 45kph tail winds and south easterly swell pushed me along helping me to paddle such a mammoth distance! I also paddled into the fourth state so far in the paddle of Aus. crossing from Victoria into South Australia.”
“Paddled 85k from Port MacDonnell to South End, the swell had dropped off but even so, the south easterly swell direction provided small runners and helped to push me through! After a massive 145k effort yesterday it was good to sleep in until 8am today. Despite the sleep in I was still feeling the fatigue for the morning session, although, as the day wore on, I began to get back into rhythm and was lucky enough to witness a shooting star skimming across the night sky as I finished my day on the water. I felt excited for the upcoming rest day at Robe and planning the final few legs of the paddle before tackling the Great Australian Bight!”
“Day 35 took me the 60k from Southend to Robe. With a late start, I listened to the hottest 100 as the crew danced around on the boat keeping me entertained! My fingers and back have been aching and the back pain in particular has been lingering for the last few weeks. I really started to get into a groove paddling at night, with my confidence on the water after dark growing as I become more used to reading the ocean with limited visibility. I was extremely glad to have a rest day at Robe on day 36 before getting back in the water!”
“One thing that I found difficult this week was tempering my eagerness to paddle and having a rest day on day 31 as I had all intention of paddling out! It is days like these where I remind myself that this project is a marathon not a sprint and it is important to base my decisions on long term benefit as opposed to short term gain.”
“Looking into the next week I am both excited and nervous, as the biggest challenge of my life looms on the horizon. Paddling straight across the great Australian Bight. Despite having this in the back of my mind I look forward to exploring the South Australian coastline and enjoying a coastline so different to that of the east coast.”
-Compiled and edited by Ben Lavery for paddleofaus.com