How to capsize and avoid farmer death traps
Kayak from Longford to
Start at the Longford picnic place
alongside the South Esk River.
Please be advised that this is not
a beginners' route, particularly if there is a lot of water flowing through the river, like today (28 December
2013). The current can be extremely strong in sections where the river narrows down to ten meters among willow
trees. I frankly admit I capsized (not supposed to happen with my Australian ocean proof kayak) and spent a few
minutes hanging on. In the end I managed to turn it and climb on again. In these circumstances trying to go for
the river bank (with willow branches and roots) is ill advised. If
you have a Canadian kayak, avoid this route on days like today, unless your controls are
Be also aware that, about halfway, there is a farmer who seems to suffer from
the Tasmanian male 55-plus syndrome.* He has built a low bridge for his pickup truck right across this (public
access) river and fenced off access to any land crossing with electric fence, just to make sure...
River traffic has an ancient right
of way, but this bloke does not wish to recognize it. For me he falls in the category of typical 55-plus drivers
on this island who drive 80 on the two-lane highway when allowed to do 110km and speed up to close to 120 when
the passing lane emerges. And then slow down again, of course, when it ends. Of course this category of
Tasmanian males has failed to recognize the use for indicator lights on vehicles as well... The common
denominator: acting self-centred and creating death traps for fellowmen.
You are right, my feelings for this
farmer are less than benign, but I wish him no harm... A change of heart will do for the moment. Perhaps
education and neighbourly love will reach his part of the island sometime in the next two centuries. When you do
this stretch of the River, by that time, you might see a bill board: "Dear Kayakers, welcome! My apologies for
this probably illegal bridge, it will soon be gone, but please do use this stretch of land to pass. Push this
button and I will come out and help you carry."
Yes carry, because this silly
present bridge is designed to be a deterrent for all river traffic. It is too low for boats or canoes to pass
underneath and you need to be tall and strong (like me) to lift your kayak onto the bridge while standing in
deep stream, then gently lower is down into the water on the other side without losing it and climbing onto it
before it rushes off.
I called it a day at the rotary
playground in Hadspen, but it is possible to continue your journey and make it a full daytrip all the way to the
Travellyn Dam. Beautiful scenery and easy going.
My consolation prize today: I saw a
platypus! (And lots of swallows, duck, and some hawks.)
*Please note that not all of the 55 and upwards age group suffer from this condition, while
some younger inhabitants of this island, both of the male and female sex, do.