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Benno Zuiddam


How to capsize and avoid farmer death traps  

Kayak from Longford to Hadspen 

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 awesome. 

 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.) 

Starting out

On the South Esk River

Old Homestead on banks of South Esk

 *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.


Prof. Dr. Benno A. Zuiddam