SEVEN game kayakers set off from Port Welshpool last Thursday, aiming to paddle across Bass Strait to Tasmania.
The aim of the 300-plus kilometre paddle across the often-treacherous waters is to raise awareness and money for the child protection advocacy Bravehearts.
Bravehearts founder and executive director Hetty Johnston’s husband Ian is part of the group of kayakers.
“Solo sailor Jessica Watson took pains to avoid going through Bass Strait on her epic journey around the world, yet here are a bunch of guys, some of whom have never paddled a kayak before, preparing to paddle across it in these tiny vulnerable little craft all because they believe in our vision of making Australia the safest place in the world to raise a child,” said Ms Johnston.
“My own husband Ian is one of this incredibly brave team and I will be worried sick about him. It’s not just the paddlers who need a thank you it’s the wives and families of these guys who will all be worrying alongside me.
“I’m so incredibly proud of every one of them for placing themselves in such danger for the kids who need us so much.”
Although only some of the seven are experienced kayakers, they are united in their determination to make a difference in the lives of vulnerable children.
“The guys are demonstrating their commitment to the Bravehearts cause by doing something challenging – braving the waters of Bass Strait,” said Ms Johnston.
The kayakers’ big adventure has been many months in the planning and involved four months of intensive training, mainly in Queensland, where most of the crew are based, and much of it under former ironman Guy Andrews. The biggest open water training day involved leaving Southport at 9am and only arriving in Brisbane at 2.30am the following day.
It was just after first light on Thursday that the seven set off from Port Welshpool in three two-man oceangoing kayaks and one single kayak. Accompanying them all the way to Tasmania – and then bringing the kayaks back while the paddlers fly back from Launceston – is the 50 foot catamaran ‘Nooramunga.’ Wynne and Carol Hobson run Nooramunga Sailing Tours out of Port Albert. ‘Nooramunga’ has been hired as the mother ship, ready to provide assistance if required, and Carol, along with Joy Seevers, is providing meals for the kayakers each morning and evening, as they island hop their way to Tassie, camping along the way but showering aboard ‘Nooramunga.’
Seas were beautifully calm and the skies were clear as the kayakers set off on Thursday, planning to paddle to Refuge Cove at Wilsons Promontory by nightfall, a distance of about 45 kilometres. The kayakers, who range in age from 35 to 52, were hoping to maintain a paddling rate of about seven or eight kilometres per hour (three or four knots). They were hopeful of arriving in Musselroe Bay in northeastern Tasmania just over one week later – on March 23.
Donations to the Bravehearts cause can be made on www.everydayhero.com.au/paddle_bassstrait