Eucumbene [31]

By David Whyte

It was a cold foggy morning when I heard the tap tap tap of Jan’s diesel arriving to pick me up at 6am. The fog was thick and soupy on the drive up and I had visions of launching out into the mist like Canberra’s early morning rowers. But, with only a few miles to go before the dam wall, where we were to launch, the sky broke clear the fog lifted and a mirror lake started to appear.

We couldn’t have wished for better weather the sky was blue and the lake dead flat. Jan and I were the first there with Gordon and his son turning up a bit later. Andrew turned up at 9:30 with a folding kayak and by 11 he had it together. We launched at the boat ramp on the northern end of the dam wall into the rich blue haze of Lake Eucuembene. I decided to leave the sail in the car and wish I had brought a pair of shorts. Nine set off on to what was to be a peaceful easy paddle with none of the bad weather that we were expecting.

We headed straight down the middle for the first bit and I could have easily used a roll of film on the reflections of the canoeist in the lake. We headed for the one of the points turning into a bay for lunch. Dead trees stood like sentinels at the lakes shore, dying troops from an old battle against the rising lake. Their dead white frames gave new meaning to the term “Ghost Gums”. There were plenty of spots to pull in though the shore was rocky, albeit small ones, making it a bit scratchy for fibreglass boats. Above the high water make was lush green bush of the high country; some had been expecting a more barren landscape. The green hills surrounding the blue lake made a beautiful picture and it was easy to let our minds go as the kayaks streamed through the still water.

We continued on to Teal Island and found it had very good camping spot. Lots of space, good views and, most importantly at this time of the year, plenty of firewood. We set up camp and as it was still fairly early we went out and explored the lake more. I came back early hoping to get a nice sunset photograph. Gordon gave a demonstration of endurance by doing several eskimo rolls in the freezing lake in nothing more than his spray skirt and bathers.

Not long after Dave came back and did the same; but Dave kept his cag on. Arunas was next but ended up wet exiting and decided to go for a swim anyway; the water wasn’t exactly warm. Andrew showed several different styles and the rest of us decided to wait until tomorrow. Though my excuse was I was still trying to photograph the sunset and did manage to get some good shots. We had a good camp fire with I lively discussions. Norm gave us his I life story. Which involved starting I work as a carpenter building caravans, a few intervening jobs and ending up as I one building kayaks.

The night was cold but not as cold as we were expecting. An evening cloud cover crept in keeping the temperature above zero -there was no frost. There was an early morning mist with the sun eventually taking control and clearing to a nice day with a faint breeze. We headed off at 1030 at a very leisurely pace with enough of a breeze for Norm to put up his sail and let the wind gently push him along. Jeanette decided she needed some towing practice and our fearless leader Dave offered to be the towed and sat back and enjoyed the ride. But, unbeknown to Jeanette, everyone else thought they needed a tow and tagged onto Dave’s boat. And there was Jeanette, merrily paddling down the lake with seven kayaks in tow. I believe she had two bowls of semolina for breakfast. She later informed us she tested negative to steroid abuse.

When we got back to he boat ramp those of us who piked out on the rolling the previous day thought we had better do one to save face. The cold water quite took your breath away. All in all it was a very enjoyable trip with good company and there’s every likelihood that it will be on again next year.