The Mallacoota Meet [66]

By Elizabeth Thompson

I was nervous. I wasn’t sure what they’d be like. A Victorian sea kayaker …. Mmm. Would they be like me? Not knowing, I wanted to get there early to set up camp and feel more secure. Knowing I’d sussed out the campsite made me feel ready to meet these strangers from across the border. The meeting place was Mallacoota, on the Victorian side …

When we got there, to my relief, we were the first. And not long after we checked in, more New South Welshmen arrived. Yes! More of us — John and Stephan. While pitching our tents, some of the others arrived. John and Anne, Neil and Raia, Terry, Bill …gee, there were a lot of them. But later more of us — Mike and Ken, then Margot and Lippy. Yes! There were nine of us but eventually, 11 of them. Here we were, outnumbered on their territory, dependant on their local knowledge. Would they behave like us? Would we find common ground?

Well, I was going to find out soon enough, at dinner at the local RSL. Goodness, now that was familiar. Maybe the Victorians know how we like to congregate at a local watering hole and settle down with a drink and a kayak story or two. And it wasn’t long before was the central topic of conversation were the respective Tasman crossings.

Kayak story telling — another familiar kayaking behaviour. Here we were loudly debating the merits of their trips, speculating about the boats, their planning, their gear etc etc. The night flew by leaving us, late in the night, discovering that we all wanted to do the same — paddle the next morning …to Gabo or bust.

It was shaping up to be a good weekend. The others were seemingly quite like us. Maybe I was going to feel OK. Maybe these were a bunch of people that I’d like to get to know!

Saturday heralded in inclement weather. No Gabo, no bust. Instead only some of us ventured out of Mallacoota Inlet for a couple of hours punching south to blast back north. The rest of us went looking for Cape Horn — it was closer than I’d expected — one of the Victorians’ favourite rolling locations. We had a scenic day exploring the Inlet, locating the Horn, having lunch and watching the Victorians participate in their peculiar communal rolling ritual. I began to marvel at our common obsession: kayaking.

Saturday night was the highlight. A BBQ hosted by Peter Provis and his mother-of-a-BBQ in an historic fisherman’s shed on the headland. We listened to opposition to the local development plans for Bastion Point and then settled down to red meat, red wine and lots of carry on! Can’t remember much after that, apart from recalling that Annie was in good form.

Sunday rolled around as did some groggy paddlers, wondering what to do with the day …take it easy and nurse the hang over, or go for an adrenaline pumping morning’s surf? And so, ten dare devils (four of us) exited the channel to play in the surf. Paddlers were surfing down the waves, hearts were pumping. From a distance I could see Tina punching the air with her paddle. Woohoo. Some landed for a rest, others got bolder and bolder and one of them crashed out with a broken footplate. It was like a surfing vid. A great show.

After that, Sunday arvo was time spent chatting and marvelling at Ken’s bog roll. Ask him to show you next time you see him. You know, those Victorians are great people. We all got on, coz, we’re all the same, really. So I’m glad we came, we met and we communed. In fact, the best thing is that we have all decided that we are doing it again. This time on our side of the border at Boydtown in December 2007 — the Boydtown Bash. Put it in your diaries.

The who’s who of Mallacoota

  • Annie Woollard
  • Bill Zombor
  • Dave Winkworth
  • Elizabeth Thomson
  • Geoff Brewster
  • Greg Murray
  • John Lipscombe
  • John Poitrowski
  • John Wollard
  • Ken Motley
  • Margot Todhunter
  • Mike Snoad
  • Neil Brenton
  • Nick Martinovich
  • Peter Provis
  • Peter Treby
  • Raia Wall
  • Stephan Meyn
  • Terry Barry
  • Tina Rowley