Sea kayaker Sandy Robson arrived back in Geraldton early in November after a five month long kayak journey paddling over 4000kms from Germany to Cyprus. This is just the warm-up though, as Sandy intends to return to Europe in 2012 to continue paddling all the way back to Australia!
Sandy’s expedition is inspired by a historic journey made by German kayaker, Oskar Speck. Finding himself out of work in the 1932 depression, Oskar set out from Ulm in Germany with the intention of paddling to Cyprus. When he got there he decided to keep going and bring the folding kayak to Australia. The trip from Germany to Australia took him 7 years. Unfortunately by 1939, war had broken out with Germany and the adventurer was promptly interned by his Australian welcoming committee. His kayak flew a swastika flag and he had a movie camera to document his trip so they thought he might be spy!
On a sunny May morning, 79 years after Speck’s departure, WA kayaker, Sandy Robson was standing on the banks of the Danube River in Ulm and loading up her kayak with camping equipment and food, ready to begin retracing the journey of Oskar Speck. Sandy expects to complete the trip to Australia in 5 years, 2 years faster than Speck. So far from the seat of her kayak she has seen Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Romania, Macedonia, Greece, Turkey and Cyprus. The Speck route took her down the Danube River to the Bulgarian border, then overland to Macedonia where she launched in the Vardar River, looking forward to eventually reaching the sea in Greece.
Sandy hopped between Greek Islands and crossed the Aegean Sea to Turkey, then continued on the Mediterranean coast to Cyprus. Meeting the local people and the cultural interaction has been a highlight of the trip for her. The locals in Greece were baffled that a girl could make it all the way through the Aegean Sea in a kanu (kayak in Greek). The Aegean is renowned for its catabatic winds and yachtsmen told her it would be very risky. Sandy says, “I don’t think they realise what a kanu can do, or a girl for that matter”
When asked about her continuing expedition, Sandy says that she is “not afraid of pirates, but that she is afraid of not having sponsors”. In fact, the main reason that she has returned to Australia is that she is looking for sponsors to help make the rest of the journey possible. Mainpeak Paddlesports in Perth have helped with paddling and camping equipment, but further financial help is needed to turn this dream into reality.
Website & Trip Diary: www.sandy-robson.com