If you’re looking for a relaxing (but not lazy) day canoeing one of Victoria’s most pristine and wildlife-rich rivers, look no further.
My partner and I were lucky enough to be gifted a half-day on the Goulburn River, so drove the 2 hours from Melbourne one sunny Saturday morning with great anticipation.
Rob at Aventours runs a very nice service, delivered in a fuss-free, friendly and casual way. At no point were we rushed (I was a little concerned that driving from Melbourne we’d be running late).
As it turned out we were a little delayed (you never know when you’ll end up behind a road train when driving in the country) but Rob didn’t mention it at all, simply extended his hand for one of the most satisfying handshakes I’ve had of late, with a big grin.
You get the feeling it would take a lot to ruffle this genuine, salt-of-the-earth character’s feathers. We followed him up the highway, then on to the parking location. We were given our dry bag (to hold the all-important valuables and must-bring camera!) and then hopped into Rob’s canoe-towing ute for the 15-minute trip to our launch point upstream. On the way we saw some great Aussie bush of the straight-out-of-a-painting variety, and at various intervals Rob would put on his ‘Tour guide hat’ to fill us in on flood cycles, and flora and fauna in the area. When the guide hat was off, Rob’s sense of humour and appreciation for people from all walks of life came through in some great tales about past tour-goers.
Yep, this guy is a people person, and it was clear Rob had our number! When asked whether we’d opt for the 10, 12 or 14 km (14km) and what colour canoe we’d like (red, because they go faster!) Rob knew the answers before we gave them.
Before long, we were at the launch point. Lifejackets on, paddling demo complete, our canoe in the water, we were off. Rob told us a bit about what to expect along the way, then (other than a couple of times he checked up on us from the road) to our own devices we were left.
So it was us and the river… and what a beautiful river. The air smells fantastic, the bird life is abundant–cockatoos, galahs, ducks, kingfishers to name a few–and the serenity. So much serenity. We only saw one person, a fisherman, the entire time. Which happened to be the exact moment we had our only gumby moment and crashed into the bank. (Gently though, and it could have easily been avoided had my partner notified me he was taking a photo and hadceased to paddle. What fun!)
There’s a lot of submerged & semi-submerged fallen trees to negotiate (courtesy of the last major floods) but it’s pretty easy once you get the hang of it. Even with our lack of experience we had our vessel effortlessly gliding through the water in no time. The river varies in width, bank height, and currents enough to keep things exciting, but on the whole there’s minimal effort required to get you there. We stopped once to investigate a bottle poking out of shoreline (turned out to be a vintage beer bottle) and it was easy enough to get in and out of the canoe. The only drawback was the flies, they’re all up in your face, so I recommend some sort of barrier. I wrapped my shirt around my head and that took care of it.
On the whole, this truly was a fun, relaxing, memorable experience, partaken in the hands of an experienced operator.
I highly recommend this, and if you do go, make sure you take plenty of time (as Rob says) to ‘stop and smell the roses’.
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