I knew little about paddling when I began, but two good blokes showed me how my paddling fantasies could be realised.
Chances are that you are not busy today, so join me as I string together the events that lead to one of my best and one of my worst efforts as I found my way to paddle the Whitsunday Islands with two good mates.

Cyclone Ada ..
It is January 1970 and cyclone Ada has ripped through the Whitsundays devastating Daydream, South Molle etc and killing 13 people.
I was a young chippie working around Townsville with my younger brother and we answered an add for tradies to go to the Islands for the rebuild. The boss man asked if I could drive a ‘Blitz ‘. Of course I said yes, even though I had never seen a ‘Blitz’. Good, you drive one and I drive the other and we leave at 5 am monday, drive to Bowen for material and onto Shute Harbour and take the ferry across to Sth Molle. It was a long day in the lumbering old ,smelly, noisy trucks and just on dark as we drove onto the barge at Shute Harbour.
Full dark by the time we ferried the 15k to what was left of Sth Molle. ” Just follow my tracks and don’t stop ” was the advice when we reached the beach.
The only building still standing was the main bar area and the rain dripped into our beer through the ceiling that had no roof over.
Brother Phil and I were given the task of doing the finishing work on the ‘ luxury’ cabins right on the water front and as the wet season receded I remember the gentle waves caressing the shingle beach and the few remaining coconut palms regaining some shape, and I decided that one day I will come back to explore the Islands at my leisure.

Jim’s Add ..
I am now almost 60 and thinking of slowing down. Since those days in Townsville, a lifetime ago, I have been responsible for the building of more houses than I care to remember, and that spread over 2 states and 2 territories. About then I found a little add in the free Buderim local paper. “If you are interested in joining a paddling club, contact Jim Blyth at this number “. Hmm, maybe one day, so I tucked the add away for a few years and decided to build my own timber kayak while still working too much.

Kerry Richards ..
Somehow, I got to meet Kerry Richards at Natureline kayaks. I heard that he was a helpful and very skilled kayak builder and I needed advice and materials. We chatted and Kerry told me of his trips to Whitsunday Is and to Fraser Island and the Kepples and my memories of Sth Molle were refreshed and fantasies of paddling the others began, so I called Jim and began my SSRKC adventure. I didn’t expect my involvement with the club to last too long, just enough to learn the basics, I’d heard that all they do is ” wash in and out with the tide”.

Mentors ..
So I met you all and after trying to rescue Arnie on the Noosa bar I realised that I had much to learn! Fortunately, I got to paddle with two very experienced paddlers, men who knew how to enjoy coming and going through the surf. Martin Dale had done most of his paddling on the exposed NSW coast and Terry McGary is a Kiwi used to open water and they were keen for us to paddle those exotic destinations, but we had a problem – me !!. No way was I going out into those waves ( note..they still terrify me ).
Many Sundays, we three along with others on occasion, crossed the Noosa bar and paddled around the National Park, I was getting better and relaxing a little.

Failure ..
So to the memorable failure. We three had crossed the Maroochy bar, the waves up a bit but not too bad. I made it and we paddled up and around old woman island, but my ‘mates’ decided on a beach landing at Mudjimba just for my education. The surf must have been up as a few surfer types were gathered on the boardwalk ‘watching’.
“Just follow a wave in Dave and you will be OK.” A complete 360 somersault and a loud cheer from the watchers on the beach !!
I don’t remember how we got back to the cars at Maroochydore.

Success ..
A lovely winter morning and we crossed the Noosa bar and paddled around to ‘A’ bay. I recall that Sue and maybe Peter J were with us. A nice firm wave was rolling across Granite bay and of course all those good paddlers were riding them. I decided to have a go and caught my first long, controlled ride right across the bay, but I did not know how to turn off the wave and the rocks were approaching at a terrifying rate ! Well, I got off without tipping in and the memory of that ride still brings a smile to my face.

So, my skills had improved a little and a good bond had developed between the three of us, but did we get to paddle the Whitsunday Islands at our leisure ?
You have time so go to the club web site and turn to ‘Reports’ 2010 and read the first reports of non club activities ‘ Three men and their kayaks ‘ and ‘ A dingo stole my PFD ‘.

Hi to all , we will paddle together one day.


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