Budgewoi team completes 1000km kayak challenge

A three-person team has completed an epic 1000 km paddle down the Murray River in just 17 days for San Remo’s Camp Breakaway.

Budgewoi resident Brian, or ‘Dorf’, revealed on Sunday (6 March) that the team, comprising himself and husband and wife Dan and Kathy Smith, had paddled the last few kilometers to the finish line.

As they nudged the kayak to the final boat ramp, they proudly announced they had raised almost $2,000 for the charity.

The trip was a mighty effort.

Dan and Dorf powered down the river in a two-person kayak, while Kathy traveled parallel to them in a van filled with camping equipment, supplies and a map.

“It’s a three-person effort. We couldn’t have done it otherwise,” explained Dorf.

“Dan and I paddled, while Kathy was there organising everything for us.

“She planned the day, charted our progress, kept an eye on safety issues and found food for us – that’s not always easy when you are miles from anything,” he said.

Kathy and Dan, who are both enjoying their sixth decade, are no strangers to kayaking.

“They were looking for some muscle and support to complete the trip and, because we all have Camp Breakaway in common, we thought it would be good to turn it into a fundraiser.

“I don’t think I had paddled more than 25 meters in my life.

“We averaged 50 kilometers per day,” he said.

Dorf says they have enjoyed some magical moments.

“We saw a Brown Snake cross in front of us and a Wedge-tailed Eagle above us.

“We skirted along huge 60 or 70 metre cliffs that kept going and going.

“It was spectacular.”

The team spent Sunday rest the final kilometers before taking a well-earned.

“We are sore, chaffed, blistered, burnt, wind-beaten, waterlogged and tired, and somehow we still feel terrific,” said Dorf.

Dorf, who is undertaking a Certificate III in Support Work, has raised funds for Camp Breakaway before, having walked from Budgewoi to Brisbane, and later swimming from Budgewoi to Bondi.

Camp Breakaway is a non-profit organization located on 25 hectares of land at San Remo that provides, among many other things, respite care for people with disabilities and their carers.

Like many charities, its ability to continue to work effectively was hindered by the bushfires, floods and COVID and it is only now re-establishing a full program of activities and events.

“Programs are now underway for seniors, adults and children with disabilities, people with high medical needs, and for children who care for their parents and siblings.

“We’re currently putting something together for children aged eight to 17, who provide care for their parents.

“Many of these kids can’t take part in after school or weekend activities such as sport, or music lessons because they are busy caring for a parent, or a sibling,” said Walker.

Walker explained that Camp Breakaway is also interested in building social justice, inclusiveness, and achieving long-term social impacts, such as building friendship and support networks.

Thirty per cent of its funding comes via the NDIS, while the remainder is filled by support from local businesses and philanthropy.

Nicola Riches

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