Thursday, June 6, 2013

Slow Travel, Take a Paddle

canoing at shortland wetlands
Ripples on the surface of the water, rustling in the reeds, the cry of a bird or the way the trees sway ever so slightly in the breeze. Slow travel lets us notice the little things in our environment. It was my birthday recently so my partner and I took the day off and visited Shortland Wetlands on the fringe of Newcastle. It is a sprawling site of various habitats, a series of ponds home to a variety of birds including native geese, a rainforest, and a bush tucker garden, framed by a few kilometers of canoe trails. So naturally we decided to travel by water.

After our safety induction in the canoe shed we were handed our PFC (Personal Flotation Device) and in case we were inundated with water, reassuringly a handy baler (half a plastic juice container). Launch was a push off down the bank and away we went.

reeds with seed heads on the canoe trail

Paddling is a glorious pace. Nothing gets missed. We ducked under mangroves of a size I've never seen before, scuttled through tight spots where the trees over arch the creek from both sides, nearly touching in the middle. Then we hit the straight for a kilometer of cruising. Sitting almost level with the water I found myself moving with the gentle current, almost imperceptible, pushing us along (or was that my partner studiously paddling at the rear?).

water bird in tree

tall water trees

 Large birds appeared and then evaporated into the landscape. We were not intruders zooming by, but apart of the pace of the water way. Soft, slow, quiet. Our only reminders of our mechanised world existed in the industrial rumble that came from beyond the horizon. 

bird of prey on the canoe trail

tree horizon

Visit Hunter Wetlands or find your nearest canoe trail.

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