What an incredible way begin the new year. Eight days spent on the Franklin River in the pristine South West of Tasmania, more perfect than I could have imagined. A superb group of people, making our way down the river overcoming every challenge as it comes. Life is simple, there is only one way to go, downstream.
River journeys like this are a perfect example of the old adage- its not about the destination, its about the journey. Whether running the perfect line down a rapid, sitting on a rock with a group of friends on new years eve, hauling a raft up impossible cliff line tracks with mates or paddling a long flat pool through the wind and rain. It is all why I came, it is all absolutely stunning. No part would be complete without the other. The incredible scenery or astounding quite of the wilderness would not be nearly as amazing without the hard yards put in to earn them. It is what it is, in my opinion a most spectacular journey.
For me paddling is about the people it brings into my life. The opportunities it presents by way of physical and metal challenge; once on the river there are things that we simply have to deal with, there is no other way out. These challenges provide a platform on which it is easy to build a unique kind of trust and appreciation for those around you. There is something inexplicably special about river journeys, in my life at least; a calm, peaceful, happy appreciation of simply everything as it is.
Enormous thanks to everyone I had the pleasure of sharing this journey with. Special thanks to Trevor and Megs of the Stormbreaker Yacht, Strahan for their support of my journey this year. I highly recommend a trip on the Yacht up to Sir John Falls on vessel that has almost as much character as its captain.
Tasmania is not the only place in the world where long-term, careful argument has been defeated by short-term economic advantage. When we look round, the time is rapidly approaching when natural environment, natural unspoiled vistas are sadly beginning to look like left-overs from a vanishing world. This vanishing world is beautiful beyond our dreams and contains in itself rewards and gratifications never found in artificial landscape, or man-made objects, so often regarded as exciting evidence of a new world in the making.
The natural world contains an unbelievable diversity, and offers a variety of choices, provided of course that we retain some of this world and that we live in the manner that permits us to go out, seek it, find it, and make these choices. We must try to retain as much as possible of what still remains of the unique, rare and beautiful. It is terribly important that we take interest in the future of our remaining wilderness, and in the future of our National Parks. Is there any reason why, given this interest, and given enlightened leadership, the ideal of beauty could not become an accepted goal of national policy? Is there any reason why Tasmania should not be more beautiful on the day we leave it, than on the day we came? We don’t know what the requirements of those who come after us will be. Tasmania is slowly evolving towards goals we cannot no%y see. If we can revise our attitudes towards the land under our feet; if we can accept a role of steward and depart from the role of conqueror; if we can accept the view that man and nature are inseparable parts of the unified whole-then Tasmania can be a shining beacon in a dull, uniform and largely artificial world.
(quoted from Max Angus The world of Olegas Truchanas Hobart: Olegas Truchanas Publication Committee, 1975, p. 51)
Questions of progress and development are extremely difficult to answer, with no clear cut solution. What was happening in Tasmania 30-40 years ago, is now happening in many other places around the world. My intention for 2014 is to learn as much as I can about these issues and help to represent what is often overlooked or undervalued. While solutions are not clear cut, or easy to assess, I believe the process to arrive at such an important outcome should be transparent, unbiased and take into account all available information.
Its going to be an interesting year, that is for sure. Here’s to a new adventure.