Last Sunday an intrepid crew of twenty Swan Canoe Club paddlers set off into the wild wetlands of the Serpentine River for a lazy twenty-kilometre paddle downstream.
Things didn’t start well for Tony when he snapped the rudder cable on his ski at Karnup Bridge. Recognising trouble, Geoff quietly led his crew of Rowan, Bernadette, and Karen into the Serpentine Drain, leaving Bob and Marty to sort out the problem. Karen was having fun identifying birds and bumping into kayaks, over the next five kilometres as we weaved our way through clumps of reeds and shallow water. The VHF radio came in useful to call ‘Delta’ aka Marty, “Badger’ aka Rowan, ‘Osprey’ aka Bob and ‘Petal’ aka Rose to check that they were still alive behind us. The crew finally all caught up at Kerulup Pool, where we portaged the floating boom net that was being used to control Water Hyacinth and soon after that we came to the portage at the top of Lake Amarillo.
An exploratory trip the previous Wednesday, by Geoff and Marty, had resulted in an hour or so of wading and dragging kayaks for two kilometres while trying to find the way into the open water of Lake Amarillo. After avoiding tiger snakes and with some swearing, we escaped the ‘Swamps of Despair,’ aka ‘The Everglades’ armed with the knowledge of the correct route. On Sunday the portage and paddle to the lake was muddy and wet but uneventful, apart from Rowan trying to get lost. Graeme, Grace, and Karen were impressed with all the bird life and enjoyed making up bird names as if they were real ‘twitchers.’
Marty led us through the Ox-Bow short-cuts, under the farm bridge and so to our island lunch spot, about eleven kilometres from the start. We were all keeping an eye on Tony, who was still having control issues with his damaged ski and looked very pleased to stop for lunch. Having refuelled our bodies and answered the call of nature, we headed off south past Guanarnup Pool where Bec and I set up a V-tow to help Tony maintain direction. Mike led us on a scenic route through the reeds, but the WNW wind kept us cool, and soon Rowan and Marty took over the towlines and led us through Yalbanberup Pool and eventually to the finish at Woodland Pde about 4.00pm, making it a six-hour paddle.
It was great to have Marty, Colin, Bec and Bob to help guide the group and criticise my navigation. Thanks to the rest of the crew too, Tony, Katherine, Pete, Marion, Graeme, Grace, Trish, Rose, Steve, Phyll, Mike, Rowan, Bernadette, Trevor, and Karen who all helped make it a great day out. Possibly Tony and Katherine might not agree it was such a great day, as to add to Tony’s woes he had car key problems and they had a cold hour waiting for the R.A.C to arrive and break into the vehicle! We’re glad you both made it back o.k. and that Tony will be still able to give us Yoga lessons when he recovers. Hopefully we’ll do the trip again, maybe when I’ve recovered.
Geoff Emery – Instructor