I’m lucky enough to be partnered up with the most talented person I’ve ever met, a Miss Emily Green. Counting songwriting as one of her many powers she has a way with words that creates an envy within me to match her surname. A Christmas newsletter to those who follow her musical carousel summed up my recent expedition far better than I could myself, so I thought I’d share it with you.
It’s not easy being away from the person you love for nigh on three months, Em’s support always gives me a solid base for these shindigs, and her music spent quite a bit of time in my logholes, too. Rough rivers are much easier to deal with with fine music at hand! Please visit Em’s site and listen to her latest tracks at www.myspace.com/emilyjoygreen, and do enjoy her Christmas message. I daresay you might switch on MTV next year and see her face, so start listening before the masses!
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My partner, Dave Cornthwaite, has the best answer to that dreaded question strangers throw you at parties and awkward family functions. “So tell me…what is it you do?” His reply? “I’m an adventurer.”
Aside from a few years in Uganda in East Africa working with a charity to teach at schools and run a hostel, Dave started out on the safe and clear path. Studying led to a cushy, well paid web design job, a house, 9-5 normality. But inevitably his feet got itchy and in 2005 he made the sudden decision to quit his job and push a longboard (long skateboard for those who are green like me) across Australia. He skated from Perth to Brisbane, smashed world records, published a book, and raised an enormous amount for 3 charities he supports. Now in 2009, Dave has just completed another journey; kayaking Australia’s longest river, the Murray, from source to sea. Paddling in aid of the AV Foundation with a view to building solar powered water pumps across East Africa, Dave is also writing a book about his solo journey that will nicely accompany the documentary to follow. This is the first of three water journeys he has planned out for himself. Check out http://www.thegreatbigpaddle.com
to find out more!
Last week; myself and my brother and sister (Ben and Lucy) flew to Adelaide to spend the last week with Dave as he paddled the home stretch into the Murray Mouth. We had quite an intense week of motoring behind him in a support boat alongside the “Dodds family”. Peter, Gemma and Carly Dodds had met Dave randomly on his long hike to the source, and managed to send me an email relaying a message Dave had given them on a bit of paper to let me know he was ok . Angels! So taken with his journey and the man behind it, the Dodds decided they too wanted to give him that extra cheer as he came through to the finish and were an enormous help.
After so long being apart; seeing Dave again for the first time was a surprisingly intense moment. Long distance we have done before, but this seemed so much harder. Perhaps it was the potential danger of a solo journey like this. Or the fact that he was in my home country while I worked in London, barely sleeping worrying about Dave’s whereabouts. Added with a sprinkling of the usual pining a long distance period brings and it was quite the ordeal. Seeing him was like coming home.
Over the week, it was so incredible to finally see Dave paddling away in his bright yellow kayak ‘Nala’, doing what he was born to do, and of course meeting the many people that have got behind him throughout. In truth, people paddle this river every year, but few have managed to drum up as much support as Dave has; and not only support but life long friends. I can’t quite describe what it is exactly that magnetises people to Dave but I get the feeling that his zest for life has some thing to do with it. He’s not a jock or an adrenaline junky, he’s not cocky, he’s just an ordinary weedy ginger guy who loves life too much not to explore it and has the mental strength and stamina to put his body through hell and still have the energy and generosity of spirit to have coffee with that little old lady who wants to tell someone about her passion for the river she grew up playing in. He wasn’t paddling the thing to escape reality, or to prove his macho endurance, but to learn about the truth about all the issues surrounding the Murray and her ‘plight’. He didn’t go in with preconceptions. He came to learn. Perhaps that is why he received the respect and support of the locals along the river.
Dave finally paddled his last stretch into the Murray Mouth early afternoon on Saturday the 19th. Having been told he would have to walk the last leg because the river was dry and that the mouth would be closed off, Dave in fact sailed on through the open mouth on cool flowing water. Standing on the beach filled with pride but keeping a still hand on the high res camera I’d been assigned for the week, I saw a surprise welcoming present starting towards Dave and excitedly hit the record button. A cheeky seal (who I will name Bertie for the purposes of this blog and my own amusement) started gliding along the surface straight toward Dave’s kayak. I couldn’t believe it. A minute after we made a radio call to alert Dave, Bertie jumped straight out of the water right in front of him at just the right moment. The perfect welcome and an apt reward for a mammoth effort. (Almost as perfect as a massive mammoth waiting for him on the beach. I’d have called him Woolly.) Check out the incredible seal footage taken from the front of Dave’s kayak at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LgS_6ynwcXw
. Incidentally, the song backing this video is ‘Out Here’, the journey’s soundtrack I wrote and recorded at Dave’s bequest!
At the last moment, a strong wave practically carried Nala into the shore. Dave ran through our makeshift finish line, dragging Nala behind him, a triumphant man. A champagne bottle and some media pics later, we bundled him into the boat along with Nala and took him home. Back in Perth, Western Australia, with my family now, Dave is nursing some swollen fingers and a festering lip, but is enjoying much needed RnR time and a good ole Aussie christmas. Adorned in elf ears the poor man endured the Green tree decorating festivities last night, half asleep. Bless his freckle!
Wishing you all a very happy Christmas and a fruitful 2010! Gosh. 2010! Where does the time go?
So many thanks for your continued support.
Music video on it’s way I promise. Final stages of editing underway!
Don’t forget you can donate to the AV Foundation