Gecko Canoe

After just minutes on the water, I realise I may finally have found the ultimate escape from the workaday world. Imagine the sheer bliss of finding yourself in a place where there’s no mobile reception and no possibility of constant email. What’s more, there’s no dress code beyond sun sensible, no responsibility apart from doing what your guide tells you, no pressure to paddle any faster than the river’s current will carry you and no stress except for the adrenaline rush as you navigate the occasional passage of fast flowing water.

Gecko Canoe Gecko Canoe

Such are the joys of an expedition on the Northern Territory’s Katherine River with Gecko Canoeing and Trekking. The inspiration of former RAAF instrument fitter turned fitness instructor Mick Gerram and his partner, outdoor instructor Jenn Child, the company offers kayaking, bushwalking and four-wheel-drive adventures in the Territory and Kimberley region of WA. By nine on an early June morning our kayaking group of five has been transported to the launch site where we’re given a short lesson in paddling and manoeuvring a kayak, a safety briefing and fitted with helmets (which we wear occasionally when Mick deems necessary) and life jackets (which we wear all the time).

Gecko Canoe

We’re a motley crew ranging in age from thirty-something to early sixties, with two probably qualifying as moderately fit and the rest of us, up for a bush walk but not a bivouac. Gecko’s publicity material says no previous paddling experience is necessary and while that is strictly true, a bit of outdoor experience will go a long way towards providing realistic expectations for what amounts a trip into the wilderness in which you carry all own equipment.

Gecko Canoe Gecko Canoe

Well, actually, make that our guide carries most of the equipment. We’re given two waterproof bags each, the larger one for essentials of clothing and toiletries and a small one for cameras, sunscreen, water bottles and other personal equipment we might need during the day. There’s also a swag and a collapsible chair stashed in the front of each kayak, but the rest, which includes dining tables and sleeping equipment, a full camp kitchen, plates, cutlery, mugs, the kitchen sink and fresh food for some memorable meals somehow manages to fit into Mick’s larger Canadian-style canoe.

Gecko Canoe

Briefed and packed, we’re as ready as we’ll ever be for the river, and wave the ground crew off with a mixture of excitement and apprehension. First shock of the trip should have been bleeding obvious – no matter how carefully you get in and out of your vessel, kayaking means you’ll have a wet backside most of the time. Next surprise is that the river is actually quite fast flowing and, at this early stage in the season not long after the river has been flooded, even offers some baby-grade rapids. Perhaps this is not the moment to confess that I regard the ferris wheel as an adventure pursuit.

Gecko Canoe Gecko Canoe

Still, if I want to go ahead I’m obviously going to have to get over my fear of fast flowing water. And fast, as we encounter the first challenging stretch pretty soon after setting out. We go through one at a time, with Mick leading and calling instructions from the other side. We valiantly try to set our kayaks straight into the rapid, paddle backwards and forwards as instructed and lean on to, rather than away from, the exposed rocks we encounter along the way. Amazingly, no one ends up in the drink. As Mick pragmatically points out, that’s the worst that can happen.

Gecko Canoe

The final couple of hours go too quickly and pretty soon we can see Jenn and the pickup vehicle waiting for us on the bank at the designated spot. Like the expedition package, the transfer back to Katherine is smooth and seamless. In fact, the only criticism of the whole experience is that nobody warned us that two days is simply not enough. Next time – and we’re planning it already – we’ll be booking the six-day combined Katherine, Flora and Daly Rivers experience.

For more information on Gecko Canoeing & Trekking, visit http://www.geckocanoeing.com.au.

Words Kirsty McKenzie
Photography Ken Brass

 

More Like This

Light and airy contemporary living space in Victoria's picturesque Hepburn Springs.

A New Stage: Aussie actor transformed a cabin in Victoria

Aussie actor transformed a cabin in Victoria Hepburn Springs, Hannah Fredericksen is not normally one to sit still. She chases her […]

Douglas Blain

The Extraordinary Journey of Douglas Blain: Preserving the Past with Passion

Douglas Blain’s remarkable life has been devoted to rescuing old buildings and turning them into boutique hotels.

Outback Aussie Tours

Exploring Queensland’s Heartland with Outback Aussie Tours

Alan and Sue Smith, owners of Outback Aussie Tours have been showing Australian Country around the paddocks of Rosebank station.

Montville Mist Springwater

The Collins’ Montville Mist Springwater Success

Alli and Peter Collins juggle raising a family and running, Montville Mist Springwater from their home in Queensland’s Sunshine Coast.

Paper Pocket Australiana

Our Top 10 Favourite Calendars and Diaries to Kick Start Your 2024

Discover Australia’s favourite range of 2024 Calendars and Diaries from Paper Pocket. Keep track of your year, organise your appointments, plan your […]

Tweed Valley Tourism

Tweed Valley Tourism Guide

A picturesque setting and smorgasbord of local food and drinks makes new south wales’ tweed valley tourism spot a treat for the senses.

Northern Tasmania

A Trip Exploring Northern Tasmania

A trip across Northern Tasmania provides plenty of opportunities to sample fine hospitality and produce and see spectacular natural scenery.

Travel Experience in Italy

Travel Experience in Italy with Lisa Clifford

Australian author Lisa Clifford shares her travel experience in Italy and her adopted hometown of Florence through her residency program.

Follow Us on Instagram