A Man In Snowy River

Patagonia team rider Zeb Walsh takes his training one step further on a one day paddle down the icy waters of the Snowy River.

He was hard and tough and wiry — just the sort that won’t say die

There was courage in his quick impatient tread; 

And he bore the badge of gameness in his bright and fiery eye, 

And the proud and lofty carriage of his head. 

Originating from the high mountain peak of Kosciuszko, and draining down through the Eastern Slopes, The Snowy River winds 352 KM before reaching the Bass Strait.

In far East Gippsland, an athletic physique approaches the shores, lead by an ambitious spirit and determination. His kind eyes intercept the flowing waters. This land is a part of Zeb’s birthright and what better way to connect with the river than to follow its flow. Setting out on a stand-up, paddling from Orbost, 20km downstream but into a nasty head wind all the way to Marlo.

The river’s course and surroundings have remained almost entirely unchanged as the majority of it is being protected by the Snowy River National Park. The rivers flow has been drastically reduced in the mid 20th century, to less than 1% after the construction of four large dams (Guthega, Island Bend, Eucumbene, and Jindabyne) and many smaller diversion structures in its headwaters in New South Wales, as part of the Snowy Mountains Scheme.

You see some funny shit when you paddle down a river like that. People up there don’t care about having the best stuff money can buy… The nature and nothingness really makes you think and puts life into perspective.

Every couple of kilometers there are these funny half-assed house boats that are no more than a pontoon with a caravan on it. The old fisherman love to hang out there. They make me giggle every time I paddle past one.

The Snowy isn’t a place everyone will get to in there life, but if you have the chance to get up, or down to that part of Australia, it is worth it… It’s very beautiful and everyone loves a beer and chat, but they look at you pretty funny when you paddle passed on a board that they have never herd of before.!”

And down by Kosciusko, where the pine-clad ridges raise 

Their torn and rugged battlements on high, 

Where the air is clear as crystal, and the white stars fairly blaze 

At midnight in the cold and frosty sky, 

And where around The Overflow the reed beds sweep and sway 

To the breezes, and the rolling plains are wide,

The man from Snowy River is a household word today, 

 And the stockmen tell the story of his ride.

Poem– The Man From Snowy River by Banjo Paterson

Facts– Wikipedia

Photo– Kaz

Follow Zeb through his blog– Paddle Diaries of Zeb Walsh

Background Photo: by Mike Tittel