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Reflections of community resilience, while learning to kayak

It was an early morning start, as first responder families took on the challenge of a kayaking tour along the beautiful Towamba River.

This is a region heavily affected by the Black Summer fires, as well as the floods that followed. The group listened to the tour operator’s insights to how these extreme weather events have impacted the local ecosystem – all with a backdrop of burnt trees, regrowth and silt on the shore.

With this cue, participants reflected on their experiences of the fires. They discussed evacuations, anxiety and fear, as well as mateship, community and courage.

As the participants came to a shallow pass, something big splashed in the water: a stingray. The tour operators noted that it was a good sign that they were returning to the river. Chat turned to the resilience of the ecosystem, particularly the regeneration, and also one particular ridge where the fire burned so intensely that there isn’t any regrowth at all.

Some of the participants bonded over a shared enthusiasm for birds and fishing.

Strong gusts of wind on the return journey tested everyone’s core strength and paddling technique – as well as their crash etiquette.

Yes, crash etiquette! As it turns out, instead of trying to avoid a collision while kayaking, it’s best to let the crash happen, and then the person with their nose out in front goes first.