LONG distance kayaker Alan Davison has a love Australia’s great rivers and has travelled the length and breadth of most of them, including every inch of the Murray and Darling rivers.

Other rivers navigated by Alan include the Murrumbidgee, Lachlan, Condamine and Culgoa rivers and has an interest in trying the other major, but remote rivers such as Cooper Creek, Warrego and Diamantina rivers.

Originally from New Zealand, these days the IT professional calls Ipswich in Queensland home when he’s not kayaking his way down a river somewhere in the remote wilderness.

Alan, who is 47, recently finished more than 4000 kms of paddling in journeys down the Lachlan, Barwon and Darling Rivers, including a rare opportunity to travel up and down the Great Darling Anabranch, eventually ending his journey in Wentworth.

Alan was able to store his kayak with a friendly Wentworth resident living alongside the Darling, while he caught a bus back to Brewarrina to pick up his car.

The ‘Weekly met up with Alan at Curlwaa as he was about to start the long drive back to Ipswich, and he spoke about his recent adventure and some of his other river journeys.

“I have kayaked down three rivers this summer,” Alan said.

“The first of those was the course of the Lachlan River from Cowra, NSW through the Great Cumbungi Swamp and onto the Murrumbidgee River down to Balranald, a distance of almost 1400 kms.

“I had intended doing the Anabranch straight away, but I decided to go home for a while and do the lawns!

“In February I headed back south and did the Darling and Anabranch together, departing from Brewarrina.

“All up, that was more than 2700 kms because I went up and back in the Anabranch which was about 510 kms one way from Lake Cawndilla.

“My biggest distance in a day was about 160 kms, which was possible with the assistance of a flood current and a couple of shortcuts across the floodplains, and it was a 14 hour day of paddling.”

Alan said that while there is a lot of water in the river systems at the moment, he didn’t have to negotiate many strong currents.

“Overall it wasn’t too bad,” he said.

“It was big and gentle like the Murray.

“I think the fastest current I experienced was about five kilometres an hour.”

Alan was asked how he manages his provisions and where he sleeps along the way, given he has no land-based support travelling with him and also what motivates him to undertake these long journeys.

“I carry a full-camping kit with food enough for 16 days on the boat,” he said.

“I’m not actually sure what motivates me anymore, it’s just become a hobby now.

“Initially it was the desire to travel the length and breadth of the Darling which my sister suggested in 2015 and the idea sort of stuck with me.

“There wasn’t any flow back then and so it had to wait.

“In 2019 where most of the Darling had run dry, I actually decided to do the Murray instead.

“I did, however, do the Darling after that and the Murrumbidgee.

“I’ve done the Murray, all the way from the source down to its mouth Goolwa in South Australia.

“The first part I did in a packraft until I got to the Bringenbrong Bridge near Corryong, where the water was deep enough to put the kayak in the water and then I paddled all the way to the ocean in that.”

Nestled up in Australia’s High Country, the Murray River starts out as a small stream, just 40 kilometres from Mt. Kosciuszko.

It’s here that the Murray River commences its 2756km long journey across the Australian continent, where it is joined by several other rivers including the Mitta Mitta, Ovens, Goulburn, Campaspe, Loddon, Murrumbidgee and the Darling River.

This great river twists and turns on its westward journey, until it meets the Southern Ocean, in Goolwa.

During the last two years, Alan has had to negotiate the Black Summer bushfires that affected his Murray River journey and the COVID border closures as well, something which created its challenges and delayed the completion of some of his kayaking adventures.

As for his next trip, Alan said that will depend on the “flow” in the river systems.

“It always depends on the flow,” he said.

“My ambition however is to do the ‘top five’ which would be Cooper Creek, starting on the Thomson River at Longreach, Queensland and to travel all the way down into South Australia finishing on Lake Eyre.

“That would be quite a serious expedition and I would probably want to have someone join me for that journey.”

Alan’s feats would seem worthy of being recorded in the Guinness Book of Records!

“I’m possibly the 10th person to do the Murray from the source to the mouth and the second that I know of to do the full-length of the Darling and I’m probably the only person to do both,” he said.

If people would like to read more about Alan’s kayaking expeditions they can visit his website: etaunknown.com (estimated time of arrival unknown!).