Tasmanian Canoe Club Looking Young After 50 Years

Photo credit: Tasmanian Canoe Club

Tasmanian Canoe Club celebrates 50 years with a weekend of paddling, including a “retro river trip”. Read a report of the weekend from the club below.

The Tasmanian Canoe Club didn’t show its age when it celebrated its 50th birthday with a “Back to Forth” gathering in late February. There was plenty of paddling for all ages, from 3-70 years. Over 100 guests, including past and present members, relived past exploits with stories getting more legendary as the time progressed.

A day of paddling was followed by a BBQ and live music on Saturday. Past national representatives Andrew Maynard and Stewart Bennett returned to their kayaking roots with their young families in tow. Life Memberships were bestowed upon current club stalwarts Bruce Cameron, Phil Tregurtha and Gail Pearce.

The club’s success has been due to support from Hydro Tasmania and the involvement of the paddling community statewide. Paddle Tasmania president, John Borojević, addressed the crowd with his recollections of being a youngster in a newly developing club in the 1970s. It was apparent that members were quick to seize opportunities by copying newly made kayaks.

Past club Commodores Jude Cole and Jamie Piercey caught up with Life Members Martin Shipp, John Bonney, and the club’s first member, Don Beaton, speaking fondly of good times.

Photo credit: Tasmanian Canoe Club

The Tasmanian Community Fund representative, Toni Ashlin, was thanked for the Fund’s help in restoration following the 2016 floods and recent funding for the Safer Paddling Program. Club members were thanked for their many hours of repair work volunteering, and special appreciation was given to Trevor Kelly for his expertise in spatial geometry.

Many members brought along memorabilia from their time in the club to share the history of the state’s oldest canoe club. Sunday kicked off with a “retro river trip” and history was relived with home made fibreglass kayaks, woolly jumpers and very heavy paddles sharing the river with modern plastic, Kevlar kayaks and carbon paddles. Young families rafted the journey.

Photo credit: Tasmanian Canoe Club

If enjoyment is a measurement of success, the weekend was a hit, with many suggesting it become an annual event on the state’s paddling calendar. It was excellent to see some of the club’s earliest members still enjoying kayaking in the later years: Tim Jolly with his brown Olymph, Paul Shipp with his 40 year old lifejacket and plastic helmet, and Stuart Clayton with his wooden paddle.

In the words of current national wildwater canoeing representative, Tom Mountney, “It’s all good clean fun!”