FRESH PERSPECTIVE: Try your hand at kayaking at Varsity Lakes Paddlers Club on Friday, August 24, as this group did last year.
FRESH PERSPECTIVE: Try your hand at kayaking at Varsity Lakes Paddlers Club on Friday, August 24, as this group did last year.

Grab a paddle and see the world anew

TODAY'S over-50s are more active and healthy than ever, and are looking for new interests and activities to keep them happy and well - like kayaking.

That's according to Queensland Canoeing's Steven Rowland, who is organising the third annual Active Seniors Kayak Explore session at the Varsity Lakes Paddlers Club on Lake Orr on Friday, August 24.

Across two hours, it gives over-50s a chance to learn about the sport, try their hand at paddling and enjoy exploring the local waterways.

"One of the benefits of paddling is it's not as stressful on your body as running or contact sports but it is still good exercise and gets you into nature to see what's out there," Steven said.

"When you're out on the river with trees and mangroves going by on the banks, and you're moving slowly, you get a lot more time to look around and really see things."

For just $5 per person, everything you need is provided, including kayaks, paddles, lifejackets, and instruction, as well as a full safety briefing.

All you have to do, whether you come as a single or a couple, is dress appropriately - old joggers or other enclosed footwear that can get wet (no bare feet or thongs), shorts and layered tops (perhaps a couple of rashies), sunnies, sunhat and sunscreen.

"The beauty of these days is we use double kayaks, so with two people per boat, you're only doing half the work, so you just have to have a reasonable fitness - we're not going to paddle a marathon or do a 100m sprint," Steven said.

There are far more people paddling these days than 20 years ago, and "phenomenally more" than 40-50 years ago, as the craft have become more affordable, light and accessible.

Steven said exercise was one attraction of the sport, but equally important was being able to escape reality and get away from it all.

"For most people, everything we do is based on motorisation and getting there fast, but paddling, even when you are with a group, you could almost use the word solitude because you are getting out, often into remote areas and seeing wildlife and nature."

Tranquil words from a man who has paddled for about 40 years, knows the exhilaration of competing in whitewater slalom for 10 years, ran his own kayak-based tourism business in North Queensland and has been on paddling expeditions to the Himalayas and South America.

He reckons that having tried it once, you'll be back; perhaps signing up with the local club, which currently has 105 members aged from 12 to 70.

They train each Saturday morning, including help for beginners, those wanting to compete, or just enjoy time on the water.

There are only 14 places available for the session starting 8am on August 24, and bookings close on August 21, so phone now to find out more on (07) 3899 1667 or email qc.education@canoe.org.au.

To learn more about the Varsity Lakes club, phone president Ian Frost on 0414 785 080 or go to www.varsitylakespaddlers.canoe.org.au.


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