Hayley Talbot of Wooloweyah has just completed her epic solo journey by kayak from the headwaters of the Clarence River at Rivertree to Whiting Beach Yamba.
Hayley’s origami kayak was made out of corflute (like real estate signs), which could fold into a backpack and was light enough for her to drag behind her during several stages of her journey.
Hayley said that the journey took two weeks to complete, after two years of preparation.
“I lived totally off the river and the land, from what I could forage and from what was kindly shared with me, by farmers and campers along the way,” Hayley said.
“The hardest thing was the physical preparation and my civilised fears of snakes, dingos etcetera. There was also a lot of mental preparation and then having the guts to go through with it.”
Hayley said that she managed to endure the journey by ‘going into survival mode’.
“Parts of the river were like a jungle and I had to pull my kayak through the heavy foliage that was growing over it. The upper gorge is a mysterious place. You have to listen to the water and how it sounds. You can’t anticipate the danger that lies ahead,” she said.
There have been several tragedies that have taken place over the years in the gorge country.
Hayley said her adventure was driven by her children and wanting them to have a love of the outdoors and she felt the need to lead by example.
“You can’t just tell them to chase their dreams, you have to show them. This was the most life changing experience; and the river was under my nose all along.”
Hayley’s journey is being produced into a documentary and she has plans to share her story with others.
Her dream is to be able to speak to students at schools and write about her experience.
“I always wanted to write a book and now I have a story.”