Monday, May 08, 2017

Snowy River

One of the classic white water runs in Australia is the Snowy river and this summer I had the opportunity to lead a group of kids down it on a multi day paddling expedition. Having never paddled the run before I joined Josh and Rick to do a quick recci run before the trip and we blasted down the 50km 4 day trip in just 8 hours. It was amazing we paddled hard and pushed on through the flats and then had fun on the rapids. It was supposed to be an overnight trip so we had loaded boats but we were on a roll and having too much fun so we just kept going and got it done.

Setting off its awesome being back on a real river

Loving my custom blue JK Karma
Fresh spring water drinks bottle refill stop

The drive in and out is a little sketchy

The Snowy is an amazing river on the boarder of New South Wales and Victoria. The section we ran started at McKillops bridge and we paddled all the way out to Buchan. Set deep in the Australian wilderness it was an amazing opportunity for these kids to be able to experience such a beautiful part of Australia and in such a unique way. There are very few roads down to the river in this area and they are all 4wd tracks and the only way to experience this section is on some sort of paddle craft.

No roads for miles. Deep in the gorge
Stunning Aussies views

Finding a beach big enough to camp overnight

The river is perfect slowly progressing from easy class 2 all the way up to the gorge section where is picks up to class3/4 with one big 4+. Cutting through a class 4 gorge half way down the run adds a unique component to this trip as its is very committing. Portaging the rapids in the gorge is very tough. The kids paddled all but the biggest two. Myself and Morgan each lead a trip and joined forces to take the groups through the gorge section. The first of the big rapids we portaged up and down and took it in turns to jump in and paddle all the boats through. The final and biggest rapid we worked with the kids to portage the boats before seal launching them back in.

Dropping into one of the bigger rapids
Kids having fun running one of the drops
Styling it in there own way
Fun Fun Fun

The kids paddled inflatables, two persons duckies, loaded with all their clothes, tents and food. We ran safety from our Jackson Karmas also loaded with all our stuff. Our 4 day 3 night adventure took us all on a journey of self discovery as well as true adventure. The kids learnt loads about themselves, each other and river life. Each night we would find somewhere to camp, set up base and cook up some food. Hitting bed early in order to be able to get up and get moving in order to get the river miles done.

Boats fully loaded
Portaging fully loaded boats is as big a challenge

Swimming is a refreshing break from the heat

By the final day everyone has the hang of things

Setting safety on one of the smaller drops

The Snowy is a phenomenal paddling experience and I would highly recommend this stretch to any class 3/4 boaters looking for a multi day expedition trip. Make sure you read up about the Gorge before committing yourself to this run and be knowledgeable and experienced advanced white water rescue skills and carry a Sat Phone as this is a very remote run.

Josh boofing his way through the last rapid

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Mr & Mrs Blanchard

That's right on Wednesday 22nd February 2017 almost one year to the day after we eloped on White Haven Beach we officially signed the papers and became Mr & Mrs Blanchard.

Surrounded by our family and many of our closest friends we gathered in Palm Beach to have our official ceremony and a small reception celebration at the Boat House. We stayed at the stunning Barrenjoey Beach House right on the Pitt Water Peninsula in a amazing waterfront villa. Thanks to my awesome mum.

It had always been my dream since Jez proposed, to marry somewhere amazing with a beach, bright sunshine and pristine sand. The ultimate dream to surf all morning with friends and then have a quick change and walk to our wedding and that is exactly what we did.

Everyone gathered at the Beach House early and had the chance to meet one another and chat before the event. My bridesmaids Den and Bruno helped me changed and get ready in my dress and Best Men Tay Tay and Mark helped kit up Jez.

Everyone else gathered and enjoyed a few snacks and drinks as we got set and then as I arrived we started the celebrations with us for a quick toast, before starting the short walk along the beach to the Boat House.

As Jez and I walked ahead with Den helping hold up my dress. Bridesmaid (number three) :) Dave 'Scout' Wortley ran around like crazy capturing every moment as you can see from these incredible shots. Everyone else followed behind. It was a sight to behold and was perfect.

We arrived to the Boat House to a champagne greeting (and lemon lime and bitters for Jez). The Sydney Ensemble trio playing live music on the deck, a last minute surprise ridiculously awesome addition by Jez. Our dress code beach wedding with compulsory white shorts, white shirts (no ties) for the lads set the tone for the night. Classy, smart and relaxed. Comfortable and fun. It was perfect.

We met Rebecca celebrant and ran through the last minute details. Then my Dad took my hand and led me down the aisle. It was insane, so so perfect. My mum, Jez's dad and all our friends and family who had been able to make the journey to join us all looked on. Looking beautiful, beaming with massive smiles, celebrating and sharing the moment with us in this amazing place.

My Dad led me to the front and there was Jez. He looked stunning. No words can describe how incredible he looked. Dad shook his hand and handed me over and then Bec led the most amazing ceremony for us. Capturing everything special about our relationship, journey and life together so perfectly. The sun shone bright and everyone listened carefully as she read out.

Then the time came, in front of everyone in this amazing place in the beautiful bright sun with water lapping on the beach all around us, we read our vows and officially took our first kiss as Claire & Jez, Mr & Mrs Blanchard.

Everyone cheered and we both beamed with massive grins as we moved to the official signing table joined by our witnesses Matt & Dani Taylor and signed our official marriage certificate.

Then the celebrations really began with champagne flowing, loads of kisses and hugs, live music and a photo shoot on the beach as the sun began to set the whole sky came alight.


After the photos we moved back to the Boat House to celebrate.

Then we sat down for an amazing Boat House feast, but before we ate my Dad, Anna Bruno and Tay Tay each took it in turn to read a speech. Matt mc'd the night, opening the evening with a lovely intro and then my Dad smashed it. His speech was perfect. I couldn't thank him more for the amazing words or support, happiness and love. He made us all laugh, smile and cry it was perfect. Then Tay Tay and Anna nailed it. We all learnt alot about Jez (and me) that night. It was perfect. I know I keep saying it but it was perfect and I guess that what every wedding should be. A perfect celebration which you will never forget. That's what this night was for me.

After the speeches the food came out and we all chatted and enjoyed the food. In the background we had the amazing Willem Sherlock Roorda (Blue Mountains Jazz and Blues specialist musician) set the tone for the night.

Before we had finished eating, with Willem's music so good. Jez's Dad Terry and Den were already up and dancing leading a mid meal dance session at the end of the dinner table.

But it didn't last long as we still had desert and the cake to come. The cake.... So true to our style we didn't just have one cake. We had two very very special wedding cakes. The first Jez's mum homemade fruit cake. Jez's mum Maree sadly passed away two years ago and couldn't be with us to celebrate. Luckily Jez's brother Anton and wife Melissa made sure Maree's presence was felt. Making her special recipe fruit cake as our offical wedding cake. Surprising us both by decorating it with a beautiful flower and silhouettes of Me and Jez in action, me kayaking and Jez paragliding. Such a special part of the night. It looked so great.

Our second cake well this one was special but in a very different way. To celebrate our engagement our great friends Sooty & Lindz had made an epic chocolate cake. Unfortunately they couldn't be with us for the wedding but there cake inspiration could. Matt & Dani stepped up for the challenge and made a epic chocolate cake with a blue 'M n M's' waterfall with Kayak Joes (Blue for me, Red for Jez) kayaking off the top.

Jez had no idea what the wedding cakes would be and was in a state of shock and awe as he saw them both a truely special moment in the night.

Cake done it was time to dance. I switched to my dancing shoes, Willem turned the up the volume and everyone gathered round to watch. Now not many people know but Jez's mum was a professional Dancer and Jez, well Jez can Dance. Like Jez can really dance. So in front of everyone we took to the dance floor and with Willem playing 'Sweet Disposition' by Temper Trap' live off the deck we danced our 'first dance' together. With everyone watching, mostly in shock!

Then everyone joined us and we danced the night away and as the water continued to lap up against the beach and the stars shone on.

As the night came to an end we strolled back to the beach house along the beach.

Everyone was so happy it was such an amazing night. We did it our way and we loved every minute. We wouldn't have changed a thing about the night. One year ago we eloped which was absolutely perfect and then a year later with many of our closest friends and family we officially started our married life on a stunning beach in Australia. It was a truly perfect start to our married life.

Thank you to everyone who came and shared this wonderful evening with us. The full collection of amazing photos from the night can be found here. Thank you so much Dave 'Scout' Wortley and Ben Sanford for the amazing photos.