Disability support volunteers took to the waters to raise funds and conquer the Murray

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Few can say they’ve kayaked the entire Murray River, but for NSW Central Coast’s Dan Smith, it will soon be a reality.

The disability support volunteer nears the end of his trip down the river in a trusty kayak, which he is doing to raise money for the disability support charity Camp Breakaway.

Mr Smith, along with his friend Bryan Dorfling, jumped north from Mildura earlier in February and won’t stop until he reaches Lake Alexandrina in early March.

His wife, Kathy, is also paddling as the couple’s support team for the three-week trip.

This is the third and final leg of the 2,500 kilometer Murray River for Mr Smith, who has made two previous trips along the eastern parts of the system.

“What hurts the most is your back from sitting in the kayak,” he said.

“You appreciate the Murray and water issues, the extent of agriculture in the district, and the beautiful natural areas.”

Bryan Dorfling (left), Kathy Smith (middle) and Dan Smith are all volunteers at Camp Breakaway.(ABC Riverland: Sam Bradbrook)

Kayakers paddling for a cause

The three are all volunteers at Camp Breakaway, an activity and getaway center for people with disabilities and their families.

The organization has been around for over 40 years and offers a range of different programs aimed at children and adults.

A man and a woman wearing pink shirts sit next to a kayak in front of a river.
Kathy and Dan Smith have never kayaked the southern region of the Murray River. (ABC Riverland: Sam Bradbrook)

Ms Smith said the group wanted to raise money and support an organization that had changed their lives.

“The camps are totally managed [by] volunteers, but even with volunteers, it costs about $3,500 per family to come to weekend camp,” she said.

One shot at a time

On Monday morning, the team stopped at Cadell, near Morgan, ready for what they estimate to be the final seven days of their journey.

Mr. Dorfling met the Smiths at Camp Breakaway and soon after agreed to join them in helping Mr. Smith complete his final leg of the Murray.

He said the natural landscape of the area got him hooked.

“This is my first time down the Murray so the beautiful red cliffs, wedge tailed eagles – we saw carp and kites – and just hanging out with beautiful people have all been highlights. highlights,” he said.

A man wearing a pink shirt holds a kayak paddle in front of a river.
Mr Dorfling says he wants to raise money for an organization that has “changed his life”. (ABC Riverland: Sam Bradbrook)

“My watch is set to beep every 500 yards, and when it beeps I do a bit of mindfulness practice and try to be as present as possible and think about each shot one at a time. .”

Mr Smith said traveling the river “naturally” gave a new perspective to the area.

“The river really is life in this part of the country, and it’s just wonderful to feel that as you go down the river,” he said.

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