Paddle around Australia

Sunday, 01 February 2009 05:28 | Written by 
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Ok, it's not surfski, but it is paddling and this story has definitely grabbed my imagination...  Freya Hoffmeister has started a 15,000km paddle - around Australia.  She hopes to be the first woman - and only the second person ever to do the trip.


14 days down, 351 to go

She started at Queenscliffe Beach, Melbourne on Sunday 18th January and has covered approximately 500km of her trip so far.  Paddling mostly into prevailing headwinds, she's been trying to start early each day before the wind gets up and has undertaken her first night paddle as well.



I met Freya in Hawaii in May last year where she'd arrived to take part in the Epic Molokai Challenge.  She did the 52km paddle in an Epic 18X sea kayak - the boat that she's using in Australia.

At the press conference before the race, she showed off some her gymnastic trickery on the kayak - rolling the boat and performing handstands...  She's an internationally recognized exponent of the art of Greenland style kayak rolling.  (Did you know there are 35 ways of rolling a kayak, Greenland style?  Well Freya can do - and teach others to do - "almost all of them".)

Freya has an interesting resume including:

  • Miss Germany contestant
  • Ten years of competitive gymnastics
  • Five years as a competitive body builder
  • Sky diver (1,500 jumps including one over the North Pole)
  • Expedition kayaker (circumnavigations of Iceland and South Island, New Zealand)
  • ... and ice cream shop owner (she owns two ice cream cafés and a Christmas market!)

New Zealand

On 2 January 2008 Freya completed a solo circumnavigation of South Island, New Zealand.  Only the third person ever to do the 1,700 mile trip alone, she beat the old record by a week, completing the final 100 miles in a single 32.5 hour push to the finish.


Only one person has ever completed the trip around Australia - that was Paul Caffyn in 1981/82.

"Paul had to contend with a tropical cyclone which nearly swept him off a small offshore islet in the Coral Sea, raging surf, tiger sharks which frequently bumped into the kayak in the Gulf of Carpentaria, crocodiles, sea snakes and three sections of sheer limestone cliffs. To overcome the three 100+mile plus long sections of cliffs, Paul used Nodoz tablets to stay awake and lomotil to keep his bowels dormant during these overnight paddles. The longest stint along the awesome Zuytdorp Cliffs in Western Australia, took 34 hours of continuous paddling." -

Sounds like fun, hey?

Paul took 360 days for the trip; Freya intends to break that record...


The trip is broken into 15 stages:

  1. Melbourne/ Queenscliff - Sydney: 1093 km
  2. Sydney - Brisbane: 884 km
  3. Brisbane - Mackay: 971 km
  4. Mackay - Cooktown: 871 km
  5. Cooktown - Weipa: 1001 km
  6. Weipa - Goove: x-ing Gulf 561 km (or 1694 km into Gulf)
  7. Gove - Darwin: 840 km
  8. Darwin - Broome: 1480 km
  9. Broome - Onslow: 956 km
  10. Onslow - Kalbarri: 889 km
  11. Kalbarri - Perth: 580 km
  12. Perth - Esperance: 1077 km
  13. Esperance - Eucla: 773 km
  14. Eucla - Victor Harbour: 1253 km
  15. Victor Harbour - Melbourne/ Queenscliff: 805 km


Will she make it?  Some prominent members of the Aussie surfski community like Dean Gardiner don't think so.  "There's no way she'll make it," he said, citing the remoteness of northern Australia with its extremely dangerous coastline.


Freya does have some navigation and safety aids that Paul Caffyn didn't have - including GPS and SPOT (SPOT is a tracking device that can be used to locate craft.)  On the other hand Caffyn had a support vehicle following him; Freya is doing this unsupported inasmuch as she's carrying all her gear and food herself. salutes Freya - we'll be keeping a close eye on her through the resources listed below. 


Watching Freya

To keep up with the latest news on Freya's trip, check out:

Her blog:

The Victorian Sea Kayak Club's expedition dashboard:

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