Book Review:

Canoeing Down Under by Terry Bolland

reviewed by Trevor Glover, Swan Canoe Club


"Suddenly with no warning there was an enourmous splash close to Ewen's boat. I glanced over and was confronted by the most chilling sight. The open jaws of a crocodile were gripping the stern of his kayak" (page 154)


The book, "Canoeing Down Under" written by local adventurer and canoeist, Terry Bolland, is probably best know for its excellent Avon Descent guide, which includes maps of the Avon River from Northam to the Narrows Bridge and detailed diagrams of all the rapids between Posselt's Ford and Bell's Rapid. However, the book has much more to offer the novice and experienced paddler.

The book covers the basics: boat designs, paddling equipment, safety and first aid, paddling strokes, rescue techniques, eskimo rolls, white water features. The text, which is easy to read and understand, is complemented by numerous well drawn diagrams and photographs. Some of the photos brought back memories. The photo of a paddler stuck on a rock reminded me of a paddler stuck half way up a tree executing mid air support strokes. The look on his face said it all, "What do I do?"

Throughout the book the author draws on his vast experience to illustrate and colour to a point:

"Ahead, a large boil started to form its sides opened up like a developing earthquake. It became bigger and started to erupt. The boiling water lifted at least a metre above the rest of the sea." (page 87)

After covering the basics there are chapters on Canoe Touring, Sea Canoeing and training preparation. Olympic Bronze Medallist, Ramon Andersson has written chapters about propellor paddles, sprint racing and marathon paddling. There are also chapters on down river racing by Australian champion Piers Goodman and slalom racing by Lindsay Binnings.

And for when you're exhausted from reading the tortuous training schedules there is an interesting account of the author's attempt to break the record for the quickest time taken to paddle from Hume Weir to Goolwa on the Murray River.

If you're going to paddle the Avon Descent then this book would be a very worthwhile purchase.


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