“Why haven’t I paddled the full length of the Ovens River?” 

Hi, my name is Jamie Kaye, and I have lived in the Ovens Valley in north-east Victoria for more than 20 years, spending a lot of time working, paddling and fishing the Ovens River.  At the end of 2017, I decided it was time to answer the Why haven’t I paddled the Ovens question, and set about organising what became known as my ‘Ovens Odyssey’, paddling from Harrietville through to the Murray River, between February 2018 and April 2019.

Jamie and Finley.

Shared experiences – creating a community

At over two hundred kilometres, the Ovens Odyssey was never going to be a one day adventure, nor a solo journey; I decided that friends and family would be integral to the trip, as the paddle provided an opportunity to share the experience with others. My passion proved to be contagious, and I quickly found numerous people who were keen to get ‘back on the river’.

This led to a fabulous year of paddling trips, eleven so far, where I was joined by friends, family and others, all out to enjoy the river. We have nearly completed the Odyssey, with only the most upstream section from Harrietville to Porepunkah remaining – we’ve been waiting for it to rain!

Nathaniel, Megan, Lily and Jamie.

My mate Peter who did all the stages with me said:

“I have always loved kayaking rivers. This trip provided a rare opportunity to paddle the full length of a relatively healthy river, to learn what others appreciate about rivers, and to benefit from their knowledge. A peaceful, beautiful reminder, through a relatively unspoiled ecosystem, of what our landscape was like in the past. Sadly, also a wakeup call about how much damage we can cause and what’s at stake”.

Jamie and Peter at the confluence of the Ovens and Murray Rivers.  

Not only did I want to share the experience of paddling the river with friends and family, but I also wanted to enable others to enjoy the trip. As an ecologist, I have a keen interest in waterway management, and the ecological condition of our river systems. I decided to combine my love of the river with my water management expertise and developed a website called River Rambling to enable me to pass on some understanding about river processes, and the flora and fauna that use or rely on the riverine environment.

The website is now available for anyone to visit and explore. I am hoping that by sharing my experiences through the website it will go some way towards creating a community that is more understanding and supportive of our river management efforts.

Kayaking down the Ovens River.

Megan and Lily enjoying the river.

Reflecting on my Ovens Odyssey

What I have enjoyed most about my paddle down the Ovens has been sharing the experience with friends, all of whom were wondering why they had not been spending more time out on their local river. I have also found that people are really interested in river management concepts, as well as the flora and fauna associated with rivers, and sharing that understanding is really rewarding. It is also clear that the best “classroom” is out on the water, where all of your senses are used to experience and feel that connection to nature that we know is so important for our wellbeing.

John with a Murray cod

You can read more about River Rambling – the Ovens Odyssey at www.riverrambling.com.