The Dreamtime Voyage – by Paul Caffyn

25th Anniversary Edition

Sub Title: Around Australia Kayak Odyssey
Published: 2010
Publisher: Kayak Dundee Press
Contents: 236 pages, 79 colour plates, 85 black & white photographs
Size: 295 x 210mm (A4)

Soft Cover Edition
ISBN: 978-0-9583584-4-6
Price: NZ $43 including p&p for NZ

Casebound Edition – signed and numbered
ISBN: 978-0-9583584-5-3
Price: NZ $65 including p&p for NZ

The Dreamtime Voyage is Paul Caffyn’s story of one of the most remarkable journeys ever undertaken by kayak – the first kayak circumnavigation of Australia – a 9,420 mile 360 day epic. It is an inspirational tale of one man’s dogged determination to fulfill his impossible dream against all odds, including tropical cyclones, raging surf, sharks, sea snakes, crocodiles and three long sections of sheer limestone cliffs.

In early December 2007, the Victorian Sea Kayak Club organized a 25th anniversary celebration of the completion of the 1982 Round Australia Kayak Expedition (RAKE) at Queenscliff. On a beautiful sunny morning, Paul in his round Australia kayak Lalaguli, with Andy alongside, paddled back into Caffyn Cove to receive a marvellous reception, with Lesley on the beach, champagne flowing, two pipers on the top of the headland, a canon shot and big mobs of well-wishers.

At the cliff top, Paul unveiled a big lump of basalt with a superbly inscribed plaque on top, noting the significance of the 1982 around Australia paddle, which had started and finished at Queenscliff.

Led by a lone piper, Lalaguli was carried in a solemn procession to the Queenscliffe Maritime Museum where Paul formally handed over his kayak to go on permanent display.

After, Paul self-published The Dreamtime Voyage in 1994, the first print run sold out inside two years. A second print run also sold well, with the book going out of print in 1998. On-going requests for the book and huge prices requested on overseas websites for very rare 2nd hand copies led Paul to consider a new edition, especially after the wonderful 25th anniversary celebrations.

Discerning readers will observe a vast improvement in the reproduction of the black and white photographs in this new edition. Mysteriously, one of the original colour photos could not be located – the start of the Baxter Cliffs – but Andy kindly consented to the replacement R18 launching photo. Reader discretion is advised.

A two page preface to the new edition, with five photos, describes the 25th anniversary celebrations and updates Paul’s recent paddling history. To continue the tradition of including a 1st edition book launch photo, as with the 2nd edition of Obscured by Waves, Paul has included a photo of the 1994 launch of The Dreamtime Voyage at a KASK Picton sea kayak symposium, with details of the bribery note received after Paul was photographed wearing a suit, tie and shoes.

A photo of the RAKE team, 25 years after the original 1982 finish at Queenscliff, compares how Andy, Lesley and Paul have stood up to the test of time after 25 years.

Two editions are available:

  • a laminated soft cover
  • a very limited hardcover run, each copy of which has a book plate tipped in which is individually signed and numbered.

Tsunami Ranger co-founder Eric Soares in his latest book rates Paul as ‘the greatest living sea kayaker’ and reckoned Dreamtime ‘was an amazing read.’ High praise indeed for a bloke who reckons he lives as a recluse on the West Coast of the South Island.

Reviews

By the late ERIC SOARES on OCTOBER 20, 2010:
It’s not too soon to think of Christmas, for two reasons. First, what do you get the kayaker who has everything? How about an autographed copy of Paul Caffyn’s The Dreamtime Voyage: Around Australia Kayak Odyssey, 25th anniversary edition, published in 2010?

The other reason to think of Christmas is Paul set out on his incredible expedition just a couple of days after Christmas 1981. He tried but could not get major sponsors. He courted filmmakers, but that didn’t work because they wanted to stage a crocodile attack to make it more exciting. Finally, he determined to finance the voyage himself and just go for it.

After much dreaming, visualizing, and planning, Paul and a paddling partner launched from Port Phillip Bay on December 28th and headed counter-clockwise around Australia in the Round Australia Kayaking Expedition (RAKE). They soon squabbled and broke up their partnership a few days later. Paul continued on, undaunted. Fortunately, he had a little help from his friends, who did food drops, and camped and paddled with him when possible. Other than two-way radios, Paul did not use a GPS or other electronic gadgets on his trip. He used gumption, not gizmos to complete his circumnavigation.

It was a rigorous, vigorous journey. Paul kept a diary and recounted every important detail, which he inserts into the book. To show the reader how it really was, Paul includes a slew of beautiful and exciting photographs, with over five dozen in full color. The glossy pictures alone made me want the book, but it was his sharp and colorful writing that kept my interest.

Here is an excerpt from the early part of the book, when Paul was embarking through surf, alone:
“The surf was heavy and dumping with great force. At 2:30p.m. I launched into the calm water of a small creek and began punching into the inshore break. Nearing the back of this line of breakers, a big mother dropped right on top of me. Its force popped the sprayskirt in. The kayak stood on its stern briefly, but I braced hard and the kayak hurtled backwards for the beach on the face of the wave. With a cockpit half full of water, I paddled back to the sand and emptied out.” What an ordeal! But that was nothing, compared to a failed trip through the surf late in his journey. Want to know more? Get the book.”

On page 114, Paul recounts feeling sleepy while making one of many long crossings, when suddenly “…a black object caught my eye which hadn’t been there minutes before. A huge triangular-shaped fin was weaving in behind the stern. I could see a smaller tail fin 10 feet behind the dorsal fin. It was an enormous shark. My sleepiness was instantly shed.” What happened next? You’ll have to read the book to find out.

These excerpts let us savor the flavor of the expedition and his writing style. He is matter of fact throughout as he describes his daily tribulations, and inserts his dry downunder humor throughout the narrative to keep us laughing through his pain. Truly, his writing is so good it should be considered literature.

For those of you who have not yet read the book, your primary question may be “did the rake finish the RAKE?” (spoiler alert!) Yes, he did. On December 23rd, Paul finished at the start of his circumnavigation. After thrills and spills, and many long days of grueling paddling in dangerous and beautiful waters, The Dreamtime Voyage was over.

Paul wrote in the epilogue: “The ability to daydream lies within all of us. All that is involved is setting your sights on a goal that is achievable, then steadfastly working towards fulfilling that dream.” As a daydreamer myself, I really connected with his words. Paul inspires us to live the dream, to imagine what can be, to figure a way to make it happen, and then do it.

Dreamtime is a book you will cherish. Get it for the kayaker who has everything, or get it just for yourself. The bad news is the book is not widely available, especially in the States. The good news is you can obtain a copy by ordering directly from Paul at kayakpc@xtra.co.nz . It will be worth it.