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A five year journey to Australia by kayak

Sandy Robson in Lae, Papua New Guinea
Sandy Robson with a sing-sing group from Gabsongkec village in Lae, Papua New Guinea.

Supplied: Carolyn Pia'afu

Sandy Robson, an outdoor education teacher from Western Australia, is paddling by kayak from Germany to Australia. Her five year journey via India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia, retraces one done by German adventurer, Oskar Speck, in the 1930s.

Sandy told Pacific Beat, Oskar’s journey as “one of the most amazing adventure stories.”

Sandy paddling in Bangladesh
Sandy Robson paddling in Bangladesh.

Supplied: Khandaker Rahman

“I really like long journeys. I think if you have a dream you should do it now, not wait until you retire. I potentially can't do something like this when I am 60. Some people I know died young so this reinforced my attitude.”

Since 2011, Sandy has paddled 30 to 40 kilometres a day — mostly following coastlines. She has about 100 kilograms of gear — including food, water and camping equipment — on board her five metre kayak.

Sandy Robson packing her kayak
Sandy packing her kayak on Tanjong Beach in Singapore.

Supplied: Edgar Su

The greatest challenge that Sandy’s experienced has been administrative.

Sandy Robson paddling near West Papua
Sandy Robson paddling in rough seas near West Papua.

Supplied: Justine Curgenven

But this journey has also exposed Sandy to the kindness and generosity of strangers.

Sandy Robson in Malalamai, Papua New Guinea
Sandy Robson with villagers in Malalamai, Papua New Guinea. During her stay, Sandy was hosted by three widows and their children.

Supplied: Sandy Robson

This was evident in her most recent stops in Papua New Guinea. Sandy paddled around the north coast of Papua New Guinea to Lae and stayed on land with hosts in Madang and Morobe provinces.

“I will always treasure my experiences hosted by many families in these little thatched huts made from sago palm.

Sandy Robson with villagers in Indonesia
Sandy Robson with villagers in Indonesia.

Supplied: Justine Curgenven

Even though this passionate sea kayaker is living out her ambitious dreams, thinking about the nearing end of this journey fills her with mixed emotions.

Kayak in Northern Papua New Guinea
Villagers from Yaimas in Northern Papua New Guinea seeing off Sandy Robson and her kayak.

Supplied: Sandy Robson

But Sandy is also ready to make plans about what she’d liked to do next.

“I will also be planning my next expedition.”

Depending on the strength of southerly winds, Sandy plans to land in Australia — in Sabai Island in the Torres Strait — in October. This is where Oskar Speck landed in 1939.

Listen to Pacific Beat's full interview with Sandy Robson.

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