Tuesday, 10 May 2005

By kayak from Germany to Australia


[Full story not included here - see at URLs.]
from the NSW Sea Kayaker Magazine Edition 50
Oskar Speck's Epic Journey From Germany to Australia
Reprinted with the kind permission of Australasian POST magazine

Incredible Journey
by Oskar Speck
As told to Duncan Thompson

Mr Oskar Spec, citizen of Hamburg, Germany, introduced the kayak to us in 1939.
He paddled it here — alone!

For seven years he paddled it, from Ulm on the Danube, to Australia, skirting the wrath of great seas and oceans, slipping from island to island, in a craft never designed for the sea.

That you did not hear of his arrival was either his fault nor yours.

For Speck chose a wrong period in world history for his amazing voyage — 30,000 miles in a frail frame-and-canvas canoe. For the kayak, the longest way round hugging the coastlines of the world is the only way home.

Germany was at peace (and in poverty) when Speck left Ulm in 1932.

Seven years later, in September 1939, he coaxed his kayak through the surf and on to the beach at Saibai, an island 60 or 70 miles north from Thursday Island. Officially, Saibai is Australia proper. At his bow, often smothered in the flying surf, fluttered the tiny Swastika which he had brought from Germany with him.

Three Australian police were waiting for him to berth his kayak. If this was the
German invasion, these cops could handle it. “Well done, feller!” they said, shaking his hand warmly. “You’ve made it — Germany to Australia in THAT. But now we’ve got a piece of bad news for you. You are an enemy alien. We are going to intern you.”

They did just that.

Speck went behind barbed wire at Tatura, Victoria ... Censorship clamped down on
the story of his voyage.

So that is why you have never heard of Oskar Speck.

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