From My Backyard to the Sea – A River Journey – Trip Introduction

by Feb 15, 20206 comments

From my Childhood home on the banks of the Yea River and wetlands of central Victoria I will paddle a canoe down a section of the Murray-Darling Basin to the Ocean near Goolwa, South Australia.

Growing up on the banks of the river has been a blessing in my life, learning to swim in the slow flowing water, spending countless days playing with my brother in the mud and water, and building a connection to this magical childhood playground has greatly influenced who I am today. As I grew older and moved away from home and the river to study and travel, the muddy banks and river red gums of the Yea river always remained in my heart and memory. Moving to the city, then traveling overseas taught me many things and gave me new perspectives about the world, moreso it also made me appreciate my stomping ground and my roots. I now return home often to spend time with my family and reconnect with the river that nurtured me, though all the time, my desire to extend my roots and explore beyond the backyard and the local region continuously grows.  

Gerard and I on the Banks of the Yea River

Birth of a Journey 

Some journeys are born from the spontaneous realm of time and place, others grow from countless hours of dreaming and pondering. Every journey grows and develops and changes even before they begin. This journey begun while I was studying outdoor education in Bendigo, Victoria there was one night I was sitting in the lounge room gazing at a map of Australia that sat on the mantle when the idea or what felt like an epiphany came to me; I would travel across Australia with Gerard (my late brother.) A journey to discover the country; where the waters of rivers flow, see parts of the interior infrequently seen and a symbolic adventure that I am sure Gerard and I would have undertaken.

The journey is to discover Australian via rivers within the Murray-Darling Basin, exploring the high mountain catchments to the riverine plains. Traveling along rivers that have influenced me and our culture for thousands of years, a recreational icon and the lifeblood of our country’s food production. 

‘The Murray-Darling Basin is Australia’s largest river system spanning 77,000km of rivers through Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia that covers nearly a third of the country. Within the basin there are 30,000 wetlands of which 16 are internationally significant, as well as being home to 2.6 million Australians and supporting 9200 agricultural businesses.’

The journey will take me from Yea to the ocean via the Yea, Goulburn, Ewards and Murray Rivers.

Honestly I just want to paddle from my little pond and keep paddling.

In addition to undertaking an adventure that I have dreamed about for years I will also engage with communities that reside along the rivers, connecting with people who make their living on the river banks and across the riverina, indigenous communities, conservation groups and schools. 

Part of my dream is to undertake a long journey down the rivers exploring and sharing parts of Australia that often go unseen and showcase the environmental diversity, the people who call it home while investigating environmental issues and progressive solutions. 

You can follow this journey on this website. I will upload regular blogs, videos, and related content.

If you would like to be involved at all; from paddling with me along the rivers, having me come run a workshop, catching up for a yarn in a riverside town, or share knowledge and stories via online platforms please get in touch! 

Just go with the flow!


  1. Richard Lane

    Fantastic to read Leigh. The Yea wetlands COM wish you great success and look forward to reading more blog updates and hearing all about your journey on your return. Best wishes Richard

  2. Fin

    Yessss brother I love this, definitely post what the initial week may look like incase any of us can jump on board :). xx

    • Chelsea Coles

      Good on you Leigh.what a legend.

      Document it for us!

  3. Gaye Garlick

    I was truly touched listening to you speak today with the students of Yea Primary School, your old stomping ground. Your passion and enthusiaim is inspiring. Certainly makes you think to take care of our beautiful environment and to embrace all it offers. Looking forward to following your wonderful adventure.

  4. Jacqui

    Yessss Leigh. This is bloody brilliant and I cannot wait to follow your journey.
    You’re a ledge.

  5. Monica Boag

    Well Done Leigh your actually doing it! The Boag’s Wish you all the best on your journey and hope you inspire, motivate, teach &learn from many along your travels!…let the adventures begin! Make sure you film and post lots so we that are stuck at home can travel along with you safe travels… all the best Monica Boag and crew xx


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