A GLASSY river, 27 koalas spotted along its banks, many hovering birds of prey and gentle showers of rain made this year's Paddle For Life a delightful event for the 47 people, who took to their kayaks and made the three day trip from Lismore to Ballina.
Co-ordinator Narina Donnelly said it had been an easy trip, with the tide flowing in favour of the paddlers and no wind.
"It was an absolutely fabulous event," Narina said.
"The river was like glass when we came into Ballina on Monday. We've had such positive feedback about it from people, who came from outside the district to be in it. There was fun and laughter and singing in the camps at night and everybody had a really good time.
"Everyone looked out for each other on the water and cared for each other in the camps. Visitors were really impressed with Lismore and the quality of our lifestyle here."
Narina said that after enjoying great meals, made with fresh local ingredients, and the fresh air on the river, by the end of the trip some of the visitors were asking about local real estate prices!
The event, now in its 10th year, was held to raise funds for Southern Cross Lads and the Summerland Early Intervention Centre. With sponsorships and donations, $7000 were raised to divide between the two local charities.
Paddler Elspeth Berger said the event had been 'challenging, but manageable'.
"That's what makes us want to do it - it's not a cruise on the river that you'd do every day," she said.
"It finished at lunchtime on Monday and I don't think I could have paddled any further - I was pretty exhausted!"
This year, for the first time, a race was held from Lismore to Coraki, in conjunction with the three day Lismore to Ballina event.
Winner of the inaugural Paddle For Life Classic Brad Restall, from Lismore, completed the 39km in 2hours, 51minutes and 55 seconds and was awarded the Clif Weaver Memorial Trophy. Second placed Tony Curtis of Lismore was only two seconds behind. Andrew Gordon, also of Lismore, was a close third.
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