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Kayaker's epic journey points to climate chan -

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Kayaker's epic journey points to climate change

Broadcast: 10/07/2007

Reporter: Genevieve Hussey

At an age when many are looking forward to retirement, 54-year-old kayacker Steve Posselt has
embarked on a seven-month journey from Brisbane to Adelaide via the length of the Murray-Darling
River system. But this isn't just the ultimate boys' own adventure, because he wants to use his
quest to spread the word about climate change.

Transcript

ALI MOORE: At an age when many are looking forward to retirement, 54-year-old Steve Posselt has
embarked on a gruelling physical challenge that's not for the faint-hearted.

This keen kayaker is one month into a seven-month epic journey from Brisbane to Adelaide, via the
length of the Murray-Darling river system. But this isn't just the ultimate "boys own" adventure -
Steve Posselt wants to use his quest to spread the word about climate change.

Genevieve Hussey reports.

GENEVIEVE HUSSEY: At 54, civil engineer Steve Posselt is in the middle of the adventure of a
lifetime, a seven-month epic journey from Brisbane to Adelaide by kayak via the inland river system
that feeds the Murray-Darling Basin.

STEVE POSSELT: One day I thought that I'd like to do a longer trip, something that somebody had
never done. I love being out here.

GENEVIEVE HUSSEY: But this is a journey that almost didn't happen. Twelve months ago, Steve Posselt
was in hospital fighting for his life after a motorcycle accident in central Australia.

STEVE POSSELT: I came off at 100 kilometres an hour, landed on my head and my shoulder... I had
every rib smashed down the right side.

GENEVIEVE HUSSEY: He thought his kayaking days were over, but after an intensive course of
physiotherapy, Steve Posselt got back on the water, determined to do something important to make
the world a better place. He decided to use his kayak journey to warn Australians we need to do
more to try to curb climate change.

STEVE POSSELT: Climate change is just one of the things that's going to bite us. We talk about how
everything's connected - the water, the land, the coal, the whole global warming issue, and the
fact that we can't live sustainably.

GENEVIEVE HUSSEY: One month into his odyssey, Steve Posselt has ironically spent more time on the
road than in the river. With much of the river system in Queensland still in the grip of drought,
when the water dries up, Steve Posselt pulls his specially modified kayak with wheels and a
harness. He'll probably walk at least half the 6,000 kilometres.

BRUCE LAMB, KAYAK 4 EARTH: He's a very passionate man. Steve's had to really slog through some
difficult areas on the river. He's had log jams to get through, caught up in willow trees, barbed
wire fences, and so he slogs his way through.

KERRI LAMB: Interviews are right, he's got to be ready at 1:10 this afternoon for another radio
interview.

GENEVIEVE HUSSEY: Bruce Lamb and his wife Kerri head up the support team which is documenting Steve
Posselt's journey. One of their main aims is to talk to as many children as possible.

BRUCE LAMB: The fear on your face as you're about to go over the water.

STEVE POSSELT: That's not fear.

BRUCE LAMB: We don't want to have kids being negative and concerned about the whole thing, so we're
giving them positive suggestions about things that they can do, turning off light switches, using
energy efficient light globes, planting trees, that sort of thing.

STEVE POSSELT: (speaking to school children): That's it, that's all there is to it.

STEVE POSSELT: The highlight really for me has been talking to the kids. It's been wonderful. Bruce
and Kerri are school teachers and they understand what it means to make a difference to a life, I
guess, and for me it's a new experience.

GENEVIEVE HUSSEY: At St George, 500 kilometres west of Brisbane on the Balonne River, the locals
have come to hear what Steve Posselt has to say about what he's seen further upstream. St George is
a major cotton growing and agricultural hub. Water users here believe they have the balance right.

LOCAL: Humans do make a difference, but I don't believe it's making the difference that's trying to
be foisted upon us.

RICHARD LOMMAN, CO-CHAIR SMART RIVERS: In this area in particular, I think we're using it very
sustainably. We spend a lot of money monitoring the river health and the hydrology of it.

GENEVIEVE HUSSEY: Steve Posselt says he's listening to what people have to say and he's been
impressed by the efforts some are making to take care of their rivers, planting trees and
reintroducing native fish. But he believes the state of the Murray-Darling and the stories he's
heard on his journey also send a stark message about the need to live sustainably.

STEVE POSSELT: Some of it's fairly powerful. There was a lady who said that the Condamine River at
Condamine was clear when she was a child. She said please tell the story of our rivers because I
don't want to leave them like this for my grandchildren.

BRUCE LAMB: Okay mate, we'll see you in about an hour.

STEVE POSSELT: Right-o.

BRUCE LAMB: The community attitude is really polarised, and there's a lot of people who are very
angry about what some people are doing with water in the area.

GENEVIEVE HUSSEY: But some still question the timing of this journey.

RICHARD LOWMAN: It's interesting that someone does a trip like that hopefully at the end of the
worst drought in history, perhaps he could do it again when we get some rain and get a flow in the
river and he could probably sit in his canoe the whole way.

GENEVIEVE HUSSEY: Steve Posselt still has more than 5,000 kilometres to go, with the goal to be in
Adelaide for Christmas Day celebrations. He believes the aim of his journey is simple.

STEVE POSSELT: I want to have a world for my grandchildren like I grew up in. It's important to me
now that I'm alive, that I didn't die, that I continue to make a difference.