Rob Asplin | Environment Victoria

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Rob Asplin runs River Country Adventours. For 16 years he and wife Joan have been taking people on canoe and camping trips along the Goulburn and Murray Rivers.

“I grew up at a place called Willaura in the western district and was always going to be a farmer but I got hurt playing footy and dad got crook. Then I joined the bank and went to Melbourne to try and play cricket, and then I finally got shifted up here in the Kyabram bank in 1969.

The first thing I wanted to do out here was a bit of fishing and the first fish I caught in the river was a Redfin, and I went back to the pub or the footy and I said I caught a redfin and they said ‘Bullshit!’ They hadn’t caught them in the Goulburn for 10 years. Then one night I caught a catfish. It was right on dark and all I could see was it had a big mouth and spikes on it. I’d never seen one before so I drove into the pub and I said ‘I wonder if you can identify this fish I’ve caught.’ He said ‘Where’d you get that?’ and I said ‘I just got it from the Goulburn’ and he said ‘Bullshit! There hasn’t been a catfish caught in the Goulburn for 20 years.’

In 1993 I had the sports store in Kyabram and that we sold. I was out of work for one day and joined a course and studied tourism. We originally were planning on just doing wine tours and coach tours and we actually tapped into the seminar and convention market. I decided that we’d do a business plan with canoes on the Goulburn and on grand final day 1996 six canoes and one kayak turned up and we were in business. From that humble beginning we’ve got about 35 canoes and about six kayaks, and we’ve set up in the Nagambie, Shepparton and here.

During the last South Australian election they must have promised they’d have water down in the Murray. Now this is during the drought you know.

I have never seen the river look so beautiful. Everybody I know was catching fish we had people camped all along, being Easter, and they had the most wonderful time canoeing and swimming. I couldn’t believe how good the river was.

And a lot of the photos that are on our website now were taken around about that time. Now, sure when I was in the sports store you always put your best cricket bat in the window, well, on the website we put our best photos. I mean, a photo of the river now is probably not that appealing. But you go back and you look at my screen saver, it was taken during that environmental flow and I just can’t stop looking at it. So the point I’m making is that yeah, sure we could do with a little bit more water, but I don’t know if we’re ever going to get it.

By Ian Kenins, Environment Victoria, February 2012

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