IT WAS an emotional end to an epic journey from the start of the Hunter River to Nobbys on Saturday for Ben and Lauren Taylor, greeted on the sand by family and friends a year to the day since losing their mum.
The Newcastle siblings, who grew up in Scone, conquered the 470-kilometre length of the river in 15 days.
They did so to raise funds for the Chris O'Brien Lifehouse cancer treatment centre and in honour of their late mum Diane, who died last year after battling cancer.
Ms Taylor said it was an emotional homecoming at Horseshoe beach as the duo concluded the trip to a rousing reception from about 70 relatives and friends.
"It was a very emotional day," she said. "[Saturday] marked the one-year anniversary of our mum's death.
"We had a lot of tears when we first got onto the beach and hugged dad, who was our support vehicle [driver] throughout the event.
"He was there the whole way and seeing him at the finish line and a big group of people, there was quite a few tears. But after that we had a glass of champagne and then we got to celebrate the achievement."
Ms Taylor said Saturday's paddle was the shortest of the 15-day journey, but it was by far the most rewarding.
"We actually only came from Stockton, so it was about a 3.5 kilometre paddle to finish up," she said.
"All the previous days we'd done about 30 kilometres per day paddling and also right up the top where we started, we were doing about 30 kilometres a day of walking as well, for the first three days."
The two siblings commenced the journey at Barrington Tops, winding down through the Upper Hunter.
"Our drink bottles were all frozen when we set off," Ms Taylor said. "The water's just a trickle at that point.
"We went down through a massive gorge and that came out into farmland. We got to see a lot of the effects of the drought, we spoke to quite a lot of farmers who are really doing it tough. It was very dry and very dusty. The water sort of came and went."
She said they were lucky "quite a bit of water" was being released from Glenbawn Dam as they past through.
"We had some water to paddle in for about a week before it started to dwindle again. There was some really beautiful sections. Lots of wildlife down by the river, we saw a lot of kangaroos, a lot of fish in the river," she said.
"It was really great to see where it goes because I don't think you don't pay too much attention to where the river goes when you go through towns [driving]. It loops and winds around a lot."
The siblings have raised more than $26,000 for Chris O'Brien Lifehouse and hope to add a few thousand more at a fundraiser night in Scone next weekend.