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North East River Trip 2006

The 2005 North Eastern River Trip was the biggest so far. Nine days of paddling and the biggest paddling crew we've ever seen. Lots of new NERT paddlers and quite a few experienced NERTers.

Day 1 - Saturday, 8th October and the first river of the trip, the mighty King River. The river level was good but the weather was a bit cool. Rohan, son Alex and Paul had driven up for the day's paddling. The Cheffings Family, Val, Anthony, Simone and Claire and Michael and I are there for the first of many days paddling. There to meet us is Mark. Mark has driven all the way from Sale and is a qualified raft guide. Unfortunately he hasn't done much kayak paddling and the Medieval he'd just bought was quickly upside down in the pool at the start of the trip. There isn't another boat for him so unfortunately after his long drive he doesn't get to paddle. The King was great fun and there was lots of surfing at Cappuccino rapid. Rohan, Alex and Paul begin the long drive back to Melbourne while the rest of us head to Bright. Michael had to fulfil a family duty so we drive up the Nug Nug road. Not far up the road and a flat tyre. It turns out that Michael has never changed a wheel on his four-wheel drive and doesn't know how to release the spare wheel. Of course the manual isn't in the car and we're out of mobile range! An hour or so of mucking around before another four-wheel drive came past. Of course - there is a winch to lower the wheel! Once we know the secret it was all too easy and we're quickly on our way. We meet the others in Bright. Adrian and Charlotte are there as well having driven directly to Bright. Off to the Cosy Kangaroo for tea. Charlotte accepted my advice and selected the sticky toffee pudding. She wasn't disappointed.

Day 2 and two short trips on the nearby rivers. Charlotte, Adrian, Val, Michael and I brave the Buckland River. The large tree in the main drop from last year has gone but it is still a good drop and claims one swimmer and one walker! Lunch at the Bright Bakery before the trip on the Ovens. Charlotte decides to enjoy a leisurely stroll along the riverbank but Adrian is up for the swirly water of the Ovens. Anthony, Michael, Adrian and I pick our way down the steep entry track and launch. Lots of fun eddies and ways in the narrow first gorge and then some great surfing waves in the second gorge. Finally the railway bridge comes into sight and we're at the end. An ice cream at the famous Bright ice cream shop to top off the Bright experience. Val and Anthony decide to spend another night at Bright so the kids can get a good sleep. Charlotte and Adrian and Michael and I head over to Mitta Mitta and the caravan park. Charlotte and Adrian are up for the experience of the Mitta Mitta pub and its famed triangle of white bread.

Charlotte about to take off on the Buckland

Day 3 and the Snowy Creek beckons. Geoff has arrived late in the night to join the trip. Val, Anthony and the kids have got up early and make it to the start at the Walnuts for the trip. The first crew, Michael, Geoff, Anthony and I head off. The river is a nice level, 1.4. We pick our way down the narrow first section. The Whirlpool of Death rapid claims a couple of rollers but no swimmers. We reached the confluence with the West Branch in time for lunch and in time to meet the second crew. Val swaps with Anthony and Charlotte and Adrian join the trip. Val, Adrian and Charlotte get lots of practice in breaking in and out and ferry gliding as we work out way down the river. Finishing at the caravan park before a shower and back to the pub. Jim has driven up from Melbourne and joins us at the pub.

Day 4 and the plan had been to paddle the lower Mitta Mitta but the water authorities had turned the river off so we headed back to the Snowy Creek for another go at the gorge section. Geoff, Val, Michael, Charlotte, Adrian, Jim and I made the most of the opportunity before driving to Corryong. At the caravan park we attracted a bit of attention with throw rope practice and setting up z drags!

Day 5 and the beautiful Swampy Plain River. Adrian and Charlotte kindly provide the transport to the start of the Swampy Plain section where the Alpine Highway crosses the river. The location is spectacular with green expanses; stone buildings and snow capped mountains. It doesn't get much better than this. Adrian and Charlotte check out the local walking tracks while Michael, Jim, Anthony, Geoff and I appreciate the beauty and fun of the Swampy Plain. The portage is the only painful bit. Michael particularly enjoyed the portage experience. We arrived at the end and there was Val to meet us. On the way back to Corryong we set up the car shuffle for the Indi the next day. After some local advice we enjoyed the delights of the bottom pub. Not as flash on the outside as the other pub but definitely better food.

The 1st tricky rapid on the Swampy Plain

Day 6 and the mighty Indi River. The fabulous Charlotte has volunteered to get up early and drive us to the start. Jim has done his back so we are down to three paddlers, Anthony, Geoff and me. It's a fair drive to the start and unbeknown to us Val has found Anthony's usual deck and assumed he's deckless at the beginning of the trip. Unfortunately Anthony is in fact in Val's boat and has the deck around his waist. Jim and Michael are dispatched on the mercy dash to bring the deck and it is not until they meet Charlotte coming back that they realise the error made. Oh well a couple of bottles of wine made up for it. It's another beautiful day, which is a change for me as every other time I've paddled the Indi it's been cold and drizzly. The level is also beautiful, 1.10 at the Biggara gauge. We had a fantastic paddle, working our way down the rapids and over some great drops. It really is one of the best paddling trips in Victoria (well really NSW but very close). Anthony decided that Val's boat really isn't the best for the Indi and after a couple of swims is looking for a boat with a bit more volume and a less touchy tail! Back to the caravan park and all the hard work by the lay day crew. Adrian has organised his team to prepare a terrific BBQ. We had a great night sitting around the fire eating and drinking. Then we introduced Adrian, Michael and Charlotte to the NERT tradition of German Uno! They certainly took to it although the combination of alcohol and penalties was proving costly for some.

About to set off down the mighty Indi.  Little did we know that we would all come out alive.

How did he make it down?  Nobody knows.

Gourmet BBQ dinner, Yum.
Day 7 and off to Omeo for the last river of the trip, the Mitta Mitta. Jim had returned to Melbourne yesterday but the rest of us drive into Corryong to enjoy the delights of the Corryong Bakery. The bakery is famous for its bee stings and they don't let us down. Then it is over to Omeo and a paddle on the lower Mitta Mitta, from Hinnomunjie Bridge. Val, Geoff, Charlotte, Adrian and Michael paddle the section while Anthony and I do the car shuffle.

Day 8 and Paul, Doreen, Emma and John have arrived very early in the morning or late at night to join us for the paddle down the Mitta Mitta gorge. Also back for more is Mark. This time he's going in the raft. Paul, Doreen, Emma, John, Adrian, Charlotte and Mark make up the mighty raft crew while Anthony, Geoff, Michael and I are paddling. It's another beautiful sunny day and the level is about 1.10. Pleasant paddling, although the raft did create some excitement. A paddle wedged in one rapid that had to be recovered by a kayaker and then Paul's exciting swim. Paul had been ejected out of the raft, I'm not sure if Emma or John had anything to do with this, and swam the rest of the rapid. Unfortunately he then washed over the last drop and into a very nasty stopper. The stopper was a bit like a weir and was recirculating from a long way out. Paul couldn't swim out and it kept pulling him back in and under. Finally he managed to move side ways and out of the edge of the stopper. It gave him quite a fright and is a reminder for every one of the dangers of rivers. The only other excitement was the swimming snake at Black Duck hole at lunchtime. Geoff had to head home but for the rest of us it is the last night of the trip so we dine at the Golden Age Hotel.

Group Siesta, taking team work to another level.

Day 9 and the last paddle of the trip. Back to the Mitta Mitta for the upper section between Big River Bridge and the Bundara River. Mark has joined us in a kayak together with a raft of service personnel. Val, Charlotte, Adrian, Paul, Michael and I make up the rest of the crew. Mark is in a more forgiving kayak and managers to make it to Middle Creek with only a few swims. He then jumps in the raft for the main rapid, Pinball. Then tension is rising as we get closer to the rapid. There is relief and a sense of achievement on Charlotte and Adrian's faces as they successfully negotiate the famed Pinball rapid. From there it isn't far to the end at Bundara bridge and the end of the NERT for 2005. It was certainly a great trip and great company.

Start of upper Mitta Mitta section.