News & Events

Mitchell River Trip 2006

The Annual Queen's Birthday Mitchell River Trip opens the paddling season. The extreme low river level of last year forced its cancellation but this year we were back. The river was again low but the enthusiasm of the big group made it a great trip. Those keen for as much paddling as they could get arrived early Saturday and practiced on Slalom rapid.

Rod and I set about getting the fire going so it would be just right for when Paul arrived with the split roast. Paul, Doreen and the kids appeared just before dark and the split roast assembled. In keeping with Sorrentino tradition they forgot a vital piece of camping equipment. Last time it was the sleeping bags. This time it was the tent poles. Fortunately others came to their aid and only Paul ended up having to sleep in the car. As the split turned more people arrived until finally Andrew and Margarita appeared at 8 p.m. just as the roast was being carved. Andrew continues the story………

Jim A big group, good weather, and a reasonable level made this a great success. There was a good ratio of experienced to intermediate paddlers of about 1:1. So was a great advice for the less experienced.

10th June

Spit roast, magnificently cooked with the aid of car window washer motor. Big fire by the river, a few meters from where we were to launch the next morning.

11th June

Morning rain ensured most people rolled out of sleeping bags as late as possible to meet the “on river” target time of 9:00am. After debrief which covered previous paddling experience, equipment, calls and signs, 12 kayakers were ready to launch. The weather got better during the morning to be clear by 9:30 am when all boats were on the water. A photo of the group was taken and we were away.

Mitchell River consists of long pools separated by grade 2 – 3 rapids. A river level of 0.85m meant a few gravel runs. The occasional thumping noise as each kayak negotiated the rapids was testament to rocks being close to the surface due to the lower river level.

The most difficult rapids being the three that make up the Amphitheatre. Each rapid was scouted. Amphitheatre 1 was the most difficult, strewn with rocks that had to be navigated around. Low water level made these rapids quite technical. Some paddlers found themselves swimming on this rapid, usually after being pushed up against a rock.

Paul Sorrentino put his new dry suit to good use by taking up a rescue position on top a rock in the middle of the first rapid, and diving into the water to save pinned kayaks. This was handy, as my kayak ended up high and dry on a rock that “popped up out of nowhere”.

With most of the more challenging rapids behind us, a sunny spot was found for lunch, a chance for some to put dry clothes on, as this was quite a long day. Here the group split, as some needed to leave the river by 4:00pm to be back in Melbourne by the evening.

Kayaks were left by the river overnight for the next day, saving a long haul up the hill to the car park.

12th June

Charlotte With most paddlers having commitments back in Melbourne, three paddlers remained for a relaxed trip, a good chance to practice eddying out and picking a good path through the rapids – although that still didn’t stop me practicing my “lean towards the rock” technique to stop from flipping when held against it by the rapid. This section was very scenic with longer pools and great weather. We found a few waves to play on, which was missing from the first day.

Thanks to everyone who helped organise this well run trip. Especially Rod, Doreen and Julianne for the car shuttling.

The paddlers were:

Paul S, Alison B, Andrew, Andy W, Margarita, Rob, Michael, Charlotte, Jim, Mark, Gary and Peter

The other participants included:

Julianne, Rod, Doreen and kids, Bev and kids

Andy Williams