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Oct 2008 North Eastern Rivers Trip

After two years absence we were back in the north east for the classic North Eastern Rivers Trip, but this time with a twist, a couple of new rivers.   Day 1 and we rendezvoused outside the milk bar at Thornton, Charlotte, Rod, Anthony, Scott and two thirds of the South Australian contingent, Wayne and Libby.   The third South Australian, Dave, was to meet us on the river around lunch time.  


After a quick briefing we headed off to paddle the Big, between Railway Creek and Dudley’s flat.   The plan was to regroup at the get out but Wayne and Libby never appeared.   Fearing that they’d gone to the get in by mistake we headed up to Railway Creek.   No appearance there either.   Oh well there was still a river to paddle, although on the low side, 0.6.   At Chaffey’s Creek we found a South Australian vehicle but still no crow eaters.   Finally at Burnt Bridge campsite we caught up with them.   Safe and well and having enjoyed their paddle.   We headed to Mansfield, via the Jamieson River gauge, for the night.


An early start on Day 2 to paddle the Jamieson River between Wren’s flat and Granny’s flat.   The river was at a good level, 1.6 and we even had shuttle bunnies to drop us at the top.   Anthony was the only one of us who’d paddled the river before.   After a short paddle we came to the gorge.   A great set of rapids which culminated in the ‘Washing machine’ rapid.   Legend has it that it’s impossible to  exit the rapid facing frontward and that on one occasion a paddler entered backwards just to win a bet.   It was a good drop into a cliff face which caused the washing machine effect.   As predicted there were a few backwards exits and even one swim.   After that the rapids eased but the good flow continued making it an enjoyable (and long) paddle.   The odd tree down was a bit inconvenient, particularly for Dave, who wanted to have a closer look.   A couple of deer who wanted to have a closer look at us also caused a stir.   Finally we arrived at Granny’s flat and carried our boats a fair distance to the cars parked outside the locked gate.   Perhaps an extra 5 ks paddle to the next get out would have been easier.   The weekend over Scott headed home.

David on the JamiesonAlison on the JamiesonScott on the Jamieson


Day 3 and we head to the King for our next river.   The level was low (1.12 at the weir gauge) but still worth a paddle.   Geoff had now joined us together with Linda and a friend of Geoff’s Lorne.   After a pleasant paddle we dropped in at Linda’s farm for some country hospitality.   Linda’s husband, mother, children and dog plied us with tea and entertained us.   The dam is definitely big enough for a game of polo.   On to Bright for the night.


Day 4 and a leisurely paddle on the Buckland and Ovens Rivers.   We managed to convince Libby to paddle the Buckland and she enjoyed it despite a swim.   Both were on the low side, 1.42 for the Buckland and 1.38 for the Ovens but still fun and justification for a great ice cream at the famous Bright ice creamery.   Wayne and Libby then departed to return to S.A. and we continued north east to Corryong.   On previous occasions the locals had recommended the bottom pub as the pub of choice.   However a local scandal involving money, a missing wife and a disappearing chef resulted in a very average meal.

 Swampy Plains

Day 5 and the Swampy Plains River.   Charlotte had decided to experience its beauty while Rod agreed to pick us up at the end.   The Swampy is in a spectacular location, green grassy banks, snow capped mountains and picturesque huts.   And the water felt like it had just come of the mountains.   We were soon in Devil’s Gulch Gorge and some great fun rapids.   Dave had a swim in the middle of a series of rapids and Geoff chased after the boat.   He finally landed it and Dave was reunited with it, which was very fortunate because the boat belonged to me.   We reached the portage around the blockage.   Bushfires and re growth made it a difficult and frustrating task but we were finally through for a late lunch on a sandy bank downstream of the blockage.   More rapids as we continued down the river but it was starting to get late.   At last the bridge at Waterfall Farm loomed, only an hour or so later than planned.   Fortunately Rod hadn’t minded waiting!   The level on the Swampy was also low 0.4.


Day 6 and Indi Day!   Charlotte dropped Geoff, Anthony and me at the start.   The level also on the low side at 0.71.   The Indi is always a delight.   Geoff, Anthony and I had paddled it several times together and we were a well oiled team, working our way down the rapids.   At South African Swim we inspected the rapid from the bank.   At this level there were bigger drops and a slightly different line.   I went first.   All went well until the bottom drop where I landed in a bad spot, quickly ended up upside down, hit my hand on a rock and finally rolled back up.   Geoff and Anthony then came down, making it look easy.   Anthony was in his new Diesel and felt invincible.   That was until he reached his favourite rapid.   It’s a long rapid with two decent drops at the end.   Geoff went down first and disappeared from view.   I followed and also disappeared into the hole, supporting hard on the right to prevent ending upside down.   Then Anthony arrived, over the drop and he was gone.   I’ve never seen a kayak and paddler disappear so completely before.   It seemed like ages before he emerged, upside down and unfortunately a swim followed.   Back at the caravan park and our traditional bbq (o.k. so it’s the second time) and killer uno session complete with a range of alcohol.

Day 7 and time to head south to Omeo.   Here the party divided, with Charlotte, Dave and Rod paddling the lower Mitta Mitta from Hinnomunjie Bridge and Anthony, Geoff and I heading up to check out the Bundarra.   We’d never paddled the Bundarra which is a tributary of the Mitta Mitta.   Although technically a ‘steep creek’ it was described as a good introduction to creeking.   We checked out the get in and get out points and walked along the river for a while.   Access was easy, the blackberries along the river were a pain, and although the river looked tight in placed it looked very do-able.   It was too late in the day so we put a stick in the river at the start and vowed to come back.


Dave, Charlotte and Rod had had an enjoyable paddle and after regrouping we walked up to the top pub for tea.   The top pub has long been known for its Australian-Chinese menu and we were all looking forward to some Chinese food.   But things had changed.   We should have known when we saw the pool table with a very large scantily clad woman emblazoned on it.   New owners and a new menu!   Charlotte probably had the worst meal, salt and pepper squid where she had to apply her own salt and pepper and a side salad that consisted of lettuce, tomato, a slice of plastic cheese and a sachet of dressing!


Geoff headed back to Melbourne.   He texted us from Sale, ‘It’s pouring raining’, all good for the gorge section of the Mitta Mitta tomorrow.


.Day 8 and we rise to puddles of water lying around and another paddler.   Miriam had driven up to join us, arriving at 3 a.m.   Now that’s keen.   We drop a car at Hinnomunjie Bridge.   The river has risen 30 cms over night to 1.30!   Charlotte drops us at the get in at Bundarra Bridge.   Dave, Anthony, Miriam and I set off.   What a great paddle.   Fantastic level, lots of bouncy waves and great rapids.   It was a bit cold so we didn’t really stop and arrived at Hinnomunjie Bridge before 1 p.m.   Now it’s Dave’s turn to head home but on the way back to Adelaide he was buying a new kayak in Melbourne.

Seeing we had a bit of time up our sleeves we thought we’d knock over the Bundarra with Miriam, Anthony and me.   We convinced Charlotte to lend us her car and drove up to the river.   The water on our stick at the get in had risen 10 cms and we knew the line down the first few rapids, this was going to be a breeze.   Fairly quickly it became obvious that a play boat wasn’t the ideal boat for creeking.   Its flat bottom got stuck on every rock making the trip more one of getting down rather than fun.   After a short distance we reached a reasonable drop.   A small chute from right to left that flowed into a large rock.   I went down first, tail standed, upside down and rolled up.   Anthony in the Diesel made it look easy.   And then Miriam, also in a play boat, dropped into the hole.   She was quickly upside down and after a couple of failed rolls was swimming holding tightly to her Werner paddle.   Anthony and I sat nearby waiting for the boat to come out of the hole.   What a nasty hole.   Most of the time we couldn’t see the boat at all.   Occasionally the vertical tail would appear only to be dragged down again.   I haven’t seen a boat held like that before.   Just as Anthony was getting out of this boat to see if there was any way of attaching a line to the boat when it fleetingly appeared, the boat suddenly was spat out of the hole.   It swept passed me and down the river.

I chase after it with minimal visibility of the line ahead, thinking that this wasn’t a brilliant idea.   Finally the boat pinned against a rock with my boat (and me) on top of it, pinned at a 45 degree angle.   I tried to move but was firmly stuck.   Nothing to do but to wait for Anthony and Miriam to appear.

After about 10 minutes they appeared.   Anthony waded out to where I was, concerned that he secure Miriam’s wayward boat.   Although I indicated that he should assist me first he soon had a line of Miriam’s boat.   We were all soon sorted and back in our boats.   We continued down the river but it was slow progress with the play boats pinning.   Miriam wasn’t enjoying herself and decided she’d had enough.   It was now 4 p.m.   We’d been paddling for 2 hours but where were we.   A quick check of the GPS showed that we still had a long way to go.   It made sense for all of us to walk out.   It was the easiest walk out I’ve ever done, only 200 metres through open scrub to the road.   Anthony ran back and returned with the car.   We’d covered a grand total of 700 meters of the river!


Day 9, our last day and down to four paddlers as Miriam had driven back to Melbourne after the Bundarra adventure.   Charlotte, Anthony, Rod and I headed up to the upper Mitta Mitta for our final river section.   A pleasant paddle with the river still at a nice level.   Then the long drive home and the end of the NERT for another year.