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 Canoeing in Western Australia

Crossing River Trip, South-West Tasmania

by Andrew Linton  (about the author)

© 2001, Andrew Linton

Our Tasmania trip was a lot of hard work for a disappointing result. The two others on the trip with me were, Kai Dettbarn (a young geologist who works with me) and Gisela Cannon.We took five days to hike in to the Crossing River with 60 kgs of gear each. From there we had to cross the river and continue on down the track another 1/2 km, then cut across country to the river and put in. This was to avoid a log jam that was nigh on impossible (one of the small bits of info available on the Tassie website).

We made it to the river with heavy rain following us for the last two days. The river was swollen and impossible to cross. We couldn't even put the boats together (collapsible Klepper kayaks) to use to get over due to the steep banks and the fact that on our side we had approached through a flood plain that had become a swamp. A small camp site just above the water was our home for two days while we waited for the water to go down. Also difficult to even walk far up or down the river bank where we were due to heavy bush cover.

On a small radio I had we picked up a Hobart station which gave a "Bush Walker Alert" which means that you shouldn't go into the bush while the alert is in force. Strong south westerly winds and rain where we were and fine in Hobart ! We also had hail and I had the only dry toilet paper ! Imagine the power that gave me ! Then we heard that a walker was missing and the following two days helicopters were flying overhead looking for him. He is now presumed to be dead.

Our window of opportunity was diminishing as we waited. We had a pre-arranged pick up from a little bush airstrip and no way of telling the airline people we may be a bit late. (We had a satellite telephone I borrowed from work and we had fully charged it in Hobart but seven days later it was dead ! I think the cold killed it. It was so cold my metho stove didn't like lighting up. It couldn't evaporate enough to take the match flame! So you can imagine our frustration. Because so few groups had ever been down the river, descriptions of the gorge we had to negotiate were vague. (I had tried to get in touch with the Association in Tas but nobody got back to me.) Would it be better in high water or worse ?

In the end we made the decision to walk out. It was the responsible action to take but it was very disappointing. It is the first time I have not completed a wilderness trip in the way it was planned.

We walked out in four days. Nine days walking in total, all the time in the same pair of wet socks. No point in changing them. Leeches and mud.

We then treated ourselves to hot showers in Hobart, a day in town, a big meal out and then went up the west coast for three days of sea kayaking which was nice but frankly, a bit boring ! Then back to Perth.

South West Tasmania, wet one day...wet the next.

So that was my holiday.

On our last day in Tas we met some guys who had rafted down the river the year before ! Quite by chance they approached us as we were putting the Kleppers back in their bags. They had started with six people, six rafts and ended up in three rafts. Rocks that ran lengthways down the river with serrations like bread knives. They went in high water and still had to portage up a couple of near vertical cliff faces. So maybe our boats might not have made it. One of the reasons only one kayak party has ever gone down ? (apparently in the 70's)

I am still thinking about having another go but using rafts to get down to a place called Settlement Point and having the Kleppers brought in to there. Then paddling the ocean part of the trip out to the islands and sea caves. It is just such a great piece of wilderness.

POST SCRIPT

The missing bushwalker made it back to civilisation alive with no permanent damage -just a bit hungry.

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