MAQUARIE HARBOUR-GORDON RIVER
(Scribe: David Connell)
What an adventure in so many ways, with a rag-tag crew of Expat Tassie’s, one proper Tassie, and a Qlder.
Duration was dictated by ferry booking times and obviously weather too, but mechanical issues can also play a part in these things.
all began with me (from Emu Park, 20km from Yeppoon, Q) picking Toby up from Ballina (northern NSW) and enjoying a
leisurely cruise to Melbourne town and
so onto the Spirit of Tasmania ferry for a daytime crossing, which I wouldn’t do again as
it means early start and late finish at the Tas end. Smarter to sail by night,
leaving the days for finding your way around.
After a day with Laurie, at his fascinating off-grid home, Toby, Laurie and I went down to Kerry and Roger’s “shack” at Cockle Creek, where we settled in till they arrived a couple of days later.
Next we’re off to Strahan, via Huonville for last minute stock up of necessities, which were depleted on our layover days.
All going well till Derwent Bridge where Laurie’s snobby little Euro vehicle decided “no more”. Bugger, but after a quick shuffle we ended up with three paddlers and three kayaks at Strahan, unfortunately minus Laurie who was obliged to accompany the sick vehicle to hospital (who couldn't revive it)!
and crew were vey helpful describing suitable, legal, campsites within reach,
but after a quick vote, we set up camp on the raised walkway (very raised).
Day 2. Early start as we had no idea when another tour boat could arrive, but we were 3m above the water!!
May have been a compulsory seal launch if Laurie was with us, but we sooks carefully lowered the boats to a pontoon and reloaded them, then off at last!
We carried detailed maps, plus we had Toby who had been here before…Way before, maybe 30 years before?? So a bit of flying blind involved for the whole trip, but that’s what makes life interesting?
Thinking about 18k till we came across the best ever camp site with a beautiful sandy beach and protected camp sites from pretty much any direction, and only one snake.
Day3. The plan was to go up river to Franklin falls and camp in the hut there, or return , so we loaded the boats and paddled through amazing scenery, with not a soul in site, about 8klm to find the hut in a state of disrepair, perhaps undergoing some needed maintenance. The walkways were also in a sad state, with sections completely collapsed. It would be a great spot to camp when it’s open and there is the pontoon for flying boats, which apparently no longer visit due to lack of demand. Chatted with two white water paddlers who had just come down the Franklin/Gordon rivers.
Arrived back at last nights camp to find it still vacant so settled in again and had an interesting visit by “Stormchaser”, a steel ketch with captain Trevor hosting a family group for an overnight trip to the falls. The sandy banks here and most of the river are so steep “Stormchaser” was able to nose onto the beach so all on board could climb down onto the beach to stretch their legs and chat a while.
Back to the hut and everyone decided to camp inside, in luxury. It’s really well cared for by a local group and the log book shows all the maintenance, plus visitors, and there have been lots of those/us
Kerry was already gone when Toby and I woke, which is not at all the norm, so a quick search found her sleeping peacefully on the verandah. She gave a great imitation of Toby’s snoring, breathing both in and out!!
Wind supposed to be building tomorrow, so earlier start planned
The last of his words were whipped away as the wind kicked in, and stayed in for the full distance, making a hard slog and 4hrs to cover about 15klm.
It’s worth noting that Kerry paddled with no skirt and one knee bent to relieve severe sciatic pain. A great effort, but proved to be the seat position!
Kerry Reid-Searl (Mirage 580)