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28 October 2007

Derwent River training

Sunday 28 October 2007 - I left home at 6am and drove to the Derwent River above New Norfolk. I dropped off my mountain bike below the rapids at the Plenty railway bridge and then drove up to Meadowbank Rd.

I was initially planning to paddle down the last 1km of the Tyenna River into the Derwent but I found an easier entry point further up river. Just past No. 174 Meadowbank Rd, I parked and scrambled down a steep bank to the Derwent. I was using a Dagger RPM max - which isn't ideal for a 25km paddle - but I wanted to have fun on the way.

The river level was quite high considering and it must have been due to water coming through the Meadowbank power station because there hadn't been any rain for a while.

I enjoyed the scenery down the river, which is mostly surrounded by farmland. I wanted to familiarise myself with the main rapids for the Cradle to Coast multisport race in March 2008. They are - in order - The Strainer; Gretna rapids; Mitchells; Broken Bridge and Plenty railway bridge.

At the higher river level some areas can be harder than normal and some can be easier - as they are 'smoothed out' with more water moving above them.

The Strainer: involves the main water flow moving directly at a partly submerged tree. The current tries to move you right at the tree. I found it quite easy to avoid it to the left where it was less rough (but slower).

Gretna: As I rounded the bend to the right I stuck to the right bank where it was less rough. The first rapid there is easier than the second. The second went longer and was messier but it was still better to stick next to the right bank.

Mitchells: this was very easy at the higher water level. There were none of the normal rock hazards on the approach as there is with low water and as I went down the rapid I stuck to the right bank. Below this rapid there are undercut rock shelves at low water but they were covered.

Broken Bridge: This was flowing across the whole river at this higher level and I stuck close to the very left. This enables you to go down the main chute and angle left to get out of the current if you choose or at least avoid the big messy waves. I then had to cross to the right to avoid the metal from the actual broken bridge below the main rapid.

Plenty railway bridge: once again the water was flowing across the whole river and not just down the main chute. This meant that a lot of rocks that normally direct the flow were now just submerged and dangerous (to boat damage).

I then left the river and hid my kayak and rode back to Meadowbank Rd. It is only 18km back by road as the river meanders.

All in all it was a good day out and good training.

Training - Derwent River - Sat 27 Oct 2007

I spent half the day struggling to paddle up river through rapids. I started in the Styx River at Bushy Park and paddled into the Derwent and then spent the next few hours to get up to Gretna. By that time I was stuffed and turned around to cruise back to the Styx River and the car. I was using my Perception 'Wavehopper' plastic downriver racer.

Tomorrow I plan to to a paddle in my Dagger RPM from the Tyenna River (Meadowbank Bridge) into the Derwent and 30km down river to the Plenty rail bridge where I will have left my mountain bike which I then have to ride back to the car. I am hoping to have some fun surfing some waves in the rapids on the way down.

27 October 2007

Tasmanian West Coast Adventure

From the start of December 2007, I will be doing a 6 week walk down the west coast of Tasmania. This is a very remote area with no houses, roads and not even walking tracks to follow. I plan to basically just follow the coast but will have to cope with sea cliffs, river crossings and dense bush.

I plan to walk from Macquarie Harbour - near Strahan, down the West Coast to Port Davey and then to Melaleuca. If I still have time (and the will to continue) I will continue to either Cockle Creek or over the southern ranges to Lune River.

I won't be able to carry my food for 6 weeks so I will need to have food drops spaced approximately a week apart. Other people to do this trip have arranged for fishing boats to drop off their food but I plan to paddle a sea kayak down the coast to Port Davey, dropping food at Point Hibbs, Hartwell Cove, Low Rocky Point and Port Davey. I will get Par Avion to fly food in to the airstrip at Melaleuca for my final week. I am choosing to drop my own food off so I will know exactly where it will be. I prefer to be in control of my trip and not relying on other people. At least that way if anything goes wrong - it is my fault.

I hope to drop off the food by kayak and return to Macquarie Harbour. I will also drop off an inflatable raft at Port Davey to get across the mouth of the Davey River to save walking up into the Davey Gorge. I plan to cross from Bond Bay to Fitzroy Point.

I then plan to walk up Mt Stokes, Mt Berry and Mt Rugby before crossing Bathurst Harbour to Melaleuca and then on to the South Coast Track.