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08 April 2009

Huon River - Southwood to Huonville

I had sat up through the night watching the rain levels for various south-west sites and also watching the river level rise on the Huon River at Tahune & Judbury. I packed my car with my Grafton Time Traveller and my mountain bike.

The plan was to leave my bike at Huonville and then drive to the Southwood Bridge which is 28km upstream.

At the Southwood Bridge I could immediately see that there was a good flow down the river. It was still raining and the river height was just over 2m at Judbury. I headed off in my time traveller and started by paddling against the current for a few minutes to get the feel of things. I realise that it isn't a good idea to paddle in whitewater by yourself but you can't always find people to paddle with and it is better to get out there than sit at home.

I could only just make progress upstream in the strong flow and as soon as I turned downstream I was going around 20km/h on the gps without paddling hard. There were continuous waves and it was quite enjoyable. I found that the more you 'attack' and paddle hard into the waves the better. Some of the standing waves were over head height (from my sitting position) and really wakes you up at you are smacked in the face by a series of stationary waves at 20km/h.

At Judbury Falls there were no falls as the river was high enough to cover them. There were still waves there. It was good fun as I sped down the river with little effort. I stopped to surf some waves on the way so it wasn't over too quickly.

Before I knew it I had reached Huonville. I got out and hid my kayak where I had earlier hidden my bike and headed off again. I rode up the Ranelagh - northern side of the river up to Judbury and then crossed over to the southern side. I could see that there was a track on my map. I hoped that I could find my way and I wanted to avoid all of the trucks on the other side.

It was fine for the first about 8km on She-Oak Rd but then I reached a gate. It said 'for motor vehicle access call ph xxxxxx' I thought this was a forestry phone number but I wasn't sure. I continued on with my mountain bike. Initially I went through a paddock, surrounded by cows and then the track became rough where there was a washed out/broken bridge on possibly Frying Pan Creek. I scrambled across the creek with my bike and then followed very rough tracks for the next 3-4km to get back to the southern side of Southwood Bridge to my car.

The whole adventure had taken a lot more time than if we had done a car shuffle but it was more satisfying. I dropped the bike off at Huonville at around 7.30am. I started paddling at 8.30am. I finished the paddle at 10.15am and finished the ride at about 1pm - happy (but tired) after a good day.

04 April 2009

Meadowbank to New Norfolk training

I have just got home after a long day on the river. I drove to the Derwent River just above New Norfolk and dropped off my bike and then drove about 40km upstream to the base of Meadowbank Dam. I was hoping that the power station would be running which means the river will have more water in it - sadly it wasn't and the river was low with lots of rocks exposed.

I was paddling my Dagger RPM which isn't the ideal kayak for a 40km paddle - but I planned to stop at the rapids for a play on the way down. As I drove past the Meadowbank Vineyard and reached the gate to the ski club a guy arrived and opened it. Normally I would leave my car here and carry my kayak over the fence and down the hill about 200m to the river where there is thick scrub and a 2 foot drop to the water.

Luckily I could drive along the gravel road and then almost up to the dam wall to start.

I plodded along on the flat sections and stopped to catch the waves on the rapids and had a good time. I had a lunch break at Gretna and finished at 3pm near the water board building upstream from New Norfolk.

I then had a 2 hour ride into a strong westerly headwind to get back to the car - after hiding my kayak in scrub.

I was tired and relieved to get to my car again and relax as I headed back to collect the kayak on the way home.

I hope to do a similar trip on the Huon River in the next few days with a 'bike shuffle'.

24 March 2009

blog from mobile phone

i bought a nokia n95, 8gb recently & have found it has great coverage and web access, and i can update the blog with my phone.

yay ... my first heat pump

Today an electrician came and installed my new Panasonic heat pump ( & a/c). It works well and I won't miss cutting firewood at all (I would have preferred that someone cut my wood for me and start the fire before I get up each day and before I get home from work). I love the sort of heat you get from a wood heater but I can't be bothered cutting the wood & getting the fire going.

It seems to work really well and it is very quiet. We will have to see how it goes through winter. It is still supposed to work with -10 deg C outside.

22 March 2009

Recent trips - Lake Barrington & Robbins/Walker Islands

I was heading up to north-west Tasmania for a paddle at Robbins & Walker Islands with is as far as you can go away from my house and still be on the same island. I thought that if I would go up a day early and do a paddle on Lake Barrington.

This is a 20km long lake (and hydro-electric dam) where there is a rowing course. I initially planned to do a lap around the whole dam. I arrived at 8.30am and headed off in my Grafton Paddle Sports - 'high-deck' Wizard kayak. I also had a Paddling Perfection - Slingshot sea kayak for my Robbins Island trip later.

I started off from the boat ramp on the eastern side of the lake - about 6km from the northern (dam) end. I started off heading down the eastern side - exploring all the nooks and quickly reached a sharp left-hand bend near the dam. There is a floating wire to stop people getting close to the top of the dam. Looking at the dam from the water didn't look like a big deal but when I got out on the western side and walked to the dam wall it was an awesome site over the top.

The water was about a foot away from spilling over the top and the dam wall drops down 84 metres to the outlet river below. Down each side of the dam were a series of ladders and steps. These could take you right down to water level or about 3/4 of the way down where there is a walkway to the other side.

It looked like the water would fall down beyond this walkway and it would be like walking behind a giant waterfall. It would be an awesome, scary sight seeing it spilling over.

I returned to the kayak and headed back up the lake and found the Forth Falls. I had read about this spot years ago in a kayak magazine where people were paddling down the Forth Falls Creek and landing in the lake.

I have no idea how hard or dangerous it is but the final drop looked at least 5 metres and other photos make it look challenging.

After a day of exploring the lake I headed off towards the far north-west corner of Tassie. I had a detour at Burnie due to a serious crash where a log truck collided with a cyclist.

I arrived at Robbins Island Road and packed my kayak. The next day was a cruisy paddle up to Mosquito Inlet followed by some rolling practice in my slingshot.

During the return trip, I was surrounded by thunder and lightning and some torrential rain. It was quite scary for a while. When you are out in open water there is no protection from the lightning.

By the time I reached Robbins Passage again the sun was out and it was very pleasant - followed by a 6 hour drive home - thanks to lot of slow campervans.