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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.