The second day we ventured as far as the ‘Surprise Rapid’ which took us five hours (this is including brief halts for lunch, snacks, etc – and at retiree speeds), but mostly speed is related to water flow, and we are canoeing the Wonnangatta this summer with very low flows because of the effects of the bushfires years ago.
We had camped the first night just before the complete end of private property on the right bank. In most cases there is a public margin where you can camp even where there is private property along the river. It was not long before I spied an enormous stag (without antlers) running with two wild cows and calves which I thought an amazing thing. He was too quick for a photo though! Not long afterwards though our passage was blocked by a party of wild bulls which we waited to disburse – as they were not behaving in the most friendly manner! I judged all of these stock to be wild as they were running on public land/National park and had no eartags and they were clearly all sorts of crossbreeds and too many bulls numerically.
They do look daunting, don’t they? I was pretty keen to stop Spot barking and antagonising them!
There were a few more interesting rapids in this section.
And we finally came to the end of the dread willow blight! The riverbanks resumed their beauty.
Some of these rapids would disappear at a greater river height – or become more difficult!
Della is hiding behind that island before she comes down this one:
With a very professional style!
Spot and Tiny look back towards her, most impressed.
After an hour or two a break for a snack.
And then onwards again!
The various herbivores are keeping this national park well mown. There is much more grass on various private properties across the river.
A wedge-tailed eagle combs the cloudy sky.
Another pleasant rapid.
The remains of an old swing bridge I guess.
And Spot investigates a bathtub which may come in handy in case we lose our canoes!
There are some fearsome predators in these waters (river monsters perhaps – well there are giant carp anyway, nearly a metre long). No carp chewed open this freshwater mussel though.
You can see the damage the absence of willows creates!
The river has become wider.
Towards the end of the trip there were a couple of Grade 2 rapids, which we checked out before we committed ourselves. This one was OK, but another we portaged. there is no sense in getting yourself injured so far from help – and we are here for a good time.
After five hours we came to the (first of) the Surprise rapids. There are several in quick succession. I reckoned I could get down this one safely. Della demurred, so next day we portaged all of them (there is an old pack track) on the right bank.
Thre is a long languorous deep pool upstream the ‘Surprise’, a pleasant harbour and a shady spot to rest. We pitched our tent on a little flat about three metres just behind me to my right.
The residents began to come to check us out. Here is a wood duck. Then a giant carp began to repeatedly broach in the deep pool. I tried for an hour to snap a photo of him but to no avail.
You can see how close our tent was to the water. It was a lovely camp. The water was warm enough for a bath (as on the first night). The ground was soft and flat. We enjoyed a pleasant night’s rest in the wild.
I went for a little walk back along the river for a couple of kilometres (there are substantial clearings all along it). I saw two does and a stag – again they departed too quickly to get a photo. Della utilised part of one of their relatives to make a ‘Clan of the Cave Bear Mask’. Here, she is one of the ‘People of the Deer’. Well, she is a dear person anyway to come with me on these wild adventures!