Wilderness Siligloo

Nearly 6″ of rain had fallen in the Wonnangatta River catchment recently. The river was still ‘up’ so I reckoned this would be my last opportunity this summer to canoe this section of this wonderful river. Yes, you can hitch a ride in.

NB: You can check the river heights here and assess how many mls it is rising or falling per day by also noting the rainfall at Mt Hotham  and the forecast for Mt Hotham or Crooked River– eg it looks good still for this weekend 22-24/12/2017 There was 12 mls of rain in the catchment overnight so the river will come up a bit in fact:

At Eaglevale I park under a shady tree and wait for a lift to Hernes Spur (9 hours) or Wombat Spur (11 hours). NB: Better to get there on Friday night. Some folk will go in then, others first thing on Saturday morning. If you arrive late morning Saturday you may miss a lift altogether. Fortunately kindly couple Kay & Ron Locke from Lake Munmora NSW gave me a lift. I grew up in the 1960s within 5 km of their house.

I put in at Hernes Spur. There was plenty of water.Ron and Kay sent me this photo of me setting out – and I took this photo of them. This was their first visit to the station, but I doubt it will be their last!

 A couple of hours down the river I made camp pretty much in the same spot as last time. It was a splendid serene spot with oodles of birdsong. Also, last time a dozen deer came grazing along on the other side of the river just on dusk so I was hoping to see them again. Too late for a photo that time. A couple of quickly cut bush poles and my home away from home is ready for me.This is my Siligloo: It proved to be everything I had hoped for. I had a wonderful refreshing sleep in it. You can see the clothesline worked fine too. I regret my wife Della pulled up lame on the morning we were leaving and missed this trip. She will have to wait for a bit more rain and for the next one. There will be one – or many! She has canoed sections of this trip before.

You have to admit it is a pleasant place to camp. How green it still is (for December) after the 4-6″ of rain we had last week. This ‘dark olive’ is a good colour for a tent: the deer do not seem troubled by it at all. A number came up quite close and honked at me.

My washing up spot (blue cup, etc). Deer had been wallowing right on the river’s edge.

Like this:

All packed up and ready to go.

You have heard of ‘parallel evolution’. Nature sometime emulates art. These could be ‘Cyclopean Walls such as those at Mycenae or Tenochtitlan.

Talk about ‘serendipity’. Last trip I had lost my ‘Airbeam Pad‘ (a pity as they no longer make them, alas). My photos showed me around about where it must have come adrift of my pack, but there had been over 2 metres of water down the river since then, so I figured it to be in Bass Strait. However it had washed into a pile of wrack (as you can see below) only twenty yards from where it must have popped out of my pack.

It reminds me of Cherry-Gallard’s story (‘The Worst Journey in the World’) of the midwinter expedition to the Emperor Penguiins in 1912. They went to the windiest place on earth 500 lies from base in Antarctica. It was so windy they had to build a wall of stones around their tent. Lots of places in Antarctica have land. Nonetheless during the night the blizzard took it away. When the blizzard abated they headed off pretty sure they would die, as without a tent it is impossible (because of the wind) to melt water, so you will thirst to death surrounded by millions of cubic miles of ice and snow. On the first day out, they found their tent,and were saved. The exact same thing happened in the same place to Alan Rayment, the CEO of Wings And Water Airline, Te Anau, my favourite airline. Serendipity indeed! Mind you, some of the members of this expedition perished with Scott on his race to the pole the same year – Wilson for example!

Farmers have been planting some kind of ‘camel thorn’ (at least a very prickly acacia) to consolidate the banks now that the willows are outlawed. They are not doing a bad job either.

I just love synclines.

Of course I saw a few of these on my voyage. I just love watching the does playing with their fawns.

PS: The trip down from Hernes Spur took 8 hours this time. The river height was 1.94 – 1.97 metres (at the Waterford gauge). This is a lovely safe height which avoids a lot of portages over shallow gravel races at the lower height of my last trip (1.78 metres – about the minimum). It would be even better with yet another 6″ of water (ie 15 cm) – so around 2.15 would be really excellent.

A couple of little video snippets for you…

Again, the morning chorus when I woke at about 5:30 am was magnificent. The view out the front door of my tent.

I do so love being alone in the wilderness:

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