Meander River – Sunday 15 August 2010 – by John McCausland
Participants: Dave Chiam, Claye Mace, Gavin Bye, Larcs, John McCausland
Claye rings Saturday night: “We’re doing the Meander tomorrow. Looks like the level will be up so why don’t you come along in an Incept. Meet at Dave’s place, 9am” I think about it and decline, I need to get a few things done around the house and although it might be fun I’d rather do some kayaking, not go rafting.
Sunday at 9am, Gav rings. “Meander is just over a metre, perfect level for you for a first run in a kayak”. It’s too good an offer to refuse! Dave picks me up and we collected Larcs on the way. He’d had a good run down the Leven the day before with Paul Walker, Cam Folder and a crowd from the Tasmania Canoe Club.
It’s raining so we shelter under the Meander Bridge near the shop as we change into paddling gear. The gauge shows a level of 1.1m and it’s all looking good. Pile the boats on Dave’s car and drive up to the lake. On the way Dave and the others debate whether the dam will be spilling or whether all the rain the night before has just got the tributaries below the dam running.
It’s about a 500m walk in to the base of the dam. At the bottom it’s very atmospheric, the dam is spilling and looking impressive, the drizzle is constant and the roar of the water spilling from the dam makes conversation difficult. Downstream is a steep sided gorge, thickly vegetated. Tall eucalypts loom thru the mist. We put in and after a quick lesson in hand signals from Claye we’re underway. We move downstream slowly, Larcs and I practice our cutting in and out of eddies and follow instructions for the bigger rapids.
A kilometre or two down the river disaster strikes. Running a medium sized rapid Larcs trips up, has a swim and is washed thru the larger drop immediately below. Thinking of the rescue I start to give chase, then seeing what’s ahead I cut out into an eddy – better not give the others two people to rescue! Gav yells “follow my line” as he heads past, and I do. Larcs, boat and paddle are retrieved and the situation’s quickly under control but I hear Claye call “he’s done his shoulder!”
It takes around 10 minutes to get everyone in one spot. Larcs is obviously in a lot of pain and Claye and Gav work on getting his dislocated shoulder back in. After a couple of goes it’s in, but it’s pretty sore and no good for paddling. It’s still misty and drizzling and we’re deep in the gorge, the bush is thick and dripping wet. I help Larcs up the first 100m or so of the gorge, we haul ourselves up on rotted logs, shallow rooted ferns and celery top pines. As we move up the terrain changes, from near vertical with slippery and crumbly soil to slightly less steep with lichen and moss covered rocks underfoot, but no less wet or scrubby. Claye has assured Larcs that the walk out is straightforward, “just up out of the gully then keep going till you hit the road”. With Larcs assuring me that he’s OK I turn back, I’m worried that if I go much further I won’t find the boats again!
Dave floats the extra boat down and we keep moving. We’re not rushing as Larks has a bit of a walk ahead of him but we’re not stopping to play like we were before. We do have a couple of goes at surfing down near the bottom and I come the closest I have to tripping up, but manage to flail around and keep from going in.
Back at the car and in dry clothes (thankfully the rain has stopped) Claye and Dave head off to get the other car and find Larcs. Gav and I check the gauge which is now showing 1.28. Claye and Dave return with the other car, but not with Larks. We make our way back up the road checking out all the little side tracks we can. It must be at least an hour and a half now since he started walking and there’s no sign of him. On Dave’s phone Google Maps shows the longest walk (in a straight line…) he could have had would be about 3km and we start to wonder if perhaps he’s gone into shock or got stuck.
We poke around some more then head back to Meander to take stock of the situation. A few
minutes later Claye & Gave turn up with a smiling Larcs. He’d headed west and hit the road in to the dam. Not an easy walk, though apparently the paddle came in handy for bashing down vegetation! Larcs seems happy enough, he’s dislocated his shoulder before and while not pleasant it’s not too bad either. In fact it didn’t even result from an inappropriate paddle stroke, it actually happened on the swim after he went in. While he gets into his dry gear I check the gauge, it’s now reading 1.35.
This was my first go at a grade 3 river. In summary a great trip (for me anyway, maybe not for Larcs) that was good fun, a challenge and a very nice part of the world.
BoM plot: Meander River gauge at Meander