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Journeys : Dec Jan 2010
I'm slipping over a sheet of dark-amber glass; or gliding across a slab of polished bronze; or flying through air along a ruler- straight horizon with identical cliffs and forests above and below. Everything is so dead-flat, so utterly motionless; it can't possibly be a liquid. But as the wake curls silently away from the bow of my kayak, as drips from the paddle-blade pock the surface into widening ripples, I know I'm moving through water; the buttongrass tannin- stained water of the Gordon River on Tasmania's West Coast. Ahead is my paddling companion Brian Hall, an experienced outdoor adventurer and a veteran of the region, having guided dozen s of rafting trips on the Franklin and Gordon. We're on the river to reconnoitre locations for a new Pure Tasmania 'signature experience' based in Strahan. The Gordon River Paddle (see box for details) is a one-day excursion, but our recce trip involves an overnight camp and a brief thr ust into the lower reaches of the Franklin. We start our jour ney in the same way that the Gordon River Paddle begins -- with a voyage across Macquarie Harbour aboard the fast cr uise boat Lady Jane Franklin II. At Heritage Landing, while the other passengers explore ashore, we lower our sea kayaks to the water and paddle upstream. As soon as we round the first bend, the world drops away and we're alone with the river, hearing only the dip and splash of our paddles and the clatter of currawongs in the trees. In the late after noon, clouds gather and the river takes the colour of the sky. On the silver-grey surface, a soft rain turns the water into the hissing static of an off- station television screen. Ahead is a stretch of sand, where we pitch tents, cook a simple meal and sleep to the sound of a rainforest creek cascading over Sir John Falls. Participants on the Gordon River Paddle stay on flat water but our second day involves heading further upriver and into the lower reaches of the Franklin. There are several short rapids to traverse; depending on electricity generation in the Gordon Power Station, they can be easy or impossible. We are able to paddle most of the rapids but one demands a short portage, wading around a rocky bend and dragging our boats through the tangle of riverbank vegetation. The lower Franklin is intimate and friendly and we paddle as far as A blade in a mirror Chris Viney Photos Chris Viney Cliffs in Limekiln Reach, Lower Gordon Verandah Cliffs, Lower Franklin Brian Hall portages a rapid on the Gordon December 09 / January 10 46
October November 2009
Feb March 2010