Howdy and Fish River Trip report

Howdy am new to the forum and this has been my first summer of pack rafting. Thanks to Dave Filan, have massively caught the bug big time, so has my partner Joyce.

Our first nonstandard foray was a little recce one Sunday afternoon into the Tarana Gorge, near Oberon in NSW; The River was low at about 35cms; amazingly, we managed to sneak our way through the boulders and managed to make all the little drops scouting them from the boat, granite really allows for low water paddling. It’s an excellent place to start if looking for things not too serious, or you are into having micro-adventures, or want do an overnighter in a nice place. We walked in from the far end of Evans Crown nature reserve, on Honeysuckle Falls Rd, following the fence line to the river. It is about a thirty minute walk from the car.

We liked that little jaunt enough to do a second trip that involved the middle section of The Fish that goes from the Mutton Falls Bridge to Flat rock reserve. The water was up at 65cms. It was a very late start and the river was running faster than our previous trip and we paddled off through farmland, negotiating curving races and channels and small drops, the first 5kms was marred after a good start by a lot of debris block-ups and sieves. This added an extra couple of hours to the overall 7 hrs. paddle time for this section quoted in the guide. Portaging was easy though. I would skip this top section and come in down lower at Tarana Quarry.

After finding a beaut campsite complete with the arrival of a very sullen farmer whom eventually thawed out and became quite friendly, kindly let us camp on the bottom of his property - we set off next morning about 10.30 and thankfully things in this section improved considerably. The river widens and we rode down loads of small drops, slides and chutes and this time only had to get out of the boat once or twice. We finished about 3pm.

These are all grade 2 type rapids; a straight forward 1m drop was heaps of fun. It’s fairly easy to find eddy’s to scout most of the drops, again, watch out for logs at the bottom of some of these things and occasional giant thickets of Blackberrys on the bank that you certainly don’t want to bang your boat into. We had lunch on a beautiful flat sheet of granite and then easy chutes and races and a few more drops led us back to the car at Kinghorn falls. The rapids in this stretch are really interesting to paddle and give good practice in boat maneuvering skills and we had a blast in this section. The best version of this trip would be to enter near Tarana Quarry from the side of the road which almost touches the river. (Use Tarana topo to work this out, it is fairly obvious) You would still need to get through a few massive piles of flood debris but things clean up about half a km from this entry point, this is just upstream from where we camped. We flagged the section described as “The Maze” in the NSW Canoe guide that is a few hundred meters from the take out at flat rock, it might be ok but we were put off by the description of difficulty through willows which for obvious reasons doesn’t sound like that much fun. We may go back and see for ourselves next time we do the section below this.

On another weekend, we went back with Mike Myers for a rafting camping fishing expedition and this time did the section above. Straight up, Michael caught a trout on lures, we let it go. This section is quite neat even at 45cms, navigating through narrow channels and down races in really interesting country. At times in the afternoon light, we could have been in Scotland. We paddled down to the middle of the gorge (where we had been before) and made an awesome campsite amongst the trees hanging two hammocks and a tent. Thinking all the fun would be over after the gorge section, pleasantly surprised to find that there was enough interest to make things fun and the river is rather nice in this section. We portaged one drop that the guide hints at is 3 because of a log jammed in the slot and am tempted to walk down and take out some of these strainers someday.

I must stress this is not a high intensity river by any means but simply lot of fun on a weekend when you are really craving to do something. We were never knocked out of our boats, so it is probably suitable for beginners. More experienced paddlers will want to wait for higher water. Take drinking water with you.

This summer we have been on the Colo, the Fish, The Turon and the Barrington and since it is warm, we may even do a Canoe Creek run before things get really cold. I will try posting some pics later.

Great to hear David, lovely report. Did you climb at Tarana as well ?

ta !I put up a few routes and did a lot of climbing there back in the dark ages, great climbing spot I must say. Looking up at the Crown again from the comfort of a packraft and given the impact of climbing and the local indigenous elders view, i think a good modern approach to climbing there now, would be to get a crash matt and go bouldering, just saying : ) rather than new routes, I think the popular routes are all still done, though !