Vladimir Lysenko. RAFTING IN AUSTRALIA (December of 1994)

(Snowy River)

Taking off from Moscow on December 10, 1994 and making the intermediate landing in Bangkok (Thailand), we (I and my companion Vladimir Kuznetsov) have arrived in the morning on December 11 to Sydney, where were met by my acquaintance on correspondence John Morrell. As the importation of the majority of products (and especially meat) to Australia is forbidden categorically, we had to grasp from Russia tea, sugar and sublimated (dry) soups only. We bought the other products in Sydney. Then John has taken us to the bus station, and in eight hours by the bus we arrived to Barydale, making 1.5-hour stop in Canberra (the rather pleasant town; however, this characteristic concerns also to the majority of other towns and townships of Australia; we shall tell at once: we have liked Australia very much). In Barydale we were met by John`s friend David Cigana, at which we have spent the night.

For the following day David has taken us in the car to the Snowy River to the place, located a little below the settlement Dalgeti. From here we have begun the rafting.

We were going to raft on the Snowy at first the eighty-kilometre not-visited by rafters site, and then to overcome 120 km of already well-known route. On the first site it should be met Kurrowong Waterfall. However, what is its height and where is it precisely located, the local professional rafters did not know, as, naturally, we also. I shall tell at once, that for the first 80 km we have spent six operational days (and for the other 120 km – four days). On the first site we have met not one waterfall (as it was expected), but three. Moreover before the first two waterfalls (of height of 4 and 2.5 m accordingly) there were 10 km of severe rapids. From time to time in the river there were met the chaotic conglomerations of boulders of height of up to 10-15 m. Because of the rather low level of water, on this site of the river a few "impassages" (the narrow slots between boulders, into which our catamaran could not squeeze itself) were formed; in these places it was necessary to carry the catamaran on the bank. At last, we have reached the four-meter waterfall (as we have understood, it is Kurrowong Waterfall). However it fell into the half-meter slot (but the width of our catamaran "Kulik" was about 2 m), so to squeeze our boat into it we could not. Soon it has followed also the 2.5-meter waterfall, and then the river has calmed down. So, it was thought, Kurrowong Waterfall is behind, and ahead there is the "pure" and simple site up to the Jackobs River (where the first, unknown, part of the route came to the end). However the reality has turned out to be more austere. In a few kilometres of quiet water after two mini-reservoirs (of length of 1-2 km each) we have approached to... the ten-meter waterfall (as it has appeared, after its survey, impassable in principle neither in small, nor in large water because of the heaving of the falling water onto a cliff). Even now we do not know precisely, which (the first or the third) from waterfalls is Kurrowong Waterfall, though it is thought, that the third. Resigning ourself to fate, we have carried the catamaran over this (the third) waterfall, and then have continued the rafting.

On the following site of the Snowy (of the length of about 1 km) there are met the severe rapids, then the river is simplified. However shortly before the mouth of the Jackobs River we have appeared in the rather severe and narrow (of width of 2.5-3 m) canyon with a number of the powerful water-throw-downs of up to 1.5 m height. Directly before the mouth of this tributary the Snowy calms down.

Thus, we successfully overcame the eighty-kilometre little-known site of the Snowy River. For six days of the rafting on this site we have not met any person, but have seen about 30 kangaroos and 4 snakes (as our acquaintances emphasized before the rafting, the snakes here are fatally dangerous, a few person was lost from them in this region, besides now there was the period of their special activity). But the meetings with a kangaroo were for us pleasant. These animals, as a rule, escaped, having seen us, but the some let us come near rather close.

After the mouth of the Jackobs River the second site of the route on the Snowy River began, well known for the local rafters. It has become less the obstacles, however there has been found a number of the rapids of 4 (4-5) severity grade. The first canyon has appeared in 5-6 km about after the Jackobs River. The entrance in it has turned out to be impassable for our catamaran, but we have passed through other rapids of this canyon. In 13-14 kilometres about we have crossed the border between New Wales and Victoria States (from the first have got in the second) and yet in 32 km have reached the McKillops Bridge. From here it was necessary to pass seventy kilometres up to the mouth of the Buchan River (where the sporting site of the Snowy comes to the end), overcoming the obstacles in three canyons (in the fourth, very beautiful, they were not).

The third gorge, named Tulloch Ard (it is located about in the middle of the discussed seventy-kilometre piece of the river), is the most interesting in the sporting respect, in it there is a number of severe rapids.

The fourth canyon is called "New Guinea" (why - I do not know). At all events, the 120-kilometre site from the Jackobs River to the Buchan River we have overcome for 4 days. As just after the mouth of the Jackobs River the road comes up to the Snowy (on the first site of the route the road along the Snowy was not) and the people became to occur, the structure of fauna has changed - it has become less kangaroo, but there have appeared... cows and horses.

Moreover, it has taken place in... the national park. In general it is necessary to notice, that in a few kilometres after the third waterfall (on the first site of the route) the river enters the national park and flows in it up to the end of the route (however, formally we have passed through three national parks, adjacent each to other). The presence of cows at such place, naturally, has surprised us (here we have remembered the Denali Park in Alaska, where anything similar could not take place). To the point, in the Australian national parks it is allowed to burn fires, that is forbidden categorically in the American ones. However, the possibility of preparation of food in a fire suited us certainly (though we have taken with self for any case the primus-stove). Except the cows, horses, kangaroo, snakes, swans, ducks, parrots and other birds, we have met four companies of the people (two fellows fished; one married couple and the family with the children splashed in water; three naked girls with interest watched the navigation on inflatable mattress of their same naked friend).

Next morning after the end of the rafting I have gone to town-ship Buchan (14 km from the place of our finish), have informed John Morrell about the end of our route, and in 1.5 hours he has arrived in the jeep to Buchan, has picked up me. We have come for Vladimir, and after it have set off to Jindabine. For the next day we have arrived to Sydney.

On December 24 I have gone to Koala Park zoo - I wanted very much to take in the hands and to stroke the real koala (the marsupial "bear"). I was lucky enough to make it. Koala has turned out to be soft, fluffy and kindly - such, which we got used to see him in films. In the zoo I have seen also other animals-residents of Australia. The variety of kinds of the kangaroo has amazed - on this continent there is a few tens of them, moreover there are the very small ones, of a cat size. I have liked very much a wombat - the rather large marsupial beast.

In the night from December 24 to 25 John and his wife Gen have arranged the supper in honour Christmas, coming in one day.

And in the morning on December 25 we have moved towards the international airport Sydney to depart to Moscow. However before the writing about flight, I shall inform some about the weather, accompanying us in Australia. If during 9.5 of 10 days of our rafting there was the dry and solar weather (we have got burnt by the sun even), in the middle of the tenth day it has rained. And it was proceeded for 4 days up to the our start from Sydney (and, may be, longer also, already after us - I do not know). Moreover on December 25 it was raining cats and dogs. It appeared, that it is the extremely unusual event in Australia: rains in such season are the large rarity.

So, on December 25 at 15 o'clock we have taken off from Sydney to Moscow by flight of Aeroflot 556. At first on the panel, indicating the departure time of aircrafts, it was illuminated the route: Sydney - Kuala-Lampur - Moscow. Then it has changed for new: Sydney - Bangkok - Moscow. Already in the aircraft it has been announced: Sydney - Bangkok - Tashkent - Moscow. In a half hour it has made more accurate: Sydney - Bangkok - Karachi - Moscow. Eventually we have arrived to Moscow on December 26 at 7.45. We have met the western Christmas at the flight.

Thus, my last expedition in the series of raftings from the highest peaks of all continents was completed.