Plans D and E
Plans G and H
Plans J and K
Everyone we spoke to had weather news: a big stormfront was on its way. We hastily arranged Plan K. My aunt and uncle dropped us off north of Buchan and we walked in to Jacksons Crossing. The 4WDers we met at the top of Basin Creek Road were keen to tell us how steep the track was. They weren’t wrong. It was a hard walk, but the bush, the rainforest, the farmland, the bluffs and the river were gorgeous. The next day we couldn’t find the bridle track we wanted to walk out on (bushfires? overgrowth?) and after an hour messing around in the bush we had to hoof it back up the 4WD road, putting in a bit of hard work to make it to our arranged pickup point with my dad. We made it back to my parents’ house minutes before guests arrived for my mum’s birthday lunch.
The best laid plans
Sometimes I think: We had an amazing time, we encountered so many places, animals, people and things, we had some fantastic adventures with friends and family and we’ve seen more of the river than most people ever will. We had a few close calls and a lot of fun. We are so fortunate to have had the chance to do this - to take time off work, to travel and to have these experiences. It was brilliant!
Sometimes I think: Two years of dreaming and planning, countless hours of research, a huge amount of effort organising logistics, all that support from other people, all the money spent on gear and food and transport - and we failed. We didn’t see as much of the river as I hoped, didn’t do as much walking or camping or swimming as I wanted. We took the easy option too many times. Can we really call it an adventure?
Sometimes I think: If there wasn’t a real possibility of failure, perhaps it wouldn’t have really been an adventure. Perhaps failing is an integral part of adventure.
If we hadn’t changed our plans, we would have been on such a tight schedule that we would have missed a lot of what made the journey so delightful. I wouldn’t have stood still on an empty road in the Monaro, watching a huge storm blow across the mountains. We wouldn’t have hitchhiked. We wouldn’t have canoed down the shallow, sparkling river upstream of Dalgety, spending as much time in the water as out of it. We wouldn’t have seen an albino emu or spent a day hypothesising the geological and cultural histories of landscapes as we went 4WDing with my dad. We wouldn’t have seen the feral goats near Stonebridge. We wouldn’t have had the chance to revisit special places we found - to swim, to ford the river or simply sit and wonder. We might not have had time to watch the kingfishers at Jacobs River or linger beside the river as the steam or mist danced above the water in the still, cool morning at Willis. We wouldn’t have been able to spend hours cooking up delicious meals over a campfire with my aunt and uncle. We might not have been able to float quietly on our inner tubes past Snowy River crocs on the rocks and birds on the fallen trees. We wouldn’t have explored so many tributaries - the warm trickle of the Mowamba River downstream of the weir, the swift, refreshing water of Jacobs River, the deceptively picturesque Deddick River winding through dry scrubby hills and weed-choked paddocks, the big rock slabs and terraces of Raymond Creek, the Buchan River rising after heavy rain, the temperate rainforest of Pipeclay Creek, the reed-lined Brodribb River. We wouldn’t have been able to poke around underneath McKillops Bridge. We might have been too rushed to ship oars and drift downstream on an outrunning tide, the water lapping at the aluminium hull of our little boat, watching the world go slowly past, snacking on Fererro Rochers. We wouldn’t have spent so long leaning over the railing on the footbridge with my mum, watching hundreds of different fish dart and flash through the estuary water. We mightn’t have met people when we pulled a canoe up into their garden during a storm, when we sheltered from the rain in a camp kitchen, when we hitchhiked, when they gave us permission to drive or walk through their property, when they told us stories about the river. Some of my favourite memories are of the slow, quiet moments when we didn’t have to hurry.