Up the Mighty Gordon River

We have spent five days up the mighty Gordon River. It has been a thrill and a huge adventure. You know what they say, you haven’t had an adventure if you did not wish you were elsewhere at some stage!  Well guess what!

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Entering the Gordon River

It has been such a mix of moods, sights and experiences.  We started in calm, sunny weather, motoring up the big broad river, and as we progressed upstream, the river narrowed and meandered, becoming more interesting. The weather became changeable too, sunny one minute, overcast the next, misty in the evenings and early mornings. We had surprises at every bend in the river. We enjoyed beautiful rainforest walks, amazing cliff sites and places to stop at with welcoming huts. We saw platypuses, we admired sensational reflections and patterns on the water from the surrounding hills, rainforest and clouds in the sky. We stayed at superb anchorages where the evening mist slowly enveloped us and took our breath away.

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Evening Mist at our anchorage in a bend

Sunset on the Gordon River

Sunset on the Gordon River near Lake Pidler

But then it got nasty. A strong westerly change descended on us, with heavy rain and gale force winds. By that stage we had gone as far as we wanted to go: to Sir John Falls, some 20 miles upstream, and we had tied ourselves to the jetty there, thinking it would be a good spot to weather the storm. Anchoring was not really an option given the depth of the river: 25+ meters.  We were sitting comfortably, sheltered from the wind. What we had not counted on was the river rising fast from so much rain, and the number of tree trunks careering downstream, so much so that it was dangerous to come down the river for a couple of days.  The Gordon and Franklin Rivers are a huge catchment area.

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One of several hundred tree trunks coming down the Gordon River

So started the anxious watch of the flood level and the frequent repositioning of our mooring ropes along the jetty poles that were disappearing as the water was rising up and up. The Gordon rose by two meters. Some of the signs and poles were totally under water and we got close to floating off the pontoon. We were watching tree trunks floating past at the rate of one every three minutes. That is 960 in 48 hours!

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The Gordon is up 1.5m. It will rise to 2.m with the sign on the right underwater by late afternoon!

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Gordon up 1.8m and still rising!

We live to tell the tale and share the photos. But we won’t be seen up a wild river again when heavy rain is forecast!

We escaped out of the Gordon on Tuesday 20th March, did a ton of laundry in Strahan and reprovisioned the boat, ready for the next stage of our voyage. We have a weather window to get down to Port Davey and as we post this we are leaving Macquarie Harbour and heading south. It is all go on Take It Easy! Here is the map of our next passage.

To Port Davey

And now we hope you enjoy this gallery of our unforgettable Gordon River expedition.

We will be out of internet coverage again for possibly several weeks, as there is nothing but wilderness down there. Our intention is to cover the 90 miles passage in two days, to see a bit more of the coast, but it will depend on how the wind and swell develop. Stay tuned though and do send us messages – we will respond when we get out!

27 thoughts on “Up the Mighty Gordon River

  1. What a wild time!! Scary to have all those downed trees come roaring past! And the flooding, too! Beautiful shots of the days before the storm, though, and so cool you saw platypuses!

    • Hi Ellen, yes it was a bit scary. We had talked to a couple of locals about being up River in the storm and they thought it would be fine. Good for the wind, but not for the rain! But as you said the time before the storm was stunning.

  2. Great photos as always Chris! Love your adventurous spirit! Look out for our friend on Aqualibrium. He entered Port Davey around 30 day’s ago. Amanda – Bossa Nova

    • Hi Amanda – yes we have caught up with Gerry in Strahan. They have been here for a while and will be heading off too in the opposite direction! It has been a wild time in an amazing setting. So vast and untamed!

  3. We’re hoping to cross paths with you in Port Davey. We’re heading around tomorrow from Recherche Bay and hope to spend a week or two exploring Bathurst Harbour before sailing north for Macquarie Harbour – if the weather gods are generous! We’re sailing in Roobinesque in company with Temptress – two Lagoon 400 Cats from Qld.

  4. Wow! I bet you this swelling of the river surprised you and gave you a greater scare that being at sea during a storm…because the current picks up speed and carries great amounts of debris. Extremely dangerous! However, it was a great experience for you that I’m sure you will never incur again. Take care my friends… 🙂

    • You bet it was a surprise HJ! We would never have gone up if we had known and realised the amount of rain that would come down. But what an experience. More learnings!

  5. Wow. Now that it is over, you can call it an adventure, but it sounds like it was terrifying. Best wishes for some calmer waters for at least a while.

    • Hi Mike, yes we were very worried for a while but what an amazing area. We are moving this morning to the next remote wilderness. Let’s hope this stretch of coast is kind to us, despite its reputation.

  6. What a great adventure! Did you try fishing in the river? One could imagine some fairly exotic species in such a locale. Was the water very clear before the rain? It’d be awesome to see some underwater shots to get a sense of what it looks like in the river. I wonder what the Platypuses eat there? Looks like an absolutely perfect spot for them. Enjoy!

    • Too many big logs to fish Craig! Water is tannin stained, put your hand in and you can’t see it anymore! Worse after the rain with all the debris. But there is aquaculture happening in the harbour, and some locals fish for trout.

  7. Fantastic photos Chris. We were gritting our teeth for you with regard to the wind…we didnt think of flooding! Stay safe and we will see you over in the east somewhere! (Hopefully sooner than later…still waiting for the weather window to cross the GAB).

  8. Wow – exciting times. Any photos of Wade acting as a lumberjack and surfing on some of those logs?

  9. A sailing friend John Newell passed this onto me. Looks fantastic. I’ve just returned from a small ship visit (The Coral Explorer) to Bathurst Harbour in brilliant weather. What a magical place! There are several easy walks up to panoramic lookouts there…but I’m sure you already know that. Have a safe journey…Michael

    • Hi Michael – thanks for visiting. Yes we have been to Port Davey and Bathurst Harbour from the southern side a few years ago. This time we are attacking it from the North. It is a stunning part of the world. Glad John passed on our details to you.

  10. The rising water and fast moving logs sound horrifying, especially with a wooden boat. Unbelievable eh! Enough excitement for a while. Safe passage to port Davey. Say hallo to Hobbs Point named by M Flinders after one of his crew who was my ggg/g/father. He was on first fleeet Sirius which was wrecked at Norfolk. Take a photo if you can please. Have fun

  11. Amazing pics.

    More heavy rain and strong winds coming through this weekend. Next weather window looks to be around Tues an Wed 27-28 March. Another gale force event looks likely Thurs 29 onwards.

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