River Name: Bradys Slalom Course
River Level: 21 cumecs
Number of participants: 10
Given the lack of rain in Tasmania, of late, I was keen to take advantage of a hydro release at Bradys Slalom Course, when I heard of it. I was a little nervous about running it, given its reputation, so was pleased to be able to inspect the near-empty riverbed when we arrived, before the water was released.
‘Big Bertha, the 14ft Sotar, got its first run since the recent Franklin trip with senior guide Campbell Baxter at the helm. To ease us into things, we launched below the cruncher and enjoyed the excitement of Mellifont St before entering the safety of the lake. Next challenge, to run the entire thing!
The Cruncher is an awesome rapid to run and consists of “a double stage drop with a stopper at the bottom of the first stage. It is usually quite safe but is very shallow and hence a capsize could result in minor facial surgery.” (Paddle Tasmania). I was quite nervous about guiding this stretch of water, but with Campbell acting as my ‘training wheels’, in the back of the boat, I became more comfortable with the idea. With a few more runs under my belt, I was having a blast! However, it pays not to become complacent; as I spun the portly Big Bertha above Mellifont St, she came within inches of the sharp, steel star picket that has claimed at least one raft in the past (I believe Campbell Baxter can attest to this!).
After giving the star picket a stern talking to (with a heavy rock), it agreed to remain and do its job, but never again pop a raft. The day was thoroughly enjoyed with only a brief swim by Robert Priester and a slightly less brief swim by our president. When I last saw him he was walking with a strange gait and complaining of soreness.
Award Nominations: Campbell Baxter Most Valuable New Guide.
Campbell has recently become a senior guide with the club and must be one of the youngest people to have guided the entire Franklin River, of which he did an excellent job. At 19, he shows maturity beyond his years, which is backed up by white-water experience and skills.