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Trip Report – The Australia Day Fitzroy Challenge.

27th – 29th January 2006
Robust Girl was late. “Come on Robust Girl. I’ve given these Quay Street Sandflies ample opportunity to piddle all over me. Let’s get out to Hanrahan’s Crossing so I can recharge those ex-sanguinated mozzies. Besides, your Red Rooster is getting cold.” One hour later the racing pink Cayat and Honda Transport vehicle were rumbling into Hanrahan’s. But we weren’t the first. The jungle green Forrester of the right honorable Lord Byron was already parked amongst the parthenium weed. As was his wee tent, camp table and stools, arm chairs, solar powered garden light and raging bonfire (Me thinks this guy is related to Faulks. ……. Editorial observation ) Neville wasn’t there but he soon appeared carrying more wood for the fire. The only way to cook potatoes in alfoil is with coals and to get coals you need to burn, and burn, and burn ……. “Let’s take a peak at the river. Bloody Hell! It’s much higher than last Saturday. Robust Girl and the e-Bulletin e-ditor are definitely in for a re-christening.” “Don’t look Toni!” Too late. She’s seen the brown muddy stuff zoom, zooming past the paper barks. Funnily, she doesn’t appeared to be phased by the sight. Is it because she is ignorant of the potential peril? If she thinks the e-Bulletin e-ditor can save her, she’s in for a disappointment.

One half hour later the heavily laden Nestle all terrain vehicle cruises to the road verge and stops. “You are allowed to come and camp near us if you want,” goes out the invitation. No response, just a general crashing and thumping as camping gear, boats and personal belongings come crashing to the earth. Themi has to get back to the bitumen whilst there is still some light. “I seem to have brought too much clobber again,” laments the Regional Co-ordinator of traffic for Central Queensland. “Could you take it back for me please Themi?” “Sure Lyle,” agrees Themi as she cranks up the suspension setting of the Nestle Ford once again. It’s a pity she didn’t take his putrid footwear as well. Instead they were left in the Honda. Four days of concentrated Ambi Pur treatment is just starting to have an effect. Thanks Major.

Friday night was hot and steamy, mozzie plagued and it rained. A bit frazzled in the morning but a bowl of cereal and muesli moistened with UHT Milk fortified us normal paddlers. The carnivores who devoured the one inch steaks and potatoes in alfoil the previous evening for some reason required even more substantial fare. At 7am Bart, Marg, Heidi and Phil arrived, followed closely by Captain Col and Grace in the rough red ute. If we were going to do this Fitzroy Paddle, now was the time to get serious. “Pack all the gear into the Cayat, Robust Girl and make certain everything is lashed onto something secure. That half tonne of clobber we have is all essential.”

It’s 8am. Let’s go! Over the causeway pressure wave. Thump! Zig left to avoid the overhanging branch. Swish! Zag back to the right to avoid the bank. Swash! Swing into the eddy and face upstream to watch the others. 50 metre manoeuvre in 5.5 seconds. That’s even faster than the average S.H.I.T. could do it. “Well done Robust Girl. I knew we weren’t in any danger.” 800m further on and we encounter crisis number 2. “Who planted all those f….ing trees in the middle of the river? Is there a passage? Is it wide enough to fit a cayat through? “Straighten us up a bit will you Phil?” Another 5.5 seconds later and we’re paddling nonchalantly past Atherton’s Bluff. Time to take a photo. Smile Phil. And that basically, was how the whole weekend continued. There were some long and boring bits but they were soon forgotten when the next ‘run’ appeared. The highlights for Heidi was the catching of 20 something good sized catfish and the sighting of a kangaroo swimming across the river near Comanchie Waterhole. The highlight for Robust Girl was towards the end when the e-Bulletin e-ditor abandoned his Cayat steering duties when navigating a ‘run’ so he could get better action photos. Putting photos for the e-Bulletin above self preservation was not appreciated. “But Darling! On this section of the river it is traditional.” Remember that classic 2004 photo of Thompson and Mitchell marooned in the paperbarks at Glenroy Crossing awaiting rescue?

The adventure finished at 12:20pm on Sunday afternoon. We had finished another Australia Day Fitzroy Challenge earlier than expected. Nothing to do but sit back, wait and listen to the natural bush sounds. “I’ve caught another one Ralph!” “Shut up Heidi”

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