I was given an opportunity to join an overnight rafting trip down the Mitchell River. I hadn’t been rafting before so I was keen to give it a go. All up there were five rafts and four white water kayaks in the group. Mitchell River is popular for rafting and kayaking, with long flat sections interspersed with large rapids.
We launched at Angusvale (Mitchell River Project Access Rd) and paddled to Final Fling (Alexanders Rd). This was roughly a distance of 30 km over the two days. We camped about half way.
Amphitheatre Rapid was one of the highlights of the trip. We tackled it on our first day. Unfortunately we didn’t get a good start. A small stopper had turned us around to face the wrong direction and upset our chosen obstacle free downstream ‘V’ path. Our raft flipped at a big stopper moments later. The four of us were flung out and went for a nerve-wracking swim.
Emma and Holly managed to catch a throw bag from the guys along the shore. I got hold of the raft grab loop and stayed with the raft until it stopped against a big flat rock two thirds of the way down, whilst James missed the throw bags and got swept downstream past the rapids before finally making it to the bank. Even with a PFD you can sink and it seemed to take ages for me to come up after the initial dunking.
Amphitheatre is a Grade 3 rapid. However, given the level of 1.85 metres on the day it was probably a Grade 3+. Apart from our guide getting a cut above his eye we escaped injury. I lost a bootie and water bottle. Two paddlers in a following raft got thrown out but kept hold of the safety OS line running around the outside, and were quickly dragged back in. All our paddles were collected downstream at the first flat section.
This trip made me really appreciate the challenges of rafting, such as reading the water, working as a team and deciphering the safest path.
See my short Video of the Amphitheatre Rapid at https://youtu.be/xhB6o9IzG84 (footage from my helmet mounted GoPro).