Nepean River (.42 at Wallacia Weir) 4 June, 2011 – Bents Basin (Section 1) and Nortons Basin (Section 2)
Paddlers: Cat, Jiri, Stu, Tommaso, Greg, Dave & Nicole
We had left the decision to paddle the Nepean until the last possible moment (being 4:30am), hoping that the most recent update for the river level of the Wingecarribee River would show that it had stopped dropping so quickly… Instead, we met at Bents Basin at 9:30am, where we were advised by the Parks Ranger that the area was closed to water activities due to the height of the river. From the carpark we could see that the last rapid of the section looked great. The Ranger then noted that he could not stop us from putting onto the river upstream, so we loaded the boats onto two cars and drove up to the put in.
A short boat drag later, and we were paddling down a quite discoloured side creek, which we somehow managed to convince our Italian friend was the Nepean. He was not particularly impressed! Upon reaching the junction with the Nepean, we spent a second deliberating which way to go, and brace ourselves for the first 2km odd of flatwater. It was a beautiful sunny day, and we could not have asked for better weather had it been the middle of summer. In fact, we promptly overheated, dressed as we were for whitewater. The surrounding countryside was beautiful, and the river visibly changed character as we approached the first rapid. We decided to portage the first rapid, as no-one particularly fancied taking on the suckback generated by the weir.
The next rapid was a nice rapid requiring some manoeuvring to avoid the rock on the right that created a nice curler into a drop with a small stopper at the bottom. The first ‘practice’ roll of the day was here. Another easy rapid followed, and then another great little rapid with an eddy halfway where there were two choices as to which line to take. The right channel had a drop of around 1.5m. The left channel could not be clearly seen from the boat, and most people chose to inspect. The drop on the right proved to be clean, and Jiri (still in his boat) ran it smoothly, followed by Cat. Jiri even decided to run the rapid again, down the left this time, while everyone else was still getting back into their boats. The rapid resulted in some excellent tail stands, but claimed only one jug when Dave decided on a tactical exit, and one injury when Cat decided to run the rapid again also, hurting her knee simply getting out of the kayak. Now injured, Cat was glad we were close to the end of the first section. She rafted up with Jiri to get through the remainder of the above rapid, rather successfully. There were then two rapids to go. The first was reasonably straightforward, requiring a sideways entry to avoid a tree. The last rapid of the trip was a nice grade 3 requiring some technical movements. These rapids appear much more intimidating without being properly braced in ones kayak!
Cat wisely, yet sorrowfully, decided to be shuttle bunny for the next section, with Dave deciding to keep her company at the local pub (coffee only!).
Rumour has it that the next section was nice, but only had one (maybe two) rapids on it, with the rest of the 5km section basically flatwater. The party of five who paddled this section recommend next time putting in at the takeout, and walking the boats upstream to paddle this rapid. The walk out is uphill, and with boats takes around 15 minutes.
A nice river, with these sections suitable for intermediate paddlers. Thanks to Jiri for leading the trip.