After an early start, cpratt, mathan, and I all did a three hour rafting trip down the Nymboida River, west of Coff’s Harbour, or about a five hour drive north of Sydney.
We were picked up at 7, and after picking up another (woofy) rafter, we were on our way. We stopped in Dorrigo for lunch supplies, and then bounced down the road to Platypus Flat, our put-in place. The weather was great. Yesterday, it was drizzly and gray and 15C in the afternoon as we passed through Dorrigo, and I was worried about what it’d be like today. Well, once we were away from Dorrigo, the weather became markedly better—sunny and warm, maybe 22C, with just a bit of cloud here and there. Not like Dorrigo, which sits on the edge of an escarpment--and down below is a big basin facing the coast. The wind just blows up the rain and the clouds from the Pacific, making a wonderful rainforest, but not particularly good weather for outdoor activities. But when we got to Platypus Flat, the weather and forest had dried out, and it was sunny and warm.
Putting in the rafts, we rowed down the river. The Nymboida was rather low, so we had a lot of paddling, and some of the rapids were a bit lower than what they should’ve been. Still, the water was cool, not cold, and the sun was very warm. In some areas, it was very reminiscent of northern California: down in the gorge there were many black rocks polished by the water, and up on the hillsides were dry mixed conifer forests and grass. This was a bit different, though, as the forests were eucalypt, brush box (Tristania conferta), and the very curious looking hoop pines (Araucaria cunninghammii). Occasionally there were staghorn, elkhorn, and bird’s nests ferns growing in the trees. Those are cool—we have an elkhorn fern on our back patio in San Jose, in fact! Great to see them in the wild. In fact, seeing the huge brush box trees in the wild was also real cool. They’re called Brisbane Box trees in California, and often planted as street trees.
Anyway, the river got a lot hotter as the day went on, and we ditched the splash jackets at the first break. The second part after we got rid of our ‘sauna jackets’ was quite a bit better… a few more interesting rapids, though a bit more paddling. Altogether, we did about 9km of river in about three hours.
There was a yummy BBQ waiting for us at the end—grilled fillet steak sandwiches with salad (meaning lettuce and tomato and beetroot on the sandwiches, not on the side), tea and coffee, and a big 2m long goanna. Yes, off to one side of the take-out point was a six foot long lizard, about as big around as a man’s thigh. We enjoyed watching him… he kept an eye on us, and wandered around the camp slowly, eating bugs, and sometimes climbing a tree to peer at us better. He was very, very cool.
Then we came back, bouncing along, and Chris cooked a nice dinner of beef redang, followed by a nice 1994 Chandon Australia bubbly. Ahhhhhhh………