It had been five long years since we’d been back to the Peak River. It was late one afternoon in 2003 after paddling the Goobarragandra River that we begun looking at the topo maps to see if we could find another stretch of river to paddle. The Peak River looked like it had the gradient for some good whitewater.
We put on in the afternoon expecting to paddle the relatively short section in good time. It wasn’t long before we reached the main gorge and realised we didn’t have nearly enough time to paddle the rest of the river. As night fell, we were forced to walk back out. Although we had to walk out, we realised we’d found a gem of a river.
None of the locals had heard of anyone trying to kayak the river before, and neither did the local canoe club. Fueled by the quality rapids we had seen, and the possibility of a first descent, we were committed to get back to the Peak River the following season.
The following year in 2004, we completed what is believed to be the first full descent of the Peak River. We followed this up again in 2005, paddling a few extra rapids we’d portaged the previous year.
It was another five long years until we eventually returned to the Peak River in 2010. In 2010, it was only three of us: Allen, Andrew and Tristan, all part of the original crew, who made the voyage back to the Peak River. We arrived late on Friday night to our campground, and had a restless night trying to battle the cold and get some much needed sleep.
Despite the lack of sleep, the cold weather, and the thought of the even colder water, we were excited and keen to get back onto the Peak River. We managed to convince some campers to give us a lift up the mountain for $20. By the time we were putting on the river the sun had come up and the skies were clear and blue.
We made good time down to the big drops of the gorge without any incidents. We spent a bit of time at the bigger rapids, setting up safety for each other and also getting some media footage. We all had good lines down the slide and were keen to hit up the big waterfall (pictured below).
The lines where mostly good off the big one. Tristan over rotated and landed on his paddle, snapping it in the centre. It had already been snapped on a previous trip, and had a home made repair that had been working fine until now. He did a good job to roll up with half a paddle after being pushed into the rock wall. Unfortunately he was washed behind the curtain of the waterfall, which meant he had to be pulled out with a rope.
It’s worth noting that we all knew what was behind the curtain, that there were no undercuts or other dangers behind there before anyone paddled the drop. We knew Tristan was upright and fine behind there. It was simply a matter of getting a rope in there to assist him getting out. You can check out the footage from the video at the end of this post.
There’s another drop directly below the big one pictured above. Andrew and Allen were both pushed up against the rock wall at the bottom, making it difficult to roll. Andrew ended up having a quick swim into the still pool downstream.
Apart from one last double drop which we portaged, the river begins to flatten out. We kept up the pace all the way to the take out, with Tristan paddling out C1 style with half a paddle and styling it.
The short winter days meant that by the time we made it out, the sun was behind the hills and the temperature was dropping fast. Although we were glad to be off the river and into some warm, dry clothes, we were ecstatic to have finally made our long awaited return to the Peak River.
Check out the video of our day below, or view the peak river video on vimeo.
Trip Date: 17th July 2010