This will be an unusually long post for me, so here's a photo to get you hooked.
I wrote recently about my Mersey River project: THIS RIVER. The results of 12 months of photography are currently being exhibited, but the project is not complete, there are sections of river I didn't make it to in the first 12months.
So after a summer break I've begun to fill the gaps, starting with the headwaters section I attempted late in 2020. A four day walk from Lake Meston on the Central Plateau to Lee's Paddocks -nearly 30 kilometers down stream. The first attempt was aborted due to heavy rainfall and freezing temperatures. I only managed to photograph the headwater lakes before pulling out.
Saturday March 13th 2021, my husband an I began the trip again, no photography was undertaken on the first day's walk past Lake Meston on to Junction Lake Hut, mostly because the weather conditions were just as gloomy. We made it to the hut, cold and wet but in good spirits.
Sunday March 14th 2021, the morning was very cold with a sprinkling of snow and ice but the rain was light and intermittent as we headed down the "Never Never", an unmapped and unmarked (no pink tape even) rough track that follows the Mersey River downstream until it meet the overland track at Harnett Falls, having received some good advice from a recent walking party to stay as close to the river as we could, we managed to find the walking pad most of the time. McCoy Falls (we didn't stop at Clark Falls as I had photographed it previously) were the standout on this section of river. Just before Hartnett Falls we crossed the river, Nathan on the log and me wading. I slipped on the exit and went for an unplanned swim, narrowly avoiding dunking my camera and rendering the rest of the trip pointless. I was wet for the rest of the day and it dented my focus and enthusiasm for photography.
After lunch at the top of Hartnett Falls we used followed the well established track system down to the base of the falls and on to Fergusson and D'Alton falls photographing the falls relatively quickly with the aim to get as far in to the untracked section of the river below with time and energy to find a camping spot before dark. I have intentions of revisiting these falls again via the more conventional Overland track route. Below D'Alton falls the river continues in a narrow gorge for a few hundred meters before opening out, we crisscrossed the river a few times as the banks steepened eventually finding a camping spot next to a deep pool about 500m East (downhill) of Du Cane Hut. The rain held off enough to set up a relatively dry tent, but continued to drizzle all night.
Monday March 15th 2021, the drizzle eased as the day dawned fortunately and as we headed downstream through the rainforest and into section of tea tree and Bauera the day warmed up. The river transitioned from a deep dark forest stream, then meandering through tussock flats where it abruptly disappeared under and old rock fall from the cliffs of Cathedral mountain. Emerging a 100 meters downstream and many little streams coming together again as a more energetic flow. As the vegetation changed the river entered a whitewater canyon section before calming down again as it meet Kia Ora Creek in a wide pool. After eating lunch and a few fishing attempts we left the river for a while to make use of the Paddy Harnett Track which heads into "The Paddocks". Fatigue started to set in as we arrived at the tussocky Southern end of Wadley's Padocks, we called it a day and dried out our sodden tent and clothes in the afternoon sun.
Tuesday March 16th 2012, we got a surprisingly good sleep on our lumpy tussock beds, and packed up for the last day's walk. Unsure how much track verse tussock walking there was going to be a cross the paddocks we mentally prepared ourselves for a slow couple of kilometres North towards Lee's hut. Going was easier than expected and we stopped for an early lunch and some fishing at the Northen end of Lee's Paddock's. The last tracked section from the Paddocks past Oxley & Lewis Falls took less than 2 hours and the camera was stowed away. Nathan volunteered for the packless walk 2km up the Mersey Forest Road to get the car from our starting point, while I waited with our gear and swatting wasps away.
Tasmanian based, New Zealand born