The water in the river bed came from the many tiny creeks that flow off the surrounding hills, suggesting that even in the height of summer this part of the Derwent would never be completely dry. Some of these creeks seeped into the river bed while others entered by falling over small escarpments.
The further Andrew walked downstream, the more the river’s water level rose and the gaps between navigable rocks got wider. Hopping turned to leaping, and occasionally it was necessary to wade to get to another section of walkable rocks. It became a long game of “join the dots” as it was far easier to stay in the river bed than take to the banks and deal with the vegetation, much of which was infested with the flood debris. Wet feet and legs became the norm.
The walking was pleasant with occasional patches of fine riverine rainforest, dominated by myrtles and sassafras, punctuated by tree ferns and moss. Needless to say, when Andrew was forced out of the river he preferred banks with less vegetation. The river valley showed no sign of humans having passed – perhaps the few who might have done so had travelled by raft or kayak during times of flood. The inhabitants seemed to be abundant birds, as well as snakes taking the opportunity for a quiet bask among the warm rocks. Can you spot the sleeping reptile hidden in the rocks? How close would you have been prepared to get?
The Counsel River joined the Derwent with a noisy cascade, framed by myrtles standing as a gateway to a secluded rainforested valley. A quick detour was undertaken to look through the gates to see lovely scenes of unexploited river and mossy rainforest – a beautiful place to revisit one day.
Below that confluence of rivers the Derwent now ran much fuller, with the water volume having doubled with the Counsel’s contribution. With more water, larger and deeper pools of water spread across the Derwent and more wading in the dark water over slippery rocks was required to get ahead. It was easier to walk when the river was wide and more rocks were above water enabling renewed rock hopping.