King Edward Expedition
The King Edward expedition has returned and was a dream trip. Good friends, quality white water, raft support, play boats and extreme wilderness all contributed to a very successful 31 days (10 transit and 21 on the river).
As mentioned in my previous post, the King Edward River is situated in the Kimberley region of Western Australia. The Kimberley is one of the last wild areas in the world. The rivers run free (no dams) and the only introduced species or evidence of European invasion is the 4-ton bulls that roam free over an area that totals over 3 times the size of England.
Over the course of the 21 days on river we almost daily spotted crocodiles, Kangaroos, Goanna’s (native lizards that can grow to 2m), Dingos (native dogs), turtles, bats and a huge array of native frogs and birds to name a few.
Unfortunately we did not get the water levels that we were hoping for. Between Januarys to April more water falls on the Kimberley then the entire eastern seaboard of Australia but unlucky for us the wet season this year finished as we put on the river.
What was involved on the expedition? Firstly we drove to the river, it was over 3500km and which took us 5 days. From the last town that we can drive to we charted our own twin-engine aeroplane, for an hour and half. From the Airstrip that is located at a remote cattle station we hiked 20km with a months worth of food and equipment – 300kg. This landed us at the headwaters of the King Edward; from this point we paddled for 21 days for over 350km to the ocean where we flew out back to our car.
We did find plenty of different smaller waves and classic big rapids so the expedition did not lack in the white water department, or adrenaline for that matter…
I have paddled with crocs on the Nile before, and hiked though an area that has the highest population of grizzly bears in Canada to get on a river, but nothing compares to salt water crocs. These guys have been the top of the food chain in the water since t-rex was strutting his stuff. We were all worried about the final 45km of flat water and class three, a number of people have been attacked by the 15ft long predators that roam below King Edward falls. We were told a few things about the crocs below the falls, 1. Salties swim upstream during the wet, the falls that we had to portage was the last barrier keeping them from going up stream 2. Salties feed at dawn 3. A women had been taken in the pool below the falls in the past.
At 6am in the morning for one reason or another I was faced with a decision, we had an over turned raft trucking down stream from the falls with all our equipment food rations, GPS, maps, sat phone EVERYTHING floating in the water. I had to choose rock climbing back up 50 feet to the rest of the team and start out 3 day hike out with nothing but the cloths on out back. Or grab my paddle, jump off the falls and swim (FOR MY LIFE) to the raft and flip it back over, rescue gear and paddle our way off the river and be in the pub that night. I jumped and let me tell you, I came for adrenaline and I got it, wondering if your going to be eaten alive and being able to do nothing about it is pretty scary. Alas, I was not eaten alive, we paddled off the river within the day and were in the pub that night, back in real world and enjoying a beer.
I cant wait for next years trip.
Enjoy the photos and look out for the article coming up in Outdoor magazine and your favourite kayak magazines.
Cheers Lachie Carracher