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Papa Stour - 13. PS Ch 13

“I see, well I am Tom this is Bill, we are from Tasmania Parks and Wildlife, we thought we were here to rescue you, but it looks like you don’t need it,” one of the men said and I chuckled at this. “I appreciate the time that you have put in to come and find me gentlemen, and I am happy to pay any fees to pay for your time looking for me,” I said.

“Yes well, there usually is a fee for us finding people, but it looks like that you did not need it, so we will not worry about that. Now it is getting too late to head back to our vehicle at the road, so if you don’t mind we will camp with you tonight, and set off in the morning,” the first man Tom said.

“It is your park, you are most welcome, and my name is Edwin Crawford and I am 16 years old,” I said smiling, as I led the way into my shelter. “Well you certainly have done well with building a shelter to keep out the wild weather,” Bill stated as both men looked around my small campsite.

“Yes, well I did learn a lot of bushcraft in my first few years in high school in Launceston, and our outdoor education teacher said I was a born survivor, so I made sure that I came prepared, plus I did a number of overnight hiking trips first before embarking on this multiple day trip,” I replied.

“Yes, that is quite obvious, so what have you been doing in the way of food and water?” Tom asked me, “Well I carried a lot of water with me, but I also have collected water from a nearby creek, and treating it, before using it. With food, I have been using the freeze dried meals, and to supplement that, I have hand caught a number of brown trout in the creek,” I replied.

Hand caught, not with fishing line and fish hooks?” Bill asked, “No, just by hand and a lot of patience,” I replied smiling, “Well we have to congratulate you on that, especially since you need a licence to go fishing in the national park, but since they were hand caught, there is nothing in the books to say that you can’t do that,” Tom responded.

“If you would allow me, we still have time to try some hand fishing?” I suggested. Fifteen minutes later, we were done in the creek, knee deep in the creeks freezing cold water, and in the last twenty minutes of daylight, we managed to catch five fish, three by me and one each by the rangers.

Back at camp, with the help of just torch light, and the light coming from the fire, we gutted, scaled and cleaned the fish, before putting them on my smoking rack to cook, while I went and buried the remains well away from camp.

Over the next two hours, we ate, talked and cleaned up after our meal, and eventually bunked down for the night, with the rangers rolling out their camping mats and sleeping bags around the fire, while I settled into my tent in the hollow of the tree, where it is a lot warmer.

The next morning, I had the fire going and cooking my last three rations of breakfast when the two men eventually woke up, and I handed them a cup of tea each, to help them warm up. “Which of you is the snorer?” I asked casually and Tom laughed, “That would be me,” Bill admitted, and I just smiled.

“I think you have found a wonderful campsite here young Edwin and I would like to suggest that you leave it up, as a future emergency shelter for anyone that gets stuck out here,” Tom suggested. “I am fine with that, but as you see the waterproof bit is only a Hootchie, so it won’t last any longer than one year at the most.

“Now we know where it is, we will see to that, and leave a few small markers around letting people know that an emergency shelter is located close by,” Bill said, and once I had packed up my tent and backpack, we set off for the main access road, which took us a bit over an hour to reach.

“Your Mum said you are on a property a bit out of Strahan, tell us where and we will take you home,” Bill asked me and I laughed, You can’t get there by car, only by train or boat,” I replied, and both men frowned, “What you mean not by car, where exactly is this place?” Tom asked.

“Have you heard of Camp Spur?” I asked, “Yes it is on the Wilderness Railway line, but that is all National Parks Reserve,” Bill replied, “Yes all but 38 acres, which is owned by our family,” I replied. “Wait, I remembering reading some memo from Hobart head office about this, land bought by an Earl of somewhere, to be the holiday home of a Baronet, if I remember right,” Tom said.

“That is correct, the Earl of Crawford from Scotland, who is my second cousin, and I am the Baronet of Wigan, but only family and staff know about that,” I replied smiling, “Holy crap, we are in the presence of aristocracy!” Bill exclaimed, ‘Err, what we call you?” Tom asked, “Just Edwin will be fine, as I don’t want anyone in Tasmania or Australia for that matter, to know that I am a Baronet, but just to let you know, in the line of order, I am below a baron and above a knight,” I replied.

“So it would be Sir Edwin then?” Tom asked, “That is correct, for official regal events, but to everyone I am just Edwin, a Tasmanian teenager, who attends a grammar school in Launceston,” I responded. “Ok, so where do we drop you off, Just Edwin?” Bill asked, and I laughed.

“In Strahan will be fine, I can be collected from there,” I replied, it was a one-hour drive from where the vehicle was parked to Strahan, via Queenstown, and as we drove through Queenstown, I sent a text message to Charles. “Park Rangers collected me from my campsite, bringing me back to Strahan, passing through Queenstown now, can you collect me in the boat in 45 minutes please, Edwin.”

A fast response came back, “Glad you are ok, your mother and Aunty Bea were very worried, see you soon, Charles,” and I smiled at this before putting my mobile away. “Transport is organised, someone will collect me from Strahan,” I said to the two rangers.

When we arrived in Strahan, I thanked Bill and Tom for their assistance, before walking down to the main boat jetty, where the sports boat was waiting for me, and I grabbed the rear mooring rope, before jumping onboard. Ready to go thanks Charles,” I called out, and we were soon on our way down Macquarie Harbour, towards the King River.

When we arrived back at the manor, I received a group hug from Aunty Bea and Mum, and told not to scare them ever again. I promised that I would take more care, and that I was never in any trouble, as I was about to head off from my campsite the next morning, when the rangers arrived.

I assure Mum that I would take a personal EPIRB with me next time, in case of an emergency, and that seemed to calm down a bit. After putting my dirty clothes in the wash, I had a hot shower and changed into some fresh clothes, before checking for emails, and I had once waiting for me from Robert.

“Hello Edwin, I am afraid that the news has got out some how, that a relative of mine has recently been bestowed the title of Baronet of Wigan by Her Majesty, while she was in Edinburgh, so it won’t be long before the media work out that it is you. “I will do my best to keep any mention of you out of the media, but I can only do a little.

On the long stretch home, I thought about a scholarship idea of yours, and came up with an idea. “You have the catamaran which has a total of five guest cabins, as well as two crew cabins, the captain’s cabin and owner’s cabin, so you could do a smaller version of your idea, using the catamaran, and localise the journey so that you are in protected waters.

If you want to keep your identity secret, one way in participating in the scholarship trip, is to gain your boat skippers licence, or whatever way they call it there, that way you can be a crewmember and skipper the runabout tender for smaller waterways that the catamaran cannot get too. I will leave it in your capable hands to organise it all.

I have a friend here in Scotland, who is a University lecturer in Environmental Science, who has travelled all around the world for research, and he would be glad to have the opportunity to spend some time in Tasmania’s wilderness forests, as well has hold a number of lectures.

I have passed on your email information to him, so he will be in contact soon. Good luck with it all, and keep me posted on how the planning is going. Regards, Robert.”

After reading the email, I went looking for Charles who I found out sweeping the verandahs. “Hey Charles, the catamaran, that Cousin Robert brought us here on the first time, Robert say’s that I own it, where is it being kept, and what is the river level limit for it to be able to fit under the bridges?” I asked.

“Well Master Edwin, the catamaran is anchored in Morse Bay, north of Strahan, and to check the water level, we need to take a walk down to the jetty,” Charles replied, as he put the broom away and led the way through the manor and down the stairs, to the boardwalk.

Soon we were standing on the jetty, with the sports boat tied up on one side. “Well Master Edwin, it appears that the river has risen quite a bit since I last checked, and it is now too high to get the catamaran up to the manor at this present time. If you take a look, on the other side of the river, you will see a marker post, with red painted lines and a number next to it.

To get here in the catamaran, the river level needs to below a yellow line, which at the moment is not visible, as it is 1.5 metres below the water at present. The upper rail bridge is the one that has the lowest clearance, so the river needs to be below the yellow mark,” Charles explained.

“Ok, that sounds fair enough and easy to understand, I will keep an eye on that marker now that I know it is there,” I replied, as we headed back to the manor. “I saw a light green mark higher up on that post, what does that mean?” I asked.

“The river needs to be below that mark, to be able to get the sports boat under the two bridges,” Charles replied. “That looked fairly close to that mark already,” I stated, “Yes, that is why I did some additional shopping while waiting for your arrival, just in case we can’t get to town for a few days,” Charles replied.

“I have been working with Cousin Robert on a project, and I am wondering if I can get you help with it?” I asked Charles. “If you are referring to the scholarship, then yes I have been fully briefed on it, and yes I would be happy to assist in any way,” Charles said to me.

I opened my mouth to say something, then closed it and smiled. Once back in the manor, I retrieved my laptop and headed to the study, to try and come up with an alternative travel route for the catamaran, which entails no open water travelling.

Half an hour later, there was a knock on the door and it opened a little. Dinner will be ready in twenty minutes Master Edwin, “Thankyou. Charles, since tomorrow is our last day here, if the water level stays below the green marker, could you take me out on a day trip up the Gordon River.

I want to explore some options for this scholarship idea?” I asked, “Certainly Master Edwin, I would be happy to do that, if all is good with the water level, we can go straight after breakfast,” Charles replied, before he closed the door.

“The next morning, I was up early, and after getting dressed, I dashed outside and headed for the jetty to check on the water level, and I wasn’t too happy to see that it was just below the green mark, as I headed back to the manor.

“What is the water level like?” Charles asked me as I entered the dining room, where breakfast was laid out for me. “Not good, it is very close to the green marker,” I responded.

Copyright Preston Wigglesworth All Rights Reserved July 2020

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Traveling by river can be exciting but also not always the easiest thing to do; especially if you are not on a river designed to be used in that manner.  Some of the smaller ones can be tricky to use and navigate.

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