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On 30 December 2013, Robin Cameron, John Cameron and I (Michael Minehan) commenced a traverse across the Western Arthurs ranges in south-west Tasmania, Australia. This is an area notorious for bad weather, even in summer, and we had atrocious weather throughout the whole trip, comprising of driving rain, gale force winds, very low temperatures and extreme wind chill. There was virtually no sunshine throughout the trip. Nevertheless, over 7 days in quite challenging and difficult conditions we successfully traversed the range.
On 5 January 2014 we had descended off the range and were in the home stretch back across the Arthur Plains towards the trail end. Conditions across the plains were extremely wet, boggy and slippery due to the amount of rain that had fallen in the preceding week and was still falling heavily. By that stage Robin had suffered a knee injury and was having difficulty walking in the slippery conditions. Late in the day we were confronted by Wullyama Creek in full flood. The creek was running wide and fast and was much too dangerous to cross, particularly with an injury in the party. So we decided to camp at the creek and wait to see whether the water level might drop. We then had to evacuate our campsite in hazardous circumstances about 3.30 a.m. due to the creek rising even further after heavy rain during the night. This involved wading through waist deep rising freezing water in thick vegetation to try and reach higher ground, or rather higher mud.
We managed then to erect one tent on a little mud pile just above the flood water and we all three crammed into the small tent with what little remained of our dry gear. it continued to rain heavily throughout the day. The situation was becoming perilous as we had an injured person, limited dry clothing and little food remaining and were marooned in wet and cold conditions. It was quite clear that we had no immediate prospect of getting across the flooded creek, which had not dropped at all. There was also two more bigger creek systems to come.
In the afternoon of 6 January 2014 we activated the PLB and about 4.30 p.m. the Tasmanian Police Rescue arrived by helicopter and evacuated us back to Hobart, for which we were very grateful. A media release issued by the Tasmania Police on 6 January 2014 can be found at http://www.tasmanianairrescuetrust.org/media-releases. It says: "At 3:00pm on Monday 6/1/14 Tasmania Police Search and Rescue were notified of a PLB activation on the Arthur Plain in South West Tasmania. The PLB was detected by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority who subsequently activated the Westpac Rescue Helicopter. The helicopter located a 54 year old woman from New South Wales who had injured her knee and was unable to walk. She was with two other walking companions all of whom were airlifted to Hobart. The PLB was GPS encrypted and registered with AMSA which greatly assisted police and AMSA with information and an exact location of the walking party."
Thank you ACR!
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