Aire River rescue

Victoria specific bushwalking discussion.
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Victoria specific bushwalking discussion. Please avoid publishing details of access to sensitive areas with no tracks.

Aire River rescue

Postby MeanderingFlyFisher » Sat 07 Jul, 2018 7:34 pm

A recent trip started pretty much normally for me with several months studying maps of a familiar area to me in the Otways.I had fished the area regularly over the last 15 years but had not gone to this particular spot on the Aire River and thought I had a fairly foolproof entry and exit point planned for a few hours of pleasant fishing.
After a fairly normal restless night due to the anticipation of a great days fishing ahead I got out of bed and had a nice big bowl of cereal before heading off on the pleasant and almost uneventful drive around the Great Ocean Road except for almost hitting a couple of roos feeding on the roadside edge.I admit I was a bit concerned about roos because on my last trip down the Otways I hit one on the way home.
Upon arriving at Triplet Falls carpark I brewed up a fresh coffee and toasted a couple of hot cross buns to see me through the anticipated next few hours of fishing.Then set off on the track about 9AM down to the Little Aire Falls after reading the info board in which there was no detail about the track to where I was going but all general info on the area and a map of the walk to Triplet falls which I had done recently with my family and also fished recently with a mate.For some reason I noticed the emergency number 112 on the board and remembered this as somebody had told me about using this number to access emergency services when there is limited mobile reception.
My plan was fairly simple and one I had used on numerous similar occasions.It was to drop in below the Little Aire Falls a few hundred metres using an old overgrown 4wd track as an easy access to the river and then fish up to the Falls and walk out on the walking track.I had pieced this together using Vicmap 1:25000 series Aire Valley and Lavers Hill maps and had included these in my daypack for reference.
When I came across the junction with the overgrown 4wd track when heading down the Little Aire Falls walking track I consulted my map and followed it to the river.It is amazing how much the bush regenerates a disused track down in the Otways and after a bit of a hike battling with the bush but following the easily recognizable track I found my way to the river.
The river looked impressive and I soon rigged up and was fishing some lovely little runs with the trout proving strangely elusive in the shallow runs and I didn’t find any until I came across a couple in the deeper section of a pool tail.I picked up 2 nice little wild browns in a few metres then over the next hour or 2 I picked up a couple more and missed 4 or 5.
The pools had begun getting bigger with tough bushbashing up the bank between 5-20metres and along anything up to 50 metres involved to get to the next wadeable section.
At around 3PM I thought that it was strange not to have come across the Falls and my intended exit point.I packed up my gear,consulted the map and decided to keep heading upstream to find the Falls.After about an hour I decided that I had somehow missed the Falls and headed back down to find the track that I had entered the river at.Once again it was still tough going with spots where I could walk down the river but also had to go around pools involving a fairly arduous bush bash.
By this time I had drank the 500ml of water I carried with me and eaten the 2 muesli bars I had in my day pack.At around 7PM I realised that I must have gone past my entry point due to the fact as to how overgrown it was and not really taken notice of my surrounds when I entered the river as I never planned to exit it there.I realised now that I was in trouble and tried ringing 112 but could not get any signal.
After consulting my map yet again I decided to head further downstream as the Aire Crossing was a further 2-3KM down(I had fished this crossing before and knew I could at least walk out the road) or the junction with Young Creek was on the way about 1KM from where I thought I was and could walk back up that to Triplet Falls and the carpark.This gave me 2 planned escape routes.
Then around 8PM it was getting dark and I found a nice spot up the bank under some tree ferns where I was going to spend the night.I walked out on to a log in the middle of the river and tried 112 one more time.This time it rang and I reported all the info to the controller and then he told me to stay put,that a search for me would happen in the morning,contacted the police and let my wife know that I was OK and wouldn’t be home that night as planned.I then headed up to my “shelter” preparing myself for a cold uncomfortable night ahead but safe in the knowledge that at least the authorities would be looking for me in the morning.I was getting thirsty and decided to have a few mouthfuls of running water and hopefully not get ill but avoid dehydration.
I admit that I then had my worst ever nights sleep shivering uncontrollably being very underdressed for the situation with only light cotton trousers and shirt,mesh fly vest,daypack as pillow and some dead tree fern fonds to keep me warm.I was then woken up between dozing at 5AM to the sound of my phone.It was the police and said to stay put and a helicopter would be sent out looking for me at first light.It was just after this that the forecast rain started.I was dry for a while as the rain was light and the tree ferns were keeping me dry but after a while it got heavier and I snuggled in under the base of a tree fern to try and keep dryish.I was sitting there in the dark shivering,waiting for daylight with only a solitary glow worm to in the nearby bank to keep me entertained.
The phone rang again about 8AM with the police saying that they couldn’t get a helicopter to search for me.My waterproof phone pouch had sprung a bit of a leak and got the phone damp causing it to play up and make it difficult to use.So I then decided to head further downstream as I told the police my plans to head to the Aire Crossing.
After a couple of hours mainly bush bashing because of the numerous deep pools to go around with thick bush,steep banks and thick blackberry bushes in my way I came across the junction with Young Creek.I was happy to find this as it gave me an exact location and proceeded further down the Aire as through intermittent but patchy contact with the police I knew there was a search party coming up looking for me from the Aire crossing.If I hadn’t had knowledge of the search party I would have headed up Young Creek to Triplet Falls as it looked easier going but was still 4 or 5 KM to the Falls.
Around 11AM I heard a helicopter and made my way down to the centre of the river and saw the chopper flying away up the river and thought they had missed me.I sat on the bank for what seemed like an eternity and eventually it came back and I stood in the middle of the river waving my arms and little plastic emergency mirror.I finally got their attention and they circled me for a while and signalling to me to stay put.Because of the steepness of the river valley and the extreme tallness of the trees covering most of the river I assumed they headed off to contact the ground search party as to my whereabouts.
I sat on the bank blowing my whistle intermittently hoping the ground crew would hear me.Then after about half an hour the chopper came back with a lifting frame hanging out the side.They searched up and downstream from me looking for somewhere to lower down the medic and finally lowered him down about 100MT upstream from me.He signalled for me to come up as I still didn’t quite know what their plan was.I made it up to him and he said that we were going to be winched up in to the chopper,which to me looked at least 80MT or more.I was then harnessed up and we were winched up to the chopper with the last few metres being extremely cold and windy due to the blades.It was an absolute relief to be dragged inside the chopper.
From inside the chopper I got an idea of the difficulty of finding me on the river due to all the trees overhead(go to Google Maps).They flew me to the nearest sportsground in Beech Forest and gave me all the medical checks keeping me warm to stop my shivering.Fortunately my health was OK and I had not suffered severe hypothermia.After an hour or 2 of observation and reheating me in the police car they took me back to my car and I had a leisurely drive home after a bit of food and a drink.
Just a sincere mention of thank you to all the emergency people involved in my rescue as they were all fantastic and extremely helpful when I needed them
After a bit of research the following day as I still couldn’t understand as to how I became lost or missed the Falls I cross referenced my maps with a couple of larger scale maps that I have got at home and discovered that the Little Aire Falls are shown in the wrong location on the Vicmap 1:25000 Aire Valley map being shown just below the junction with the Little Aire River whereas they are just above the junction on the Little Aire River and not on the Aire River.I must have somehow missed the junction when I was bushbashing around the deep pools as I was not looking for a river junction.
I plan to go back and walk to the Little Aire Falls along the walking track to confirm this.
Things that helped me
-Mobile phone in almost waterproof pouch(I have already bought a new one)
-reading info sign with 112 on it
-Well fed before I headed off
-Waterproof headlamp in vest
-Maps,compass,whistle and safety mirror in backpack
-Being reasonably fit and healthy
Things that didn’t help me or I will do next time
-Cross check maps with all other info
-Carry an EPIRB
-Carry silver emergency blanket
-Carry Fire Starter
-Leave detailed plan of intended trip
-Carry more water than I think I need
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Re: Aire River rescue

Postby MeanderingFlyFisher » Tue 10 Jul, 2018 12:58 pm

Just adding that the above post was moved from another topic and is an unedited version of an article I did back in March 2012 for a flyfishing magazine to show how easy a simple trip can go wrong.
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Re: Aire River rescue

Postby Eremophila » Tue 10 Jul, 2018 1:35 pm

Just curious... did you contact the mapmakers to provide any "feedback" on their error?
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Re: Aire River rescue

Postby Earwig » Tue 10 Jul, 2018 2:58 pm

Glad you made it our okay. A question about your phone - does it have any form of mapping on it - Google maps, Avenza etc. - that did or didn't help you locate yourself? I always carry paper maps but have Avenza on my phone and will load a map for where I am hiking (I can create them at work). It is a useful backup.
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Re: Aire River rescue

Postby MeanderingFlyFisher » Tue 10 Jul, 2018 7:39 pm

Eremophila wrote:Just curious... did you contact the mapmakers to provide any "feedback" on their error?


I didn't contact mapmaker as the 1;25000 vicmap series 1995 reprint was superseded even back in 2012.Not sure where the Little Aire Falls are shown on the current 1:50000 vicmap series as I do not have a copy.
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Re: Aire River rescue

Postby MeanderingFlyFisher » Tue 10 Jul, 2018 7:44 pm

Earwig wrote:Glad you made it our okay. A question about your phone - does it have any form of mapping on it - Google maps, Avenza etc. - that did or didn't help you locate yourself? I always carry paper maps but have Avenza on my phone and will load a map for where I am hiking (I can create them at work). It is a useful backup.



I did not have a smartphone back in 2012 or a gps.I purchased a gps just after the event and now use Memory Maps or Gaia gps on my iphone.I still carry paper maps.
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Re: Aire River rescue

Postby Eremophila » Tue 10 Jul, 2018 10:12 pm

Just watched “127 Hours” which seemed rather appropriate after reading your narrative.
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Re: Aire River rescue

Postby Earwig » Wed 11 Jul, 2018 9:58 am

This is the 2017 VicMap of the area.
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Map - Little Aire Falls.JPG
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Re: Aire River rescue

Postby dashandsaph » Wed 11 Jul, 2018 1:37 pm

Good to know it worked out so well for you, and that you've shared your lessons so hopefully we don't need to repeat them - we can make new and interesting mistakes ourselves!
On the 112 Vs 000 - please see below from triplezero.gov.au:

Triple Zero (000) is Australia's primary telephone number to call for assistance in life threatening or time critical emergency situations.

112 is a secondary emergency number that can be dialled from mobile phones in Australia. Special capabilities, including roaming, once only existed when dialling 112, however mobile phones manufactured since January 2002 also provide these capabilities when dialling Triple Zero (000) to access the Emergency Call Service.

There is a misconception that 112 calls will be carried by satellite if there is no mobile coverage. Satellite phones use a different technology and your mobile phone cannot access a satellite network.

Important – if there is no mobile coverage on any network, you will not be able to reach the Emergency Call Service via a mobile phone, regardless of which number you dialled.

To find out more about calling Triple Zero (000) from a mobile telephone, visit the Australian Communications and Media Authority website.

112—International standard emergency number
Triple Zero (000) is Australia's primary telephone number to call for assistance in life threatening or time critical emergency situations. Dialling 112 directs you to the same Triple Zero (000) call service and does not give your call priority over Triple Zero (000).

112 is an international standard emergency number which can only be dialled on a digital mobile phone. It is accepted as a secondary international emergency number in some parts of the world, including Australia, and can be dialled in areas of GSM network coverage with the call automatically translated to that country’s emergency number. It does not require a simcard or pin number to make the call, however phone coverage must be available (any carrier) for the call to proceed.

There is no advantage to dialling 112 over Triple Zero (000). Calls to 112 do not go to the head of the queue for emergency services, and it is not true that it is the only number that will work on a mobile phone.

Dialling 112 from a fixed line telephone in Australia (including payphones) will not connect you to the emergency call service as it is only available from digital mobile phones.
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Re: Aire River rescue

Postby MeanderingFlyFisher » Wed 11 Jul, 2018 6:48 pm

Thanks Earwig
Note the different position of Little Aire Falls on my map
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8DEA1948-1E7A-4F8B-AD66-3C30F0EA4CB1.jpeg
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Re: Aire River rescue

Postby MeanderingFlyFisher » Wed 11 Jul, 2018 6:52 pm

Hope this is better
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Re: Aire River rescue

Postby Xplora » Thu 12 Jul, 2018 6:04 am

Hope you had a pack rod and did not have to leave your gear behind.
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Re: Aire River rescue

Postby neilmny » Thu 12 Jul, 2018 7:46 am

MeanderingFlyFisher wrote:Thanks Earwig
Note the different position of Little Aire Falls on my map


That's nasty :shock:
Here is a snapshot of my own QGIS map using OSM and Vic Data.
This is where Vic Hydro Data puts it. Water Point 1:25,000 - Vicmap Hydro (HY_WATER_POINT/) 7th March 2017.
https://www.data.vic.gov.au/

Little Aire Falls.jpeg
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