Friday, June 27, 2014

Thomson River

My grandfather (in the boat)
on the Thomson River
1927

Note the steepness of the banks
and how thick the scrub is.
Click to enlarge images.
My father is not one to show emotion, however there was a special look on his face, when he reminisced about his childhood camping adventures to the Thomson River (in the 1950s).


"Thomson River 1927"
My grandparents also enjoyed going to the Thomson River. I believe it could be my grandmother swimming.

My Grandfather (back) on the Thomson River


When Dad was in grade 6 at primary school, his father would often drive him and a mate to Coopers Creek on a Friday after school, for a weekend of camping and fishing.  He would only have been about 11 years old!



Dad told me that they would often go in to the Tunnel.  This made me want to find out more about the Tunnel.

You can see the tunnel and hear the sounds of nature on The YouTube clip, which also provides a summary about the tunnel.  There is also an interesting story about the opening of the tunnel and a near fatality that you can read here, but I have been unable to confirm it.



Source: http://trove.nla.gov.au
The Maffra Spectator (Vic.: 1882-1920)
Monday 19 February 1912, page 3
retrieved 27th June 2014


Dad and his mate would take a home made sleeping bag, a fishing rod and some tins of food and spend the weekend fishing and camping.  According to Dad, there were no paths to the Tunnel in those days and they would slide down the hills to get in to the river there and crawl on hands and knees to get back up to the Walhalla Road for Granddad to pick them up on Sunday afternoon.

It was during one of these trips to the Tunnel, when my father was 14 or 15 years old, that dad was bitten by a venomous tiger snake.  He saw the snake in the rocks and tried to move out the way but felt the snake strike him on the leg.  He remembers feeling sick and dizzy. His friend Donny (pictured below) used a blunt pocket knife to cut his leg open (dad cannot remember if Donny sucked out the venom as was an old custom) but he remembers bleeding profusely.

Donny helped him to climb up to the Walhalla Road, which did not get much traffic.  Fortunately, luck was on their side, as a car came along and took him to the Erica hospital.

Donny was a hero afterwards but Dr Coto said the snake must only have just got Dad, while his friend did more damage to his leg than the snake!  Dad still still has the scar to remind him.




Donny and Dad
Moe - early 1950s

Until more recent times, Dad had not visited the Tunnel since his encounter with the snake, over 50 years earlier.  In August 2011, my Dad (age 69) with his brother (age 79) and nephew walked into the Tunnel to go fishing.  There is a track now but it is still steep all the way and they needed to have a couple of breaks on the climb back up.  Dad was very pleased to catch some fish for old times sake as he knows that it was his last visit to the Tunnel.

This post was inspired by Sepia Saturday.Please click for more posts.

29 comments:

  1. I had forgotten about that treatment for snakebites. Luckily I have never encountered poisonous snakes.

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    1. Snakes are part of living in country Australia but thankfully I have never had to deal with a snake bite!

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  2. What an adventure! What a lovely story of friendship! And yet I can't help comparing the setting to today when going off alone and exploring a tunnel could present just too many dangers.

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    1. I found it unbelievable that they would be left for the weekend when such a young age! Especially as such a dangerous place!

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  3. Going off alone and exploring a tunnel had some dangers even back then! Lucky it all worked out. Kind of sad about it being his last trip down.

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    1. I think it was great that he got to do a last trip after all those years.....and caught some fish too!

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  4. A tunnel such as that, unprotected, would certainly pose a danger - especially to young people who have no fear, yet, of such things! In the valley here, there are deaths every summer from people trying to swim in the canals - even with warning signs posted everywhere of the dangers (slimy sides preventing people from climbing out, or pumping stations along the way) Certainly glad your father survived that snake bite!

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    1. It is surprising that there haven't been many deaths in the area. In more recent times, they have been trying to close the tunnel so that the river goes back to its natural course.

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  5. What a great post, adventures of younger Dad, and his coming back to be "hero who conquered the tunnel finally." Great to eat those fish too, I'll bet.

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  6. That tunnel looks pretty hazardous, even these days!

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    1. That water is certainly rushing!

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  7. Great story; I’m glad your dad survived to tell the tale - scar or no scar.

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  8. Quite the stories to go with your pictures! Glad you dad survived the snake bite and was able to make the return trip.

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    1. I just love it that Sepia Saturday prompts stories that I may not have researched or written otherwise!

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  9. Well that just freaks me out. Being bitten by a snake is one of those old tv show fears like getting eaten by a piranha or getting stuck in quicksand.

    It looks like a lovely place to swim…except for that snake.

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    1. For me, it was brown bears and other wild animals in the bush. Kangaroos and Koala's wont hurt you unless provoked.

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  10. What a lovely story - just as well your Dad survived to tell the tale.

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    1. I tried to find Donny or his family. It would have been great to put Donny and dad in touch but I couldn't find him.

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  11. Glad we only have adders here and I've not seen one for years. Your Dad is slightly younger that me; but at 11 I would just be paddling in a stream where there were no such dangers as a tiger snake.

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    1. Aren't adders and snakes the same thing?

      Dad brought us up pretty tough too! I wonder how we are still here with some of the things we got up to!

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  12. Oh, the hazards of the Australian bush, or any bush, really. They handled it well though.

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    1. I remember going wandering in the Hills of Crooked River. We were so lucky that we didn't get lost or fall in a disused mine shaft. I do remember dad telling us that if we got lost to find a spur and follow it down to the river and walk along the river until we found someone! We were only in primary school!

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  13. What an enjoyable post! You took me on a strange and informative tour. Tunnels and tiger snakes and alluvial gold mining. Thanks! Glad your dad survived the attack! Our rattle snakes are much more courteous, they warn one away from their territory.

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    1. Thank you. I would have liked to have proof about Clara and her children nearly drowning at the opening of the tunnel but I couldn't find proof that it was true.

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  14. That boat looks like it's just about to tip over and eject everyone into the river. What a fun post.
    Nancy
    Ladies of the Grove

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    1. It wouldn't surprise me if they were all in the water a few seconds after the photo was taken!

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  15. The river looks like a stunningly beautiful place. Crikey - the snake incident must have pretty frightening though.

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