River Crossings and Cattle.

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Horatius

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I looked for the "what did you do to your Navara today" section but couldn't find it, so posted here. What I almost did to my Nav recently is drown it in a river crossing. A very close thing and entirely driver error. Stalled it while crossing a river with water level up over the flares on the gaurds.

I decided to have a look at a couple of campsites shown on the map and marked simply "*4wd only" (which could mean anything lol) in a reasonably remote valley, which required a series of river crossings. The first site involved inching down a precarious, steep slippery and rutted, off camber section and then across the river which had water lapping up over the bonnet. No real problem though. While looking around for a campsite the track was flat with tight turns, so I took it out of 4wd and into high range 2wd as it made negotiating the tight track easier.

The campsites weren't much good so decided to cross back over the river and continue another 10kms or so to the next one. Into second gear and into the river, ute laden with full camping gear, fresh water, extra fuel and so on, basically about as heavy as it is going to get. I noticed the old nav struggling somewhat against the flow and having trouble making its way through the largish river stone base. As I was about to head into the deepest part and back up the steep bank I put the foot down only for it to stall. Not a good scenario for a crossing. Luckily I started it straight back up again, threw it into 1st, but it just sat there spinning wheels. Thankfully I got some purchase in reverse and backed out of it with wheels spinning all the way.

While sitting there wondering wtf just happened, the wife pointed to the general region of the gear stick and asked "that range selector thingy you talk about, is that in the right position, I notice you don't normally have it there"? Of course it wasn't, it was still in high range 2wd lol. I had just tried to cross a reasonably wide and deep river with large stones on the bottom (that can take a bit to power through) in second gear high range 2wd lol. I might have made it in 1st, but second gear? lol. Senility?

Once into low range 4wd second gear that I normally use, we crossed and got up the bank easily. Then I realised that if I taken my time and looked around (as I normally do, there's usually more than one crossing in places like this) there was a much better crossing only 50 metres away lol.

To make it worse the sun level made it difficult to see the bottom on the next crossing so I decided to walk out into it to get an idea. Just as I was getting on tippy toes with water level reaching the height where it causes shrinkage (lol) I slipped arse over head. Anyone who has tried to right themselves on large slippery river stones will understand the difficulty there, and this was followed by quite a few more episodes of going arse over head before I was able to get back up lol. The wife's concern gave way to no small amount of laughter once I got back, as she explained her concern was more about how she could reach Greenpeace to perform a rescue, I was flailing around that much lol.

If there ever was an illusion with the Mrs that I was a competent 4w driver (which itself is unlikely after so long), it had surely evaporated by this point lol.

Got to a glorious and secluded camp in the end though, and had a lovely dinner. I knew there was a tradition of letting cattle graze in these valleys in the warmer months, and this valley in particular, as I talked to the fella who owned them earlier in the day and had quite a few "somewhere in that valley". No problem, I've camped many times amongst such cattle.

Wasn't prepared for what a pita this lot were though. Took a walk along the river bank after tea and noticed a small herd with a couple of suckling calves grazing, in fact I walked through them without a problem. It seems they followed me back. Sitting there having a cold relaxing brew I noticed they were drinking the water the Mrs had warmed up for a wash which gave me a chuckle. It's not like they didn't have a beautiful mountain stream metres away to drink from or anything lol.

When the wife tried to shoo them away the reaction was unexpected to say the least. Lots of snorting, jumping around and shaking the head wildly had her racing to the safety of the car. I thought the air horn might scatter them and while it made the Mrs jump and bump her head on the door frame, the cows just looked at us with a "that all you got?" and no fecks to give. In fact they all moved in closer and got even more obstinate lol.

Wouldn't have thought it possible but these things were coordinated and going out of there way to annoy us. A couple of them took turns passing through under the awning between our table (where were seated) and the vehicle about a metre away to intentionally give us the sh-ts. Thought about a swift uppercut followed by a well timed left hook for the next one that did this, but have been too long out of the ring and would have been fighting well out of my weight lol.

On one occasion when they had the wife racing to the safety of the car, one of them thought her camp chair might be tasty but after chewing it for a while, decided to slobber all over it instead. Absolutely saturated it lol. Trying to move them on sent them all queer again, jumping around snorting and shaking the head. Tried to just ignore them which they made impossible and anyway, I was at the stage where wasn't game to sit with my back to them as they would then move in and surround me (seriously, close enough that I could pat them), they were that much of a pita.

They left eventually, but later that night I thought they were going to trample the tent with us in it. Sounded like a stampede that stopped just short of our tent with noses pushing in the sides, sounds of cattle scratching their arse on the bull bar, knocking stuff over and generally being a pest. Didn't get a lot of sleep and woke in the morning to a minefield of fresh cow patties ringing our camp lol.

Gotta say these little Angus are a different proposition to your average dairy cattle. Very flighty. Thank Christ there were no bulls with them, and they don't have horns.

All in good fun in the end though.

I guess the moral is never get complacent with river crossings. Take your time with each one and gauge it carefully. Don't necessarily take the fist one you see either, there are often better crossings if you look around first. If in any doubt don't bother, particularly if you are on your own, there'll always be a next time that way. Never take cattle for granted either. If I could find where the meat patties were going from these lot I would definitely go buy a hamburger lol.
 

Old.Tony

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Water crossings have so many aspects to them that might be forgotten.

* If the water is flowing fast, it's not worth it. Even if it's only axle-deep. Find another way, or find some high ground and wait it out.

* Don't go into deep water with hot brakes.

* Don't go into deep water with a hot turbo (let the engine idle for a minute or two before entering)

* Don't rush into the water - go slowly, because your radiator fan is going to bite into the water and it will get better traction forward than it does in air (water is 680 times more dense than air). In front of that fan is your radiator ... you do NOT want the fan to eat away at it!

* If you can't see the bottom of the water and you can't walk the path where your wheels will go, do NOT enter the water. How do you know that there isn't a deep hole there?

* Once you're in, travel steadily and smoothly and do not stop. Half of your movement forward comes from momentum - don't lose it.
 

Horatius

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Water crossings have so many aspects to them that might be forgotten.

* If the water is flowing fast, it's not worth it. Even if it's only axle-deep. Find another way, or find some high ground and wait it out.

* Don't go into deep water with hot brakes.

* Don't go into deep water with a hot turbo (let the engine idle for a minute or two before entering)

* Don't rush into the water - go slowly, because your radiator fan is going to bite into the water and it will get better traction forward than it does in air (water is 680 times more dense than air). In front of that fan is your radiator ... you do NOT want the fan to eat away at it!

* If you can't see the bottom of the water and you can't walk the path where your wheels will go, do NOT enter the water. How do you know that there isn't a deep hole there?

* Once you're in, travel steadily and smoothly and do not stop. Half of your movement forward comes from momentum - don't lose it.
Good points Tony. Another issue is the bottom and whether it's firm or soft. As we see each year up on the old telegraph track.

Another good tip is that if you are looking across to a steep exit on the other side, that'll usually be the deeper side and there can often be a hole before the exit.

This from a few years ago exemplifies the points of not being able to see the bottom, fast flowing water and "if you can't walk it, don't drive it" with disastrous results. As you can see the people trying to help are struggling to not be swept away. It looks like Dark Corner Creek at Sunny Corner which is a popular day drive for Sydney siders. An otherwise innocuous little crossing not much wider than a vehicle, even when in flood. Though these narrow little creeks can quickly turn into a torrent with enough rain.

What you can't see because they're just under water is a gnarly little exit that has a couple of ruts, one of them made huge by erosion and is very off camber to begin with (far more than it looks here). Not a problem normally because you can see them and pick the right line, but not if they're underwater. Looks like he couldn't get out through them because of this and once the engine bay filled with water this little petrol engine was going nowhere under it's own steam.

He was also the most experienced and was leading a group through Sunny Corner State Forest. Though apparently he thought so little of it he never even waited for the others to catch up before diving in. His group filmed it and put it on youtube for posterity.

part 1.

part 2.
 
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BarneyB

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Good points Tony. Another issue is the bottom and whether it's firm or soft. As we see each year up on the old telegraph track.

Another good tip is that if you are looking across to a steep exit on the other side, that'll usually be the deeper side and there can often be a hole before the exit.

This from a few years ago exemplifies the points of not being able to see the bottom, fast flowing water and "if you can't walk it, don't drive it" with disastrous results. As you can see the people trying to help are struggling to not be swept away. It looks like Dark Corner Creek at Sunny Corner which is a popular day drive for Sydney siders. An otherwise innocuous little crossing not much wider than a vehicle, even when in flood. Though these narrow little creeks can quickly turn into a torrent with enough rain.

What you can't see because they're just under water is a gnarly little exit that has a couple of ruts, one of them made huge by erosion and is very off camber to begin with (far more than it looks here). Not a problem normally because you can see them and pick the right line, but not if they're underwater. Looks like he couldn't get out through them because of this and once the engine bay filled with water this little petrol engine was going nowhere under it's own steam.

He was also the most experienced and was leading a group through Sunny Corner State Forest. Though apparently he thought so little of it he never even waited for the others to catch up before diving in. His group filmed it and put it on youtube for posterity.

part 1.

part 2.

Holy shit. That went south real quick.
Pretty much a perfect demo of all the things not to do. I wasn't there, so my assumptions could be wrong, but it looks like there was no recovery gear prepped before crossing, no recovery plan made with other vehicles and no pre-walk or depth investigation.
TBH just the speed of the flow woulda put me off (but it is easy to sit here in my living room & say I would have done it different).

PS - There is a short Part 3 on YT...the FJ ends up in Submarine Mode :(
 

NavaraAdmin

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Neat story. Have you been camping since then and did you run into any other kritters?
 

Horatius

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Neat story. Have you been camping since then and did you run into any other kritters?
Yeah, have been out a couple of times since. No critters to speak of, just the usual drop bears, yowies, big cats and so on...the normal mundane stuff lol. I notice the tracks around the place are suffering from our extended wet weather though (that hopefully is over now).

There has been a long battle between environmentalists and farmers in that particular area (Alpine National Park). The cattle have traditionally grazed in these river valleys for a century or more but now are allowed to graze in the state forests, not in the NP itself. Quite often rivers form the boundary between the two and as the fella who owned these particular (pita) cattle mentioned, the cattle themselves don't know that. They just go where the best grass is (ie. campgrounds). It's a difficult problem and I think both sides have valid arguments.
 

NavaraAdmin

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I could see where the cattle just want the good grass. I just hope there is not a great big steak feast at the campground.
And maybe it will all work out.
 

NavaraAdmin

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The only time I've been tent camping was in the back acreage that had cattle. Fortunately the hubby of my cousin went out the day before and cleared the area of droppings, and then put up a temp fence in the small area we were camping in. It was very nice and no strange visitors in the night.
 

Horatius

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^ That's funny, because if you visit Bretti Reserve (Thunderbolts Way, south of Walcha NSW) it's a cattle paddock that you're allowed to camp in.
That'd be fair enough in a cattle grazing area though. In the more popular and easier to access areas in this region (that are on the edge of state forests where cattle are allowed to graze) there were cattle in some of the camping areas. They were no problem at all.

In the end I decided to go somewhere more remote because there were so many people, nothing to do with the cattle, they were fine lol. It's a trade off, the wife has a fear of remoteness and feels more comfortable with people around. I can understand that, but am still somewhat the opposite. I feel safer and more comfortable if I never encounter people and enjoy remoteness (largely for this reason). I notice that people don't so much camp to get away from it all these days, as bring it all with them. Anyway, never had a camping experience ruined by a group of noisy, messy, drunken marsupials yet lol. Perhaps too many years working in a big city has a tendency to cause misanthropy.

The area I'm talking about takes considerable effort to get to, far deeper in a wilderness area in one of the countries premier NP's. The cattle there weren't your average little moo cow either lol. I don't know if the more secluded lifestyle where they wouldn't contact people as much has made them semi feral, but these little things (is it possible for cattle to have "Napoleon complex"?) were aggressive little pains in the arse. To the point of being mildly concerning (or somewhat more than mildly for the wife lol). It might sound OTT but for bushwalkers without the safety of a vehicle, especially in small numbers or on their own, wouldn't recommend camping in remote areas anywhere near these things.
 

Old.Tony

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That'd be fair enough in a cattle grazing area though. In the more popular and easier to access areas in this region (that are on the edge of state forests where cattle are allowed to graze) there were cattle in some of the camping areas. They were no problem at all.

In the end I decided to go somewhere more remote because there were so many people, nothing to do with the cattle, they were fine lol. It's a trade off, the wife has a fear of remoteness and feels more comfortable with people around. I can understand that, but am still somewhat the opposite. I feel safer and more comfortable if I never encounter people and enjoy remoteness (largely for this reason). I notice that people don't so much camp to get away from it all these days, as bring it all with them. Anyway, never had a camping experience ruined by a group of noisy, messy, drunken marsupials yet lol. Perhaps too many years working in a big city has a tendency to cause misanthropy.

The area I'm talking about takes considerable effort to get to, far deeper in a wilderness area in one of the countries premier NP's. The cattle there weren't your average little moo cow either lol. I don't know if the more secluded lifestyle where they wouldn't contact people as much has made them semi feral, but these little things (is it possible for cattle to have "Napoleon complex"?) were aggressive little pains in the arse. To the point of being mildly concerning (or somewhat more than mildly for the wife lol). It might sound OTT but for bushwalkers without the safety of a vehicle, especially in small numbers or on their own, wouldn't recommend camping in remote areas anywhere near these things.

If you venture towards the Hunter Region, you might like to give McNamara Park in Broke a try then. Camp in your tent/camper trailer/caravan (I've done it in nav+caravan and bike+tent). Walk down to the local store for supplies if you forgot them, or a meal if you can't be stuffed cooking.

Don't bother right now with the floods, of course. Broke hasn't got power or water at the moment.
 

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