Exciting Times for Australia’s Biggest River Running Community
Jeffe Aronson, an experienced international dory and raft guide, is the president of the newly re-started organisation, Friends of the Mitta. Amongst other activities, the Friends of the Mitta group are reaching out to the community to gather scientific and historic data on the Mitta Mitta river, to share back to all.
Guest author Jeffe Aronson
I’ve been guiding rivers all over the world for 43 years, and just finished my last river trip of the season in the Grand Canyon. My wife and I live most of the year in our off-grid home we built on the Bundara river, a classic easy-class-4 beginner’s “steep creek” run, surrounded by the exquisite Alpine National Park in North East Victoria.
Last year we re-started the Friends of the Mitta, to capture some of the awesome energy our local paddling community generates.
Each spring and summer, over four-thousand paddlers converge on the Mitta and it’s feeder rivers: The Cobungra, Bundara, and Middle Creek, to paddle, lead students downriver from various schools in Victoria, New South Wales and even South Australia, and hang out around the campfire along the “Thunder” river each evening, catching up with mates and planning the next day’s run.
Being far from the Parks Victoria power centres, and a long drive from Melbourne –and thus the minds of administrators – we must make-do with a much-reduced ranger presence as well as battle for limited resources. It’s interesting to note how the local communities and powers that be respond to us “hippie boaters”. It is reminiscent of what happened in California back in the early days of professional river guiding a half-century ago. Some local townsfolk more used to cattle sales and snow sports can’t seem to figure us out, and thereby miss out on a huge seasonal influx of potential customers and energy.
I’ve found through long experience that the more people know about a natural area, the richer their experience and the more likely they are to care about what happens to the place.
We’re reaching out to universities, organisations, and individuals who’d like to help in this effort. To date our efforts are nascent and managed by one old paddler living in the whoop-whoops. Anyone willing and able to offer articles or help with outreach or research, or even participate in our October 6 Fundraising event, we encourage you to check out our website at: www.friendsofthemitta.org, or contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 03-5159-7252
'Friends of the Mitta' Activities
- We have received grant money from North East Catchment Authority for invasive weed control.
- We are working with Parks Victoria on better river signage and local track interpretive signage and maintenance,
- Working with DELWP to add another ‘dunny’ and plant trees at the main take-out point.
We’re creating a “Mittapedia” page on our website.
It will provide: guides, instructors and interested paddlers more information than is currently available on the
- local flora,
- human history
It’s also a source for information on:
- local hikes
- ideas for environmental practices like disposal of human waste,
- our current efforts to rid the riparian habitat of invasive species,
- share safety practices and more.