Big Banana🍌 vs The Arnold🛶: The Ultimate Raft Off
In the middle of Winter eight Year 8 girls (Harper, Lucy, Emma, Charlotte, Danica, Molly, Casey and Pippa) and their teacher, Ms Kemp braved the dangers of the Arnold River in an epic journey. The 27th was a cold and gray day but we did it anyway. We were too excited to give up. Around 8:40 a.m. we hopped in the Polytech van with Reefton driving and Cameron coming along to meet us.
Once we were there we met Maria, Felix and Ruby (big biceps lady), the awesome polytech students who would also be accompanying us to the Arnold. After a quick introduction/dance we were given wetsuits to change into. The wetsuits are made out of a rubber called neoprene. The knee pads of the wetsuits are a thick rubber material. Not all of the wetsuits fitted well but they kept us warm. Plus we were wearing thermals and togs underneath. Maria, Felix, Ruby and Cameron started handing out splash jackets, as well as helmets and life jackets. It took a couple of minutes to sort everything out since some people had a few problems with their gear (adjusting helmets).
They then taught us how to make a gear baby, gear babies are made by stuffing your splash jacket into your helmet which is then clipped to your life jacket arm strap. This keeps all of your gear together and then hopefully nobody will take your gear. More games followed the wardrobe change before we all hopped back in the Polytech van to drive to the Arnold River (where we would be rafting).
As we pulled into the Arnold River we all hopped out of the van and got our gear (life jackets, splash jackets and helmets) out of the other van. Felix then took us for a walk down to the Hydro station. Looking at the hydro station was awesome. There is also a fish ladder in the hydro station. A fish ladder is a way the fish can get through the hydro station without getting killed. Felix told us a story about how one day the fish ladder stopped working and then all of the eels that went through died. Walking back up the hill was very slippery because all of the rocks were slimy like an eel’s back.
At the top of the hill, we put our splash jackets, helmets and life jackets on. The helmets were all sorts of colours and circular while the splash jackets were also brightly coloured. By then, the rafts had been unloaded so we split into three groups. Molly, Pippa and Casey went with Felix, Harper, Lucy and Ms Kemp went with Maria, Emma, Danica and Charlotte went with Ruby and Cameron. Two of the rafts were red while the other one was yellow. And so, the Big Banana was born.
We pushed our rafts into the river (apart from Reefton who had a kayak). And we were off! Our instructor gave us instructions like where to sit and when to paddle. As we were coming down the river we drifted under the bridge and then all of the water off the top of the bridge came down onto us soaking our heads.
The trip along the river felt endless yet at the same time it felt like if you blinked the whole experience would be over. Sitting there on the raft with the frigid water splashing on to us as we glided over the water was extraordinary. We were going down the river to find that we had to go down the first set of rapids. We went down them like heroes and bounced all over the place.
Reefton was doing eddie turns every time he got the chance. We could hear all of the birds chirping and the rafts behind us screaming while coming down the rapids. As it was time to have lunch we turned 180 degrees into this little still water area. We then paddled up the river to get to where we were going to have lunch. We all got out of our rafts and then our instructors tied our boats up so then we could have lunch. We did about a 30 second bush walk to find the clearing where we would eat. Everyone found a comfy moss seat to sit on.
Cameron was passing around hot chocolate during lunch which was a lovely way to warm up. One fierce rivalry over a tree later, we played a couple of games. Wink Murder, Finger Hand Snatch While Someone Tells A Story (the technical term). But we could not play games forever. So we packed up our stuff and headed back to the rafts.
We were all yelling and squealing in delight as the rafts spun around and around and around. We were soaked as we’d just jumped into the icy cold water. That part was fun. Felix dived off the side of the Arnold raft and left Pippa, Molly and Casey to do all of the paddling by themselves. But they got their revenge, the three all jumped off but they had to get help back up. Meanwhile, on the Big Banana, Harper and Lucy had convinced Ms Kemp to jump in the water. She did. It was awesome!
The Arnold raced ahead, but coming up behind them was the Big Banana. With their paddles ready to fight, the Arnold saw a glimpse of the Big Banana floating in the water. There was water going everywhere, paddles were hitting the water with a splash. Everyone on the Arnold was trying to wet Ms Kemp, while the crew of the Big Banana were trying to get Molly. Eventually, the Arnold pulled ahead leaving the people aboard the Big Banana frantically paddling trying to catch up.
We paddled the to the side of the river to where we would pull over and check out a big rock next to a rapid. We got out of our rafts and walked up onto shore where Ruby and Cameron led us in a warm up, getting ready for the hardest part that was coming up; Triangle Rock. Then they started rapping, and we were all swiveling our hips. Then we took photos. The seriousness was gone.
As we were walking back to our rafts Felix ran off of the side and did a belly flop in shallow water. Ms Kemp said he counted fish for DOC as a part time job. We didn’t believe her.
The rafts set off back into the river, ready for what came next. Triangle Rock was shaped like a triangle. Hence, the creative name. Sarcasm aside, Triangle Rock was going to be a challenge. It was a big rock in the river with lots of big waves and holes scattered everywhere. And we couldn’t just go around, we had to go through. As each raft went over the side of the rock, its passengers would scream, water splashing up in their already cold faces.
The rivalry between the Arnold and the Big Banana continued as they traveled down the river. The Arnold was in the lead and had outnumbered them during the splashing war. The Big Banana knew that if they wanted to win they needed help. So they yelled at the people on the other raft (whose name we don’t know). It took a while before they agreed. But something about the way they were acting seemed off. Apparently you can trust no one. And that turned out to be true. Because at the very end, with first to the finish already claimed by The Arnold, the others attacked. “Come on! We can still splash them if we go fast enough- AGH!” A brutal splashing war ensued before the others pulled ahead and claimed second.
We beached all of the rafts onto the stones and then we had to take each heavy raft up to the fence which was about 10 meters away. As soon as every boat was up by the fence we hauled each one by one above our heads and used our big biceps to carry them and throw them onto the trailer. The next raft was a bit more difficult because we had to throw it up higher and a couple of us could not reach it because we were too short. The third raft was the hardest because we had to throw it up double our height for some of us. We then tied down the rafts and the van drove off without us. Yay.
The rain came down in drizzles. To warm up while we waited for transport, we played a game of toilet tag. After around ten minutes the van arrived so we ran to it and got buckled up. Everyone was cold sitting in there, since we had just got out of the freezing cold water.
When we arrived at the Polytech, a yellow digger was in the parking area doing digger stuff. So we snuck around the building and through the back (the escape route) into the garage/gear room. Then it was back up the stairs into the room where we had gotten changed. We were finally able to change out of our cold wet clothes into the our dry clothes.
Once we were finished it was downstairs again and we handed our gear to Maria, Felix, Cameron and Ruby. We played paper, scissors, rock and a version of charades where got into pairs and acted out our favorite part of the day and something we were scared about. Cameron and Ruby were scared of doing the rapping. Who would’ve known? We thanked them for the day and grabbed our gear.
Finally, we got back into the van and drove back to school where Ms Kemp told us we would have to write a story about what we did as feed back, which resulted in this monstrous piece of writing you have before you. You’re welcome.
By Harper & Molly