Adventure and Survival in Tanjil Valley

 

Steve Haughton is a company director, writer and adventurer based in the Tanjil Valley where his home is positioned with stunning views over the Blue Rock Lake.  He has just returned home from a family holiday exploring Europe with his wife Cate and 2 year old son Stanley.

 

Steve came to the area after he finished his diploma of Natural Resource Management and degree in Park Management at Deakin University, following his parents who had made the tree-change to Gippsland from Melbourne’s south-east a few years earlier.

 

 

Steve Haughton is a company director, writer and adventurer based in the Tanjil Valley where his home is positioned with stunning views over the Blue Rock Lake.  He has just returned home from a family holiday exploring Europe with his wife Cate and 2 year old son Stanley.

 

Steve came to the area after he finished his diploma of Natural Resource Management and degree in Park Management at Deakin University, following his parents who had made the tree-change to Gippsland from Melbourne’s south-east a few years earlier.

 

He pursued his passion for sustainability, conservation and environment to establish his own business in 2008, before forming his current company Habitat Creations with his business partner in 2013.

“I get to work all over Gippsland and greater Melbourne providing conservation, landscaping and land management services in urban, rural and remote areas.  I am extremely passionate about what I do and I reckon that shows through in the projects we get to work on and the people we get to work with. I also love that we are able to employ so many fantastic people.” They also specialise in growing native plants for revegetation and landscaping projects at their plant nurseries in Moe and Trafalgar.

Steve loves exploring Gippsland's great outdoors through fishing, boating and hiking. A keen fisherman, he has been freelance writing for fishing magazines for over 10 years.

Boxing day last year he took off with his boat to Blue Rock Lake like many times before. The day took a turn for the worst when he was knocked out of the boat suddenly when the outboard tiller extension arm popped off causing the boat to turn sharply. He was in the water with the boat circling very nearly hitting him twice.  Thankful for wearing a lifejacket, he swam over 100m to the shoreline.  The day was colder than usual for the season and Steve was stranded on the bank, well away from civilisation in just a singlet, shirt and shorts where he spent the next 8 hours in survival mode.

“I had a life jacket on and was blowing the whistle on it all night long. A few times I thought I saw lights and had hoped that someone was coming because they had heard me or that perhaps my wife had alerted someone, but she was away for the weekend and wasn’t alarmed by me not replying to text messages.” Says Steve.  Fighting the urge to leave his location was his sole focus. He knew his chances were worse if he tried to find his way through the water or the scrub in the dark and committed to staying put as people would be alerted by an abandoned boat and he would be found easier if he stayed close to it. 

Steve, a fan of survival TV shows used all his knowledge to build a small shelter out of bark and brush. However, with all his gear still in his bag on the boat he was limited to his wits and his trusty Leatherman multi-tool. At one point he took off his wet cotton singlet that was under his damp shirt and wrapped it around his ears to keep away the onslaught of mosquitos, also attempting to retain his diminishing body heat.  The lifejacket was useful as a pillow to provide some comfort.

The boat continued crashing around the lake into obstacles until the petrol eventually ran out about 2.30am. The sudden silence was deafening.  Exhausted he trekked the shoreline for about 150m in the pitch black to get closer to where the boat came to a rest in the lake.  Steve decided to get back into the water and attempt to swim back to the boat where his mobile phone was.  Knowing the water temperature was warmer than the night air, he made the calculated decision to swim the last 50m leg to the boat…with life jacket back on of course.  Eventually with great effort Steve managed to get back into the boat powered by adrenalin although hypothermic.  Thankfully the electric outboard was not damaged and provided a means to direct the damaged vessel back to the boat ramp over an hour away, calling his sleeping wife on the way back and then drove home for a much needed hot shower and rest.  Whilst the ordeal lasted over 10hrs, Steve feels like the evening into night went for days.

Steve regularly heads to the high country or fishes alone and is often out of contact for a few days. After this harrowing experience he’s grateful for his survival knowledge and experience.  He’s now bought an EPIRB (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon) and in the future when boating solo he will ensure the engine kill cord in the boat is attached.  “Many people neglect using this safety feature but I now know first-hand how it saves lives. Falling out of a boat presents the real risk of drowning but what many don’t realise is that injuries or even death occurs when the boat comes back over the top of them after they’ve fallen in to the water”.

Steve also gives a reminder that when out and about to keep your eyes and ears open in case someone nearby is needs assistance. Not deterred, he is eager to continue exploring and between adventures he enjoys his rewarding work and family time spent at home; he makes a mean pork belly on the BBQ as well as mastering his home-smoked fish.

 

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Comments: 1
  • #1

    Shaz (Monday, 04 September 2017 06:29)

    So glad you're still with us matey❤️❤️❤️