Rescue at Gorge
ISOBEL Byrne will never forget her first holiday to the Far North after nearly drowning in the Mossman Gorge when she lost her grip on a rock and was dragged under in the rapids.
If not for Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service’s ranger and traditional owner Andrew Solomon, who used his local knowledge of the swirling currents in the gorge, she may not have made it out alive.
At 12pm on Tuesday Isobel and her father Darren were swimming out in the middle of the Gorge on holiday from Avoca Beach, NSW, when the 12-year-old lost her grip on a rock and fell into the water.
“Me and dad went for a swim and I got caught on a rock but I couldn’t get a grip and kept getting swept back under,” she said.
“I got swept on to a rock but the rapids swept me off and over rocks until I got caught on a stick.
“Dad taught me never to panic in a situation when you could do, so I got my head out of water and took a breath.”
She finally stopped moving through the rapids when her leg got trapped between a submerged rock and a tree trunk.
It was then that Mr Solomon came to the rescue with a rope he had in the back of his work truck.
Mr Solomon got in close enough to the water to throw the rope to the 12-year-old, who grabbed on to the rope and when he pulled, her foot came free and they were able to pull Isobel back in to safety.
Andrew explained to the Gazette the rapids at the Mossman Gorge tend to push towards the opposite side of the river and throw around and Isobel agreed: “I kept trying to get over to this side.”
Darren said Andrew responded quickly to their situation, when his daughter was instantly swept 50 metres away from him.
“Andrew was really good, right there on the spot - I was amazed by the response,” he said.
“I was nowhere near her, she’d been swept away and was under, I spent a good 15 minutes getting to the edge but couldn’t get to her.
“She finally stopped and a tourist went and got Andrew who got the rope and between the two of us we got her out.
“She’s been quite shaken by it and has learnt a valuable lesson - always respect the water and never panic.
“We’ve lived around the ocean all our lives but you could see someone who doesn’t know the water could get caught easy.”
By the time the emergency services arrived around 12.20pm the whole ordeal was over and both father and daughter suffered from scratched and bruised feet.
Isobel has a couple of extra bruises but is not scared after being swept over rocks, she jumped back into the shallows and made the most of her holiday.