Murray River Trip – April 2018

River Trip #6 – Our fourth Murray River Trip, April 2018

By Kerry and Wal

Private trip – just the two of us

Some of you will have heard us mention our tinny trips on Cooper’s Creek, the Darling and the Murray Rivers.  Here is a brief overview of our latest and longest river trip (so far?).

Contents of the Canoe

We travelled up to Wentworth Friday after work and camped at the Abbottsford Bridge, free camp area, for the night.

We had made arrangements to meet a Coomealla Rotarian in Wentworth, take them with us to launch from Tooleybuc and for them to return our car and trailer to Wentworth, where it would be kept in the Willow Bend Caravan Park.

We were all ready to launch by 1pm. Cassie took a photo for her report and after waving her off, we started up and launched.  After motoring about 3 metres, we stopped. Beached on a   sandbar! This was to become a regular occurrence. We used our paddle to push off and set off again!

Loading the gear

A little over an hour later and we passed     Goodnight Station; so named as, in the paddle steamer days, there was shepherd who would call out “goodnight” to the passing travellers every evening. Everyone had warned us about the “bitch and pups” section of the river but it was for us no more challenging than any other section of the river.

We made it to Wakool Junction for our first camp. 4km for the afternoon.

Day 2 We were awake before sunrise, all packed up and on the water by 7.15am.  This was to set the pattern for the week. This section of the river was the start of the submerged rocks and rocky     protrusions, rather than the standard sand bars and woody snags.

We passed the Murrumbidgee River junction prior to lunch.  It is not flowing at this time of year but the water is backed up 120km.  We camped at Maine State Forest.  I saw a very black        wallaby, but I don’t think it is a separate species. 87km today.

Day 3 On water at 7.10 and, after being passed by a speed boat, the canoe began listing so we pulled to the bank to find 3″ of water in the canoe.  The clothes were wet but all else was dry.  As it was a hot day, I managed to dry the clothes while we continued on.

Later that day we had an electrical short in the camera recharge system and when we both went to the front of the boat the canoe lay over to one side and, as we were still slowly moving, the   water got in the side and it acted like a big scoop. Everything got soaked! The canoe was totally submerged; only the swags, which were on top of all the gear, were dry. All the food, all the    towels, all the cooking utensils… everything was wet!  We spent the rest of the day drying our gear out.  At least the unseasonable warm weather was a great help. 77km today.

Day 4 Passed through Lock 16 at Euston where the difference in river levels was in excess of 20 feet.  Lots of sand bars, lots of rocks underwater and lots of snags downstream from the lock.

The Murray River Charts Book was invaluable as, even though our edition is 18 years old, most of the information is still quite relevant.  Without it, it would have been a very stressful trip with unseen hazards.  At least we were pre-warned. We camped near Tongar Station on a sand bar that had squeaky sand.  When you walked on it, it squeaked!   82km today.

Day 5 A very HOT day with 38 degrees forecast for Mildura, so on the water before 7am. We skidded over a submerged log.  Fortunately, at our speed (5 knots), no damage was done.

We later came across the semi submerged rocks that crossed the river, from one side to the other, with a small gap of 6’ where they were only 2’ underwater. The wind sprang up in the afternoon with 6-8″ waves.  As we only have 10″ of clearance, it was bit daunting. 83km today.

Day 6 Left at 6.50 and, before long, we were marooned on a snag near a cutting.  After a fair bit of rocking we managed to free ourselves.  The water was too deep to get out and lift the boat off. We took the long way around.

We lost 50 minutes travelling time at Lock 15 as we arrived just as the gates closed for coal fired PS Melbourne to pass through.  The water drop here was about 10 feet. We put last of fuel into boat. 76km today.

 Day 7 Left at 7.15am.  Arrived at Wentworth Caravan Park at 12.30pm with 3 litres of fuel and 3 litres of water left. 26km today.

We used 100ltr of fuel at an average speed of 10km; travelled 480km on the water; most days were 8-9 hours travelling, with a 20-30 minute break for lunch.

Pumps on the River