Distance to Go: 2046km
Note: This is posted a day late because I had no internet.
I think I found my mojo today. After a couple of days of being a bit down about the lack of water in the river, I decided this morning to suck it up and just start enjoying it… and I did.
I woke up early (again) and trollied (not a word but I am using it) my gear down to the boat ramp to begin packing the boat. It was a lovely morning with the sun rising over the river. It was only -1 degree but I was running around in just a T-shirt, so I must be getting acclimatised to these cold conditions. As I was organising my gear, Ed (the caravan park owner) came down to check it all out and we had a good chat on the edge of the river. I was procrastinating a bit, so I was happy for the excuse not to start paddling.
The first hour or so of the paddle was pretty straight forward, but then the river started getting shallower and shallower as the morning progressed. After a few hours I came to a point in the river where it split in two. Half the water went to the North down what looked like a creek full of trees, and the other half went to the South down what appeared to be the main river. On my paper map, the creek to the North barely showed up and Google satellite view did not provide much more helpful information, so I did the logical thing and followed the river as marked on the map.
This ended up not being the right decision, because the river basically dried up. Most of the next 10km was less than 30cm deep and in parts the river was less than 5m wide. I spent a lot of the time scraping the bottom of the river with my boat and my paddle was hitting the ground with near every stroke. On numerous occasions I got completely beached and had to punt my way forward with my paddle in the sand. I had to go against my instincts and paddle over logs and under fallen trees. After some time of this, the river eventually joined up with what ended up being the other branch and became a massive wide river again. Crazy.
Around 2pm I decided I had done enough paddling. I knew there was a national park, the Murray Valley Regional Park, around the 35km mark. I got out a couple of times to find a good spot to put up a tent (clear of trees) and eventually found a nice spot on top of a high back with some little log stairs going up to it. The mud beach that I parked the kayak on was nice and solid, so it was the perfect spot. I am noticing (and getting reports form other paddlers) that the banks are getting very muddy and squishy. I experienced that a couple of times today, so my booties and the inside of my kayak are a bit muddy and wet now.
I saw lots of animals today. The first animal was a very curious fox, that trotted down the side of the river next to me. There were the usual cows and plenty of goats watching me go by. I also had my first snake experience around lunch time. A red belly black snake started swimming straight at me, so I had to jam on the brakes and it continued across the river and up onto the bank. There are also lots of kangaroos crashing around in the bush near my campsite.
Today I began the audio book of Sir David Attenborough’s called “A Life on Our Planet”. It is all about the impact humans have had on the environment and animal species. So it was no wonder that I started seeing parallels with what he was talking about and what is going on with the Murray River. It was kind of sad to see the impact humans have on this river by just turning the tap on and off (it is probably a button). Basically they decided they are closing the river for the winter and they just turn it pretty much off.
Tomorrow I have about 35km to get to Yarrawonga. I have a bit of winding down the river to do first and then paddling across Lake Mulwala. Yarrawonga has a weir that you need to walk around, so I have a bit of a portage tomorrow afternoon (about 1.5km through town) to the caravan park which is at the bottom of the weir.