From: Picnic Point
To: Bama (Murray Valley NP)
Distance to Go: 1734km
Today was a lovely day. The paddling was very enjoyable and the weather was fantastic (almost too hot).
Last night, after a nice dinner at the Timbercutter Cafe/Bar, I joined a nice couple of families from Echuca for a couple of beers around their campfire in the caravan park. It was nice to have some company and they were very friendly folk. While I was at dinner, they had googled “Andrew Murray River Kayak” and found my blog. So they had already stalked me and knew lots about my adventure so far. Feeling the effects of a couple of wines at dinner and a couple of beers by the fire, I decided to retire to my tent (at the other end of the park) and get some rest. There was a large group of caravaners just near my tent, with a big bonfire, playing loud 80s Aussie rock, so I opted for the earplugs and hurried myself in the sleeping bag.
I awoke to a rather warm (10 degrees is now warm) morning and was on the water by 8am. I had 45km to paddle today to a campsite called “Williams” in the Bama section of the Murray Valley National Park. The paddle was great because for most of the day I was surrounded by National Park on both sides of the river.
There were a lot of people in small boats (tinnies) fishing amongst the fallen trees. I have noticed that the majority of fisher people in this area are very unsociable. Most of them don’t even acknowledge me as I paddle by, let alone say hello.
I saw a lot of kangaroos today and also say a wild brumby (horse) in the National Park. I had seen some horses the day before and was talking to the folks about them last night. They informed me that they were indeed wild horse.
Around lunchtime I only had about 10km to go to the campsite, so I decided to just eat some snacks in the boat and push on to the campsite. I got to the planned spot (Williams) only to find that it was on top of a 7m cliff and there was no way I was going to get up there. I knew there were some more campsites about 5km further along the river, so I decided to paddle on (despite my stomach rumbling), only to find that the NSW bank of the river was either deep mud or high cliffs (or both).
Finally, after about 5km, I came around a bend and found a spot where there was a campfire still smoking from people who had vacated the spot earlier in the day. It drives me nuts when I find campfires that have not been put out properly. The bank looked pretty muddy, but I was at that point where I just wanted to stop and the campsite looked pretty good. Stepping onto the bank I promptly sank up to my shins, but after a few squelchy steps I got up onto more solid mud. I was able to then gather some bark and logs to build a bridge across the mud and get my gear out. The campsite was indeed excellent and I was able to easily resurrect the fire very quickly.
Tomorrow I paddle to Echuca/Moama, where I am going to be meeting up with Kath, Mum and Dad, and we are getting a houseboat for a few days. It was going to be a short day tomorrow (only 30km), but since I did an extra 5km today, it will be even shorter (5km). So I will probably get there late morning and can pick up the houseboat before the others arrive.
Distance to Go: 1713km
I have decided to merge these two days of paddling together in one blog post because the paddle to Echuca/Moana was fairly short (3 hours and 25km).
This morning was not very cold but there was a pretty strong wind blowing in the trees above the campsite. Fortunately the campsite was very protected by a small hill, so it was very pleasant. I was dreading having to wade through the mud to get all the gear back in the boat, but after placing a few more strategically placed logs on my mud bridge, it ended up being pretty straight forward. I got into the boat with dry feet and little mud to speak of.
The river was pretty windy today, which was good and bad. Since the river was so wiggly, it meant that half the paddle was with a very strong headwind and the other half had a nice tailwind.
The highlight of the short paddle was joining of the Goulburn River. The Goulburn is Victoria’s longest river (654km) and flows all the way from the Victorian Alps and Lake Eildon. I had heard from various folks along the river that they were letting a bit of water down the Goulburn at the moment and I was hopeful that make the river flow a bit faster. However as I approached the river it did not look like it was flowing that much. In fact, all that happened was the river became wider and deeper, but I actually slowed down. Before I got to the Goulburn I was averaging about 9.5kmh, but afterwards I was averaging about 8.5kmh (7kmh with the headwind).
At around 11am I turned the final bend and pulled up on Moama Beach. The family are going to meet me there later and the houseboat company are going to bring our houseboat (from the Victoria side) to the beach for us. With a couple of hours to kill, I have semi-hidden my gear on the beach and walked into Moama to do some laundry and have a restful lunch and coffee.
I am now having a 4 day break with the family, sitting on the houseboat, drinking beer and editing the next video. We are also waiting to see what will happen with the Victoria/NSW border situation.