Day 26 – Echuca to Emu Bend

From: Echuca
To: Emu Bend
Distance: 36km
Distance to Go: 1679km

It was great to be back on the water today. I had been hanging out in Echuca/Moama for nearly a week, enjoying some time on a houseboat with the family and waiting for the Victorian lockdown to end. So now that Victoria has opened itself up to me, I have been able to paddle again with a new positive spirit.

Before I get to today’s paddle, I will tell you about some of the highlights of my time in Echuca and Moama.

Firstly, the big highlight was that the weather was terrible last week. It was raining, really windy and cold. Why was this a highlight? Well… because I was on a houseboat with heating and not in my tent or on the water. The weather has now all moved through and it has become perfect again.

The other great thing that happened was that I had dinner with a local paddler, Peter Phillips. Peter has done the Murray paddle twice and is an expert on all aspects of the river. He tries to have dinner with all the Murray River expeditioners as they pass through Echuca. He has an in-depth knowledge of the river’s ecology and is currently doing his PHD on the Murray. So it was great to pick his brain and to chat about the river. He also gave me a whole lot of tips about how to cross the famously treacherous Lake Alexandrina at the end of the river. It was a really good night and thanks Peter buying me a steak!

So this morning I left from Moama Beach at around 8am and enjoyed paddling past all the paddle steamers in Echuca while the river was quiet (being a Sunday morning). Even though we had chugged our way along today’s stretch of the river in the houseboat last week, paddling it today was really enjoyable. I think that it had a lot to do with the fact that I am feeling a lot more positive now that the borders are open and the fact that there was no wind all day also helped.

I had planned to camp at a campsite in the Benarca region of the Murray Valley National Park (NSW) tonight. We had scoped out the campsite last week, when we were on the houseboat, and when I arrived today it looked perfect. However, it was really strange that it was empty of campers considering that it was a long weekend. I decided to check the National Parks website and found that the entire Benarca part of the National Park was closed for a few weeks while they remove dangerous trees. So I jumped back into my boat and paddled a few hundred metres down the river where I found a good spot on the Victorian side of the river. Having no border restrictions makes life so much easier.

While I was setting up my tent, I saw a man with his dog approaching on a quad bike. When he pulled up he introduced himself as Kevin and was very friendly. He lived just outside the parklands I am camped in and he offered to bring me some water if I needed any (which I didn’t). He then he offered to get me a beer if I wanted one. I politely declined because I am trying to have a few days without drinking after a fairly boozy week in Echuca/Moama. We had a great chat about the river and my plans for the paddle.

After a quick dinner of ravioli, I had to make a hasty retreat to my tent because a cloud of large mosquitoes had descended on me.

Tomorrow I am paddling about 40km down to Torrumbarry Weir. You have to walk around the weir, but it is not very far and I am staying the night at the caravan park next to the weir.

Leaving Echuca
My lunch spot
Some conveniently placed pallets to help my access to the campsite
Emu Bend
Meeting Kevin at the campsite
My Second Cousin (twice removed) Elouise, in Binalong, wanted to draw my camp. She even drew Kevin on his bike.
Ravioli for dinner

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