To: Boundary Bend
Total Distance Travelled: 1281km
Distance to Go: 1227km
Today was a tough day of paddling but there were a couple of big highlights.
Even though the skies cleared up last night before I went to bed, at around midnight it started to rain again. It only lasted a few hours, but it definitely helped soften all the mud a bit more. This morning I had to take my time to load the gear into the boat, because everything was very slippery. It normally takes me about 15 minutes to put the gear into the boat, but today it took nearly an hour. I had to do everything in slow motion so that I didn’t slip or misstep into the mud. Only once did I accidentally start sliding down the piece of carpet leading down to the water. Once I started to slide I knew there was no stopping it, so I unfortunately ended up in the river up to my shins.
Once I was on the water, the wind started to pick up. They were predicting strong North Westerly winds, which was pretty much the direction I was headed. So today was indeed strong headwinds that lasted all day. I would much rather rain than headwinds because they are just exhausting to paddle against and require more concentration. The trick today was to paddle close to the high banks to get a bit of shelter, which was mildly effective but increased the distance I had to paddle a fair bit.
So to the highlights.
The first highlight was that I hit the half way mark. Half way from the top of Mt. Kosciuszko to the sea. My GPS read 1526km at the same time as I reached the point where the 1526km river marker was meant to be. Like most of them, the marker was missing but it was a nice milestone all the same.
The second highlight was about 8km downstream. The Murrumbidgee River! My favourite river in the whole World joined the Murray. The Murrumbidgee is the second longest river in Australia (1485km) and starts up in the high country near Canberra and ends at the Murray River. I have done many trips on the Murrumbidgee and you can see lots of videos on my YouTube channel Q or read about it on my other blog. It was nice seeing the Bidgee today… a bit like seeing an old friend.
However, much to my disappointment, my old friend the Bidgee let me down. After passing the Murrumbidgee, the river got wider and a little slower. Also when the river gets wider you are more exposed and the wind increases and the chop gets bigger.
After another couple of hours of fighting against the wind, I finally made it to Boundary Bend, where I planned to camp in the caravan park. I will come to the caravan park shortly. However, as I was checking in at the attached petrol station, a couple of guys dressed in cycling gear were sitting in the shop having some food. One of the guys called out to me and said “Are you paddling the Murray? Are you part of the Murray River Expeditioners? (Which is a FaceBook group for people who do the Murray)”. It ended up that it was a guy called Joe, who had also paddled the Murray a few years ago. When he introduced himself I recognised his name from the Facebook group and he recognised me. He was in the middle of a bike ride from Seymour in Victoria up to Alice Springs and just happened to be stopping at the petrol station for a break and some food. Small world.
So back to the caravan park. It is pretty funny. It is definitely a few stars less than some of the others I have stayed in on this trip. I requested a powered site so I could charge my laptop and various electronics. So I have ended up squeezed between some old caravans and cabins that look like they have been here for years and rarely used. They also had a lot of rain (as did I) in the last couple of days, so there are massive puddles everywhere, and I am surrounded by them (but I am on a dry patch).
There are some added bonuses that I have discovered. Firstly, it is right next to a main road that a lot of trucks drive along (no my tent does not have double glazing to shut out the noise). Plus they just turned the park lights on and my tent is now lit up like a green lantern. I also have two taps next to my spot that are both leaking and dripping away.
The shop pretty much offers the range of food that you would expect in a country petrol station… not much. To be fair, they do offer a range of deep fried delights (dim sims, potato cakes, Chiko Rolls etc.). Their fresh fruit and veg seems to consist of a lot onions for some reason. So I decided to eat some of my food that I have brought with me. However I was able to satisfy some of my cravings by buying a nice collection of junk food.
So even though I sound like I am bagging this place out… It is fine. I am tired. I needed a powerpoint. I am sitting under my tarp and sheltered from the wind by the back of a caravan/shed. And I have earplugs. So I can’t complain. It is functional and that is all I really care about at the moment. It is not like I need a view of the river.
I have about 90km to do over the next 2 days before I get to Robinvale, where I am having my next rest day. I am pretty much going to try and split the day into two 45km days. It looks like there is going to still be headwinds tomorrow, so I am going to leave very early to give me as much time as possible. The shop/petrol station opens at around 6am, so I should be able to get a coffee (of some description) before I leave.