This post is for 3 days because I had poor mobile service and my laptop ran out of power (and posting on the phone is way too painful).
From: Somewhere in the bush
To: Somewhere near Nangiloc
Total Distance Travelled: 1519km
Distance to Go: 958km
This morning was a beautiful misty morning. While I had not planned to get on the water too early, the water looked so peaceful and glassy I decided to start paddling and was on the water by 8am.
Today was going to be another short day (only 30km) but there was a general store (Nangiloc) about 20km downstream, so that was my planned lunch spot. The shop was about a 1.5km walk from the river, so I stashed my boat at the bottom of a step cliff where I knew no one would find it, let alone want to go down to it. I then hiked along the highway, past all the orange plantations, and made my way to the general store.
At the store, I was so excited about buying treats and a roast beef roll for lunch, that I completely forgot to get a coffee (which I had been craving for hours).
After a leisurely lunch in the garden outside the store, I walked back to my kayak and paddled the remaining 10km to my planned campsite. It is another lovely beach on the edge of a river red gum forest… yes another one.
It is school holidays now, so there are a lot more caravans and families along the river. I had a nice chat to a little kid (and his grandfather) all about the carp that he had caught yesterday. He was very proud.
It was really warm today (around 18). When I got to the campsite I was sweating so I decided I would go for a swim. Before doing so, I got a fire raging because I knew I would need it to warm up afterwards. With the fire blaring, I ran into the river, submerged myself to the neck and promptly ran out again. It was bloody cold but refreshing.
Right now I am enjoying sitting by the fire, gazing up at the stars and thinking about getting into the warmth of my sleeping bag and reading my book.
From: Near Nangiloc
To: Bottle Bend
Total Distance Travelled: 1556km
Distance to Go: 920km
Today was a day consisting of every type of weather.
I woke up to a very foggy morning. It looked like it was going to clear pretty quickly and my gut told me that it was going to also get windy. I didn’t have enough mobile service to check the weather but I decided to get on the water early so I could get some kilometres ticked off before the headwinds kicked in.
I was right, the fog cleared and the morning became sunny and then the wind picked up. It picked up more and more. I then got signal and could see on the radar that there was rain coming. Around lunch time it clouded over and the wind really kicked in. The waves started getting bigger and then it started raining. I had to push on to my planned campsite at Bottle Bend because all the potential campsites before then were very exposed and not good for this sort of weather. I ended up battling against the wind and rain for about 3 hours before making it to camp.
One of the things I did do today (before the wind kicked in) was to give the Renmark Police a call. Renmark is the first town I would be getting to in South Australia and I wanted to get their take on whether I would be able to get across the border (which is closed to people who have been in NSW). Typically what happens is that when you get to Lock 6, which is between the border and Renmark, who act as border control and call the police (from Renmark). So I figured I should get the Renmark Police’s advice on if I should proceed past Mildura (the point of no return) or not. The very nice cop (Simon) on the phone said that “if it was me, I think I would let you through and most of the cops would be the same” but “you might get that one cop that is a stickler for the rules and they might turn you back”. He then went and chatted to his superiors and came back and told me to fill out the Border Entry application form explaining my situation. So I did this and it got instantly rejected (probably because I am a NSW resident). So I have had to put in an appeal to see if they will consider my situation. Based on how things are going with NSW lockdown, I am not feeling very optimistic that I will either get approval or they will get back to me soon enough. So I have decided I will give it until Tuesday (I am getting to Mildura on Saturday) and if I haven’t got the thumbs up by then, I will have to put the paddle on hold until later in the year and head back to Sydney.
When I arrived at the campsite (around 4pm) the rain stopped and the wind dropped. There was even a nice sunset. However it was still really cold, I was damp and there was no firewood to start a fire, so I quickly had dinner and then got into my sleeping bag for an early night. Unfortunately I was woken just after midnight by some annoying campers that arrived at the campsite and proceeded to set up camp in the noisiest possible way.
From: Bottle Bend
Total Distance Travelled: 1587km
Distance to Go: 887km
I woke up early after a very disturbed sleep (thanks to the noisy campers). I was craving a coffee and I knew I had run out coffee bags, so I decided to get onto the river early and get down to Mildura as quickly as I could. I ended up on the water just before sunrise.
After about 30 minutes of paddling, my fingertips (in the neoprene gloves) were freezing. I looked at the weather on my phone and it said it was 1 degree (feels like -2). I felt cold, but I hadn’t realised it was that cold. I think I have acclimatised to the cold weather, but my finger tips have not.
Paddling into Mildura (despite the headwind) was lovely. I have spent a lot of time in Mildura over the years, so it was nice reminiscing as I passed places like Red Cliffs and Trentham Estate.
I got into Mildura at around 12.30pm and trollied (apparently that isn’t a word) the kayak up to the motel that I am staying in for the next few days. I was too early to check in so I left the kayak in the carpark and headed into town for a massive burger. I then spent the afternoon doing some shopping and picking up our car that Kath had left at a friends place.
Tonight I was able to catch up with some fellow Murray River kayakers for dinner. There was Amy, who I have mentioned in my blog previously (check out her YouTube channel – Amy Outdoors), who got to Mildura yesterday. Amy is a South Australian resident, she is able to continue paddling towards the border tomorrow. There was also Anitra and her husband Rhys and their gorgeous puppy Sammy. Anitra has been paddling with Amy for the last couple of weeks. She had previously done the entire Murray River except for the Robinvale to Mildura leg, so she joined Amy for that leg of the paddle.
It was really nice to catch up with people who are also going through the same journey (in their own way). It was very enjoyable to be able to compare stories about all the strange experiences we have had on the river.
Tomorrow I am driving back to my previous campsite to see if I can get my drone. I am hoping it has fallen down with all the wind from yesterday, otherwise I might have to try some creative ways to retrieve it. I will then hang out in Mildura waiting to see if the SA Police decide to give me the thumbs up or not to proceed. Finger crossed.