To: Graeme Claxton Reserve
Time in Boat: 8hrs
Total Distance Travelled: 2050km
Distance to Go: 432km
I had a nice rest day in Waikerie yesterday. Apart from a visit to the supermarket and bakery in the morning, I really didn’t do much in town. I spent the day pretty much finishing the weekly video, planning out the final 10 days of this journey and having an actual rest.
This morning I woke up around 5am and slowly packed all the gear while eating my breakfast. I started trollying everything down to the river (about 400m from my cabin) just before sunrise. It had rained a bit over night but it was only a light drizzle by the time I was on the water.
The day was pretty straight forward. My shoulders were feeling good and I quickly got in the paddling rhythm.
After a couple of hours I happened to look down at my gps and saw a waypoint on the screen. It was a lock. I had completely forgot that I was going through Lock 2 today. Fortunately I was 2km out (about 15 minutes) so I could call the lock keeper and warn him I was coming.
Barry, the lock keeper, was great. All the lock keepers have been very friendly, but Barry was the friendliest. We had a good chat and he kept chatting after the gates were open, ready for me to leave.
It was great paddling weather today. It was grey and cloudy but there was no wind. Plus, Barry told me he had just started letting out more water today so the pace picked up to 9kmh (1kmh more that I had been doing). It doesn’t sound like much but over 8 hours of paddling it makes difference.
At around 1pm I arrived at my planned campsite after 36km of paddling. Unfortunately there was a “private property” sign on the bank so I couldn’t stop there.
I knew that there was a big reserve, called Graeme Claxton Reserve, about 14km away and since it was such a nice day for paddling, I decided to push on.
I arrived at the reserve just after 3pm and found a good spot for the tent and a picnic table to set up my kitchen.
There are a couple of caravans here and they have all been very friendly. Darryl and Veronica, from Orange, had their friendly kelpie dog with them, so I got my playing with a puppy fix. They also gave me a beer that went straight to my head after 8 hours of paddling and little food.
Just after sunset, once I finished my steak and salad, it started to drizzle lightly which was my cue to get into the tent. I am sure that it won’t take me long to fall asleep after I finish writing this.
Tomorrow was always going to be a short day of 25km to the town of Morgan, where I am camping in the caravan park. Now that I have knocked off 14km of that distance today, it means they tomorrow is only going to be about 2hrs of paddling. I have a few longer days (45km plus) after tomorrow, so I figure I can justify having a lazy easy day. After all, there is no rush to finish this.
From: Graeme Claxton Reserve
Time in Boat: 2hrs
Total Distance Travelled: 2062km
Distance to Go: 416km
Last night was a pretty rough night. The ferry, which was about 300m upstream, would occasionally do a crossing in the night. Not only was the moan of the engine loud, but the clanging of the gates were very loud. Then at midnight, it sounded like a huge downpour of rain started, but it was weird because there was no rain falling on my tent. What I worked out was there were automatic sprinklers on the green grass area that kicked in at midnight and went for an hour. About every 2 minutes the water would blast against the tree trunk next to my tent and this also made a huge amount of noise.
At about 6am I got up and quietly made myself a coffee as not to wake up the caravan folks. I was then the water around 7.30am. I only had 11km to paddle to get to Morgan (which is a bit ridiculous) so I tried to take my time, with lots of drifting and zig zagging down the river.
I then arrived in Morgan at about 9.30am. That’s right, my paddling day was done at 9.30am.
So I had a plan. I was going to go to the Morgan cafe and get myself a coffee and an egg and bacon roll. I would then sit in the lovely park on the foreshore and have a nice morning in the sun (which was forecasted). This plan, like many of my plans, did not quite work out that way.
I first walked up to the one cafe in town and on the door it said “closed for an indefinite period”. Great. Then I saw on Google Maps there was a bakery on the other side of the town (and up a big hill). So I walked up there and found it too was closed. So I walked back again and to the Friendly Grocer store and bought a loaf of bread. Toast on my stove was my new plan. One of the locals told me the Bakery owners retired 3 weeks ago and that the had no idea what was going on with the cafe.
Oh did I mention that the forecasted sun never showed itself either.
I then walked over to the caravan park to see if, on the off chance, I could check into my campsite really early so I could use the camp kitchen and showers. I finally had success with something and was able to eat toast in the camp kitchen.
The only 2 other places (other than the grocer) that are open in town are the 2 pubs. So I decided to head back into town and go to the pub for lunch. I had a nice pizza and was accompanied by the pub dog (actually belonged to one of the regular patrons), Sheba, who like our dog just sat there and watched me take every mouthful.
The rest of the day involved sitting by the river, at a very solid concrete table, catching up on a whole lot of emails and socials.
Plus meeting and chatting to the neighbouring caravan folks. And when I say neighbouring, I am not kidding. We are all very close.
I am now heading back to the pub for an early dinner because it is Friday night and they are going to be busy.
It will be an early start tomorrow because I have 45km down to Blanchetown.