From: Punyelroo Caravan Park
To: Hettner Landing
Time in Boat: 6hrs
Total Distance Travelled: 2173km
Distance to Go: 208km
I knew today was going to be windy, so once again I decided to get up early (around 5.30am) and quietly pack up my gear as not to wake up the other campers. It had rained a bit overnight and some light showers came over just as I was getting into my kayak. As I started padding, there was a brief sunrise and then the clouds came over again and snuffed it out.
A slight breeze had already started and just after sunrise a large cloud drifted over and it started to rain properly. This rain continued for about an hour but then it quickly cleared up and all of a sudden it was lovely blue skies.
The wind then started to really pick up. It was a North Westerly and because I was heading West for the majority of today, it became a bit of a pain. I hugged the side of the river to get as much shelter from the long reeds or the cliffs as I could.
In the late morning, just after I had put another coat of sunscreen on, another big cloud moved across and it started raining again. So I put my Goretex jacket on again and 15 minutes later it was blue sky again. I just couldn’t win.
Around lunch time, after about 6 hours of paddling, I came to my planned campsite at Hettner Landing. It is a free camping site on the bank of the river. It has a very clean, flushing toilet and the Walker Flat General Store is about 400m away.
As I was setting up camp the wind really picked up. It was probably gusting around 50kmh. For the first time on this entire trip (including last year), I had to use the guy ropes on my tent to stop it collapsing or blowing away.
Once the tent was satisfactorily secure, I walked up to the shop to get a burger with the lot (food of athletes) from the store. I then sat on the waters edge, below the bank to protect myself from the wind.
The other interesting thing that happened during the afternoon was that I happened to look at the river and I saw a kayaker going by. He was loaded with gear and fighting with the wind. It was a guy, named Ghislain, who is also paddling the Murray River. I have not met him before, but I saw on the Murray River Expeditioners Facebook page that he was just behind me. He did not see me and I was a bit late to call out to him, plus he looked very focussed on dealing with the wind. I am sure I will leapfrog him tomorrow.
I only have 5 more paddle days to go now. It really is starting to feel like this adventure is nearly over. I have been keeping an eye on the forecast for the final Lake Alexandrina crossing (in 5 days time, on Saturday and Sunday) and it is looking pretty good. I plan to do it over 2 days, sticking to the East coast of the lake and camping half way near the Nerang Ferry. The forecast is for not very strong Easterlies and North Easterlies which is perfect for this route. So fingers crossed it remains that way.
Tomorrow is a really big day. I have 56km to do down to Mannum. It is looking like I will have headwinds again, but not as strong. My plan is to get up around 4am and do the first couple of hours in the dark while the wind is calmer.
However, for now I will probably head back up to the store shortly to get myself some dinner. I am just not in the mood to cook tonight.