Here is the video of the eighth paddle leg of the Summit to Sea journey down the Murray River from Renmark to Waikerie.

Day 57 – 41km – Renmark to Berri
Day 58 – 40km – Berri to Loxton
Day 59 – 39km – Loxton to Moorook
Day 60 – 30km – Moorook to somewhere
Day 61 – 38km – Somewhere to Waikerie

Total Distance for the leg: 188km

Distance: 39km
Time in Boat: 7hrs

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mums.

Today was a hard one.

I got up early and was on the water by 7am. Something I have discovered is that the first paddle stroke you take is a pretty good indicator of how your day is going to be. Today it felt like I was pulling the blade through wet cement. I knew right away it was going to be tough.

My shoulders were really achy and for the first hour I pretty much only did half strokes as not to extent my shoulder muscles too much. The morning was also really grey and overcast, so this didn’t help with the mood too much.

After 3 hrs I had only covered about 16km, which is a lot less than I normally do (I average about 7.5km an hour). My shoulders felt like they were grinding in the sockets.

After a short break on the side of the river I decided to snap out of my grey mood and suck up the pain. The sun also started breaking through which also helped. I increased my pace a bit and got in with the job.

Today was one of the first long straight days. Before now a long stretch of river before you get to a bend would be about 2km. Today there was one stretch of the river that was 8km long and even the bend at the end was very minimal. Paddling long stretches can get pretty boring. I decided to put the Hamilton soundtrack on and distract myself a bit. The fact that I listened to almost the entire soundtrack before getting to the end of the straight bit shows how long it was.

A long straight section

About 2km before my planned campsite, I reached the small town of Moorook South. It has a lovely park on the riverfront but more importantly it has a general store just across the road. If ever I needed a reward at the end of the paddle, today was the day. I treated myself to a burger with the lot and ate in about 5 mouthfuls. I then spent some time lying on the grass l, digesting and procrastinating getting back in my boat to paddle the last 15 mins.

A satisfying lunch in Moorook South
Digesting on the grass in Moorook South

My campsite tonight is at a place called Campsite 6 (very imaginative) in the Moorook Game Reserve. It is a lovely spot with easy water access and very peaceful (of course two 4wds drove past as I wrote that). Being that it is a Sunday night, hopefully all the weekend campers will have gone home.

Campsite 6

I have 36km planned for tomorrow and then 30km to Waikerie the following day. Depending on how my shoulders are tomorrow, I may switch those distances and make tomorrow a bit shorter.

Time to go and sit by the river and drink a cup of tea.

The view from Campsite 6

Day 57 – Renmark to Berri

Distance: 41km
Time in kayak: 7.5 hours

I had a relatively late start today because I had to wait for Lock 5, which was only 3km away, to open at 8am. 

As I was bringing gear down to the river from my cabin, I found a car with a kayak on the roof parked next to my gear. It belonged to a gentleman named Eric (Eric the Red) who was staying in the caravan park. He introduced himself and said he had just watched my latest video that night and has been following my journey. He was just heading up to the border to paddle back to Renmark. So we had a good chat about gear and our adventures.

Meeting Eric the Red

Today was a day of big head winds. It didn’t seem to matter which direction the river was going, there was still a head wind. I also found that the large cliffs would funnel the wind up the river which just added to the intensity. 

Fighting the head winds

At around 2pm I arrived in Berri and trolled my gear from the Berri Marina (basically just a park with a boat ramp to the Caravan Park. I had booked a tent site for the night which ended up being right at the back to the park. This wasn’t too bad because it meant I was away from the road and the sounds of cars.

Once I had set up camp, I walked into down and did my food shopping for the next 5 days. I have to admit that I am not being very organised this time. I used make detailed lists of the meals and food that I needed. Now I just show up to the supermarket (normally hungry) and just buy stuff. 

After I had sorted out my food, I then headed back into town to meet a paddling friend, Amy, for drinks and dinner at the Berri Hotel. Amy is a Berri resident and she canoed down the Murray last year around the same time as me. I caught up to her in Mildura, but she was able to continue across the SA border because she is a SA resident. Amy also has a passion for creating videos of her paddling trips and you can see them here

Dinner with Amy

Day 58 – Berri to Loxton

Distance: 39km
Time in kayak: 6.2 hours

It was a cold morning this morning. When I got out of the tent at about 6am the weather said it was 4 degrees with wind chill of 1 degree. It looks like I will have similar cold mornings for the next week at least.

At around 7am I packed all my gear up and walked (trollied) all the gear from the caravan park down to the water. On the way I got to pat one of the caravan folk’s golden retriever, which made me realise how much I miss Chloe.

I started paddling at exactly 7.50am because I had a well timed plan. There is a really good cafe on the foreshore of Berri (River Jacks Cafe) that opens at 8am and I wanted a good breakfast and coffee before head off down the river. Breakfast was great and it was nice just taking my time and not rushing down the river.

The paddle was pretty straight forward today. I went through Lock 5 about an hour after leaving Renmark. There was a bit of a mix of narrower and wide sections. The head wind was not as bad as it was yesterday.

I achieved another milestone today (well I am calling it a milestone), I got to the 500km marker sign. So that means I only have 500km left until I get the sea.

About an hour out of Loxton, a houseboat caught up to me while I was drifting down the river eating an apple. I paddled next to them for a while and found we were doing exactly the same speed (9kmh). So I decided that I would sit behind them and use their wake to make my paddling a lot easier. I ended up doing this for about 30 minutes, which was a great way to finish a long day.

Surfing the wake of the houseboat

I arrived at the Loxton caravan park (which is about 2km past Loxton) at around 2.30pm. The caravan park is located on a huge bend in the river. Fortunately I booked a riverside site and they told me in advance which spot was mine, so I could just pull straight up to it and set up camp. I eventually got around to walking up to reception which is about 800m away and checked in.

I then spent the afternoon catching up on blog posts and cooked (another) lovely steak for dinner in the camp kitchen.

I am finally catching up on my blogging. This is a mega post because I didn’t really have internet access for this leg of the trip. Sorry if it is a bit rough, writing this many posts is a lot of work, especially when you are tired.

Day 50 – Wentworth to Remote

Distance: 38km
Time in kayak: 7.5 hours

It hasn’t taken me long to get back into living “river hours”, when you go to bed just after sunset and wake up incredibly early. Even though I was in a comfy motel room I still woke up around 4.30am. Fortunately the bakery opens early so I was able to go down there and get some breakfast and a coffee (the last proper one for 6 days).

Once I was all packed up, I trollied (yes that is now a word) my kayak back down to the boat ramp before sunrise. Once again I was treated to a pretty amazing sky of colour. However, based on the forecast I was treating this as a bit of a “red in the morning, farmers warning”.

Red in the morning, Farmer’s warning

The first point of call was Lock 8, which was about 2km down the river. It doesn’t open until 8am, but I was pretty keen to get down there so I could get down the river before the weather set in. Arriving at the lock at about 7.40am, the lock keeper was quite happy to let me through early so he could get back to his coffee.

Lock 10

The highlight of the day was when I had the drone up to get some photos I spotted an emu swimming across the river. I didn’t know they did this, but apparently they are pretty good swimmers. I later saw 2 more doing the same thing. They look a lot like the Loch Ness Monster from a distance.

After a lunch of cheese and crackers, the clouds got darker and thunder started to rumble in the distance. I ended up getting one big shower and then patches of drizzle. Fortunately, as I approached my planned campsite, the bulk of the heavy rain slipped away to the south and missed me.

Rain on the horizon

This campsite, which I found as a clearing on Google Earth, was great and I was able to set up my tarp ready for the rain. I then settled in and spent a leisurely afternoon under my tarp, reading a book.

The steady rain started around 3pm so I decided to put my tent up under the tarp and cooked an early dinner. Dinner was a lovely piece of steak with cucumbers, cherry tomatoes and snow peas on the side. It was the first time I have cooked steak on a Trangia stove and it was great (if I don’t say so myself).

The temperature very mild so was able to sit outside the tent under the tarp after dark. No signs of mozzies yet.

Day 51 – Remote to Ned’s Corner

Distance: 43km
Time in boat:  7.75 hours

Well it rained a lot last night, until about 11am. Once again I woke up early (4am) after a pretty good sleep.  I knew there were going to be strong headwinds so decided to leave before sunrise and get a lot of kilometres done before the wind picked up.

It was a gorgeous morning and the water was very glassy. The wind didn’t really pick up until about 10am, around when I arrived at Lock 9.

The river has got very wide, but I am still doing around 8kmh. This has been pretty much my average speed since Mildura.

It was a fairly uneventful day overall. I listened to an audiobook, which is one of Lee Child’s Jack Reacher books… perfect trash for a long paddle. I have been trying to paddle in the shade of the trees on the bank because it has been pretty hot and helps give a little bit of protection from the head winds.

I arrived at my campsite (Ned’s Corner) at around 2.30pm. I had a lovely a good afternoon drying the gear in the wind, sorting out my food supplies and even lit my first fire for this leg of the trip.

.Lots of flies in this campsite

Dinner tonight was gnocchi with red sauce and parmesan cheese. Very easy and very palatable.

Gnocchi for dinner

I decided to have another early night because the mozzies have finally found me.

Day 52 – Ned’s Corner to near Lock 7

Distance: 46km
Time in boat: 7.5 hours

I slept in a bit (6am) after a fairly rough night. I have developed a bit of a cold. First thing I did was a rapid antigen test (RAT or in this case Bush RAT) to check it wasn’t COVID. It wasn’t thankfully, but I guess if I had to isolate, this was a pretty good way to do it.

It was a lovely misty morning and I was on the water at around 7.30am.

Despite my cold (which seemed to be worst when lying down) I paddled hard for the first 17kms and arrived at Lock 8 at 10am. I had rung the lock keeper yesterday and told him I would be there at 10am and he was very impressed I arrived right on time. We had a good chat while the lock lowered me down the 2 metres.

It was a very warm day and there was no wind, so I spent a lot of the day baking under the sun. 

The birdlife on this section of the river is very different from above Mildura. There are hardly any cockatoos, galahs or corollas. There are a lot more herons, spoonbills, quite a few emus and plenty of Mum’s nemesis, the ibis.

Today ended up being a 2 lock day. I rocked up to Lock 7 at 2.30pm. This one was a bit disappointing because it only dropped about 20cm. I was surprised when he pretty much shut the upstream gates and then opened up the downstream gates. I could have almost just paddled over the weir. 

I had planned to camp on a beach just near the lock, however I saw a table symbol on the map a couple of kilometres further on. The small luxuries in life become pretty important when you are living out of a kayak. So I pushed on and found a nice shady spot with a table.

My cold was feeling a bit better today but I was really tired and hungry. I soon felt better after a dinner of pesto flavoured instant pasta.

Day 53 – Near Lock 7 to SA/NSW Border

Distance: 49km
Time in boat: 9.5 hours

I woke up really early again (4am) after a moderately better sleep. I decided to get up and get on the water before sunrise.

I really love paddling in dark (with a head torch). Looking up at the stars and listening to the birds all waking up. There was another lovely sunrise with a mist sitting on water. I was also able to see the aligned planets (Venus, Jupiter, Mars and Saturn).

The aligned planets

There were some amazing cliffs with great geology at Devils Elbow. This spot is a very sharp 90 degree bend and apparently (according to my source of all river knowledge, Peter Phillips) the paddle steamers used to have to go backwards around the bend because it was so sharp.

There were lots of amazing cliffs all along this stretch of the river.

This section of the river also became a lot narrower and was more reminiscent of the river above Mildura. There were a lot more bends and willow trees.

It was so pretty and such nice weather, I even stopped on side of river for and got my stove out to have a coffee break.

I had originally planned to camp well before getting to the SA border, but I ended up getting to my planned campsite at around 1pm. So I decided to keep going because I was very keen to get into South Australia. I got to the SA/NSW border at around 3pm and found a campsite (on the Victorian side) soon afterwards. The New South Wales, Victorian and South Australian borders are pretty confusing because when they originally surveyed them, they planned to have them follow the 141 degree longitude line but the NSW and Victorian survey teams ended up missing each other by about 6km (due to the inaccuracies of clocks and sextants in the 1800s). There is an interesting article about this here.

MacCabe Corner at the NSW/SA/VIC border

Once I got to camp, I was totally knackered after spending 9.5 hours on the water. So I ate my dinner and went straight to bed as soon as the sunset.

Dinner was an instant Pumpkin Risotto. It was really bland and I didn’t eat much of it.

Day 54 – SA/NSW Border to near Wilkinson’s Cutting

Distance: 44km
Time in boat: 8 hours

Another early morning and once again I was on the water around sunrise. I totally forgot about the fact that SA is in a different time zone and once I got on the water (crossing from Victoria to SA) it went from 7am to 6.30am.

It was another lovely day, with a just a gentle breeze. I pushed pretty hard in the morning to do the 26km to Lock 6 because it closes between 11.30am and 1pm and I didn’t want to miss that window. I got there around 11am and once through the lock (a much more impressive 2.5m drop than Lock 7) I pulled over for a cup of coffee on the bank.

The river is getting very wide

My body was very tired today and my cold was getting to me a bit. 

I had originally planned to camp just past the lock but it was only 12.30pm when I got to that campsite. Plus I had already decided I would go further today to make tomorrow’s trip to Renmark (and it’s shops full of treats) a bit shorter.

I ended up paddling about 8km further and camped just past the Woolshed Brewery. A lot of people have told me I have to go to the brewery and due to some pretty bad planning I have got here on a Tuesday, which is one of the only days it is closed.

I was too tired to cook dinner tonight so I just snacked on all the various things in my food bags. The night before a food resupply is always good for being able to eat leftovers and all your snacks.

Day 55 – Wilkinson’s Cutting to Renmark

Distance: 35km
Time in boat: 6 hours

Today I started paddling just after sunrise. I wanted to get to Renmark as early as possible to get lunch and to begin my 2 night my rest period.

Once again I had a lovely sunrise and the water was very glassy. 

After about an hour of paddling I got to Heading Cliffs, which are truly spectacular. I timed it really well because it was blue skies and no wind. There were incredible reflections on the water which made it perfect for photos and video. I just drifted down the river marvelling at the cliffs.

Just 20 minutes later, the weather suddenly turned. It became overcast, drizzling and windy. I then had to fight against the headwind for a couple of hours.

I finally got to Renmark just after 2pm. Renmark has a beautiful foreshore, but it is designed for houseboats with a wharf that is about a foot high, so there was nowhere to get my kayak out of the water to go to the shops. So I had to paddle the extra 2km to the caravan park where I was staying.

Fortunately I was able check into my cabin early and I could have a quick shower before walking the 30 minutes back into town.

I realised that this is the first time I have been back to SA (where I was born and lived my first 8 years) since 1990… 32 years ago. I started getting a bit nostalgic about things that are very South Australian, like stobie poles and YoYo biscuits.

A stobie pole

Here is the video of the seventh paddle leg of the Summit to Sea journey down the Murray River from Mildura to Renmark.

Day 48 – 13km – Mildura to Merbein Common
Day 49 – 36km – Merbein Common to Wentworth
Day 50 – 38km – Wentworth to Remote
Day 51 – 43km – Remote to Ned’s Corner
Day 52 – 46km – Ned’s Corner to Lock 7
Day 53 – 49km – Lock 7 to SA/NSW Border
Day 54 – 43km – SA/NSW Border to Wilkinsons Cutting
Day 55 – 35km – Wilkinsons Cutting to Renmark

Total Distance for the leg: 303km

Day 48 – Mildura to Merbein

From: Mildura
To: Merbein
Distance: 13km
Total Distance Travelled: 1623km
Distance to Go: 851km

After a ten month break, I have finally got back on to the Murray River. A few days ago I drove to Mildura and spent two nights in town. This gave me a day to buy all my food and get everything ready for the paddle. A good friend of mine, Doug, kindly flew up from Melbourne to spend 24 hours with me and it was great opportunity to hang out in the various drinking establishments that Mildura has to offer. We also caught up with some local ballooning friends (Kerry, Robyn, Ian and Carol) for dinner.

One of the many beers with Doug

On Wednesday morning, Doug and I headed down to the Mildura District Canoe Club on the outskirts of Mildura to launch my kayak. I had originally planned to start in the centre of town (at the Ornamental Lakes) and go through the Mildura Lock (Lock 11), however I rang the lock keeper the day before and he told me the lock would be closed for the day due to maintenance. I am glad I called, because I would have packed all my gear in the boat, paddled 15 minutes and then would have had to unpack all the gear again and carry it all around the lock. We were soon joined by the farewell committee of Kerry, Carol and Ian. It was lovely to have some friendly faces wave me off.

The Farewell Committee

The paddle on Wednesday was really short (only about 14km) which took only a few hours. My original plan (last year) was to paddle the 50km from Mildura to Wentworth in one day. However, since I had not paddled my full loaded boat from 10 months and I am less fit than I was back then, I decided to split the first day into two.

I didn’t really get back into the rhythm of paddling for most of the paddle. I did a lot of drifting and took my time to just enjoy being on the river again. At around lunchtime I found a great camping site on the Merbein Common, which was quiet and gave me lovely views of the river, so I decided to grab it. With an afternoon to kill, I decided to go for a walk around town (about 30 mins away) and some of the local parklands.

My campsite at Merbein Common

Day 49 – Merbein to Wentworth

From: Merbein
To: Wentworth
Distance: 36km
Total Distance Travelled: 1636km
Distance to Go: 838km

After a fairly uneventful evening and pretty good sleep, at around 6.30am I opened the tent flap to check the weather and saw that there was a pretty amazing sunrise forming. So I quickly grabbed the cameras and the drone and went to work capturing the beauty of the morning.

I was packed up and on the water by about 8.30am and started making my way down to Wentworth. The river is a lot wider and slower than I remember it being above the weir in Mildura. I quickly realised that I have lost a lot of my paddle fitness but I eventually got into the groove.

After a couple of hours I came to a spot where there was a shortcut, that would mean I could skip about 8km of the river (near Dareton). I sat there for a while struggling with the moral dilemma of whether I should be lazy and take the shortcut or if I should continue along the main part of the river. Since it was such a nice sunny day, I decided to stick to the river and do the extra hour of paddling.

The river is a lot wider now

At around 3pm I finally reached the town of Wentworth. Wentworth sits on the junction of the Murray and Darling Rivers. The Darling is Australia’s third longest river (Murray 2508km, Murrumbidgee 1485km, Darling 1472) and is famous for having all sorts of ecology and environmental issues. It has a lot of issues with salinity, lack of water, mass native fish deaths and major issues with carp. The water is the colour of chocolate milk because (as was explained to me by a paddle steamer captain in Bourke last year) the carp have eaten all the grasses on the river bed and as a result all the silt just flows down the river.

Where the Darling meets the Murray
The contrast in the water colour is pretty obvious

I had originally planned to stay at the caravan on the river bank, but it is closed for renovations. So instead, I had to put the wheels on the kayak and walk up to the town’s one motel.

My parking spot

One of the highlights of Wentworth was that I got to see the statue of Captain John Egge. He came out from China in the mid 1800s to be a cook on a paddle steamer. He then purchased a lot of land and started a paddle steamer company, making him a very powerful person in the region. He also (somewhat scandalously) married an English woman and had 8 children. Apparently half the town is related to Captain Egge. The reason this is so significant is because a good friend of ours in Sydney, Colin, discovered a couple of years ago that Captain Egge was his great great grandfather. He didn’t even know that he had Chinese blood. So it was great to be able to meet Colin’s ancestor and get some photos for him. If you want to read more about Captain Egge you can go here.

Tomorrow morning is going to be an early start because I have to walk back to the river and paddle down to the Wentworth lock (Lock 10) by 8am. I have 6 days of being remote coming up, so I have done my last shop for supplies and am now enjoying my last beer and pub meal before going bush.

So there probably won’t be any posts or photos for the next week because I don’t think I will have much in the way of mobile service. So see you in a week.

P.S. Sorry if this blog post is a bit rough. Been a while since I have written one.

I am finally back in Mildura and about to start paddling down the Murray River again. I have about 880km remaining of the river, which should take me about 4-5 weeks. I start paddling the first 300km leg on Wednesday morning (27th April) which will take me from Mildura to Renmark.

It is only one week until I head back to Mildura to resume the Summit to Sea paddle down the Murray River. I have about 890km left to go and it should take me most of May to complete. I am in no real rush to finish so I plan to take my time and enjoy river life.

The last couple of weeks have been all about packing and getting all the gear sorted out before heading off. A couple of weeks ago I did a 3 day paddle on the Myall Lakes which helped me check the gear and also to remind me of what I need and don’t need for the Murray.

The great thing is that my packing list really hasn’t changed from last year. I was really happy with the amount of gear I took and the only thing I ditched along the way was the coffee plunger.

The main things that needed replacing were my tent, because its floor was starting to leak, and a few mouldy and leaky dry bags.

I have had quite a few questions about what gear I take, how I pack it all in my kayak and how much it all weighs, so I thought I would address all of these questions in this post.

What do I take?

I take a lot. Basically if it fits in the kayak I will take it. I also have to carry a lot of camera, drone and laptop gear so that I can produce my videos each week.

This is a link to my pack list showing all the gear I pack and many of the makes and models.

How do I fit it in my kayak?

The kayak has 3 main storage areas (a front hull, a back hull and a storage hatch behind the cockpit). I try to distribute the weight evenly between the front and the back.

All the gear is packed into small dry bags, ranging between 4 litres and 13 litres in size. Having everything compartmentalised makes it easier to stuff into the hatches and to distribute the weight evenly. It is however a pain when you have to carry lots of small bags to the campsite and during portages.

I also have 2 deck bags that I use on top of the boat. One in front of me that I can access while paddling. It contains all my cameras, the drone, my drinking water and snacks. There is also one on the back of the boat that contains the trolly for portages.

I also carry my water bladders on top of the deck. This isn’t great from a weight distribution perspective because they ideally would be in the bottom of the hull, but it is a compromise so I don’t risk them leaking through my gear.

I also try to keep all the things I need to easily access close to the hatches and the things that I rarely need (like repair kits, water purifiers and city clothes) in the pointy ends.

I store my food and stove in the front of the boat so it is easy to access when I pull up on the bank (nose first) for lunch.

Below is my packing diagram.

How much does it all weigh?

I didn’t weigh the gear last year and people kept asking me how much gear I have. So I took the opportunity of having all the gear out this week to stick it on the scales and see how much I am actually carrying. Here is a rough breakdown of the approximate weights.

  • Camping Gear & Clothing = 29kg
  • Drinking Water (~15 litres) = 15kg
  • Electronics, Drone & Cameras = 14kg
  • Food = 5kg
  • Kayak = 18kg
  • Paddling Gear & Trolly = 8kg
  • Total = 89kg

Then obviously you have to include my body weight (95kg). So there is a fair bit of stuff that gets crammed into the boat and it still surprises me that it not only floats but that I can actually get the thing moving.

So that is the gear. It is all packed and ready to go. I will be getting to Mildura on Monday 25th April and after a day of food shopping and preparation, I will be starting to paddle on Wednesday 27th April.

I will be resuming my Summit to Sea adventure down the Murray River at the end of April from Mildura. I have about 890km left to go and it should take me about 4 weeks (at a relatively cruisy pace).

If you haven’t watched the previous 10 episodes of my trip or if you would like a reminder of what has happened so far, here is an abridged video with all the highlights (and lowlights).

Well the date has now been set. I will be resuming the paddle down the Murray River, from Mildura, on the 27 April 2022.

So it is time to resurrect this blog, dust off the cameras and to get ready to document the next stage of the Summit to Sea adventure.

I had previously planned to pick up the adventure at the end of May, after the 2022 Australian Hot Air Balloon Championships, which were going to be held in Western Australia in early May. However, last night we found out that they are postponing the event again (probably until May 2023), so I have been able to bring the Murray trip forward a month.

I have approximately 890km remaining to paddle, which should take me about 4 weeks to complete. I have reviewed my original plan for this section of the river and I have decided to stretch it out by a few extra days. Let me explain some of the reasons for doing this.

Firstly, I am not as fit as I was when I had reached Mildura last year. After 2 months of paddling all day, every day, I was pretty much at the peak of my fitness and I had no problems paddling 50km+ days. Over the last 9 months (including 3 months of lockdown), I have lost a lot of that fitness and endurance. So shortening the days (especially for the first couple of weeks) to between 30-45km will help my body get back into the swing of things.

Secondly, after watching my videos and reading my blog posts again, I can see how much the COVID border issues were occupying my mind and were detracting from the whole experience. This time I won’t (fingers crossed) have these issues, so I want to give myself some extra time to just cruise down the river, drink cups of tea on the river bank and just spend more time enjoying my thoughts. I will also get to spend time in more of the towns, experience more of the campsites and meet more people.

The great thing is that this time I don’t really have any deadlines, so if I decide while I am on the river that I want to go faster or slower, or even take a day off if the weather is crappy, I can. My parents will be driving down to South Australia to pick me up (as Kath will be working) at the end of May, so I will need to give them about a week’s notice of when I plan to reach the sea, but other than that I can just go at my own pace.

Map showing completed (blue) and remaining (white) sections of the Murray River

Restarting at the end of April means that I only have 2 months to prepare for the paddle. So here is a breakdown of what I need to do between now and then.

1. Fitness

The first thing is obviously fitness. I actually started getting fit again a couple of months ago. 3 months of lockdown and Christmas were not kind to me, especially to my waistline. I went from living on the river for 2 months, eating about half what I normally would and burning a lot of calories each day, to being locked down with a full pantry and a once substantial wine cellar. As a result I became a lot heavier, very quickly. To put this body fluctuation into perspective, let me put some numbers to it…

Over the 47 days and 1,587km of paddling I lost 7kg (8% of my body weight), going from my normal weight of 94kg to 87kg. Then, after 3 months of lockdown and then Christmas I quickly put this weight back on and some. I added on 11kg in about 4 months going from 87kg to 98kg.

Thankfully I have now lost some of those extra “bad” kilos and have found (hidden under all that Christmas cheer) that I had actually put on a few kilos of muscle. So now that I can see the belly shrinking, I am feeling a lot better about the condition of my body.

I have a weekly plan in place for the next 2 months, which includes doing two long paddles, a couple of runs and two gym sessions with my Personal Trainer. I recently started working with a Personal Trainer to help with my flexibility and to strengthen my core. Last year I found that my body was fine with the paddling, but spending hours sitting and sleeping on the ground in the tent was the hardest bit. So working on flexibility should help me no feel like an old man when I wake up in the mornings.

Two paddles a week no matter the weather

2. Gear

The gear is all pretty much still packed and ready to go. There is still a lot of Murray Mud that I haven’t got around to cleaning off things. I just had to throw out a whole lot of food that had expired, but other than that everything (I think) is still pretty much organised.

I plan to do a 3 day paddle next week at the Myall Lakes as a bit of gear shake down. It will give me a chance to get back into the routine of paddling and camping, and hopefully remind me of some of the things I wanted to change or add to my massive pile of gear. It also looks like is going to be miserable weather, which is perfect, because I will be able to find any leaks or gear that needs patching and will help me remember what it is like sitting under my tarp for hours in the pouring rain.

The trip will also give me a chance to get back into the swing of things when it comes to creating videos and photography. I haven’t really had a chance or desire to create any videos over the last 6 month, so I am sure it will take me a while to remember how to talk crap to the camera and to get the perfect pelican shots.

Gear is still packed and ready to go

3. Mindset

As I have pointed out numerous times in my videos and posts, the mental aspect of these long solo journeys can be the hardest part. I actually love spending time in my own head and I am really looking forward to being on the river without the stresses that I had last time.

For a couple of months after I came off the river, I was very much in the mindset of “I just want to finish the damn river” and, to be honest, I wasn’t really very excited about the next 890km of the Murray. I just wanted to get to the end. But as time has gone on and having spent so much time at home without being able to go out on proper adventures, I am now really looking forward to the actual journey and in a way don’t really want to get to the end.

So mentally I am ready and super excited.

Anyway, I will be posting more often as I prepare for the paddle and the videos (which people have been asking for) will start again soon.