The Mighty Murray River!

The Mighty Murray River!

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Wednesday - a real bad day!

oh well as the title suggests it was a very bad day yesterday (Wednesday).  We were both well rested after a rest day on Tuesday and decided to get up nice and early to start early, we were ready by 7am with one last job to do ... slather on the sun cream ... on to  my last part to cover - my lower legs and feet and guess what? my back gave way completely!  I couldn't believe it - I felt the whole lower back go from left to right.  I was in such pain for 10mins that I couldn't move and when I could it was basically on all 4's which eventually led to a stooped walking position.
Sitting there for an hour figuring out what to do - the only ute hire in Cobram had none so it was a phone call to good ole Leanne - well she should be an event organiser!  She organised a trailer, a physio appointment and drove up to pick us up at Cobram - a 2 and half hour drive from Bendigo, all Neil and I had to do was float down to the next beach on the Victorian side as there was no tracks on the NSW side to come and get us and when she gets there she has a pillow, a cushion and cold water - talk about spontaneous organisation!
So here I am at Bendigo - the physio said it was muscle damage and when I got to him at 4.30pm (happened at 7am) the muscle was still twitching away there and I there is a lot of local swelling but no joint damage so that was fortunate.
I on the other hand are absolutely gutted that this trip is cut short - not sure what to do now but just go home and recover.
So that's all folks!

Monday, February 8, 2016

Monday 8/2: 1943 to 1910 (33km)

Not sure what the temperature is today but it is hot up here in Cobram - around the mid to late 30's I think.  I am posting this from Cobram and have left todays end km open as where we were going to camp (beside the road bridge at Barooga picnic area) you use to be able to free camp but that has gone now and everyone is in the state forest so that is no good for us, so we are in the picnic area on the Victorian side and Neil has gone in to get some food - it is a 2km walk to woolies and that is a long walk to get all our supplies - I told him to get a taxi back.  Once back we will paddle off again - not too far as we are very tired and weary and it is hot paddling.
So our campspot was lovely last night - so quiet - we had a few guests - 
 these little fairy wrens were everywhere and always in pairs!
Here is Neils cup for the trip - not long after we started his silicon cup got a puncture in it at the bottom so it was leaking chronically! so we improvised (as we were in the middle of nowhere!) and he is using the container that we keep our trangia burner in!  we put the burner in a snap lock so no metho leaks out and taints his cup!
 I also have to show you our suntan lines -  been gone just over a week and already we have funny suntan lines!
 starting from the right is my leg - on my foot you can see brown dots - they are from the holes in the crocs, then my left leg, then my left arm which has a watch mark! and then Neils legs!
Last night we tried sleeping with the fly of the tent - which was a mistake as we both got no sleep as we are so use to being in our kennel that sleeping in a kennel without a roof felt strange - we were also sleeping unside down - which doesn't help so in the end while it was nice to look at the stars it is better we stick to what we are use to!
This morning we set out and just around the corner was a wallaby drinking - he didn't see us at all!
 then I started seeing birds I hadn't seen before and there was one type in particular - it was black on the back and had a white front - I was having so much trouble photographing it that when I thought I had it I hadn't!  I managed this one - not sure what it is maybe a comret (spelling?)
the river is particularly wide and flow is limited
 alot of little corellas and they are all along the banks and beaches and generally took flight as we paddled past
 plenty to see along this part of the murray - more birds compared to some areas and also a little bit of Murray art ...
 neat aye - we assume as the family grows they keep adding more people and as they grow older they also get taller!
Finally I managed to get my black bird!
 We did pass Cobram Estate homestead and only managed to see the chimneys as tall trees are blocking you from seeing the house, you could also see a little bit of olive trees.
We did pass what was Jarn pirr vineyards but it is now part of Seppels and I tell you this is by far the biggest water pump so far along the murray!
 so still alot of people around but they are dotted here and there, we passed some big beaches on the Victorian side and if you read last nights blog about some leave rubbish behind and we can't figure that out as they have cars to carry it out and generally that is the policy for the river ... well most when the leave their rubbish behind place or hide it behind a tree, today we passed a big beach and this was left out in the open ...
 that pisses me off to no end!
About 5km frm Cobram I am getting tired and weary and out of the corner of my eye I spot a movement up a tree and I look and I see something brown up in the tree and shit it is a Koala, so out comes the camera, I stop paddling but I continue to go with the flow and I am missing my photograph opportunity and I drift by and so I quickly paddle back but find I can't stay put so I wedge the kayak on a snag and I am still drifting off so I decide to hoist my leg over this snag to stop any movement and quietly sat there photographing and admiring this big koala while it slept - meanwhile Neil had paddled back as it is strange to see a koala along here I think - I don't think it is common? (Neil has informed me later on that Koalas are common, he has been told around Tocumwal)
 anyway it was unperterbed by us and I don't think it knew we were there!  So this got my spirits up for about 3km and then the final 2km just dragged on!
Here is the bridge that bridges Cobram in Victoria and Barooga in NSW
will go fill up with water now as I am still waiting for Neil.
Okay so I am back now, we headed off after a quick dip in the water to cool off.  We are paddling along and the Victorian side is quite crowded - we think it might be a mixture of grey nomads and also seasonal workers or even the more disadvantaged people that are camping along the riverside.  I say disadvantaged as there are quite a few permanent tents along here, most have a great set up and some are just in their cars and tiny tents no bigger than ours.  I would imagine the wine grape picking would start up soon if it hasn't already started.
We did find a spot and you are not going to guess where we are ... NSW!!! we think it is still the state forest as it is most definitely not grazing or crop land.  we found a beach that clearly had been occupied on the weekend and it is in shade for most of the day except for early evening but that is okay as tomorrow we will stay here.  There is even a tree close to the water line and you can wallow in the shallows of the water while under the shade of the tree - it is divine especially for tomorrow as it will reach the mid 30's again.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Sunday 7/2: 1978-1943km (35km)

  We all slept so well last night - I don't think Kouta moved at all, didn't hear anyone go out in the night to the toilet!
It was a quiet camp spot last night - even the hum of the water pump didn't keep us awake and there wasn't any noise from any other camper - I think because there are so many of them it is frowned upon if you are blaring music at 3am in the morning and I would imagine alot would say something!
So we started early as todays temperature is to reach the mid 30's.  For most of the day every beach that was on the Victorian side had a camper or campers on it - it was crowded, a few would be leaving today to return to work tomorrow but there are quite a few grey nomads that will stay put.
So the arms are a little weary this morning and we need to do at least 30km to make the day into Cobram (tomorrow) about the same.  We all know that camping on the NSW side is a big no no and should only be done in absolute desperation ... except when there is a state park and this was the case from around 1976 to around 1958 - the beaches are the best places to camp - everything else is really wild.  There seems to be 2 state parks side by side - Mulwala state forest and then Boomanoomana (try saying that!) state forest.
Paddling along today we came across something drifting in front of us - Leanne you are going to love this - can you see something in the photo below?
okay here is it closer up (I dare not get any closer - so that should give you a clue!)
Yep it is a snake and it was going from Victoria to NSW - Neil saw a stick in the river that was going across which can only mean one thing (as a stick should be going with the river not across it) a snake!  It was a good swimmer too!
A few boats on the river - but no where near as much as yesterday and they were going alot slower due to snags, but most were camped out on the beaches and alot were families with kids. 
The river is quite wide and so the flow is slow but enough so you can drift.
At around 30km we started to look for a camp spot - the shoulders were tired and as per usual plenty of spots but most had campers still packing up or a grey nomad that was staying, in desperation we did consider NSW but decided that we would go for the big beach around the 1941 mark - we did on the way find 1 spot but upon investigation it wasn't great and as per usual someone had left behind their rubblish and broken camping stuff - I don't get it you have a damn car how hard is it to put it in there and take it home with you!  We find this a lot and it is disappointing to say the least!
We did find this spot ...


and it is a good spot - there is a drive into it so it must branch of the dirt road that follows the river but it is quite a rough drive so only a 4WD or hoon driver/camper would get in and technically they will be at home this afternoon and work tomorrow so we pitched our tent up and enjoyed a well earned dip in the river!
Tomorrow we make Cobram - around 27km give or take.

Saturday 6/2 2127 -1978 (49km but really 34km!)

No we didn’t do 49km today – that is just going by the murray river markers which can be a bit dodgy at times – especially around Bundalong with all the everglades and lagoons – I think the markers are a little wrong on the maps, also not sure which way the markers measure coming across Lake Mulwala – maybe they take the NSW coastline which is a lot longer compared to the Victorian coastline – so we estimate we paddled about 34km (but it sure did feel like 49km!)
So we had a nice rest day on Friday – it was quiet until the evening.  We had plenty of wildlife to entertain us – Kouta made friends with the locals, Neil thought he was a Llama whisperer, lucky the skin had legs as I thought it was a snake at first! And our evening music – screeching Cockatoos!





We had decided that we would get up early in the morning on Saturday – well lets just say “we hate people” we had a father with his adult son (and his friends) as well as 2 younger kids camp a beach up from us – that was okay- they had their 2 speed boats and toys etc, that is okay but it wasn’t at midnight when they decided to play their music up loud until 4am in the morning – they were drunk and Neil wouldn’t let me “deal” with them.  So they were quiet until midnight and then all of a sudden they played loud music.  We put up with it and woke up a little later than expected – 6.15am so we didn’t get away until 7.45am.  We were very tired and our eyes were very heavy – crikey I couldn’t even get my revenge in the morning.  Our day did NOT get any better.  Due to a late start the ski boats were already up and about and all over the river so for the first 4km we battled wake after wake after wake then we get to Bundalong and the foreshore is crowded with campers and more speed boats, by now I am over the so called ‘struggling middle class’ with all there toys.  I knew the weekends were going to be difficult and this weekend is tough.

This area of the Murray before you go into Lake Mulwala has wide areas and good corners for water skiers and the like so it is very popular – next time I wouldn’t do this on the weekend it is just too difficult and distracts from the peace and quite!
Around Bundalong it is an absolute mess of water- you don’t know where you are and there are so many bodies of water you have no idea if you are on the murray or not.  To get away from the speed boats we did take a few short cuts through quieter waterways – I was navigating and our maps are good but things change like islands appear or disappear, waterways are closed off or are new and sometimes there were times I doubted my map reading skills however we got there!

On the Spatial Vision maps there is a campspot just on the edge of the lake and a jetty near by- this campspot is quite good – nothing fancy about it but okay for kayakers (it is near a broken down pontoon jetty) perfect if you want to start you day off crossing the lake.  In hindsight we should have made for this camp spot.
So as you know Lake Mulwala has nothing but sticks poking out of it!  Here we are in it …

And here we are saying ‘are we there yet’ so Yarrawonga is somewhere where the point of my kayak is pointing!

We followed the Victorian side, however we did cut across the bay to make it a little shorter and also it was better to be out in amongst the sticks rather than in the boat channels!  The trees sticking out of the water are easy to navigate … it is the ones just below the surface you have to worry about!

I think I got one and all it did was move the kayak aside!  It took us 1 hour and 30mins paddling time to get to our first land fall which was at Woodlands Park – there is a little beach right next to the jetty.  Nice spot until all the struggling middle class and their boats start up and create a wake that spun my kayak around, beached it and the water from the wake just poured into the kayak, it flooded it completely – event the compartment that had my camera in – see told you my day wasn’t going well!  BUT I had put the camera in a small container and that protected it from the water and the container was under the water but the inside was nice and dry!  Whew!  So not happy – this was the 2nd time today this had happened (it happened at Bundalong  - same thing wake spun the boat around onto the beach and the water just pours in from the wake).  So by now I am ready to thump any male under 25 with flaming tattoos on his arms, I mean really, it is great that Australians get out and about with recreational stuff but do they have to do it when I am around!!! LOL
So once pass Woodlands Park it is another 5km (loooooooooooooong kms!) to Yarrawonga, there are more boats, jet skis and fishing boats and now add a house boat, and tourist boats to that mix, so it gets quite tough out there in your little kayak.  The swell is also bigger – Neil thinks it is the water bouncing of the banks as it go really big as you get closer to Yarrawonga.


From Chinamans point just as you come around it you can see the weir itself …

Then you see the town and the bridge where the cars go over. Not knowing if there is really any where to beach or land the kayaks near the weir (as there is no locks so you have to portage) so we try our luck and go under the bridge

And start paddling to the weir itself

We can see there is no beach but keep going in the hope there is vacant land to beach on – there is but no beach so I look and I can see there is a small track to the left of the weir

So we paddle up to it and the track is steep for our heavy laden kayaks – ok if you have very little gear.  So we make the decision to turn around and go back under the bridge and beach near the information center and make the long portage from there.  Going back we see a guy in his back yard (which backs on to the waters edge) and he flags us over and offers to drive us around the weir – I mean this guy in an instant just put my faith back into humanity – I mean after the arrogant sods last night and their music and the damn struggling middle class and their toys I had lost all faith in humanity!  We said that we have wheels for the kayaks but driving our gear around would be great!  Apparently he does this a bit as like most kayakers we think we can sneak somewhere through but more to the point there is no real info out there as to what is the best way to portage, back around the info center is the looooooong way and you may have to make several trips (3km round trip at least!)  So there is a vacant lot and he drives his 4WD down and we load all our gear in there, he drives me to the bottom of the weir which is through the caravan park (just past the office turn right and down the boat jetty (it is public thorough fare and boat jetty despite it being in the caravan park)).  We undload the gear and he drives back and walks with Neil who has the first kayak and then returns back home with Neil to pick up the 2nd kayak.
Their names are David and Ros and they are the most lovely people and so friendly and love to help out kayakers who get stranded!  Acutally on our rest day there was a fisherman anchored near our camp and he began chatting to us and he offered his son and his ute to portage us!  So I think if you put on a sad face someone is sure to take pity on you!

So happy that our portage was fortunate – hard work for Neil to wheel the kayaks to the boat jetty so I did the walk to the supermarket – it felt strange to wear sneakers and walk!  The IGA is well stocked but expensive.  Walking back it is hot and sweaty and I have in my backpack 2 flavoured milks which we devour when I get back.

It is late and we start paddling again at 3.45pm – it took us til 5pm to find a spot and we only went 5km down the river.  Our problem is not lack of campspots – it is lack of spots available – they are all taken up with weekenders and it is chockas along here and if you do find a spot it is too close to a noisy group with a damn speed boat and music, we are so tired and worn out that we find a shady spot at the end of a long row of campers – this spot is vacant as it is near a water pump that is noisy – not as loud at the music last night but it is a constan low hum – I think we will sleep through that!

So in hindsight – don’t do this lake on a weekend – try midweek.  In the future I think we might revise our weekends and if we are going to be in a place like Echuca or someplace popular we might either speed up or stay put.  I think we will be ok once past Echuca!

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Thursday 2058km to 2028km (30km)

Woke up this morning and the arms felt like lead, once moving around they soon loosened up although they felt like lead again when I began to paddle!
It is forecasted as a fine sunny and warm day today - 30 degrees and it will be like that for the next week, by Sunday it will be the mid 30's so plenty of sunshine to charge up the batteries on the solar panels.
Slathered myself with sunblock this morning - never thought I would say this but by crikey I am burning out on the river!  generally when you cycle you get burnt on one side of the body but since this river bends all ways you get an all round suntan .. with the exception of the back of the legs ... they look unusually white compared to the front which are brown!  I have ditched the neoprene gloves and have opted for none.  My hands were sweating in the gloves and I was getting small blisters.  Since not wearing gloves the hands have had no blisters assuming because the hands stay dry (not sweating) although they are getting sunburnt so I have to sunblock them too!!!
We saw heaps of people on the river today - mainly retired fishermen all trying to catch Murray Cod.  We are also seeing alot of permanent structures on the Victorian side ... Neil called them 'the scurge of the Murray river' !!! he doesn't think you should be allowed to leave a permanent structure along the rivers edge (the 3 chain area along the Victorian side).  Here are some we saw this morning
 and these were about 150m from the ones above ...
 I am all for coming along and camping in whatever along the Murray river but to leave your caravan there to sort of 'claim' that spot as your own when it is on public land (3 chain rule - as long as there is no private claim to the waterfront or a house) well that is just not right ... I mean it is okay for Neil and I as we are small and we can just camp there if no one is there but if you were a bigger group and like that spot but couldn't fit due to vans being there but not the owners then that is a bit rich for my liking!  Anyhow you probably would say that the river is long enough to fit all, not neccessarily so as there sometimes is not great spots to land, beach or launch so places like the ones with the permanent structures take up spots with beaches and launches.  I mean one thing Gordon, and I assume most kayakers would too, found difficult is there is not many spots to land the kayak, usually there is plenty of spots for the tent but to land or beach the kayak is impossible!
So we are getting closer to Lake Mulwala and we also have the Ovens river south of us (which creates a massive lagoon system that one could get lost in!) and when you look at the map of the Murray river all you can see are a mass of creeks, billabongs, rivers and lagoons and you begin to wonder just where the heck is the Murray river in all of this!  I have the map with me and I have to admit I am getting pretty good with navigating this river despite the lack of km markers.
Todays campspot is really good - just when we thought the arms were going to fall off and we will have to camp in long grass surrounded by mud and reeds we come across a bend with a few beaches and found the perfect spot with shade and an open area for the tent ...
 as you can see there is plenty of room to move ...
we have decided today was our 3rd straight day of 30kms so we will have a rest day and try to tackle Lake Mulwala on Saturday as we think it might be a long day if we are to go a little beyond Yarrawonga and we also still have to get to the start of the lake which is about 14km away.
I tell you we are about 4km from Bundalong and every man and his boat, jetski and speedboad is passing by us!
Dad if you read this ... I tried ringing the landline but no one answered so we are having a rest day here tomorrow when is the best time to skype - in the evening? send me an email as to when the best time is!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

2088km to 2058km (30km)

Ok, so we are now 22km on from Corowa and I have managed to get the internet way out here in the middle of no where!  It is very slow with uploading photos (even when the files are made smaller).
We left Corowa around 11am after stocking up on food, Neil got a bit of orange sticker fever when he went into Woolworths - nearly everything he got had an orange sticker on it - except the schmackos and dog food.  He did buy a treat for Kouta - 2 fresh hamburger patties.  He had one just before we left and then he will have the other for dinner tonight.
Below is a photo of the Federation bridge which is just before you come into Corowa (about 3km out) plenty of camping around here, generally the caravaners all stick together but it is a long foreshore that is available for camping.
 The next bridge you come to is the John Foord one which is a one way bridge which is controlled by traffic lights.
 Here is a close up ...
 so we just pulled in past the bridge, not much anchorage for kayaks but enough for us 2.
As you can see the skies are very grey, no rain yet but we might get a few drops later on.
The river is going south wards now and there is a stiff southerly blowing, the flow of the river is a little slower so you have to work.  There is alot of camping opportunities after Corowa, and one of the last opportunities is at Stanton Bend (about 2070km mark) it is a popular spot and I managed to get a photo looking back on it ...
 it is like a caravan park along there - again there is a long foreshore but I personally would camp before or suffer and find another spot further on!
Not long after this it began to rain a little bit.  The river markers are far and few in between - according to the maps there is none but we did spot one or two so we updated our maps.
Chatting to Gordon this morning and he mentioned the 6 kayakers from yesterday said that after Corowa there is a shortcut that cuts out around 17km of the Murray, I had a look at the maps and saw there is a branch - it is long so it doesn't make it 17km shorter maybe 10km shorter as a guess BUT 2 things nag me about this - 1. there hasn't been any real spring rain so it might be dry in places or downed trees exposed and so portaging might occur in dry spots or even a blockage which forces you to turn around and 2. why bother kayaking the Murray if you are going to take shortcuts!  So when we get to our campspot there is a fisherman who Neil chats to and says that diversion or shortcut is just as wide as the Murray and it is flowing! so I wonder if Gordon or the 6 kayakers took the shortcut?
Speaking of our campspot it is really nice, at a guess we are about the 2058km mark and it is a designated camp spot according to the Spatial vision maps and it couldn't have come at a more opportune moment - my arms (and Neils) were about to fall off, so we were relieved to come to this spot ...
 decided to camp on the sand rather than the grass - less ants, but sitting up here on the grass there doesn't seem to be many.  Last nights spot they were just relentless we even considered getting some sort of ant powder to put around or camp spots but we think we may have to get another kayak to carry that powder since we will need alot of it!
Neil had a brain wave while unloading his kayak, he will try to use Koutas tub and sun shade as a table, we generally collapse the sun shade and use the tub upside down but his one we just tip upside down, it is a little unstable and wobbly so we might just try it for the Trangia.

tomorrow we will try for another 30km or so, although we are about 44km from the start of Lake Mulwala and we may have to either have a rest day or continue on without a rest day - depends on the wind direction - you don't want to do this lake with a wind in front of you!

2116km to 2088km (28km)

We had a great rest day yesterday – plenty of sunshine to dry everything out, we even managed to have our first hot solar shower

Could have stayed under the shower all day if it wasn’t for the little black ants – never mind the mosquitos and flies (off which we have had NONE!) it is the damn ants you have to worry about and they bite and nip you if you stand in one spot too long!  It was good to have a rest day to let the arms recover – Kouta slept most of the day

Up early this morning but unfortunately we had a few things to delay us – Neil twinged his back, a nest of little black ants decided to make a home in my seat (where the straps go in the back) so I had to bang the heck out of the seat to let them disperse, got rid of most of them but the smell … oh my lordy was it stinky!  Eventually we did manage to get off at around 8.15am.  Not much change in the scenery just trees, birds and cattle!
Not sure what these cockatoos are doing …

And Neil reckoned these 3 gum trees looked like something out of Lord of the Rings

So on our rest day  2 kayakers passed our camp the 2nd stopped to chat and his name is Gordon and he is going to the river mouth like us slowly while his friend is stopping at Yarrawonga.  They both come from Strathalbyn in South Australia – so it was a trek to get to the start of the Murray but at least when Gordon finishes he won’t have far to go home, his friend will go back to Albury (where the car is ) and drive back home.  So today we meet up with Gordon around the 2104km mark, stopped for a chat and realised that we will probably overtake his frien (Merv) around lunch time.
I forgot to mention that the maps we are using at the moment are the Spatial Vision ones and not long after the 2116 mark (have to guess according to the contours of the river as to where you are as the km marker signs are vary rare!) there seems to be a muck up with the blue signs – by my reckoning and map reading (which has been spot on!) according to the bends, creeks and markings we should be at the 2112km mark but they had it at 2114km so either the map was out or the river markings are.  As we went along the map is correct and the 2114 marker is wrong, but by the next marker you see the map is still 2km out, but then all of a sudden at the 2096km mark the river signs coincide with the map signs.
Just before the 2094km we pass Merv and there is a nice spot to pull over for lunch so we do.  Both of them have a Kaboose which is small waterproof trailer that follows behind them


They do have a lot of stuff with them – Dad you would love the kaboose thing to trail behind you (a bit like a bob trailer for a bike) as you can carry everything.  Gordon is like you Dad – has a Helinox stretcher and like you also has a squab to put on it, he also has a Kathmandu  rocker type chair!  Gordon also has a kayak that you can pedal!
We decide to stop just before the 2088km mark so we are  about 8km from Corowa. It is a nice spot, there is a little estuary for the kayaks

There is also a nice sanding steep embankment to climb (it isn’t that bad really!) and also a great view from the top of the river for our tent


Since I know there are 2 guys behind us and there is also a good chance the 6 kayakers that are doing the river in 45 days are also likely to pass by very soon I decide to have my wash straight away … and lucky I did as about 45mins later the 6 kayakers passed by and they stopped for a brief chat

Then Merv floated by and the Gordon – I think they might be just around the corner from us – they were last night!  So I was lucky no need to sprint up the embankment!
Will pass through Corowa tomorrow and pick up supplies and continue on.