The Mighty Murray River!

The Mighty Murray River!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Day 7 @ Princetown

I couldn't believe my eyes this morning when we woke - it was bright blue skies, sunny and not a breath of wind!  The perfect kayaking day (and also cycling day!)
Eager to get going this week we decided to take the short drive up to the bridge - about 500m walk to launch the kayak.  We unloaded everything and I waited while Neil took the car back to the campground.  
I am not sure if I have mentioned this before but we are having a few problems with Kouta taking to kayaking ... basically this dog HAS to like kayaking whether he likes it or not!  He took to cycling like a fish to water so why can't he take to kayaking?  We think it may have something to do with getting a little wet especially on windy days.  He sits behind Neil and so gets a little wet.  Today was calm so he wouldn't get wet today but he didn't understand that and after having a few words with Neil Kouta begrudgingly got in the kayak ... lets just say Kouta was ready to pack his bags and walk to Colac we headed out under the bridge which is quite low - thought we may have to do a bit of limboing ...
 no sooner had we started that I came up with the idea that maybe Kouta would prefer to sit up front and he definitely wouldn't get wet at all even on windy days, so Neil decided that he didn't like how his rudder was performing so we turned around and went back.  So I took the lid of Neils front compartment and for today I thought Kouta could ride in that so we gave it a go ... here is the new set up ...
 within 5 mins he had settled and faced Neil for the first hour or so and then decided that he would face forward to navigate.
I tell you we couldn't believe the change in him he was so content with just sitting there up in front and didn't care that I was behind and he couldn't see me .. the fact that he was head of the pack was just the bees knees for him.
So we hope we have solved his rebelious teenage attitude to us and kayaking.  Where he is sitting now is an important luggage container for when we tour so the lid has to be on the compartment or else the kayak is not waterproof so Neil will try to rig up a plastic container to sit on top of this compartment.
So this Gellibrand river is quite nice and wide at the start.  All along is reeds both sides and it looked like it had been recently flooded - we found out later on that the Wednesday before Easter they released water further up the river and so it was about 1m above what it is now ...
 We were going against a very light flow and you didn't really notice it until further up when the river narrowed but is was no real drama.
 so here is Kouta settled and facing forward ....
 the further you go up the river the narrower it gets ...
 and it was about 2 paddle widths wide - sometimes less in places but you could always paddle ...
 plenty of lovely water lilly type plants floating towards the sides ...
 We did come across a farmer who stopped to chat to us and we decided to have a food stop about 2 hours up (after a 20min chat and break with the farmer).  due to the recent release of water the embankments are very slushy and muddy and there is really no easy place to pull over and step out as the water is deep and the embankment drops suddenly into the water and you all know by now that I have extreme difficulty getting out of the kayak in shallow water let along deep water! so we floated and had a bite to eat - the cattle were very curious as to what we were doing!
 going back you noticed the flow going with you especially in the narrow parts and by the time we got  to the wider section the flow wasn't there.  We got back 4 hours after we started so we guessed we had paddled for over 3.5 hours and believe me the arms are feeling it!  They are not sore of aching - just weary!  Happy to get back for a cuppa and also some apple cider!  Neil found this yesterday here at the campground - a group of German backpackers left there rubbish where they camped and Neil went to pick up the cardboard left and found this tin of apple cider still in there - I have never had it before and it has 4.5% alcohol.  I liked it - it is a bit like a little bit of bear with alot of apple juice - Neil didn't like it that much but that didn't stop him from finishing it off when I had my shower!
Tomorrow we are back at Colac and fingers crossed we can do an over nighter at Meredith park on Wednesday night.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Day 6 @ Princetown

Yep another change of plans!  We were suppose to be at Peterborough tonight but when we got there the wind was really blowing right up the estuary and there were also quite a bit of waves - we didn't fancy tackling such strong winds yet again and also Kouta said he doesn't want to paddle as he gets soaking wet when the wind is blowing this strong due to all the water spray from the paddle ... the dog has spoken and we will obey him!  So we skipped kayaking the Curdies river and continued on to Princetown where we are at the end of the Gellibrand river and will stay here 2 nights - this river is a little more sheltered than the Curdies besides the camping is alot cheaper here compared to Peterborough!
So let me tell you about last night at Killarney - there was a 50th birthday celebration at the small hall there and it was predominantly outside and they had a truck turn up and that was the stage for a Melbourne bush band!  We weren't invited but we could here the music and it wasn't half bad!  They band stopped around midnight and then they seem to quieten down except for our neighbours in the tents next to us - they were invited and they chatted until around 3am.  Funny enough we both slept through most of it and drifted in and out of sleep but the chatting woke me up at 3am and it took me about 15mins to get back to sleep ... needless to say I wasn't quiet this morning when I assembled the stove together, banged a few pots and looked for any excuse to speak loudly to Kouta since he is going deaf you have to raise your voice!!!
We left early and picked up some fresh bread at Warranambool and then popped in at Heather and Anthonys' for a cuppa and left so they could get ready for church.  And that is when we came to Peterborough ... nice setting there ...
 Not really interested in the Great Ocean Road as we have been along here before by bike a few times and so we didn't stop to take a photo of the 6.5 apostles (it is really called the 12 Apostles but since they collapse on a regular basis they get less and less!)
We get to Princetown at around 1.30pm and it is grey skies everywhere and the wind is blowing but we find a spot and use the car as our wind breaker.  Not particularly worried about the wind with river as it is relatively sheltered
 you can feel the strong wind when we went out to the mouth of the river and it was bit of a slog to get there lucky it was only a short distance
 on one side of you as you near the mouth entrance you have a towering cliff and on the other side is reeds and low lying shrubs!

 Neil is getting closer to the mouth entrance ... funny enough Neil has trusted me with his old camera to be the photographer today and I find that whenever I stop to take a photo the wind blows me back another 25m so technically I cover a bit more distance than Neil!

 I was shocked to see just how small the mouth is - the ones we have seen have all be quite wide but no water between the river and the sea - needs some heavy rain to bridge that gap - but here the gap is small but there is water coming in from the sea
 this is how strong the wind is - on the way back we didn't have to paddle and we still picked up speed!
One thing we have to say with kayaking is the facilities to launch a kayak can be non existent - we thought we could launch the kayaks successfully from a makeshift track someone had made, here is the track ...
and what started out as a nice track turned into a realy muddy bog!
 we managed to get the kayaks there on their trailers and successfully launched them into the river after some negotiation with the embankment! lets just say to hell with the trailers to get the kayaks back - Neil dragged them along the edge of the mud track!  Tomorrow we will drive down to the boat launching place as they have a mud/clay embankment that has a slope rather than a drop to the water!
So we are at Princetown Reserve which is the old cricket ground.  People must use it as they have a brand new bbq area that is nice and flash, the outside toilet block has been painted, the toilets are relatively newish compared to the showers.  All in all it is nice and only $20 unpowered for 2 people and $25 for powered.  It is a massive area and plenty of unpowered and limited powered sites.  Popular as there are quite a few vans here at the powered sites.  this is probably the cheapest camping you will find along the Great Ocean Road - camping is normally anywhere from $30 - $40 along this road and that is for unpowered!  Here is our spot ...
 One thing you notice when you get out of the car is that there are heaps of kangaroo droppings but no kangaroos around - they soon turn up around tea time.  We are having a hell of a job stopping Kouta from eating the poo that is lying around ... anyone would think we don't feed that dog - tonight he has his biscuits and packet of dog food, then he has a little more biscuits with a poached egg and a few baked beans and he is still off trying to eat the kanga poo!
Coming back from our walk tonight the kangas are using our exit gap near the tent and poor Kouta is beside himself as he can't go up to them and smell them as they bound off so all he does is sniff the poo and walk around with his nose to the ground .  Here they are in the oval ...
So tomorrow we stay here and will go up stream, didn't do alot of kayaking today - more interested in listening to Geelong get a hiding from Fremantle ... should have stayed out kayaking!

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Day 5 @ Killarney

What began as a lovely sunny and beautiful day ended in absolute tragedy for us ... will explain at the end!
We slept until 8am, not sure why we slept for 11 hours last night - maybe the hard kayaking yesterday.  After complaining to Neil about the lack of sun yesterday today we woke to blue skies and sun so out came all the solar panels to charge up the battery packs!
Looking forward to kayaking in the sun today and when we got to Port Fairy every man, his mate and boats where out - I tell you if everyone that was parked at Port Fairy sold their boat that would solve Austrailias financial problems.  There were 4WDs' and trailers parked everywhere .... unfortunately there is only 1 place to launch the boats and even we had trouble finding a place to launch the kayaks - everything is up high above the causeway walls so we did manage to find a spot, a little rocky when the tide is out but okay.
The tide was coming in when we left and before we launched we decided that we might go out to the ocean as we stopped to have a look at East beach and it was relatively calm and okay to kayak.  As we were loading the kayaks a local was chatting and said yes that it is a good day to go out to the ocean ... and so we did!
On our way down the causeway we spot a sea lion and all I could do was point and shoot when I heard it taking a breath and this is all I could manage ...
 The causeway is about 500m long and it is where all the boats come and go.  At the entrance we come across a fishing boat returning ...
 and then you are out in the ocean!
 as you can see it is relatively calm and there is a little swell but okay to paddle through ... It was Neils idea to go out to the ocean and as soon as we get out there he says "oh I'm a bit apprehensive out here in the ocean" yeah good one Neil it was your idea so pull yourself together and paddle!
 It wasn't bad at all and I felt okay out there, it is very deep and the water is crystal clear, there is a very light wind (I would not have done this on previous days when the southerly winds have been really blowing!)  Just to the left of the mouth it is quite calm so we cut across and came back along the outer wall of the causeway ....
 here I am looking relaxed out in the ocean!
 we then decided to go on the other side of the causeway so we crossed over the mouth and it wasn't necessarily rough but I thought the swell was a little bigger as there was a few swells where I felt a little sea sick ... memories of the Claymore came flooding back!  This is the lighthouse on the island that has all the shearwater birds ... Dad you may remember it?
 see the swell is a little bigger in this photo ...

 so we turn around and come back up through the causeway back to where we launched ...


 nice houses along here - most are holiday apartments ...
 we decide to continue on pass our launching place to see how far we can go, we can see the water level is higher so we may be able to make it to the water inlet that is opposite the golf course (coming in by car we could hardly see any water in there!)  So under the bridge that the cars all go over ...
and clearly the tide is in ...
 the water level is still low and we do have to do a bit of navigating, we continue for another 30mins and then it became too shallow and we managed to get just before it enters the inlet opposite the golf course.
Coming back was in the wind and the arms were beginning to feel it - very relieved to see this pedestrian bridge as on the other side of it to the left is where we launched ...
So coming in to dock and Neil takes the area by the rails going into the water and directs me to his left, well you remember at the start of this post I mentioned the tragedy?  well this is it ...
I stepped out of my kayak with my left leg, as you take the right leg out and into the water the left leg is suppose to move and pivot to enable you to spin and place the right leg in the water ... well what did MY left leg do ... nothing, nadda, absolutely bugger all so as a result the stupid right leg continues to place itself in the water and so does the bum, my back and boobs - all under water! and here is the tragedy ... everything is under water and so is my camera that is harnessed to my life jacket!  I am livid with the fact that the camera case is soaking and we desperately try to dry it off but later on when it is all dry the camera isn't working - the memory card is okay just not the camera.
Neil is still trying to figure out how I managed to fall, all I can say is my left foot refused to move as it had sunk in the sand and so I couldn't pivot.  Soaking we load the kayaks on the car and I wrap Koutas smelly dog towel around me and we drive back to camp!  Still annoyed at myself with the camera - we have been racking our brains as to come up with a solution with the camera scenario - a waterproof camera doesn't have a zoom lens on it so I really don't want one of those, having it somewhere on the kayak is difficult as I put it in a plastic container and it is a hard and lengthy process to retrieve it from there when you need to take photos, thinking along the lines of Phil/Dad and putting it in a plasic bag might be an okay idea but to wrap, unwrap and take a photo is a bit like putting it in a container, I do like the idea of a container but its' own small container with a clip clap lid (the other style of lid is very difficult to open as I have tried that!) lucky we still have Neils old camera so we will look into getting another cheapie one as you can get quite good cameras for under $150 as we all know this IS going to happen again so dropping a cheap camera or submerging it is no big deal compared to doing it to an expensive one!
Tomorrow of to Peterborough.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Day 4 @ Killarney!

As you can see from the title we are at a different place than what we anticipated!  You may remember this place Dad - it is about 20km after Warranambool and 10km before Port Fairy.
It was a cooler night than anticipated mainly because we have come off the coast and are inland a bit.  It was quiet until the trucks started up along the highway.  We woke to a very nice day with more blue sky than grey sky ... yay we may see the sun ... No it soon went when we hit Heywood and disappeared all together by the time we go to the coast ... still grey and gloomy.  We did however decide that we will go to the mouth of the Fitzroy river and kayak as far up as we can but instead of staying there we thought we would go on to Killarney and stay there for 2 nights and on the 2nd day go to Port Fairy and kayak the Moyne from Port Fairy out to the inlet.
So at the turnoff to the mouth of the Fitzroy there is a fence on our left with shoes hanging of it ...
 some good shoes too!
When we got to the parking bay the wind is really blowing and it is very cold, so we put our long leggings on and thermals and hit the water - the water is very cold and with the wind chill factor your feet get cold so I dry mine and put them in crocs whereas Neil uses Rays' aqua shoes (which I am going to get some if I can find a place that sells them still!)
So we decide to go down to the mouth of the river where it comes out to the sea ... more like where the sea comes into the river!
 as you can see I am wearing my beanie as it is showery and the wind is bitterly cold!
we turn around and start heading up the river - it takes us 30mins to get to the mouth of the river and back again to where the car is parked - a nice warm up ... so we continue up to see how far we can get - it is a nice wide river and the wind is pushing us along ...
 Neil decides to practice his selfies ...
 Leanne - Neil says that you need to smile when you take a selfie ... I say Neil needs to open his eyes when he takes a selfie!
So paddling along and there are a few out in their tinnies and one in a kayak that is motorised - Dad you would have loved that one! and we have gone about 45mins up stream when we come to a split - Neil goes left and I go right .... here is what Neil sees 10mins later ...
 here is what I see 10mins later!
 yep my right turn was the wrong one and I see the narrow part heading towards Neil and I can hear him but mine got so narrow that I couldn't go any further and then I had to turn around and get back!  My kayak was longer than the width of this passage ... lets just say I had to do not a 3 point turn but closer to a 27 point turn!  At one point I couldn't turn anymore and I couldn't just hop out and move it as it was deep!  so I started to paddle and ram the reeds to make it wider for me to turn!  Man I was cursing!  Ha Ha Ha - I met Neil on the way back as he wondered why it was taking me so long!
So we head back after going 1 hour up stream, knowing that we will be going back with a headwind and it will be tough we set out and found it wasn't to bad at all - in fact it was quite hard for the last 30mins as you get closer to the car park as it is more  exposed to the wind coming up from the mouth of the river.  We get back at the same time it took us to get up there!  We find that when we are faced with the strong winds we find we can still maintain a good speed as you treat it like a headwind on a pushbike - don't fight it just get into a cadence and paddle!
We were however relieved to see the warm car, we are warm paddling but once you stop it is cold, we get out and we start taking stuff out of the kayak and because I had heaps of stuff in the kayak from where I went through the narrow reeds I start trying to clean mine out and getting no where I am frustrated and Neil comes over to see why I am taking so long and next thing you know I move my feet but the jandals are stuck in the clay and my feet come out and trip me up and wooooops there I go splash in the water - I didn't have a shower last night so I am having mine now in very cold water! I quickly leap out of the water as it is cold and I give up on trying to clean out the kayak.  We move quickly to get the Kayaks out and on the roof of the car as I am get cold from being soaked through.  After a quick change into dry clothes we have lunch and hot coffee from the flasks - that was just heaven!
So happy we didn't stay there and camp (you can but the only facility is toilets and it is a popular spot!) as with the wind coming up from the beach it is absolutely freezing.
So we get to Killarney and the campground around the sports field hasn't changed and we are nestled behind the dune so it is relatively sheltered from the howling winds blowing off the ocean.
The laundry is free so I managed to wash my wet clothes and also the pants I have been living in since I left Melbourne because someone said the weather is lovely here along the coast in April so I brought nothing but shorts and only 1 pair of pants so here I am sitting here in my shorts with my long john polyprops under them while my pants dry ... not happy Jan!
Plenty of people here camping - alot of families but there is loads of room for everyone and the kids are quiet.  Will stay here tomorrow night and go tomorrow to Port Fairy to kayak there.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Day 3 @ Dartmoor

As you can see from the title of this post we are NOT in Nelson but in Dartmoor.  We left around 9am this morning eager to get to Nelson and on the way pop into Tyredarra - actually just before it there is a turnoff to the river outlet (on our left is a fence loaded with shoes - will stop there next time to get a photo - actually tomorrow as our plans have changed!)  It is a nice spot to kayak plenty of water.
So we go into Portland to pick up some bread and continue on to Nelson, along the way we are reliving the ole days of cycling as we have cycled along this road twice and both times stayed at the same bush camp spot amongst the pine trees.  Just before we get to our spot at the turnoff to Winnap and Dartmoor we see an emu - now this emu doesn't move or panic and run while we are in a car but should we have been on our bikes it would have run like crazy, then we see a fox taking some road kill at the turnoff to Dartmoor and then while at Nelson we see a sealion frolicking in front of us at the landing .... now who says you don't see wildlife in a car!
So upon getting to Nelson the campground is temporarily closed so the other campground doesn't take pets so we are stuck and poor ole Neil he is so down in the dumps that we don't know where to go so we have a cuppa and look at the map and see that Dartmoor has a campspot on the river edge so we risk it and make our way there which is about 50km or so away.
We are very disappointed at the river at Nelson is good to kayak - our rist at going to Dartmoor is there is very little water in the Glenelg to kayak.  On our way we have to go through the national park - now if we didn't have dog we would go there and paddle and stay in the numerous camp spots along the river but this is a park that more than likely would be patrolled by a ranger as we stopped at one spot just to have a look - this is the river at Moleside - it is a canoe and walking campspot 
 there is a sign the the river mouth down at nelson is blocked and we had wondered why at Nelson the river was high and alot of the shed were partially submerged!
 here is where you dock your kayaks ... as you can see it is partially submerged too!
 the campspot is nice
 will remember this as I have wanted to do this Glenelg river kayak tour (takes 4 days starting at Dartmoor) but our problem is we have no way to get back to our starting spot - I am thinking along the lines of a there and back trip ... starting at Nelson to Dartmoor and returning to Nelson ... but now we are at Dartmoor and the river is very shallow and full of snags and rocks which are difficult to navigate - maybe further down the road is okay but it is difficult to find a landing point so I have just thought that we know the river is good through the national park so I will suggest to Neil that when we come back to do this river start and finish in Nelson (when the campground opens again!) and only kayak the national park.  Just said it to Neil and he said that is a good idea for when it is warmer!
So here we are at Dartmoor at the free camp spot called Fort O'Hare it is alongside the Glenelg river but there is not much water.
Plenty of people free camping here, heaps of space (would have been crowded at easter), clean pit toilets, no water but some in town or at the rain tank up by the playground.
We have a nice spot with a picnic table ...
 looked at the map after lunch and decided we will go to Tyrendarra tomorrow then onto Peterborough and either stay there 2 nights or 2 at Princetown.  Neil is happier that we can kayak at these places - we think Peterborough is okay - I think anywhere that has a river going into the sea is bound to have some sort of esturary to kayak!
Dartmoor is a small town with a tiny general store and it has lots of wood carvings from trees that have been cut down.  Initially the Atlantic Cedar trees we deemed unsafe so they lopped them and a Melbourne chainsaw sculptor Kevin Gilders carved things out of them - quite spectacular ...
Australian animal icons ...
 fairy tale characters ...
 more Australian animal icons ...
 and mainly war images and themes in the main street ... this one is called A soldiers life ...
 the parting ...
 the nurse ...
here are a few of them  in the street ...
as I was taking the photos this little ole lady came running out to give me a brochure on each of the statues names - so sweet!
The town has nice public toilets and a cold shower in the disabled toilets - since I won't be having a shower tonight or tomorrow I did consider having a shower there but it is too cold to have a cold shower!
Tomorrow is another bush camp but is $5 but nothing there - hoping the day is warmer so we can have a dip in the river!  Not sure if there is internet reception there ... if not will post from Peterborough on Saturday.