The Mighty Murray River!

The Mighty Murray River!

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Day 17 - 1448km to 1423km


 Saturday 23rd May = 1448km to 1423km = 25km
Total distance = 289km

Oh my lordy was it a cold morning this morning - I think I have frost bite on my fingers. If you remember we camped alongside a channel last night and this channel goes to a billabong.  It is not a formal channel but we think it just takes a little overflow from the Murray.  Well we marked some of the water and it was slowly creeping in - not alot to drown us but enough to make a puddle!  So here is a photo of when we got here ...
 and this is it this morning ...
 as you can see there is a stream alongside us!
Although it is freezing, the sun is shining and it is yet another cloudless day and also no wind.  Once we got going we soon warmed up and it was such a lovely kayak today with no wind, no real coldness and when we stopped at the end of the day sitting in the sun was just lovely!
Since it is Saturday there are a few people camping for the weekend and also a few boats out - all are drinking before lunch and all don't have life jackets!  I think they look at us with our life jackets on and think we are nuts!  But they all wave and say hello and all are catching carp!
Today we saw what is typical of NSW property owners ...
 hence why we mainly camp on the Victorian side.
there was a group of campspots at the wrong time for us and we struggled to find anything suitable, so we opted for this tiny wee spot and a sloping beach not far from a water pump that is going and it is loud!  Beggars can't be choosers when it comes to camp spots now!
it is very soft sand and we hope there is no wind as the pegs go into the sand so easily that one breath of wind will rip the pegs out!
It is a spot that faces west - so a lovely afternoon spot but a terrible morning spot as there will be no sun to warm us up.
the owner of the water pump came and turned off the motor at 6pm - lucky as I would have been awake all night!
Tomorrow we reach Swan Hill only 13km down the river.

Day 16 1470km - 1448km

 Friday 22nd May = 1470km to 1448km = 22km
Total distance = 264km

It was such a cloudless morning when we woke up, will have to wear a long sleeve tonight as I woke last night with cold arms - Kouta slept at my feet part of the night and he was warm!
Our eagles were flying around this morning - I think they were waiting for us to leave.  We did see a Kite not long after we started.
 Not alot happening on the river today - the odd old Steam powered pumps - or the remains of the sheds

 usually the new pipe and pump is built alongside the old one - in the photo above you can see the small white pipe coming out of the water to a modern pump system and then a very old piece of corrugated iron covering it!
About 10km up the river we passed the river that flows into the Loddon and then into the Murray a little later on and this form Pental Island.  
 We weren't quite sure what sort of island Pental Island was - it most definitely is not like Gunbower Island  a state forest in fact Pental Island is just like the main land - farms!  Not alot of houses along this side but a few pumping stations going into clear farmed land.
Alot of straight stretches this morning and we had to have a delayed cuppa as we could not find a place to beach the kayaks - we had 3 attempts and all failed - the first was not enough clay to beach and hold the kayaks while we got out, the next was amongst big tree snags which created to swift a flow of the river and the boats couldn't be anchored to get out (thoughts of Neils kayak floating off again discouraged this beaching!) and the last was again not enough clay to anchor the kayaks.  So 30mins later we find a small beach that could take the 2 kayaks.  Not liking Pental Island!
So with this in mind we did debate just how easy it would be to find our camp spot.  We have been discussing the various house boats on this river that we have seen and we have seen all sorts from flash to basic.  A few have been for sale and we both love the lifestyle of a riverboat and we couldn't believe that we came across one for sale and it is at such a bargain price  that we are seriously considering it.  We stopped by it and had a good look at it and are thinking about putting an offer in ... it is a little bit run down and needs a bit of renovating but we think when we get to Swan Hill we will put an offer in ... what do you think?
 LOL the houseboat must have been damaged in the floods around 2011.  I like the for sale sign!
So we had sun all day today - not  a cloud in sight which means that we will probably have a very cold night tonight again!  We did struggle to find a spot to camp and in desperation we came across one near an aerial that keeps track of the tagged fish in the river but it was so boggy and messy that I said no so just down the river I found a chanel and there was a nice little area to beach the kayaks so we chose this as our camp spot - a short day and another day like today for tomorrow and a smaller one on Sunday rather than 2 long hard days into Swan Hill.

Day 15 1497km - 1470km


 Thursday 21st May = 1497km to 1470km = 27km
Total distance = 242km

Today we woke and I wished Neil a happy birthday - 56 years young!  We were surprised that it was so warm this morning - around 11 degrees - it was cloudy though.  We were away by 8.30am.  I had forgotten to mention that while we were in Barham at some point the river rose 1 meter - the campground owner mentioned it to Neil so we assume that some water must have been released at Torrumbarry Weir.  Lucky as one of the campspots we had before Barham was on the waters edge so that would now be under water!  Hopefully tonight they don't release any more water as we are close to the waters edge again tonight!
We passed the entrance or exit of the Little Murray River about 10km up the river
 and just around the corner was the remains of an old wool loading wharf
 Although we feel that we don't see as much wildlife as we do on a pushbike (I still feel it is because we cover more distance on a pushbike so naturally we would see more!) we do get to see some birds close up - like the Azure Kingfisher, this time I came across this Sulphur Crested Cockatoo
 we see millions of these (we hear them first!) but we only see them flying in the tree tops and very rarely close up unless it is a pet!  But this one was sitting on a snag and as Neil passed it didn't budge so I decided that as I floated pass I would try to take a photo and it sat perfectly still for me and didn't fly off even after I passed!
Just up the river from this we went under Gonn Crossing Bridge
 so lots to look at this morning.  While approaching the bridge which looks younger than the one at Barham I took this nice photo of Neil and Kouta
 We had a cuppa on a beach in NSW and I am really hesitant to set foot on this part of the river - there are so many signs saying no tresspass or private property but we were desperate as Victoria offered little opportunities to beach the boats.  So this one had a private property sign but we still landed and had the quickest cuppa ever!  Mind you it was a shady spot and the southern wind was blowing through so it was cold.
Relieved to get back on the river and out of the exposed winds and back into the sunshine.  This didn't last very long as the clouds soon came over!  We came across this pipe and pump station
 At first we were astonished at the size of the black pipe and thought that it is for some serious irrigation and then I referred to the map and the remains of old steam pumps and upon a second look you can see that the left corrugated sheds are the old steam pump sheds while the small add on shed on the right which is newer is the current engine room for this pump - there was also a set of power lines running from this site so I suspect that the electricity is there to run the new pump!
Not far from this and just before we found our camp spot I spotted yet another wallaby - watching this one was funny as it saw Neil and Kouta and watched them intently completely ignoring me but when I passed it it jumped out of its skin when it saw me!  It was so busy watching Kouta that it forgot that there could be something else coming up!
 So just before the 1470 marker there is a beach on the Victorian side - now beaches on the Victorian side are crap but this one was okay - it was incredibly sheltered from the wind and also it was exposed to what sun was coming through the clouds so we decided to pitch here despite the tent being on a lean towards the river!
 For dinner Neil had a korma curry for his birthday meal, we did have an extra slice of fruit cake as a birthday cake!

 This is a lovely spot we chose - we got to spend the afternoon in the warmish sun and out of the wind, unlike yesterday where our camp spot was open to the cold southerly that blew through in the afternoon that it was too cold to sit outside.  So it was nice watching birds pass by.
We do have 2 birds of prey that flew off as we arrived but hung around - very hard to get a photo of them - this is the best I could do in the evening
Just before we were to retire we saw a group of Kestrel birds fly in - there was about 15 of them (there were a few crows chasing them) and they glided around the trees just behind the tent, they glided for about 15 minutes and then we think they settled in the trees behind the tent - I hope they are quiet tonight!  There are sheep across on the NSW side and they are noisy at the moment!
Tomorrow we will more than likely be camping on Pental Island which is about 8km away from here.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Day 14 1524km to 1497km


 Wednesday 20th May = 1524km to 1497km = 27km
Total distance = 215km

We are a day later leaving Barham - it rained yesterday so we spent an extra day there.  We felt well rested leaving at 8.30am this morning.  Since Neils birthday is tomorrow I thought I would make him a birthday cake the other day.  Nothing fancy just a packet mix done in the microwave!
 So it was a nice bright sunny day for most of today and no sooner had we started we had to go under the Barham bridge
 this is a one way bridge with no lights to control flow or a dominant arrow (like NZ one way bridges) it is first come first served and believe it or not it works well - maybe because the locals are use to it ... not sure if that would happen in Summer when the non locals use it especially if they are unaware as to what happens!  The middle part of the bridge does rise when something goes through that can't fit under - but generally most house boats can fit under - maybe not the double story ones.
 this photo is taken as I go under the bridge - I could hear a truck coming and was hoping it would pass over as I went under but it was too slow!
 Both sides of the river have houses now but that soon disappears a few kms up the river.  At about the 1515km mark you come across the little Murray river which creates another island this time in NSW the island is called Campbells Island Forest Reserve.  The photo below is not a great one of the Little Murray River ...
 So we thought we would be camping on this island tonight as the Victorian side is houses, however the houses are far and few.  Since we left early our cuppa break was early and I have a little story for you about our break but first - What is wrong in this photo below? or more to the point what is missing in the photo below?
 if you can't work it out maybe these 2 photos will help!

 yes that is me having to kayak out to get Neils  kayak which had floated off while we were having our cuppa!  So here is the story ... just towards the end of the break Neil looks and sees that his Kayak is about 1m from the bank and says that shit my kayak is floating off!  You'll have to paddle out and get it Janet as it is too deep to walk in and get it.  So up I jump and paddle out to the Kayak before it gets to just pass the corner as then it would have entered the midstream and where the river flow is strongest and then I might struggle to grab it.  So I caught up to it and it still wants to go out to the midde of the stream, but I need to turn around and go back to shore which is not that easy when you have to hold Neils kayak and still paddle.  Here is Neil telling me what to do on the bank and off course I am ignoring him as his idea is just ridiculous - untie your paddle string and tie my kayak to yours and paddle - 2 things just how can I tie the kayak to mine and then paddle as it will make my kayak twice as wide and before you say tie it to the back - I suggest you try to control 2 kayaks, get up and walk to the back of your kayak to hitch Neils kayak to mine!  So I decide no it is easier to herd it in like sheep while I am turning my kayak around and then shove it in towards shore, catch up to it and then give it another shove so Neil can grab it ... and that is what we did!
The amount of times I have told Neil to watch his kayak as the river flow will pick it up and it will float off - I have lost count, he doesn't anchor his kayak enough when we have a break but will definitely anchor it at night times ... so at the end of the day do you think this is bit of an over kill?
 I think Neil has learnt his lesson!
So the arms felt okay today - a little tired towards the end.  We did have a fair bit of a headwind today as it is blowing hard from the north west and the general direction of the river flow was north west.
Our camp spot is on the Victorian side as the island on NSW doesn't provide any great camp spots that are clear and have a place to beach the kayaks.
Even Victoria wasn't easy but we are between farms!
it is a nice spot - the river has narrowed here so the water flow is fast.
Tomorrow might be hard again to find a spot as we will have houses on both sides of the river.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Day 10 1534km to 1524km

 Saturday 16 May = 1534km - 1524km = 10km
Total distance = 188km

Well we made it to Barham nice and early.  Since we did a few extra kilometers yesterday I managed to convince Neil that we don't have to get up early so we can make the most of the day and get to the caravan park early.
so we left our normal time of 9am and it was a sunny and very still day - no wind what so ever.  We reckon that our normal paddling is around 6km per hour and the flow of the river is around 1.5km per hour so we can do around 8km per hour on a day where wind is not a factor - we have found this over the past 2 days.
Plenty of lovely house as we got closer to Barham and we say this lovely paddle steamer house boat parked outside someones house!
 Opposite Barham on the Victorian side is Koondrook and that is where the Gunbower river comes out to join the Murray river - the Gunbower river is the river that runs parallel with the Murray to create that massive island - Gunbower Island that we have camped on the last 3 nights!  This is the outlet where it joins the Murray - and as you can see there is no flow what so ever coming from this river!
 just around the corner is the Arbuthnot red gum saw mill ...
 and the unprocessed red gums ...
 it is a lovely smell as you pass this saw mill, not that Neil noticed anything as he was making a beeline for Barham, or maybe a shower, or maybe a shop that sells real food ...
 this small paddle house boat passed us and created one hell of a wake that we had to ride over!
 here is Neil parking the kayak on the beach at the campground ...
 and here is our rubbish over the past 10 days that I have been carrying ...
we had 9 wrap bags of rubbish.  The wraps come in snap lock bags so we used them to reseal our rubbish and I stored them in the kayak along with the tent poles.  We could have just left our rubbish at our camp spots like some people to but I am rather an anti litterer person and so I chose to carry the rubbish!
So once we portaged the kayaks to our campsite - about 30m or so we set up the tent, sorted out all our dirty clothes - which was nearly every piece of clothing we have and along with our bedding we washed them in an actual washing machine!  Then we had our showers - Neil was first and then me.  Lets just say I had to borrow a chainsaw to shave my legs - it was like an old growth forest on each leg!
Oh and the luxury to have such soft clean hair ... oh la la!
So clean we were, next we had lunch - yes crackers, processed cheese and a jam wrap.  Then Neil went to get some food and came back an said we will have roast chicken for dinner - mmmmmmmmmmmmm!
So after all the skype sessions and just resting and waiting for 5 o'clock for dinner which we couldn't make so we ate at 4.30pm!  Now we have been eating wraps which I like and thought that when we get back to Bayswater that we would cut back on bread and eat wraps for lunch (still have toast for brekky) but once we sat down and had dinner with a loaf of bread and margarine ... well it wasn't a pretty sight at all!  Jeeeesssssh I polished of 6 slices of bread with margarine and I had to stop myself from finishing of the rest of the loaf!  I did have some chicken but oh the bread! well so much for cutting back on bread - I love it too much to substitute it when I don't have to!
Tomorrow we will clean the kayaks - well that is an easy job for me as mine is cleaned each day whereas Neils is just plain filthy and he can do his and I will just sun myself in the sun!  As well as look at the supermarkets as to what sort of food we can get for the next 110km to Swan Hill.  We are here until Tuesday.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Day 9 1560km to 1534km


 Friday 15 May = 1560 - 1534 = 26km
Total distance = 178km

We woke to a very bright sunny day that I just had to take a photo of it - so please excuse the glare!
You know after our little bonfire last night we both hopped into bed complaining that our clothes stink of smoke and then this morning when Neil blew his nose on the hanky that was drying yesterday he again began complaining that it stunk of smoke and I also added to his complaints and complained that my shorts stunk of smoke when I put them on so we had a merry ole morning complaining like hell!!!
 This is our 5th day kayaking and I thought the arms are not going to make it but we surprised ourselves and felt fine.  Today there was hardly any wind out on the water so you could take advantage of the river flow.  There have been at times when we have paddled along a sudden lurch in the kayaks and all of a sudden you veer left or right and you quickly have to put your feet on the rudders to straighten up again.  It has only happened once or twice so far on this trip and I put it down to some massive Murray Cod playing funny buggers with us and it is swiping our rudder as it swishes past us!  But now today it happened alot and there was considerable under tow in this river - you can see these unexplained swirls ahead of you and you can't go around them and when you go through them that make you go left and right and you have to be careful as they are very strong and can make you veer over to some snags once or twice saw me scrambling on the paddles to get away from the impending snags!
So not alot was to be seen today, we did come across this hut and according to our map it is Grahams Hut which is on the old site of Grays' mill
 As we get closer to Barham there are one or two more houses (which we haven"t seen since Torrumbarry weir!) and also alot more pumps coming out of the water and today we saw this channel diversion of sorts
 I think they maybe waiting a while for water!  It is not new as it is shown on our map that was done 13 years ago but it has been refurbished.
So coming along we remember that it is Friday and the weekend is meant to be nice along here and our goal is to get to 1538km and as we approach we realise that we may be competing for campsite and what do you know every man and his dog is out here so we had to keep going.  We were having trouble finding a spot on the Victorian side as it is still the Gunbower Island and it has a dirt road running alongside the river and over the past few nights that has been okay to camp next to but tonight that road is like  a damn highway so we don't want to camp alongside of it.  We try 3 places and all are failures so we reside to the fact that we might have to continue on to Barham which is another 10km on and we both felt we could do it but in the end we didn't need to do it as we found this spot which was just off a road that has been blocked by piles of gravel as there are quite a few ruts in the road to be repaired so we think that no one will be  next to us and the main road is just off us about 50m and no one can see us as there is alot of small scrub around.
So we are exhausted and soon set up camp.  I have been meaning to take a photo of our table ...
 we have resorted to turning Koutas plastic container that he sits in in the kayak and that becomes our main table with my black front container as the secondary table as it is not the most stable container (it doesn't have a flat bottom) but it is okay to put things on it that won't spill - ie. cups of tea and coffee are no good for it but bowls of curry and cereal are okay!  Here is our campsite ...
So we are only 10km by river to the caravan park, 10km to a our first shower in 10 days, 10km from food other than currys, wraps and muesli bars, 10km to a real toilet!, 10km to a washing machine ... so looking forward to it!