The Mighty Murray River!

The Mighty Murray River!

Sunday, January 31, 2016

2156km to 2135km to 2126km (Howlong)

Yesterday afternoon after I posted on the blog it rained and the temperature suddenly dropped that we were debating whether to get the jumper and trousers out … the jumpers definitely came out but put up with the chully legs!  It drizzled and rained a bit for around 2-3 hours and then it passed and the sun came out and my washing dried.  It was still cool – around 18 degrees but pleasant enough to sit outside after dinner and watch the river flow and listen to the sounds of cattle, birds and cicadas!

 A slightly later start this morning – bit of faffing around and then 5 small boats on the trot came hooning around the corner and created a wake so we had to go down to steady the kayaks – water lapped up and in my kayak so I had to bail once all the boats had gone …. Once again (like on the last trip) not one of them was wearing a life jacket – you know this river has a strong current – one I cannot swim against and I think I am an ok and competent swimmer and also most definitely not anchor myself in the sand to stop it from sweeping me of my feet – so if any of these fisher people fall in … well good luck to them!  Something that did disturb me later on in the day (while I am talking about life jackets) – while at our 3rd campspot a small boat with dad at the front, a young boy about 7 in the middle and a young teen about 13/14 at the back driving … not one had a life jacket … dad, yes that is fine not having a life jacket he is old enough to decide but the 2 young boys not having one … NO way that is just terrible.
So, had my rant, onto todays kayak.  Same old, same old not very eventful today, kouta didn’t jump/fall in, no wallabies or kangaroos, although we did see a little colour today – an azure kingfisher
 I did take a photo of one in our last trip and that was a bright blue bird (hence the name azure) but this one is a little dull – maybe a female or a juvenile.
One thing we did see today and that was a bird of prey, a kestrel, have a go at a duck! We have never seen that before.  Neil said the duck was flying and the kestrel flew down and attacked it and then the duck went into the water and popped back up, shook itself (and probably thought what the heck just happened to me!) and flew off! Ha we couldn’t believe it, at first I thought the duck was under the water and the kestrel mistook it for a fish and swooped to pick it up, had a go to pick it up and realised that it wasn’t a fish! But no the duck was definitely flying Neil said.
We did make good time today and the river was quite, even along the embankments there was not many people around, admittedly when I look at the map there are no roads to get to the river (it is all private land with not public access) but where there was a road to get to the river there were only one or 2 caravans – a great spot at Doolans bend (2140km) but not where the official campspot is but around the bend there is a little branch off the river and that leads to a wonderful small beach for a kayak, mind you you have to pass a caravan to get to it so we stopped on the NSW side for a cuppa!
Realising we are not that far from Howlong we decided to camp 10km from it and we found the perfect spot around the 2135km mark.  That leaves a short day tomorrow to Howlong and if we don’t like the free camping there at that Lions park we can pick up some food and carry on.
Our spot is right on the river, the embankment is only about 1m above the river and according to our markers the river is slowly getting higher!  We spent the afternoon lazing about as the clouds are building up, a few birds around and this is a lovely white heron that was hunting for food along our foreshore!
 Since we will be around people tomorrow I decided that my legs need a shave – not having a shower for 3 months I can deal with but not shaving my legs for 3 months society can’t deal with that!  So I got out the solar shower to heat up some water and after 2 hours in the sun the water was lovely and warm

 Ha while I did that Kouta was in recovery mode …
 So here is our campspot, which is out in the sun as the only shade around is under gum trees and never camp under gum trees – we heard and watched another massive limb fall today!

 And here we are set up under the tree line in the shade.

We had terrible internet reception yesterday, very slow at uploading the photos so I am posting here at Howlong.  We slept in this morning  knowing we don't have far to paddle.  It rained heavy last night around 9pm but we all fell asleep to it so it wasn't too bad.  We woke to a grey sky and had a later start (only by about 30mins!) It is a little cool in the morning but once paddling you soon warm up.  About 5km along it began too rain and it rained quite heavy, enough that the kayak surprisingly filled up with water quickly, not enough to force a stoppage and start bailing but enough to form puddles.
By the time we got to the Black Swan anabranch (branch of the murray) it had stopped but it was a bit breezy and once you stopped you quickly got cold.  There is camping at the Fig Tree Common but the embankment was too high and there was no where to put the kayak, so we decided to go up the Black Swan river about 500m which felt like 5km as you are going against the river flow and it felt like you were getting no where or doing the moon dance (more like moon kayak) and paddling and staying in one spot.  Eventually we get there to the Lions Park which is just next to the Leahy Bridge and it has free camping there ... but unfortunately where the ideal spot to beach the kayaks and camp is no camping, you have to go further around the corner  to where the caravans are and there is no where to beach the kayak or even park it to unload.  So we have decided to pick up a few supplies, have a fish and chip lunch and continue on to find a nice spot to sit out the afternoon and have a rest day tomorrow.
I had an idea this would happen so I didn't pin my hopes on this free camping spot.  I am hoping the skies will clear, just had a small shower and now I see blue sky, will check the radar.
Not sure how far up the river this internet will last so you may not hear from us until Corowa - approximately Wednesday.

Friday, January 29, 2016

2176km to 2156km

We survived our first night!  Had a great tea - gnocchi and eggplant curry!!! ha ha ha indian meets italian - this might be the start of something new in the food world!  gnocchi is easy and quick to cook and the curries are  easy to heat up so we combined the 2 and we have 6 of these meals with us at the moment ...
 we all had a good nights sleep - Kouta did have a panic attack last night as there was a little lightening but not much rain - a quick down pour early evening when we were about to settle down in the tent to read so that was fortunate.  However I did wake this morning to find a wet patch under where kouta slept - half on my mat and half on my clothes - so my mat was wet as was my bra and also my sleeping sheet - so I think kouta might have a little incontinence problem and may have been sooooo tired last night that he had a little accident  and slept through it - normally he lets you know when he wants to go ... so I will have to wash at the end of our paddle today.
We set of around 8.30am this morning - a little weary in the arms but not sore ...
 It is very quiet around here, no one is around, not even fishermen.  All you can hear are the insects making a racket to keep cool and the birds - here is one of the locals - the only one not to fly off as we paddled by ...
 off course many other locals stand on the bank and cheer us on ... here are some more who were very interested in what Neil carries in his kayak ...
 paddling along this morning it is warm (but not hot) and little bit of a breeze coming from the north westish direction and there are plenty of blackberry bushes on the victorian side - I so dearly would like to paddle over and pick some but most are not in an area that provides easy berthing for the kayaks.  I am seeing heaps and are hoping that when we stop for a cuppa that there is a spt with bushes for me to pick ...
 I doubt if they have been sprayed as looking at the maps there is no roads or public access to this land.
Not much camping about especially on the victorian side - there are some lovely spots on the nsw side but I dare not even look in that direction in case the farmer comes down with a shot gun!  There was some good ones around the 2164 to 2160 on the victorian side.  There are very few km markers - in the 20km today our first one was at the 16km mark.  At the moment I am using the spatial vision maps until Yarrawonga and then will switch to the Murray river charts to Renmark and then back to the Spatial vision ones.  Personally I prefer the Murray river charts - so easy to see what is up ahead with regard to beaches, snags etc.
had a wee bit of a change with the embankments today -
 I suppose good campspots at the top of the cliffs but bit of a bugger to get to the top!
We had a cuppa at a great spot that would make a perfect campspot so we have earmarked it for next time!  It is around the 2164km mark and is a tiny island with a lagoon that is sheltered.

 Begining to get a little weary now and started to look for a campspot and we find a nice one just before the 2156km mark - opposite the 12mile stock route - it is up a short embankment ...
just as well we stopped - about an hour later it began to rain - not heavy just showery and also the temperature has dropped dramatically to around 18 degrees - we have put our jumpers on and there seems to be a constant drizzle so my washing is not gonna dry!
Fortunately for us we managed to have a quick wash in the river before the temperature dropped, but the O'Brien curse kicked in today (even Neil said that I had bad luck) but it goes something a bit like this - we haven't seen anyone all day yesterday and today and then when I go to have a wash in the river I have to quickly get out and sprint up the embankment and seek shelter in real tiny vestibule as there is a f*#$%n boat coming - the damn thing didn't come when Neil was having a wash ... no it has to come by when I am having a wash ... how unlucky is that! see Dad and Sharon I am beginning to think like you 2 and apply the so called O'Brien curse to these sorts of things!
Tomorrow we will do another 20km or so and then on Sunday a short day to Howlong.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

At the start (2196km)

And we are off! after some planning and not much training we left Bayswater yesterday morning (wednesday) and drove to Albury/Wondonga with Neils folks in tow as they are the ones to drive the car back and hopefully in another 3 months or so pick us up at the end!
 So we had a pet cabin in Wodonga and it was nice but a bit cramped with 4 adults and a wee dog ... kouta was just beside himself and very unsettled ... not sure if that is him being him or him being a senior!
We cased Noreiul park in Albury as a suitable starting point and basically there are 3 parks right alongside each other and there is a concrete boat ramp at Hovell tree park which is near where we started - the boat ramp was not suitable but about 50m before it is a little beach suitable to sit the kayaks in to be packed
 so some how we have to pack this (including the dog!) into and onto our 2 kayaks!
 easily done!
 it is a bit time consuming to pack but once everything is in its' correct place we won't take long each morning.  As you can see it is a cloudy day - no wind and somewhat humid for Victoria ... dad it IS 29 degrees and it feels like Melbournes' 42 degrees!  Since there was still moisture in the air is was a little sultry and sweaty to begin with!
 here are Neils parents farewelling us ... I think Ray was more excited about this trip than I was!  He was bouncing off the walls right from when we left Bayswater!
 So we are off - no markers to say what km we are at but as a guess I think it is around the 2196km mark.
 here is Kouta and he is happy as larry now .... ha take note of this smiling dog face because later on he ain't smiling .... lets just say that after 16 years of having him we now find out that he CAN swim!
 and a selfie ...
 have a look at the top of  my hat Sharon and you will see something familiar!  This is my kayak - and yes I do have a pitcairn island basket attached to my seat - fantastic it is!
 and this is Neils set up - Kouta looks very grand under his sun shade!
 so I was playing around with my camera to see how far I could zoom in - especially with birds in the trees and I did manage this one, which was a bit like I can't see if it is in the photo but I will just point the camera, zoom and click and hope that it comes out!
 beautiful bird of prey which we see alot as they circle the tree tops - we think eyeing kouta!  And here is Kouta sitting comfortably watching the world go by ...
 oh and here he is again - this time not watching the world go by but by the look on his face he ain't happy at all ... here is the story ...
so paddling along we hear this splash andI look and see something bob up near Neils kayak and at first I think shit it is a massive murray cod poking its' head out the water and then I hear Neil say Kouta!  so my next gut instinct is to get my camera out and this was followed immediately by another thought of oh maybe neil and kouta might need a hand getting kouta back in the kayak!  so since we didn't know if kouta could really swim I thought better off and decided not to get the camera out until Kouta was safe in the kayak!
 so it was koutas head that bobbed up from under the water (not a murray cod!) and while Neil was paddling backwards to get kouta kouta was dog paddling to Neil - so kouta does swim!  As for why he was in the water ... we don't know!  Either the idiot fell in when he leaned over too far or he decided to relive the Lake Lilydale episode to see if he could walk on water again!  I am so mean as I am rolling about laughing while typing this ... it was hillarious and I so wish kouta could talk to explain why he decided to jump or fall in!
So after dragging him in the boat we pulled over for another good laugh and for him to dry off while we had a cuppa and something to eat.
Paddling along the current is swift at times and we think it is about 2-3km per hour so we could float a bit if we got too tired.  The clouds broke and the sun came out and towards midday it was beginning to get real hot and doing a kouta (throwing ourselves in the water) looked really inviting.
We guess we are about the 2176km mark according to the map we have and we decided 20km is enough for day one and we came across a nice looking beach with a camp area

and most importantly a tree to sit under to give us shade.  Fortunately there are these trees all the way along and they give off good shade - don't camp under a gum tree as a branch has just fallen from a gum tree about 200m away - there was an almighty crack and then a kerr-plonk!
So we have spent the afternoon lazing about and the went for a swim to not only cool of but also rinse off the sweat.  Officially this is day 1 without a shower - my goal is too get to the end without a proper shower in a campground shower and just rely on the river and a solar shower!  in the words of my 3 year old nephew ... boo dink!