Murray-Darling Journeys

This page provides links to a number of resources about long distance paddling and rowing journeys on the rivers of Australia's Murray-Darling Basin. Further information will be added to this site over time.

The Book: Murray-Darling Journeys


Two hundred years of significant rowing and paddling journeys on the rivers of the Murray-Darling Basin: 1817 to 2016

Murray-Darling Journeys explores the history of significant canoe, kayak and rowboat journeys, on the rivers of Australia's Murray-Darling Basin over the last 200 years. This book provides a comprehensive listing of over 430 published accounts covering journeys of exploration, surveying journeys related to the paddle steamer trade, gold rush journeys, depression era journeys, recreational and fund raising journeys. Most of these journeys are on the Murray River with a significant number on the Murrumbidgee River and the Darling River. Some of the most interesting and arduous journeys are those that start on the more minor tributaries such as the Barwon River, the Lachlan River and the Macquarie River. The book brings back to life long-forgotten journeys that are a reflection of the times in which they occurred. Each entry includes interesting facts about the journeys themselves and, where available, information about the fascinating characters involved in such journeys. Also included are a map, a list of river distances, a bibliography and an extensive list of references.

This book will appeal to people interested in a different aspect of the history of the rivers of the Murray-Darling Basin. It will also appeal to canoeists, adventurers and those who dream of doing such trips.

Vivid Publishing, ISBN: 978-1-925590-52-4 

Flexicover, 288 pages

$32.95 plus $8 postage within Australia

Order your copy here

Sample Pages

The book is set out chronologically. Chapters cover different periods of time. Each chapter has an introduction that talks about the types of journeys conducted in that time period as well as highlighting some of the more interesting or unusual journeys (e.g. see sample page 91). The rest of the chapter lists the individual journeys (e.g. see sample pages 65, 108-9).

About the Authors

Angela and Mike Bremers are daughter and dad.

Angela loves history. She has written a master’s thesis on the subject of this book. During her research for her thesis, she discovered many interesting stories about real people, past and present, on the rivers and thought that the people and their stories deserved a place in history. 

Mike has paddled his kayak along the length of the Murray and Murrumbidgee Rivers and parts of several other rivers mentioned in the book. As a dad, over the years, he often took his family along for the camping part of his journeys. He has encouraged many others who have wanted to travel the rivers.

Order your copy here

Reader Reviews

    I lent my copy to somebody and they won't give it back. Bill M., 2019

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Online: order your copy here

Murray-Darling Journeys is also available a number of Visitor Centres within the Murray-Darling Basin.  The following is a list of Visitor Centres that are likely to have stocks of the book: Brewarrina, Bourke, Balranald, Gundagai, Renmark, Echuca, Rutherglen,  Berri, Mannum. The book also is available at Book Keeper Strathalbyn and the Goolwa National Trust Museum.

Some Journeys of the Past

The information from this section has been taken largely from the book Murray-Darling Journeys. For more posts like these journeys, order your copy or checkout our Facebook page.

Captain Francis Cadell was one of the pioneers of the Murray River paddlesteamer trade. In 1852 prior to starting up his steamer business he and four men he recruited from the Bendigo goldfields rowed a canvas boat, the "Forerunner", down the Murray River from near Swan Hill to Wellington (about 1300 km) to determine the navigability for paddlesteamers. After the first day they waterproofed the canvas of the boat with fat from their evening meal. Read more about Cadell and his other rowing journeys on the rivers in "Murray-Darling Journeys"

Photo: The "Forerunner" at Cockenzie House, Scotland, Cadell's birthplace, State Library of SA, B 13507 

Edward Forde was in charge of a government survey party of the Darling River in 1865-6. Forde's wife Helena, an artist, accompanied the party. Unfortunately both Edward and Helena contracted typhoid fever. Edward died at Menindee on 20 June 1866, 152 years ago today. Helena recovered and died in 1910. For further details of the Forde expedition see "Murray-Darling Journeys" 

Image: Helena Forde's sketch of the lower Darling River. Note the boats tied to the bank and the horse crossing the shallow Darling River. "Darling River near 'Para', camp 4 looking down river", 9 Nov. 1865, Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales, FL1105901  

In 1895 Dr and Mrs Clark rowed a "canoe" down the Macintyre, Barwon, Darling and Murray Rivers from Goondiwindi on the QLD border to Goolwa taking 8 months for the 3000+ km journey. It was a rough trip down to Walgett with fallen trees, "waterfalls" and rocky bars. Sometimes it was necessary to empty the canoe and "sink it" to get under fallen timber. At Wilcannia they were met by eight of the rowing club's boats and escorted into town. Unfortunately, the Darling River has much lower flows these days so the Clark's journey is an epic reminder of what once was possible on a more regular basis. Read more about this journey in "Murray-Darling Journeys". 

Photo: The Clarks in their canoe "Snipe" on the Darling River in 1895, The Queenslander, 21 Dec 1895, page 1179 

A great Australian from a hundred years ago. George Morrison paddled down the Murray River from Albury in 1880-81 when aged 18. At the end of the journey he walked from The Coorong back to his home in Geelong. A few years later he walked solo from the Gulf of Carpenteria to Melborne, turning 21 along the way. He described this journey as "a pleasant excursion". After more adventures he graduated as a doctor and eventually became a correspondent for the London "Times" newspaper based in Peking during the Boxer Rebellion. He was so successful in this role that the British Foreign Office often received news about what was going on a day or more after the "Times" received the news. Read more about Morrison and his adventures in "Murray- Darling Journeys"

Photo: George Morrison aged 19 in 1881, State Library of NSW, PX*D 153/vol. 2, a742002

In the 1890's James and Mary Trevor rowed from Bourke down the Darling River and then up the Murray River - a distance of almost 3000 km. James painted river scenes - this one of Koondrook on the Murray River, State Library of Victoria H37813. Further details of the Trevors and their journey can be found in "Murray-Darling Journeys". 

Murray River upstream of Tom Groggin. This section of river is very remote but very beautiful. Journeys on the Murray River from the source to Tom Groggin are very infrequent and only a handful of these people have done it as part of a journey from source to sea. Castrission, Jones and Crawley did it in 2000 and Wellington in 2009/16. Moody and Co did it in the 1980's although most of their journey was in motorised craft. The Kenyons also did it in 2003 with some motorised assistance. Hunter and Bremers completed their source to sea in 2017/8.

Mike's Kayaking Journeys

Paddling the Murray River: Source to Sea

Mike's 2540 km kayak journey down the length of the Murray from source to sea conducted between 1995 and 2017 including hiking and rafting the top 150 km of the river.

Paddling the Murrumbidgee River: Jugiong to Murray River 

Mike's 1085 km kayak journey down the river from Jugiong conducted between 1995 and 2016 during drought and flood. 

Paddling the Goulburn River: Seymour to Murray River

Mike's 325 km kayak journey down the river from Seymour conducted between 2014 and 2017.

Paddling the Edward River: Picnic Point to Kyalite 

Mike's 400 km kayak journey down the length of the Edward River conducted in 2017/2018

Darling River Canoe Trip: 

Brewarrina to Wentworth

Mike's 1680 km kayak journey down the length of the Darling River conducted from Aug-Oct 2020

Lower Murray River Canoe Trip, 2021: Wentworth to Goolwa

Mike's 832 km kayak journey down the lower Murray during March 2021

Mike's 1015 km kayak journey down the Murrumbidgee during 2020-2022

Mike's 1000 km kayak journey down the Macintyre/Barwon River during 2022

Mike and Bill's 570 km journey on the Great Darling Anabranch in Feb 2023

Journeys by Others and Other links

A detailed account of the kayak journey down the Darling River by Bill and his friend in 2017

Paddling the Lachlan River

Alan Davison paddles 1294 km down the Lachlan River in a kayak - a difficult and rare feat.

Ro Privett's guide for those who wish to undertake a long kayak or canoe journey down the Murray River

The IRNMR is part of the Goolwa National Trust History Museum. It is a place for people to record their journeys down the inland river system to Goolwa near the Murray Mouth. Follow their Facebook page.

Lachlan River Maps/Guide to Canoeing, Kayaking and Tubing

Steve Howard's guide and maps to paddling the Lachlan River between Wyangala and Forbes. Very detailed and informative maps! 

Scar and Ring Trees

Information about scar and ring trees observed whilst paddling the inland rivers.