Louth to Tilpa
Louth to Tilpa, 170 km, 8 days
Tues 25 Aug 2020, 34 km
Another cold night and a water rise of 1 cm. Launch at 8:15 am and make good progress on a beautiful morning. Lots of sandy beaches, some scar trees and a ring tree. Arrive at Dunlop Station 12:30 pm. Steep banks and find I need to climb a fence to get to the homestead. Jackie, a volunteer, tells me that Kim is on a tour but Rob, another volunteer, would know where I am staying. Rob arrives and tells me that the shearers quarters are 2.5 km by car upstream. He offers to take me and my gear in his car to the quarters if I paddle back a km or so to where vehicle access is easier to the water. We do this leaving the kayak tied to the bank. Tony and Julie, are more volunteers at the quarters working on the renovating the quarters and shearing shed. Anyway, anyone paddling down the river and wanting to stay in the shearers quarters need to be aware of where to go. It looks like fairly easy access from the water to the "Yards" marked on the topo map at a sharp bend about 5 river km before Dunlop Station Homestead. Shearers quarters don't have electricity at the moment and phone reception is very weak but the showers are hot and the room is comfortable. Nice evening around the camp fire with Tony and Julie. They are from Brisbane and will return via Innamincka and do 2 weeks iso there before entering QLD otherwise they have to fly in to Brisbane and do hotel quarantine.
Wed 26 Aug 2020
Rest day. Enjoyable evening and morning talking to Tony and Julie around the campfire. Sort food, lubricate Mirage Drive and slightly tighten the cables. Wander around the woolshed which was the first in Australia to be converted to mechanical shears. Warm sunny day, set up solar chargers to recharge batteries - slow process! Dunlop Stn was once 1 million acres but now 2200. Mainly tourism based now and some rounding up of feral goats for sale. Effort being made to preserve the old buildings and shearing shed. Kim gives me free accommodation and I say we'll send her a free book which she was very interested in getting a copy.
Thu 27 Aug 2020, 38 km
Cold night. Up early and breakfast around campfire with Tony and Julie. Wayne and Cody (Kim's daughter) come to take me and my gear to my kayak. Tony and Julie also come to wave goodbye. Sad to be leaving. They drive to the weir 2 km downstream to watch me portage. It's relatively easy taking about 40 min on the left bank but the rocks make pulling the trolley difficult. Wave goodbye again at 9:30 am then make good progress on a perfect day. Chase pelicans down river. They fly off except for one who appears to have an injured wing. It swims fast and eventually let's me pass. See old steam engine pump. I find camp at about 2:40 pm at 66 km missing the huge sandy beach about a km back. Pleasant afternoon at the fire except for some annoying flies. No phone reception.
Fri 28 Aug 2020, 34 km
Back is a bit sore during the night and today. Perhaps I strained it a bit during the portage yesterday. Launch at 8:15 am. Another beautiful day. Again chase pelicans down the river starting with a few and building up to a dozen as the chased group reaches another group of pelicans etc. Starting to feel uncomfortable under right buttock. Perhaps I need to stretch my legs more frequently than once every 3 hours. I generally alternate between paddling and pedalling every 5-7 km. See some wedge tailed eagles. At 2 pm I make camp on the outside bend at 100-101 km where there is a flat ledge for my tent and an easy landing. The inside of the bend has sand but no flat ground near the water. Try solar charging my phone but it doesn't work well - perhaps the panel is getting too hot. I feel too warm and tired to be bothered making a fire. Also, I have lots of gas and am still on the first canister after two and a half weeks of mainly cooking on a campfire. Walk to the top of the bank and find flowers and crevices several metres deep that water flows into. Many trees have had their root systems exposed at the top of the bank. There are a few mozzies around so I go into the tent a bit before sunset. Half moon, mopoke and another bird hooting during the night. No phone reception.
Sat 29 Aug 2020, 35 km
Cool night. Forecast is 3-24 C today. The water level did not change overnight. I hope the peak has not passed. Depart at 7:45 am. Left elbow feels stiff when I start paddling. Not sure why but perhaps when I slipped on a steep bank last Monday it got jarred. Not sure why it would take so long to feel stiff. Anyway, I paddle for close to half the distance today. See a few galahs, corellas and apostlebirds today and the ever present willy wagtails and tree martins. I thought I heard a budgie but could be mistaken. Between 119 and 125 km there are some rocky bars with shallow water. See a 3D and another single ring tree as well as a large dead scar tree. I find a sandy beach at 136 km and decide to camp at 1:15 pm. I only have 17 km to paddle to Kallara Station tomorrow. The trees provide shade which is welcome. Relaxing afternoon reading and having a cup of soup and coffee. More bird activity here than other camps. In late afternoon an echidna comes halfway down the bank, sniffs something in the air and goes back up the bank. No phone reception.
Sun 30 Aug 2020, 17 km
A bit warmer night compared to previous nights. High 20s are forecast with a cooler change tomorrow. Launch at 7:45 am and paddle (arm ok) and pedal non-stop to Kallara Station (153 km) arriving at 11 am. See two ring trees along the way. Just before the station I meet a couple paddling an inflatable kayak upstream for an hour or so. Boat ramp at Kallara leads to the room that I am staying in - all very convenient compared to other places where a steep bank needs to be scaled. Phone reception at the ensuite cabins. Have a shower and do the washing.
Mon 31 Aug 2020
Rest day at Kallara. Sort and upload photos into albums, make phone calls, sort food bag. Photograph farming relics. A cool change has come through overnight but it sill is sunny.
Tues 1 Sep 2020 morning, Kallara to Tilpa, 17 km
Flows at both Louth and Tilpa are about 1000 Ml/day. Depart Kallara at 7:45 am. Pedal for two hours to reach Tilpa Weir 12 km away. There is a camping area on the left but the portage is easiest on the right. I use the rough vehicle track to go up the bank and then down again rather than going over the rocks. There is weak mobile phone reception here. The portage takes less than an hour but Zac calls me across from the opposite bank. He says he wants to paddle the Darling and is looking for a canoe to buy. He's recovered from cancer but tells me about all his ideas that no one takes seriously e.g. a boat that can travel from Broome to Victoria in one hour by skimming across the waves. He has many other ideas and he's upset that no one will fund him. Eventually I continue paddling. Downstream of the weir I see an old trunk with at least three scars on it but it was difficult to photograph. I arrive at Tilpa at 12:15 pm. I collect my food parcels with 10 days food and spare fins from the pub and since it's lunchtime I order a beer and a burger which did not last long once it was served. Tilpa would also make a good place for a rest day as the phone reception is good, the pub has rooms and meals and is at the top of the concrete boat ramp. I launch again at 1:15 pm. After about 5 km frequent sandy beaches appear, the best since Kallara apart from the weir. I start to see red tailed black cockatoos again after not seeing them since Louth. I also see a white faced heron for the first time having previously only seen Pacific herons. I also see a parrot that looks like a large red rumped parrot. I find a west-facing camp at the 15 km mark at 3:30 pm. Since Kallara the banks have long green grasses/weeds. There must have been good rainfall. I must very careful for snakes if going to the top of the bank as it is the start of spring an the next two days are forecast to be in the low 30s. I open one of my food parcels to find 3 packs of biscuits and a Mars Bar added and am informed that the other parcel also has treats. I'll open the second package in a few days time. Since I still feel full from lunch, I have soup and biscuits for dinner. I am also reminded by Christine and Angela by the Garmin InReach messenger that it is 3 years since MDJ was published. Sales have gone well with about 200 of the original 1000 books left. No phone reception.