Bunnerungee Bridge to Murray River

Bunnerungee Bridge to Murray River, 190 km (174 km paddled), 5 days

Day 10, Wed 15 Feb 2023, 40 km

River rose 5 cm overnight. Launch just after sunrise at about 7:10 am. At  Bunnerungee Station (262 km mark of the Anabranch) we scrape over the access road on the right side of the bridge. We take the shortcut just before 270 km which saves us 4 km. It is flowing strongly with some turbulence. Most of the paddling is down long broad pools with occasional thickets of saplings. These thickets can be paddled through or around but you need to slow down to go through gaps and there are often spiders and their webs stretched between the saplings. At Toora Station we come across a bridge just above water level. We need to portage but could quickly do it on the right side as the road is unfenced on that side. The bridge further downstream at Quambi was completely underwater and not a problem for us. We aim for the "Yards" 3 km past Quambi and hope for an old shed to give us shade but there are only some fences. However,  we find a good campsite a few hundred metres further (306 km mark) on the left bank with some large black box trees that will give us shade. The water quality today has generally been good with no unpleasant odours and only one dead fish seen. We paddled 39.8 km covering 44 km of river. Hot afternoon of 36 deg. Mozzies are present but repellent works well and they don't seem to bite through clothes. At night there is the constant buzz of them outside the tent and they come in when I exit the tent in the morning. The result is that when I erect the tent later in the day it is littered with squashed mozzies on the mesh and mozzies carcasses scattered on the floor.

Day 11, Thurs 16 Feb 2023, 30 km

Hot night. Water rose 5 cm again overnight. Launch at 7:10 am. Calm morning but NW breeze picks up close to lunchtime with a forecast maximum of 41 C. We can skirt the first bridge at Watara by just scraping over the submerged fence along the access road. Fortunately the fence had been rolled up at the second bridge just downstream of Bulpunga so we just make it over the submerged access road. The third bridge near the yards at the 323 km mark required a portage over the two fences on the left bank. It doesn't take us long lifting the laden kayaks over the fences but it does require a bit of effort. The fourth bridge on the northern channel that bypasses Bells Camp Dam was completely submerged. We arrive at Anabranch Hall at the 339 km mark of the Anabranch at 11:30  am after paddling 30 km (to cover 33 km of river). It is available for hire through Wentworth Shire Council. We don't have phone access but we are happy to make use of the shade of the verandah and the rain water tank. I put my water bottles inside a wet sock. This keeps the water cool and makes it pleasant to drink. Bulpunga Gauge: 3.1 m, 3327 Ml/day

Day 12, Fri 17 Feb 2023, 37 km

Hot night, nice sunrise. Water rose 5 cm overnight. Launch at 7:05 am. Bridge at Glen Esk requires a portage but it is easily done by sliding the kayaks under the fences lining the access road. In the 5 km before the Milpara Rd bridge the river narrows down and wattles start to appear in the river channel. We easily go under Milpara Rd bridge and start to notice the high water marks (about 50 cm above present water level) on the trees which would have been from the flood on the Murray at Christmas time. Start to see some ring trees and old dead trees presumably from prolonged inundation At about 383 km mark at 12:10 pm we find a campsite that we hope will give us good afternoon shade for this 42 deg C day. We have paddled 37 km covering 44 km of river. Very weak phone reception. Tara Do Gauge: 2.59 m

Day 13, Sat 18 Feb 2023, 43 km

Cool change came through during the evening giving pleasant sleeping conditions. Water rose 3 cm. Launch 7:20 am, river is flowing at about 1.5 kph. Light SW breeze. River goes close to the highway in two spots about 2.5 km apart by road but 20 km by river. The river meanders through a flood plain here with lots of dead old trees including some ring trees. A fast section of river through saplings follows which means that it is not backed up from the Murray yet. Find a campsite at 425 km on the right bank where there is a crude shed. Warm afternoon with a pleasant breeze. Marks on the trees indicate that the water level was 2 m higher than present  6 weeks ago. Weak phone reception.

Day 14, Sun 19 Feb 2023, 24 km

Nice evening for sleeping. Launch at 7:05 am. Paddle 4 km to the shortcut. It is flowing but is narrow and may have a fence across it so we go the long way around to the weir/road across the river about 1 km past Oakbank. We are able to shoot the easy rapid over the road. Easy paddling to the Murray confluence which has a good flow. Arrive at Fort Courage Caravan Park at about 10:10 am. Coffee in Wentworth then drive to Menindee where I stay the night before going home. The river at Menindee is about 2.5 m lower than 2 weeks ago and the forecast for the next week is for temps in the high 30s so we timed our trip perfectly.