Mannum to Goolwa
Murray River, Mannum to Goolwa, 150+ km, 23-30 March 2021
Tues 23 March 2021, 32 km
Depart Mannum at 7:35 am. Overcast morning clearing to a sunny day. Headwind or crosswind for most of the day. The river is several hundred metres wide with lots of willows but some banks still have redgums (perhaps with willows in front of them). After half an hour my seat backrest comes apart. It is due to a loose screw that attached the backrest to the seat portion. I can reattach it with my fingers but I need to stop at Caloote to tighten it properly with a screwdriver. The river is quiet today with some houseboats making their way upriver. Some nice riverfront houses. Arrive at Avoca Dell (118 km mark) at 2 pm, disembark at the boat ramp and portage everything to the Avoca Dell CP a few hundred metres away from the river. Mozzies attack me as I put up the tent, the worst they have been for the whole trip. Fortunately there is a large enclosed camp kitchen.
Wed 24 March 2021, 24 km
Depart Avoca Dell at 7:55 am into a moderate SW headwind. As I approach Murray Bridge and head SE it becomes a crosswind or light tailwind and is like this for most of the day. It's overcast again with some periods of drizzle. Passing through Murray Bridge is of some interest with its bridges and paddle boats but the river is now almost continuously lined with willows and is not very interesting. The 100 km buoy, that I saw in 2006 and 2016, is missing. They use buoys at this end of the river due to the limited trees to attach the marker signs to. Willows are no good for this purpose. At midday I arrive at Westbrook Park at 94 km about 6 km upstream of Tailem Bend. I pitch my tent in the shelter of some willows and it becomes a sunny afternoon.
Thu 25 March 2021, 18 km
A few mm of rain overnight. Partly cloudy when I launch at 7:30 am. I have my raincoat on but get too hot as I paddle with the wind to Tailem Bend. The river then turns SW and I get a headwind. I stop at Fred's Landing for a toilet break and put the raincoat back on for warmth which was fortuitous because it rained briefly a couple times on the way to Wellington (76 km mark) which I reach at 11 am. They have a more rudimentary pontoon at the hotel than 2016 and 2018 but I can disembark and unload easily. I leave the kayak tied to the pontoon. I have a room with ensuite reserved in the donga at the hotel for $70. It is much better inside than what it looks like outside. Lunch at the hotel.
Fri 26 March 2021, 35 km
Depart Wellington at 7 am about half an hour before sunrise but light enough to paddle. Light N tailwind but as I pass Brinkley Homestead (72 km mark) and the river widens it starts to get uncomfortable with the waves coming from behind. I have a break 2 km before Low Pt at 9 am to put on my raincoat for warmth. From Low Pt I head south with the wind behind me into the bay at the eastern end of the lake. It's about 5 km to the far shore and it gets uncomfortable with swell coming from the NW from the main part of the lake and wind wave coming from N-NE. As I get close to the shore I turn parallel to it heading generally west and start pedalling. This means that the swell is coming side-on but I only really need to turn into the bigger waves. In some places the swell seems to be nullified and the going is relatively easy. The fins of the pedal system seem to provide great stability. Off Poltalloch the waves are very steep with quite a few whitecaps. I want to land for a snack, as we did in 2016, but can't find a sheltered beach. One beach had a fence in the water so I gave up on that idea. I eventually reach Narrung at 1 pm after about 15 min of rain. It was meant to be a sunny day! The sandy beach of the past is now crowded by reeds and silted up. There is quite a bit of water leakage into the rear of the kayak - I suspect from the rudder cables. The front hatch has leaked a bit as well so that some things are damp - not surprising considering the amount of water that splashed over the kayak during the day. I check the recorded BOM wind speeds but in the region it was all below 20 km/h. Later I find a 6 cm fish under my kayak seat which is an indication of how much water splashed over me. By late afternoon there is no wind and the water is dead calm. Nice sunset. Weak phone reception.
Sat 27 March 2021, rest day at Narrung.
No paddling today due to forecast 20-30 km/h winds. Walk 4 km to Raukkan in the morning but find a road block on the outskirts. They are not accepting visitors due to Covid. Return to campground.
Sun 28 March 2021, rest day at Narrung
The forecast is for lighter winds but SW which would mean a headwind and side wind again so I decide to wait another day. The forecast for tomorrow is even lighter winds and they are E- NE which is tailwind or no wind as I will be paddling in the shelter of the Narrung peninsula. In the morning I take the ferry to the other side of the channel and do the short walk to the Pt Malcolm lighthouse. It's built in 1878 and is Australia's only inland lighthouse. Good views and good phone reception. The lighthouse is public property with a seat to enjoy the views whilst the house is private property. I go over again just before sunset to admire the views.
Mon 29 March 2021, 36 km
Don't sleep well as there is a loud snorer in camp snoring all night. The neighbouring lady says her deaf husband and friend could even hear it without hearing aids. Launch at 7:10 am. Light winds but the small waves indicate that it's coming from the NW instead of NE as forecast. I follow the shoreline around and then aim for Pelican Pt at the southern end of Tauwitchere Barrage. I find a little bit of grass between the reeds and rocks where I can portage over the road to the Coorong side. Jagged rock on the Coorong side so I need to be careful chambering on it. By midday I'm underway again. Quite a few fur seals basking on the barrage. A fishway gives me a view back into the lake. Perhaps a possible route for a kayak although there may not be enough headroom and the two seals above it may object. Several seals basking at the manual lock and two having a disagreement. Reach Godfrey's Landing at 1:40 pm, walk to the beach. Face masks laying around and a plastic bottle with barnacles. Plenty of middens in the dunes. Coffee back at the landing. Launch at 3:10 pm for the final 4 km to the mouth arriving at 4:10 pm Strong southerly and incoming tide means I can drift to the boat ramp on Hindmarsh Island where Christine meets me.
Tues 30 March 2021, 12 km
Spend the night in Goolwa Motel. Christine returns me to the mouth so I can paddle to Goolwa. Depart at 8:30 am. Empty kayak is much higher out of the water and more responsive to the rudder. Pass thru Goolwa Lock which is much smaller than the other locks. Arrive at 11am, the pre-arranged time for meeting the IRNMR (Inland Rivers National Marathon Register) team, at the sandy beach next to Goolwa wharf. Spend a couple hours at Hector's Cafe with Christine and the team followed by certificate presentation and photos.