Covid 19 outbreaks in NSW and Victoria over the summer and subsequent border closures presented logistical difficulties in the planning stage of this journey. Fortunately all borders opened by the time I left Canberra in late February so I was able to drive to Wentworth, leave my kayak and gear at Willow Bend Caravan Park before driving to Goolwa where I left my car at Hindmarsh Island Caravan Park. From Goolwa I caught the daily bus to Adelaide (LinkSA), flew to Mildura (Rex Airlines, twice a week) and caught a taxi to Wentworth. This whole process took four days but it was nice to know that my car was waiting for me at the end of the journey.
It is noted that, unlike in 2006, there is no direct bus service between Adelaide and Mildura (or Renmark to Mildura).
I was prepared to treat the river water by the process described for my journey down the Darling but due to the frequency of towns it was not necessary. I started out from Wentworth with close to 20 litres of drinking water and by the time I got to Customs House just over the SA border, about 200 km and 5 days later, I still had some in reserve but was able to buy a 10 litre cask at the kiosk. If desperate, I'm sure you could get drinking water from one of the four lockmasters upstream. After Renmark, the towns are every 2-3 days. However, when crossing Lake Alexandrina you should make sure you have extra supplies (food and water) in case you need to wait a few days for light winds.
I prepared my food before the trip and had it posted ahead similar to what I described for my journey down the Darling.
River Murray Charts, 8th Edition
Murray River Pilot, April 2004
I photocopied the relevant pages from the above maps and laminated them for use in my kayak.
I also used Back Country Navigator (BCN) on my Android phone. This app allowed me to download the default maps for offline use on my phone. However, I rarely used it on the lower Murray because the maps listed above were sufficient.
Gear and Safety (including Communications, First Aid and Kayak)
See the information described for my journey down the Darling.
Crossing Lake Alexandrina
Extreme care needs to be take with Lake Alexandrina. Make sure you have the right equipment and choose a route that is within you abilities. Most importantly choose the right weather conditions. In my experience, winds of 10 km/h or less are ideal and 20 km/h is getting too strong due to the waves that can be generated. I have crossed the lake four times now (3 times in a kayak and once in a motor boat as a support for a kayaker) and each time I have used the southern/eastern route with an overnight (or two or three) stop at Narrung camping reserve (see the green line on the map below for the general route). In my opinion this route is the safest as it avoids major open water crossings.
My recommendation is to wait for a forecast of wind below 10 km/h. In March 2021 I entered the lake with 15-20km/h winds but they were NW instead of the forecast NE making for a very uncomfortable crosswind. The NW wind was blowing over a large stretch of open water generating a sizable chop, whereas a NE wind would have been blowing over land and I could have hugged the shoreline for protection. So, remember that forecasts aren't always accurate. I spent two days at Narrung then had light winds at less than 10km/h and headed for Tauwitchere Barrage without any problem. Once on the Coorong it was fine but I noted the wind changed to a strong SW in early afternoon instead of the forecast late afternoon, the lesson again being don't trust the forecasts to be perfectly accurate.
So the important lessons are:
1. Err on the side of caution and expect that the forecasts will not necessarily be correct.
2. Be patient and wait for light winds.
3. Carry enough supplies so you can wait for good weather.
4. Remember, 15-20 km/h winds whip up much bigger waves on the lake compared to the river (and the waves may come side-on).
There is a manual lock at the NW end of Tauwitchere Barrage or it is possible to portage over the SE end of the barrage as I did in March 2021.
The most comprehensive site for paddling the Murray River and the other major rivers of the basin is Alan Davison's site.