Goondiwindi to Mungindi
Goondiwindi to Mungindi, 315 km, 11 days
Sun 31 July 2022, 10 km
Meet Bill in Mungindi at 8:30 am, leave his car there and drive to Goondiwindi arriving at 11 am. Unload gear at the main boat ramp, park the car in the main street (locals say it will be safe there) near the ramp and launch at 11:50 am. Fishermen arrive at the ramp in their boats with a good haul of yellowbelly. Arrive at Goondiwindi Weir after 5 km. A good flow of about 1630 Ml/day (and falling) at a level of 1.85 m going over it. We carry my laden fibreglass kayak around the weir on the concrete on the right side. Bill paddles down the centre channel of the weir without only a couple bumps on the rocks. I wanted to video it but the camera was on the wrong setting so I missed it. Nice sandy beaches below the weir and a good current of about 2 kph. Paddle to the 11 km mark on the map (10 km for the day) and camp on a sandy beach. We could have kept going but there were some dark clouds so we decided to camp early. We've paddled about 10 km in 90 minutes which is good considering the portage and the slack water above the weir. Weak Telstra phone reception.
Mon 1 August 2022, 27 km
Water dropped 1 cm overnight. Launch at 7:30 am. Sandy beaches become rare. In a few spots we need to paddle through small passages where trees have fallen across the river. At about the 34 km mark the river splits. Most of the flow goes left so we go that way although it seems that the map suggests that the right channel is the main river. At a couple places we just make it over fallen logs. About 1 km later the two channels reform. It seems that our path was a bit of a shortcut. Several groups of pigs were seen. The clouds start looking threatening so we decide to camp on a south facing sandy beach just past the 38 km mark. It is 11:20 am so we have covered 27 km in just under 4 hours with a short leg stretch. Manage to get the tent set up just before it starts raining. Rain for a couple hours and then the skies start to clear. No phone reception.
Tues 2 Aug 2022, 39 km
Launch at 7:25 am. Cool night, cloudy morning with sunny patches and some fog. Water level dropped 5 cm overnight. Make good progress during the morning, dodging the snags in some sections and at two spots, where trees had fallen across the river, we get out to either float the kayaks around the end of the snags or to drag them around the stump of a fallen tree. We are choosy in selecting our campsite and paddle for 8 km to find a really good one at about 1 pm. It's between the 77 and 78 km mark with west facing sand big enough for both tents and a fire. Our wet tents dry quickly in the afternoon sun and I do a bit of washing. Weak phone reception.
Wed 3 Aug 2022, 34 km
Brief shower at 5 am, overcast at sunrise but warm. Water level dropped 10 cm overnight. Make good progress but at about the 99 km mark it is noticeable to us that we have entered the pool of Boomi Weir which is 43 km downstream. There is a suspension bridge at about 99 km near the "Riverview" property marked on the map. The bridge looks dilapidated and would be a hazard in high water as there is flood debris caught up in it. The current is still noticeable against the snags and we still need to dodge snags and there is one spot where I need to pull my kayak around the stump of a tree that has blocked the channel. Lots of nankeen night herons, darters and sulphur crested cockatoos. At the 111 km mark we find a gentle dry mud slope up to an open grassy area on the left bank which we decide to camp on. It is 12:15 pm so we have covered 34 km in 5 hours which is good considering the slower current in the weir pool. Warm sunny afternoon. A few mosquitoes around the camp. No phone reception.
Thu 4 Aug 2022, 33 km
Warm night. Launch at 7:20 am. Water has dropped 10 cm again overnight. Very windy river with quite a few snags to paddle around. No sandy beaches for easy landing so continue non-stop to Boomi Weir. Along the way we need to push through branches a number of times but can get through without getting out of the kayak. Lots of plastic and glass bottles caught up on branches in numerous places. The glass bottles look like soft drink bottles from a bygone era. There is a private bridge at around the 137 km mark (visible on the satellite image but not officially marked on the map) near the "Boronga" property. The bridge would be a hazard at high water as it is level with the top of the bank. Somewhere near here is an old flying fox which also would be a hazard at high water. We arrive at Boomi Weir at 11:45 am and carry the laden kayaks around on the left bank. I launch my kayak off a muddy bank downstream of the rocks. Bill launches his plastic kayak off the rocks. We are happy to see a good flow over the weir. We continue for another 3 km and find a gentle bank 100 m up a side creek (Callandoon Branch) on the right bank. There is open ground and grass to pitch our tents which will be a good spot for the expected rainy day tomorrow.
Fri 5 Aug 2022, 21 km
Some thunderstorms during the night with a bit of rain. At sunrise it is not raining so, instead of a rest day on the forecast rainy day, we decide to pack up and paddle to Boonangar Bridge 21 km downstream where Bill has left a food cache. Overnight the water level has dropped another 5 cm. We launch at 6:50 am. There are a couple blockages, one where I dragged my kayak over sand and mud and another where we had to get out onto a log and pull the kayaks over and get back into the kayaks again. This was difficult on slippery logs. In a couple other places it was a tight squeeze through snags and branches. Another half to one metres of extra river height would have been good. We arrive at Boonangar Bridge (just after the 165 km mark) at 10:20 am. There have been some showers of rain but we can set up camp before the rain starts again. A pesky piglet has taken a liking to Bill's kayak and tent. It keeps coming back after being chased away and eventually eats Bill's avocado that he was going to have for lunch. Bill was not happy but the piglet looked cute with avocado smeared on its snout. Rain starts again in the early afternoon and we retreat to our tents for the rest of the afternoon and night. Weak phone reception but I can get the river flow data which is about 1500 Ml/day here at the bridge.
Sat 6 Aug 2022, 34 km
Light cloud in the morning. The piglet had tried to get into Bill's tent during the night and in the morning it was keeping warm by lying in the ashes of the campfire. Launch at 7:30 am. Make good progress. Current assistance is 1.5-2 kph as measured by GPS. There are not too many obstructions on the river and soon after I make this remark to Bill, the river becomes windy and there are tea tree obstructions. At one point we need to go over a log but we manage to do the day's paddle without disembarking. The river straightens out a bit and the obstructions become less frequent. The day becomes sunny with a nice drying breeze. At 12:40 pm we camp on the edge of an irrigation channel just before the 200 km mark. After setting up we visit the infrastructure and get a view of the dam off the river. Reasonable phone reception on the edge of the dam but none at the river's edge.
Sun 7 Aug 2022, 34 km
Cold dewy morning of about 6 degrees C. Launch at 7:20 am. River very windy in parts requiring constant turning left and right and extra turns required to avoid the snags or to make our way through blockages i.e. requiring us to meander within the meanders. Bill Confoy in 1954 aptly describes this section of river as "torturous". At one spot there is a raft of debris (mostly small sticks) caught on branches that I need to break up with my paddle as it prevents forward progress by the kayak. we take a couple shortcuts. At about the 230 km mark there is an unnamed anabranch on the right which, on the map, looks to be straighter than the official river channel. When we get there we see a reasonable flow down it but the entry is choked with tea trees (open channel beyond that). The decision therefore is easy to stick with the official channel which is of about 15 km length before the anabranch rejoins. This proves to be a narrow windy one with several spots where we push through the branches. At 12:30 pm just after the 233 km mark we find a good campsite on the left bank where a creek joins the river. After setting up the tent I go for a walk downstream. I see about 7 scar trees and a rounded river stone that had been "worked". It was quite different from the usual stones we've seen near the river that look like pieces of brick. Weak phone reception.
Mon 8 Aug 2022, 34 km
Cool night, 5 degrees C, beautiful sunrise. Launch at 7:15 am. As expected the river is narrow and windy. In the first hour, I twice need to disembark and drag the kayak 5-10 metres past blockages. It takes us about 2 hours to paddle the 11 km to where the unnamed anabranch rejoins. The river is wider and straighter after this point and we can paddle faster. However, I need to do a 50 m drag of the kayak past a huge tree that has fallen across the river. An easy grade 1 rapid at one point. We visit the abandoned homestead "Allaru" and continue for another couple kilometres to a campsite on the right bank between the 267 and 268 km mark. We arrive at 1:00 pm tired after a hard paddle (especially the first two hours). Cool breeze but it is nice in the sun. Weak phone reception.
Tues 9 Aug 2022, 26 km
Another cool morning but very little dew due to a slight breeze overnight. Launch at 7 am. No portages required today but there were a couple tight squeezes through blockages where trees had fallen across the river. Come across another footbridge at the 280 km mark ( a couple km downstream of "Galtymore" homestead) which Bill walks on. The countryside changes a few kilometres before the Weir River confluence to be more open with gently sloping banks and some wonderful campsites on the river flats. We also encounter some more gentle rapids in rocky parts of the river. There is a reasonable flow coming down the Weir River. At this confluence, at the 284 km mark, the Macintyre River becomes the Barwon River. Eagle Farm gauging station downstream of the confluence is measuring 1227 Ml/day at a level of 3.09 m. Some more gentle rapids and then at 11 am just after the 293 km mark we find a beautiful campsite on the river flats with large grassy areas between river level and the top of the bank. We had planned to camp a bit closer to Mungindi but we didn't want to pass on such a good site. It's a beautiful day in which to relax at our final camp of the trip. After lunch we walked to the nearby abandoned shed. Along the way we found the old homestead dump with lots of bottles, bits of machinery and even a set of dentures. This was our best day yet. Good paddling conditions, interesting variation in the river, a great campsite and perfect weather. Weak phone reception.
Wed 10 Aug 2022, 22 km
Cold night, 2 degrees C. Launch at 6:55 am. Some nice campsites for the first km or two. Some tight squeezes through fallen trees but can get through without too much difficulty. We think we entered the Mungindi Weir pool 15 km upstream of the weir but there is still noticeable current. There is a private bridge at "Eagle Farm" homestead at about the 300 km mark and a low level footbridge at the outskirts of Mungindi which would be a hazard at high water level. Arrive at the park just downstream of the road bridge on the QLD side at 9:55 am. This allows plenty of time for us to return to my car at Goondiwindi and for each of us to start the road trip back to our home towns.