Mungindi to Walgett
Mungindi to Walgett, 305 km, 9 days
Tues 19 April 2022, 16 km
Barwon River at Mungindi is just below moderate flood level at 6.55m and about 10500 Ml/day flow. The peak was on Sunday at 6.59m. Bill arrives at Barwon Inn Walgett from Mungindi at about 8am. We leave his car there and drive mine to Mungindi taking about 2 hours. Prepare to launch on QLD side of the bridge. Return car to town and park next to the publican's house across the road from the hotel. Launch at 11:50 am and paddle across the flooded free camp area to the river. Mungindi Weir is completely covered and we only know it by the rocks on the bank. Flow is about 3 km/h. River is very twisty and because of the flooded low lying areas and flow going down shortcuts it sometimes is difficult to know where the main channel is and to follow our location the map. Sometimes need to push through branches which are usually well above the water level. Lots of tea tree as mentioned by Bob Beer. Find at campsite at about the 16-17 km mark at 2:20 pm. Warm pleasant afternoon. Mozzies at dusk. Weak phone reception but OK.
Wed 20 April 2022, 40 km
Start packing at 5:45 am and ready to launch at 7:15 am. Make good progress and pass two weirs, Camiloroi and Presbury, without any problems, only know about them by the signs. Numerous places where the river channel is not obvious but we follow the main flow. Sometimes this takes us on a shortcut but it's never long before we return to the river. In some places we push through bushes (or the canopy thereof) to get through. Find a good campsite at the 56 km mark according to the app (or 51 km according to the map string measurement) at 12:30 pm. Leisurely afternoon at campsite. Good phone reception. Get a call from Norm S who is paddling the Darling at Louth.
Thu 21 April 2022, 36 km
Cool night. Water level drops only 1 cm again overnight. Kangaroo sloshing through the water behind the camp multiple times during the night. Launch at 7:15 am (75 min for breakfast and packup). Good flow. River much like yesterday, sometimes with difficulty finding the channel. Very pleasant temp for paddling with a max forecast of about 25 degrees. Measure flow at 2.7 km/h. Bypass Boomi River in channel west of main Barwon Channel. Speak to a farmer at Skibbereen Station who has cattle and drying farming and about to plant chickpeas. At 11:50 am we find a good camp at 92 km according to the app (82 km by the map). It has a gentle bank which is part of a billabong and a steep bank beside the river channel which may be good for fishing. Have a swim in the billabong. Warm water at the top few cm but chilly underneath. Very weak phone reception. Water rat swimming around near camp. Common birds seen over the first three days: sulphur crested cockatoos, corellas, spoonbills, Rufus night herons.
Fri 22 April 2022, 29 km
16 degrees overnight. Ready to launch at 7:10 am. River channel is mostly clearly defined with higher banks. Take a couple shortcuts which save a few km. Pass Barnaway Weir and low level crossing without problem. Area downstream which may have rapids at lower water was completely under. The river channel seemed to be cluttered with tea tree. At about 121 km (app vs 111 km on the map) at 11:35 am we find a good camp on the left bank. Finding suitable sites is no problem with the water at the top of the bank and the countryside generally being open woodland with green grass. Parrots and little dragon and lots of mozzies. In the afternoon walk to the nearby Barwon River Rd, dry weather only.
Sat 23 April 2022, 29 km
Water level rose 1 cm overnight. Launch at 7:05 am. River is well defined in the river channel. We can cut off a few bends which don't save much distance. Pass the Gwydir and Mehi Rivers. Not much water coming down them. Decide to look for a camp early so that we are not too close to Collarenebri. At 10:40 am we find a spot at 150 km (app vs 140 km on the map) on the left bank. We disembark in a small harbour. There are very few mozzies which is a relief. I find a shiny black river stone that appears to have been worked to form a sharp edge. The stone is completely different to any other around which are light brown and jagged. Bill points out the exposed root of a tree on the bank. It looks like the root had been used to walk to the tree which is right above the water, perhaps for fishing from or jumping into the water. Just behind my tent I find a shell midden. Moderate phone reception.
Sun 24 April 2022, 40 km
Beautiful sunrise. River rises 1 cm again overnight. Launch at 7:10 am. Paddle the 12 km to Collarenebri and stop at the park/boat ramp just before the bridge at 8:40 am. Bill does some shopping (supermarket opens at 9 am) and we have a coffee from the Tucker Truck at the park. Launch again at 9:45 am. The forecast is for some rain developing on Tuesday night with some rain on Wednesday. We plan to do at least 40 km a day from today to Tuesday so that we only have 20 km to do on Wednesday morning. We are concerned that the dirt road between Collarenebri and Mungindi might close with wet weather leading to a lengthy detour. Cross Collarenebri Weir which has a noticeable drop but presents no difficulty. We knock off 28 km of the 136 km from Collarenebri to Barwon Inn Walgett by 12:45 pm and camp on a lovely spot on the left bank. It becomes overcast in the afternoon. Filter some water. Fish are jumping for the first time on the trip so Bill hopes for success with his fishing rod but is disappointed.
Mon 25 April 2022, 42 km
Another beautiful sunrise. Water rose 2 cm overnight. Launch 7:10 am. Only one shortcut today as the river is mostly within well defined banks. Calmunda Weir is at the 45 km mark (from Collarenebri) and not marked on the map. No problems going over it as it is well under. At 12:25 pm make camp on the left bank near the 70 km mark on the map. There are about 10 scar trees within 100 m of here and bits of porcelain. Overcast afternoon. No phone reception.
Tues 26 April 2022, 43 km
Overcast skies, river rises 2 cm again overnight. Launch at 7:05 am, make good progress, take only one or two short shortcuts. A few drops of rain. Pass Woorawadian Weir marked on the map but there are no signs or other evidence of it. At 12:20 pm find a nice campsite on the left bank about 4 km past Gwydir Hwy bridge. A few sunny patches in the afternoon but rain forecast to start early tomorrow. Cool afternoon. Flow at Dangar Bridge is 14,000 Ml/day with a level of 8.4 metres.
Wed 27 April 2022, 22 km
Some rain on and off overnight and windy but dry at packup time. River rose 1 cm overnight. Launch at 6:50 am with a bit of drizzle. Take a few shortcuts saving about 3 km on the way to Barwon Inn, 11 km downstream of Walgett Weir. At 9 am we paddle up narrow creek to about 100 m from the cabins at Barwon Inn. Drag loaded kayaks over the grass to where we can load everything onto the car. We drove back to Mungindi to my car arriving at midday. Fortunately the dirt road between Collarenebri and Mungindi was still dry and open. On my way home through Collarenebri I noticed that it was closed to thru traffic at the Collarenebri end so we were lucky with our timing.