Loxton-Blanchetown (7-13 September 2006, 213km)
Rather than launching from Renmark I decided to start from Loxton because southerly winds were forecast for the next few days and I decided it would be better to start the trip with a tail wind rather than a head wind. This was a good decision as I ended up with a tail wind for much of the next two weeks.
Thursday 7 September 2006
After a two and a half hour drive from Dareton and about one hour worth of packing, I launched from the Loxton Caravan Park at the 487 km mark at 10:15 am. I paddled/peddled to the 478 km mark where I had lunch. I was doing about 7 km/hr with a moderate SW tailwind, on a partly cloudy day, which was about the same as what I would be doing in my Kakadu kayak. I found a campsite at 461 km at 3:20 pm after a break about half way. After I set up camp there was a light shower of rain. There was a full moon and I went to bed at about 6:30 pm after a 26 km day.
Friday 8 September 2006
It was a cool night which dawned with a clear sky. By the time I launched at 8 am it had clouded over and by the time I arrive at Moorook (452 km) at about 9:30 am there had been several drizzle showers and a SW breeze. I got a drink from the General Store and I noticed that signs say that camping was allowed on the grass foreshore in front of the store. Downstream of Moorook the forest along the banks looked healthier than back up closer to Loxton. I had lunch at an ugly Bruno Bay at Cobdogla. It was now dry but cloudy. I continued onto Kingston-on-Murray (KOM) passing Watchels Lagoon just before the Sturt Hwy bridge. The water was quite choppy as the SW breeze was coming off the lagoon across my direction of travel. I arrived at the jetty at KOM CP, after 24 km for the day, from which I unloaded and camped next to a covered picnic table. I booked a bus ticket for Loxton at the General Store, had a hamburger for dinner and returned with my car from Loxton at 10:15 pm on a windy and drizzly night.
Saturday 9 September 2006
It was sunny early but the S-SE wind strengthened and it got cool and cloudy. The caravan park owner gave me a bottle of Merlot when I returned the amenities key. I launched at 8:45 am and by the time I reached Lock 3 an hour later, I had difficulty staying still in the Lock due to the wind and currents. I found that I could make good progress paddling, rather than peddling, on the downwind stretches without hurting my wrist. There were interesting cliffs down from Overland Corner and the spectacular Telegraph Cliffs at 420 km across from which I had lunch. There was a nicely restored paddle steamer “Akuna” moored at 415 km. I had a break opposite the cliffs at 413 km and then found a nice campsite at 406 km at 3:15 pm across from some more cliffs. I listened to the AFL whilst setting up camp. It was now a sunny afternoon and the wind had eased. Later I heard a number of rocks falling off the cliffs opposite. It made me think twice about paddling close to the cliffs. I had dinner and went to bed at 7 pm. I paddled 31 km for the day.
Sunday 10 September 2006
It was a sunny morning with a minimum of 7 degrees. I started packing at 6 am and launched at 8 am passing some nice cliffs on the way. There was a tailwind all the way to 394 km where I had a break at 10 am. I paddled more than half of this distance. When I continued I followed a houseboat and passed it whilst peddling. There were beautiful cliffs around the 388 km mark. I had another break at the water ski club at 386 km and then paddled past Waikerie looking for the caravan park which I knew was set back from the river. At 12:30 pm, after 24 km for the day, I landed and ask directions and found that I had gone 500 m too far. I paddled back to a spot between the large paddle steamer and the houseboat moorings, carried some gear 500 m to the caravan park and return for the kayak on the trolley. It was hard work on a warm day. In 2017 the caravan park was extended and has river frontage. I left my gear outside the office and went into town and caught the 1:40 pm bus to KOM to retrieve my car. I returned to Waikerie, did some shopping at Woolies, did some washing and had dinner at Waikerie Hotel (pumpkin soup and stirfry). I realised that I had lost my good pen and a clip from my trolley wheel during the day-this was unusual for me to lose things whilst camping.
Monday 11 September 2006
I wanted an early start today in order to reach Lock 2, 20 km downstream from Waikerie, before 11:30 am which was the last passage before lunch. Therefore, I started packing the car at 5:30 am and drove to the river to pack the kayak. I then left the car back at the caravan park and launched from 382 km at 7:30 am. It was another nice sunny day with light winds. I had breaks at 374 km and 368 km, passed thru’ the lock at 11:15am and then had lunch on a sandy beach at 360 km from 11:30-12:00pm. The river was now 3 metres above sea level but hundreds of kilometers from the sea. At Hogwash Bend(349 km) there was a large sandy beach with several groups camping on it. I had a break at 348 km (2 pm) and then eventually found a suitable campsite at 338 km at 3:45 pm after a 44 km day. I had spaghetti and Merlot for dinner and I was asleep by 8 pm.
Tuesday 12 September 2006
It was a nice sunrise over the river on a cold (0 degrees) morning with no dew. I taped up little sores and cuts on my hands and launched at 7:55 am. I stopped at the Cadell park just downstream of the car ferry and opposite some cliffs. I continued and went around the great North-West Bend just upstream of Morgan. From here the river generally flows 322 km south to the ocean. I stopped at Morgan at 11:10 am and bought some rolls for lunch from the caravan park store, some wine from the hotel and I rang Jim in Adelaide to let him know of my progress. By the time I launched again at 12:40 pm there was a moderate NW tailwind. Downstream of Morgan there were many “shacks” (as they are called on the map but mostly more like luxury houses) on one side and long cliffs on the other so consequently there were not many suitable campsites. I had a short break at the boat ramp at 309 km where a school group was camped with about 7 dome tents and where I found a buoy from a boat. Just downstream I passed the school group in their canoes, returning from a trip to Murbko Lagoon, and then I found a campsite at 307 km at 3 pm after paddling 31 km for the day.
Wednesday 13 September 2006
It was a spectacular sunrise. At first I glanced out of the tent and saw a pink glow on the cliffs. I got up and took a photo and saw the orange clouds in the sky and took another photo. By then the cliffs had lost the glow and the clouds moved in front of the sun so I thought there would be no more good photos of the sunrise. I went back into the tent and 20 minutes later glanced out again and saw the cliffs bathed in sunlight. Again, within a minute or so the spectacular sight was gone. Also, around sunrise there was a lot of squawking from cockatoos and corellas who had been roosting in trees across the river. I launched at 8:20 am, paddle to a boat ramp at 300 km and sculptured the foam padding of my seat so that it is more comfortable, had another break at a beach at 293 km and then stopped for lunch on another sandy beach opposite some cliffs at 287 km where the cockatoos were nesting in holes in the cliffs. There was no CDMA reception probably due to the cliffs. I continued with a strengthening northerly tailwind to Blanchetown where I found that the caravan park is just below the lock rather than just above as I had thought. Also, there was no mobile reception at river level so I got out at the boat ramp and walked to the lock to let them know that I wanted to get thru’. In the meantime a group of seniors got interested in my kayak and what I am doing so I showed them the peddle system and they watched me go thru’ Lock 1 down to 0.8m ASL. I pulled up at the sandy beach of the caravan park right at the 274 km sign. I got a budget cabin for two nights for $33 per night. The caravan park was a nice place with views back up to the weir and bridge but with no mobile reception and no public phone onsite. Later I booked the bus for the next day (my “rest” day) back to Waikerie so that I could retrieve my car. I found that Greyhound could not take intrastate passengers in SA so I had to travel with Premier Stateliner which leaves Blanchetown a little later in the afternoon. Later I had dinner at the hotel and then I tightened the chain slightly on my peddle drive system.