Tooleybuc-Robinvale (14-18 October 2004, 196 km)
Thursday 14 October 2004
I camped the Wednesday night at the Tooleybuc Caravan Park. On the Wednesday evening I had driven my car to Wood Wood and left it in the caravan park there and caught the Swanlink bus back to Tooleybuc. This would enable me to retrieve the car more easily at the end of the trip. On the Thursday morning I started packing at 6:45 am and launched at 8:10 am. In the last week or so the water level in the river had dropped to 1.13 m at Swan Hill. So the banks near the water edge were slippery with mud. I paddled to 1312 km in one hour with a moderate SW-W tail wind. It was sunny and warm and forecast to be 21 degrees. Every six kilometres I had a break and a brief lie-down to ease my sore shoulder. I then had a break for lunch at 1292 km and then continued on to the Wakool Junction at about 1285 km, arriving at 3:00 pm. There was a very nice campsite on the NSW side but this was occupied by some caravaners so I camped on the Victorian side. I setup my tent, listened to the cricket, had dinner and went to bed at 7:40 pm. I paddled 35 km in the day.
Friday 15 October 2004
It was a cool night of about 6 degrees but I slept well. I got up at 5:40 am and lit a fire. Sunrise was at 5:55 am. I had breakfast and then packed and launched at 7:30 am. Just before launching I find a fishing line in the grass that I decide was a bit dangerous as someone may trip over and injure themselves. So I pulled at the line and injured my finger as the sinker came flying up and hitting me on the knuckle. The river was wider now and seemed to have longer straight sections. Wind from the SW made for good progress. But from 1274 km the river heads more westerly so I was expecting more head winds. It was a beautiful sunny day with a forecast of 19 degrees. I had a break every six kilometres and arrived at another nice sandy beach at 1260 km at 11:40 am, but as usual the water’s edge was sandy with a thin layer of mud making for a slippery and messy exit from the kayak. I had tuna again for lunch. My shoulders were a bit sore from yesterday’s paddle but otherwise I was paddling strongly. I have no problems with RSI and my left shoulder seemed better than yesterday afternoon. The flies were somewhat of a nuisance. I continued with a couple more breaks and then arrived at the Murrumbidgee junction (1242 km) at 3:00 pm. The water in the Murrumbidgee had a green tinge as opposed to the brown colour of the Murray. I camped on the Victorian just down from the junction and had a brief swim. There were nice straw flowers growing in the sand. I paddled 43 km this day. I went to bed at about 7:30 pm.
Saturday 16 October 2004
It was a cold night of about 3 degrees. I got up at 5:30 am and launched at 7:40 am. I paddled up the Murrumbidgee for about 20 minutes and then paddled back into the Murray with an easterly breeze for a tail wind. I took the shortcut through the cutting between 1236 and 1234 km and I paddled on to Boundary Bend (1228 km) arriving at 10:15 am. I rang Christine to tell her that I will go on to Robinvale. I bought two pies, 2 litres of orange juice and some banana flavoured milk from the store. I left Boundary Bend at 11:00 am and had more breaks about every six kilometers. This section of the river seemed to be very quiet—there were no pumps along the river here and not many cockatoos screeching. I even heard an echo when I cough. I am still paddling at about 8 km/hr but it seemed harder with the slower current, the wide river, very wide bends and the gentle breeze mostly seemed to be a head wind. At 2:45 pm I arrived at a sandy beach at 1204 km where I decided to set up camp. Again there were lots of flies but plenty of firewood as this campsite was not accessible by vehicle track. I had paddled about 38 km for the day. I had spaghetti again for dinner (this time without parmesan cheese). I went to bed at 7:30 pm listening to the cricket.
Sunday 17 October 2004
I started packing at 5:30am, launched at 6:20am, paddled till 8:00am and had breakfast on a sandy beach just downstream of 1192km. Here there were the remains of a burnt caravan with lots of glass, tins and molten aluminium. It was cloudy with an easterly breeze and I continued on to 1184km where I send SMS messages to Christine and my parents. I stopped again at 1180km and then again at 1174km across from Meilman Station after seeing a snake swimming across the river. Here the current was even slower and the banks were lower due to the influence of Euston weir. Due to the low banks there were plenty of reasonable campsites. I had lunch at 1166km (12:50pm) just after paddling through a cutting which saves two kilometres. I arrived at the campsite at 1158km at 2:30pm. Again it had a sandy beach and also shade and a picnic table. A bloke on a quad bike rode past and said that the saplings on the beach were due to a lack of high water and that the saplings were overtaking the sandy beach. He also said that the creeks used to have yabbies in them but they were now dry, again due to a lack of high water. I had a quick swim then some drinks at the table overlooking the water. I had a honey soy chicken freeze-dried meal for dinner and went to bed at 6:40pm. I had paddled 44km in the day with very little current assistance. I had now paddled about 1000km on the Murray altogether.
Monday 18 October 2004
During the night the water birds were active diving for fish near my tent. I watched the sunrise over the water from my tent. Again today there was a light easterly breeze with 27 degrees forecast. I launched at 7:05 am, took a shortcut at about 1155 km and stopped at 1151 km opposite some red cliffs. I was now paddling at a more leisurely pace of about 6-7 km/hr. For trips further downstream, I would assume an average of 30 km/day as there would not be much current assistance. I stopped at 1146 km and planned to stop at about 1140 km but there was no suitable landing so I continued on to BumbangIsland where I changed my shirt to look more respectable. I passed through the cutting with noticeable current saving about 10 km, I photographed the wreck at 1126 km and arrived at the Robinvale Caravan Park at 11:05 am (1124 km). I found a suitable landing in front of site number 23 and I was able to get that site to camp on. It was 24 km for the day. I spent the afternoon relaxing and looking around town and booked the bus for Wood Wood for the next day. I went to bed at 7:00 pm and had a good sleep with earplugs. The woo hoo of the owls and the splashing of the ducks was replaced with the noise of other campers and the rumble of traffic on the old bridge. The next morning I woke up and watched the morning sun light up the old Robinvale bridge and the family of wood ducks including nine ducklings roam the caravan park for food.