Narrandera - Hay
Narrandera to Hay, 315 km, 9 days (including 1 rest day)
Sun 7 Nov 2021, 36 km
Bit of rain overnight and some grunting which I think is a koala. Launch at 7:55 am. Sunny morning. Paddle the 19 km to Yanco Weir. The gates are open so could have paddled thru going over the boom. Not recommended because there is fast, turbulent water below the weir. The concrete weir on the left side of the island is overflowing so can't disembark at it like in 2015. I can get out of the kayak near the point of the island and portage to the dirt ramp just below the concrete weir. Could also have portage around the gates on the north side of them. Portage takes an hour. Paddle to Middle Beach at about the 40 km mark from Narrandera. Camp here (1 pm). A few groups of people here and some dirt bikes on the other side of the river. Sunny afternoon, 27 C. It doesn't look like the forecast afternoon thunderstorms will eventuate. Have a swim and wash some clothes. Weak phone reception.
Mon 8 Nov 2021, 39 km
Nice morning, slightly cool. Water level rose 2 cm overnight. No other campers at Middle Beach. Launch at 7:30 am and paddle the 15 km to Gogeldrie Weir in 2 hours. See spoonbills and dollarbirds. The flow into Coleambally Canal was not noticeable. At the weir I get out on the left bank, past the boom, behind some willows. The portage was easier than I remembered. Along a track then along the waters edge below the weir to a sandy beach just past the rocks and the boom. Weak phone reception. There is a caravan park on the right (north) bank but it does not look convenient to launch below the weir on that side due to rocks. At 11 am I launch again, paddling at about 8 km/h. The flow below the weir is about 13800 Ml/day. I stop a few times to look a potential campsites, dropping my radio into the shallows, before settling on a site at 79 km mark with a crude ramp on the right bank. This is about 500 m before a site we camped at in 2011. Reasonable phone reception. Evening walk down the 4wd track to my 2011 campsite. A few mozzies around.
Tues 9 Nov 2021, 49 km
Start getting up just after 5:30 am and launch at 7 am. 2 cm rise again overnight. I want to get to Pinkers Beach at Carrathool by Thursday afternoon before the rain starts. It will give me the option of staying there on Friday when more rain is forecast. Paddle non-stop the 23 km to Darlington Point (14400 Ml/day) arriving at 9:30 passing Kooba homestead on the way. I stop at the new boat ramp on the left bank to dispose of rubbish and to replenish my drinking water. I can't find a tap, not even in a park with a BBQ. I paddle across the river and fill up in the caravan park. Depart at 10:30 am and paddle to Platypus Beach at the 19.2 km mark (from Darlington Point) for a lunch break. Weak phone reception. Nice south facing beach in Murrumbidgee Valley NP which is a designated camping area that can be booked. After 20 minutes I continue to a south facing beach at about 26 km. Nice deciduous trees to camp under and stand-at tables for cooking. Very weak phone reception. Nice evening walk along the track through the forest.
Wed 10 Nov 2021, 53 km
Warm cloudy night with a few drops of rain. Launch at 6:50 am from 26 km d/s Darlington Point. Water had risen 2 cm again overnight. Paddle for two hours then have a short break. The banks are mostly forested with the water very close to the tops of the banks in many places. A lot of the creeks are full, no doubt cutting vehicle access into the forest in many places. See a few scar trees. Have 30 min break after paddling 33 km (4 hrs). Mostly overcast morning with a few drops of rain. At the 76 km mark from D Pt I pass my 2007 campsite where a hole had been dug for rubbish. Back then there was a TV which either has been removed or floated away in a flood. Take some photos for comparison. At about 79 km mark at 2:15 pm I find a nice open grassy area which is partly flooded providing a good spot for landing. A creek departs the river forming a nice harbour out of the main current. Do some washing which dries quickly in the sunny afternoon with a moderate SW breeze. Good phone reception although it shows no bars.
Thu 11 Nov 2021, 44 km
Windy, cool night with squeaky tree nearby. Wear my fleece top for the first time since Wagga when I get up. Launch at 6:45 am. Mostly sunny morning. I can take a couple shortcuts which don't save much distance. Pass what looks like may have been a Wharf in days gone by. See two sea Eagles and get a poor photo of one. Some scar trees, many very old to be unsure as to when they are natural or not. See what I am sure is a platypus not far from me before it ducked underwater a split second later. Arrive at Pinkers Beach (2 km before Carrathool Bridge) at 12:20 pm. Sky is overcast now. Set up tent near toilet block on dry grass which I find has some green pricky plants which I remove. Conveniently there is a tap and a bin outside the toilets. It is probably best to treat the water as I don't know where it comes from and I was ill on Sat afternoon. Rain starts at 1:40 pm and it starts to feel cold. Good phone reception.
Fri 12 Nov 2021, 40 km
A couple thunderstorms during the night but not too much rain. The morning is heavily overcast and calm so I decide to paddle rather than having a rest day waiting for the weather to clear. The river has risen 4 cm overnight. Launch at 6:45 am. It is quite pleasant paddling with mist rising off the water and light winds. I see a massive ring tree with a large ring, the trunk being about 3 m in diameter. Later a couple adult galahs are trying to coax a baby away from the water. At about 12:45 pm I settle for a campsite at the 38 km mark (from Carrathool Bridge) at the downstream end of Mulberrygong Reserve. At this water level it is easy landing and there are open areas for camping up the slope. This is less than 1 km from the Sturt Hwy and I can see the trucks in the distance. A bit of light rain starts but I get set up without any problems. I'm pleased to have paddled 40 km today which means I only have to average 23 km a day into the forecast headwinds over the next three days to get to Hay Caravan Park where I have a cabin booked.
Sat 13 Nov, 0 km
Continuous rain from 11 pm to 10 am with strong winds. The forecast is for winds increasing to 50 km/h so I decide to stay here for the day. I change my booking for Hay CP to arrive a day later. Hopefully I can paddle for a few hours tomorrow morning before the wind gets too strong. Spend the morning reading. The sun comes out in the afternoon and I wander around the reserve seeing a ring tree and a couple scar trees. There also is a kestrel nest and a sacred Kingfisher flying around. Feel ill around dinner time, dry retch after eating half of dinner. Realise I had not had anything to drink since breakfast and feel much better after a litre of staminade but I wonder whether the Pinkers Beach water was OK. Nice sunset.
Sun 14 Nov 2021, 26 km
Set the alarm for 4:30 am with the aim of starting to paddle at about sunrise just after 6 am to paddle for a few hours before the wind gets strong. Launch at 6:15 am and make good progress in the light winds paddling at about 7 km/h. Since Carrathool the current assistance has dwindled despite a relatively full river that is still rising. Stop at the "perfect" campsite from 2007, which I hoped to camp at again, but it is not so perfect any more. The picnic tables are gone and recent high water means there is not much grass. The large slab of wood that I have a photo of me sitting on is gone or underwater. However, at about 10:15 am I found a good site around the next bend with open space which is good for this cool windy day. Very weak phone reception. In the afternoon some brief showers of rain and a thunderstorm with very strong gusts of wind as forecast. Spent most of the afternoon reading and dozing in the tent.
Mon 15 Nov 2021, 14 km
Windy during the night but it eases by sunrise. Launch at 7:25 am but the wind soon picks up. It is forecast to be 30 km/h and feels like it soon reaches that. At 9:40 am I decide to camp in the western edge of Meriola Reserve at about the 78 km mark from Carrathool. Weak phone reception, phone calls are garbled. Shoulder feels a bit sore as in earlier days but feels sorer after padding. Cold, windy afternoon spent mainly in the tent apart from a walk around the reserve seeing at large dead scar tree.
Tues 16 Nov 2021, 29 km
Cool morning with light breeze. Launch at 7:10 am. See a few more ring trees including one with three rings. When I get good phone reception I book the Countrylink bus/train from Hay to Wagga for tomorrow to retrieve my car. For the final 10 km I drift most of the way doing up to 4.5 km/h with a light breeze. At 12:10 pm I land at the end of Doon St which gives me access to the Hay Caravan Park a few hundred metres away. I check in to a cabin for two nights. Beautiful sunny afternoon with a light cool breeze, ideal for a walk into town to do some grocery shopping.