Darlington Point - Carrathool

Darlington Point - Carrathool (23-26 September 2007, 125 km)

I paddled this 125 km section solo over four days. I left the car at the Darlington Point Caravan Park, paddled to Carrathool Bridge Reserve, camped overnight and then caught the CountyLink bus back to Darlington Point to retrieve my car. The water level was low for this time of the year due to several years of extreme drought which had depleted the major reservoirs further upstream. The flows were about 500 Ml/day at Darlington Point when I started and 400 Ml/day at Carrathool when I finished. This is about one fifth of the flow normally expected in spring. The temperatures were quite pleasant and ranged from minimums of between 3-10 degrees and maximums around the mid twenties. However, the flies were a nuisance during the warmer parts of the day.

Sunday 23 September 2007

I launched, at 8 am, from the sandy beach beside the Darlington Point Caravan Park. I quickly found that I needed to take care to find the deep channel (if free of snags) otherwise I would run aground on sand banks – another 0.5 m of water would be good. I had a break after an hour at 6.4 km, just around the corner from a man tending a campfire naked, then again at 12.2 km and at 21.0 km at 11:30 am for lunch. Closer to Darlington Point there were several groups of campers along the river. I was pleased with my progress considering the low water level. I paddled for another hour to 27.2 km and note that there is poor CDMA reception. At 30 km I passed an old car that has been pushed over the bank reminding me of other places where I have seen junk (fencing wire, building rubble and bathtub) dumped in the river. At 33 km I came across a clay bar that has formed a small rapid which forced me to disembark from my kayak and to guide the kayak through by rope. At 35 km I found a nice campsite but since it has no CDMA reception and it is a bit too early to setup camp, I decided to continue. There are several places where there are snags across the river but I managed to find my way through by scraping over some or ducking under others. During the afternoon I saw a fox scampering away. It appeared that it was out on snags in the middle of the river and made its escape along other snags to the bank. At 37.6 km (3 pm) I found a nice beach on which to camp. I went to bed at 6:30 pm and read till 8:15 pm.

Monday 24 September 2007

I started packing at 6am, prepared my breakfast on the campfire and launched at 7:40 am. Overnight the water had dropped about 2 cm. There are several stretches where there are many snags which makes for slow progress including one spot where I had to paddle upstream to make my way through a maze of snags. I had a break at 44 km and 52 km at 10:25 am (about 5 km/h today). Along the way I saw a sea eagle and another fox. I paddled onto 59 km at about 7 km/h due to fewer snags and deeper pools. I had lunch there accompanied by the sound of heavy machinery coming from somewhere in the forest across the river which seems to have been recently logged. At 63 km I came across a barrier of snags across the river. One log was just centimeters above water level blocking part of the river with smaller branches blocking another part of the river. I retrieved my folding saw from my hatch and by cutting two wrist sized branches I am able to push my way through. The saw saved me from a tiresome portage. I stopped at Bringagee Reserve (67.3 km) and then at 74 km I needed to drag my kayak 10 metres over branches to pass another snag barrier. I saw some adult emus with young. I found a campsite at 76 km at 3:30 pm in Tonganmain Reserve. Up on the bank I noticed a hole full of rubbish including a TV. A young bloke rode up on a quad bike and then drove away. He returned about an hour later to fill up some water containers. Presumably, he was rounding up his cattle and then getting water for them. I realised that he is only other human I had seen all day. I had paddled about 38 km for the day. This was about the same distance as yesterday but it took about an hour longer due to the number of snags.

Tuesday 25 September 2007

I launched at 7:30 am on a cool 3 degree morning. I noted that there is no dew or condensation on my ground sheet at all – this is an indication of how dry the air is. Again there were many snags. I had a break at 82.3 km, see another fox, had another break at 89.8km, I took the narrow right channel around an island at 93 km, shot a small rapid at 94.5 km and then had lunch at 94.8 km (11:20 am) opposite “Grongal” where I saw the farmer driving his ute. He was the only person I saw all day. After lunch I average 7 km/h according to the GPS and there seemed to be more deep pools. I considered a campsite at 106 km but continued to 106.8 km (2 pm) where the point is actually an island with a sandy beach after paddling 31 km for the day. I camped there as it separated me from private property and was free of cattle access to my campsite. It was a warm and sunny afternoon with not much shade but I spent some time reading in the shade of a grove of saplings near my tent. I treated some river water with alum (2 granules in 2 litres) and then boil for 5 minutes. There wasgood CDMA reception so I called Christine and asked her to book the Thursday bus to Darlington Point for me. It was a noisy evening with kangaroos coming down to the water to drink in the light of the full moon. Later the northerly wind strengthened during the night.

Wednesday 26 September 2007

I launched at 8 am on a warm, breezy overcast morning. The river was deeper and less snaggy. I paddled to 114 km, then 118.3 km (Rudds Point about 100 m from the Sturt Hwy) and arrived at Carrathool Bridge Reserve (125 km) at 11:15 am. I camped at the same spot as 2 years and 1 day earlier, have a relaxed afternoon reading and returned to Canberra the next day.