Redbank Weir – Balranald

You can also read about my later journey down the Murrumbidgee here.

For a description of my trip from Redbank Weir to the Murray River in high water conditions in October 2016 see here.

Redbank Weir – Balranald (4-6 April 2008, 93km) Friday 4 April 2008

I started packing at 6:30 am and launched at 8:10 am on a cool morning (3 degrees). There were lovely reflections on the water and I paddled at close to 6 kph as there is deep water for most of the way. At about 7 km there was a tree right across the river but I can easily go under the main trunk. I saw several wedge-tail eagles and many kangaroos having a drink. I stopped at 7.6 km and then again at 14.3 km (10:45 am). The country above the bank was very dry and there are signs of reeds which must be Narkungerie Swamp. I stopped again for lunch at 12 noon at 21.7 km. At 22 km I saw an old bloke and three boys in a boat negotiating the snags. I come up behind and gave the bloke a fright when he suddenly saw me. They were out fishing and must be from Victoria as it was school holidays there. The river was deep for most of the way with occasional shallow races over clay bars which have stones embedded in them. The banks are dry and firm due to the river level having been low for some time. I needed to pull the kayak through a shallow race at 29 km and then squeezedpast snags at 31 km. I pulled up at a shelf at 33.5 km (2:30 pm) and pitched the tent at the top of the south bank. It looked like there is a dry swamp on the north bank. I go to bed at 7:30 pm and there are lots of animal noises; I didn’t sleep very well and then at 11 pm I heard shots in the distance and then saw high beam search lights in the trees but I couldn’t tell what side of the river they are from. They must have been kangaroo shooting because there were plenty of kangaroos around. At about 2 am they started shooting again and drove along the opposite bank and spotted the kayak with their spotlight. I heard one of them say “there’s a canoe or something” but they continued driving and I was relieved that the kayak did not get shot. Shooting continued in the distance to almost 4 am so I didn’t sleep well.

Saturday 5 April 2008

I started packing at 7:00 am and launched at 8:15 am. I met an old bloke fishing and he said that the kangaroo shooters were around last night. I passed some shacks, some with people at them.I saw a deer by the water and a bit later a couple of kangaroos hopping away from the water and a minute later two loud shots. Soon afterwards I saw a ute with a spotlight mounted on its roof on the riverbank ahead with two blokes on the back one of who waved to me as they drove past. I stopped for lunch at 56 km and there was phone reception here and got a photo from David who is working on the railways in England. There was a bridge at 59 km which was not marked on the map. I stopped at 62.3 km, saw another deer and soon after scraped across 3 logs next to each other and then at 67.5 km I came across a log that is right across the river with at least 20 cm showing above the water. Instead of doing a portage around the log I decided to swim the kayak by pushing the front on to the log, climbing onto the log, pulling kayak over and then I found I could stand on a snag underwater and then easily get back into my kayak. This was the log that is described in “Great Millenium Trip”. The water was quite refreshing. I camped at 68.5 km on a ledge by the water at 3:10 pm. For the whole trip there had been hardly any mosquitoes and very few flies. I had a pleasant afternoon listening to the AFL and drinking coffee. I went to bed at 7:10 pm and adjusted my clocks back one hour for the end of daylight saving after having paddled 35 km for the day.

Sunday 6 April 2008

I started packing at 5:30 am and launched at 7 am again after not having slept too well. The river seemed to be under the influence of the Balranald Weir from about 70 kms; there were no shallow bars but there were still plenty of snags. At about 76 km I scared some blokes who were launching their boat from their campsite. Several times since Maude I have come around a bend and see people ahead who don't hear me approach and are not expecting anyone to do so. The river is very windy in this section and it takes about 3-4 km of paddling to get 1 km closer to Balranald. I stopped at 77 km and then again at 86 km where I had a very early lunch at 10 am. I arrived at Balranald Caravan Park at 11:25 am, disembarked at a small sandy beach near the park office and set up my tent at the top of the bank. I had paddled 25 km for the day and spent the afternoon having a nap in the tent, watching corellas drinking and screeching along the river at sunset and having dinner at the Services Club. I went to bed at 8pm and slept well.