Redbank Weir-Murray River 2016
Paddling the lower Murrumbidgee in 2016 at high water levels
In early October 2016 I was part of a group of 6 kayakers who paddled down the Murrumbidgee from Redbank Weir to the Murray River and on to Boundary Bend over a period of 6 days. The river was at or below minor flood level. When we started at Redbank Weir, the town of Hay was at major flood level with about 40,000 Ml/day flowing past the town. However, down at Redbank Weir and Balranald Weir the flow was about 10,000 Ml/day with at gauge height of about 5.8 m at both places with a flow rate of about 2 km/h. There was a lot of water flowing out of the river into the swamps and this is probably why they were predicting that Balranald township would remain below minor flood level. The water level was about 5 metres higher than when I paddled the Lower Murrumbidgee during drought in 2008.
The main difference between the 2008 and 2016 trips were:
· In 2016 there was no problem with snags
· In 2016 we could paddle straight over Balranald Weir – no portaging required.
· In 2016 we started below Redbank Weir, we noticed the weir gates were open but there was not much clearance under the gates so a portage would have been required if travelling down from Maude.
· In 2016 there was enough high ground to camp on. The river height was steady but most campsites were not very high above water level.
· In 2016 the deck of the bridge at 59 km downstream of Redbank (not marked on the maps) was underwater with the railing above water. We were able to paddle around the end of the railing.
· In 2016 the last 15 km on the Murrumbidgee was like paddling on a lake. The Murray River was high and the water backed up into the Murrumbidgee.
· In 2016 the flow in the Murray was about 3 km/h and it was at least several metres above its normal level.
· The managers at Balranald Caravan Park kindly found a volunteer to drive our car back from Redbank Weir at the start of our trip. The last few km of the unsealed road into Redbank Weir were somewhat slippery and boggy after a lot of recent rain. In those conditions it was 4WD only but we noticed that the road seemed to dry out quite rapidly during the morning.
You can view photos of the 2016 trip below. It includes some 2008 photos for comparison.