Sunday, 6 January 2013

Day 3: 1608 to 1545 km to the sea: Torrumbarry - Barham-Koondrook-Perricoota

Tuesday 20/11

Bush campsite 20 km below weir - Barham-Koondrook-Perricoota Forest: Barham.
River markers: 1608 to 1545 km to the sea
Distance travelled today: 63 km
Total distance travelled: 167 km.

The Barham-Koondrook-Perricoota Forest is a quiet place this Time of the year. In the first 30 kilometres of today's paddle I saw no-one. 50 kilometres from Barham a man in a blue singlet, a stubby in one hand, his outboard motor (minus the cowling) in the other. A wave and he was gone.  I had heard his motor increase in volume and clarity for 10 minutes before the encounter and then it was over. On to some favorite fishing hole. A few kilometers later I met a few fishermen, sitting in their deck chairs on the top of the bank. After that - no-one. 

Day 3: Sometimes you have just gotta have a good stretch! 

There were some magnificent stretches of forest. Thick healthy trees reaching towards the sky as far as the eye can see and lush undergrowth. 

I like to pull into beaches when I have a break because then I don't get sink in the mud when I try to get out and I make less of a mess of the boat when I get in. The routine that seems to work at the moment, is to break the day into three parts, with a break in between each. If I can, I catch some shut eye and stretch in ways that are not possible sitting in the boat. 

I also try and have a bit of a look around so that my legs get some movement as well. The beaches I prefer have a bit of sun, so that my solar panel can keep charging and a spot out of the sun for me. At one such place I found a bush table made ingeniously from a timber cutter"s off-cut for a table and logs for chairs. It turned out that they are a feature of this area. I noticed too many for them to be private initiative and suspect that they were built by timber workers for the public. 

Day 3: Through the forest are these roughly fashioned bush tables with stumps for chairs. They are usually in the shade with a view of the river.

The river in this section is interesting. There are many clay reefs in the area, often crossing the whole river. You can tell when you are approaching one of these because the current drops away to nothing. If I stopped paddling in one of these stretches the race was on with various leaves to see who could be blown by the wind the fastest. As you go over the reef the current picks up and the water seems to boil. You can actually feel the river drop over the edge. It is like that feeling you have as a passenger when the car drives through a dip that you were not expecting. We used to say that we had left our stomach behind. I would have gone over twenty of these drops today. The clay reefs that cause them must be very resistant to erosion by the river. One of them was marked on the charts as having been in the original survey of river in 1870! 142 years later it is still sticking out of the water in the middle of the river.

Day 3 camp — at Barham-Koondrook-Perricoota Forest.

One of the pleasures of this stretch has been to witness such unbridled nature. Most of the beaches have kangaroo, or wallaby tracks leading down to the water. The birds acted as if they did not see people all that often. The cockatoos were more curious than scared and I saw bigger flocks of bitterns and big black cormorants than I had seen elsewhere. Interestingly different birds dominate different stretches of the river - as you turn a corner, or change straights, species change. As evening draws near wallabies come down for a drink, the fish start feeding at the surface and cockatoos seek their overnight resting places. From my campsite I saw a group of moor hens march single file along the water's edge and then bravely enter the forest.

Outside the fish are jumping and I have possum-proofed my food in the boat - which is a good thing because I can hear them moving around. The old brush tail possum is not very dainty in sound or activity.

Tired after a big day... With a touch of sunstroke from the day before... Serious gear now, long sleeve shirt and marathon hat.

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