Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Travelling home to bury Chloe.

Corowa is the birthplace of federation. The leaders of NSW and VIC, as well as the other colonies, met here because it was on the Murray and close to halfway between Sydney and Melb. It could well have become our capital. I wonder why it didn't.

Cover of ‘Official report of the Federation Conference held in the court-house, Corowa’, 1893. NAA: R216, 298


Corowa Main Street.

According to a taxi driver, the shops in the main street (Sanger St.) are empty because there are two supermarkets, Target and two big clubs. It is hard for the others to survive.

The expensive homes that Ruth and I saw are from people who live in Albury and Wangaratta - housing is cheaper here and they get to live on the river. According to the taxi driver, who picked me up at the camping spot and took me to the bus stop, it's less than 40 minutes to both places.

Corowa doesn't have the tourism success of Rutherglen which is just down the road and only has a population of only 1800. However, the population is growing; currently 4000. There are six functioning pubs (and quite a few that have closed down). One is the Globe Hotel which was where the heads of states met to decide that Australia would become a federation. The Globe Hotel is currently for sale. Asking price 360,000.

The community seems an active one, the two rowing clubs 1, 2 (with sheds as big as those on the Yarra) train everyday on Lake Moodamere (where there have been regattas since 1860). Corowa has the Australian Billy Cart Championships, where kids race down the hill on the Main Street and there is a triathlon coming up. In the Main Street is a really good bakery and as I sat there getting a morning coffee while waiting for the Albury bus, tradies came in and ordered gourmet sandwiches, always a good sign of health in the community. So, despite the empty shops, things are happening in Corowa and perhaps the empty shops are an opportunity for something really creative to happen. The town just needs to get a strategy going like in Rutherglen where apparently something is happening every week, attracting the tourists. More shade in the Main Street would help. As the lady in the bakery said, "it is going to be a lovely day, nice and hot."

No more posts for now. Have had to postpone the rest if the trip. Just had word that our lovely dog Chloe died of a stroke last night and am on my way home on a Vline bus to pick up the car. This trip is to be continued. More photos and posts then. Thanks for following and sharing in our appreciation of the beauty of the river and the people that live along it.

Chloe in the front, Harry in the back. He sat by her side when it happened. 

Sometimes we need the quiet.

Watching the river change and spending time reflecting on Chloe's life with us while waiting for Peter to return with the car...

7am Sun kisses the trees. All quiet.

Noisy cicadas, chatty ducks, the first boat and neighbours still asleep. 
Ducks silently swimming in a row into the current, keeping their position and grazing off the surface.


The wind has picked up. Not sure what it would have done to us on the river, a bit of head wind, a bit if tail wind, I guess...I can hear cockatoos screeching in the trees across the river; however, only just... The cicadas dominate the morning chorus presently other than that all feels quiet as if nature knew that a hot day was coming... It's good to be still and to think of Chloe and thank her for her life that she so loyally and lovingly shared with us. I'm not sure we did her justice but she accepted us how we are graciously.

A gust of wind must have pushed a sleeping moth off its perch in the tree. It flew clumsily about the tree, bumping into leaves until it found a vertical branch where it could continue the interrupted sleep.

Cicadas have swapped to the other side and I can hear wrens twittering around our tent.soon the sun will hit the tent.

Ducks have disappeared. Leaves are falling off the trees - elegant in flight, twirling and turning like a ballerina; quite in contrast to their plump thud when they meet the water surface only to be carried downstream by the current. Yesterday, I saw a Christmas beetle holding on to a gum leave in the big water. I wanted to rescue him but went past too fast and also did not feel confident enough to pick him up with my paddle... Sorry.

Just had another swim and also cooled down the boats with a bucket of water. I have moved my mat about three times already, trying to stay in hen shade. Made me remember the bungle bungle afternoon in 1989 where I thought I had moved my towel in anticipation of shade to come. I was mistaken. I had the northern hemisphere in my head

I have had lunch. Same lunch as on paddling days except I have swapped my boat for a sleeping mat today. Coo koo s echoing on both sides of the river. Where do they get the energy in this heat to sing and the actions connected to the bird song? Peter will be on his way soon...

More speed boats, more heat but I feel safe and cool under my mighty gum. 
He has seen it all before.

Time for another float. I have the yellow floating noodle tied to a little flooded red gum. We are working well together.

All is quiet except for man made noises and cicadas, this time back from the Victorian shore.

Journey's are a risk. They take you away from support networks, often out of the reach of medical help and there are limited opportunities to repair gear. In addition, unexpected situations can arise, a cutting could have dangerous currents and snags, not apparent as you paddled into it. Fuel stoves can easily cause burns. Sparks from campfires can damage tents. You may become injured, or fall ill. Part of good planning is to minimise the risk of these things happening, or to be able to cope with them when they do. However, it is important to realise that whilst you can plan, you can't stop some things from happening. Life is a risky business. When you take on a journey with periods of isolation, as much as others are not there for you, you are not there for them. You must accept this. Ruth's family is in Europe, mine is in Australia. When someone close dies, one of us is always far from home. We do our best to support, to be there to help, but in the end it is your personal strength that gets you through and helps us to support others. Journey's like these build resilience and surrounded by so much beauty, they give us hope. 

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