Monday, 10 April 2017

Murray River Paddle 2016 Day 8 Langi Oonah Station to Timeout (Tocumwal) Oct 23

Langi Ooonah Station to Time Out Resort downstream from Tocumwal (58km).
Overnight the river dropped another 10cm leaving wet sleeves around the bases of trees and muddy edges along its banks. It continues to flow very quickly, meaning that I had to be conscious to give snags and trees an even larger berth than usual.
There were many more fallen trees than yesterday, however the current has pushed most of these so that they lay parallel to the banks. This should actually help reduce further bank erosion by slowing the current down in future. In a sandy section, about 6km upstream of Cobram, the river took at least 2 metres of bank away in front of some houses and further undermined some of the older trees. A no wash sign has been erected, but unless something is actually done to protect the bank the owners risk losing their property. I feel that along most of the river we should take a more active role in protecting what is there. More care is taken along our roadside verges than on our rivers and yet these deliver the water we need to drink, irrigation for our crops, and water for forests and wildlife. It seems disproportional given the value of the asset.

Palm trees along the river bank mark the site of Seppelts Winery.

The river was quiet again today. I saw one couple in a tinny, but other than that saw no-one, until I surprised the manager at Time Out Resort. They weren't expecting any customers, having been shut off for 6 weeks by the high river, which reached major flood level in Tocumwal. The manager (Jacki) said that they had actually had three separate flows, each bigger than the last. She also told me a sad story: a mob of kangaroos had been found drowned 36 in all, in a big pile. Though kangas are good swimmers they must have not known which direction to go and stayed on their ground until submerged.
Tocumwal bridge. The central span was designed to be raised to allow paddle steamers through. 

On a more positive note, the first of the beaches are emerging. Fresh, clean sandy spits were beginning to show at Cobram, and many of the larger beaches near Tocumwal: these should be a real treat this summer. New growth is emerging on the trees, giving them hints of red and a light green, which seems to glow when the sun shines through it.

Forgotten caravan on a flooded beach near Tocumwal.
Being on the water, you are able to see things that people left in hurry, or forgot. On the town beach at Tocumwal a caravan had been forgotten and going off the markings had almost been completely covered. It must have been tied down, otherwise it would have been washed away. On another bend, a campervan had become bogged, before being abandoned. I guess that they could have been international tourists, out of touch with daily news and warnings. it would have been a rude awakening. i hope they had insurance.The nicest was a home built houseboat with an extension on two plastic drums, wedged amongst saplings for protection from the wind. Someone seems to live on their. i wonder if the back room is a fishing hole.

Home on the river... could the back extension be a fishing hole? Just lift the boards and fish...
The current continues to flow strongly, averaging around 4-5km/hr, but up to 7.5km/hr. This will make the Murray Marathon this year a fast race, however the high river has also made the Murray wide and its low banks offer little protection from the wind, so I hope that the weather is calm for those paddlers. I have had two days of headwind, though today was not as bad as yesterday. At the moment often only one bank is above the water on the river's edge, so paddlers are going to have to look after each other. It can be a long way to swim, and with nasty snags in some places, it will be important to look after each other. Although we can expect the river to drop another metre before the race, it will still stay higher than usual because the catchments are so wet, so it will be important to plan for safety.
There were a lot more fallen trees today. I saw and heard many fall in yesterday's big winds.

I chose Time Out as a flood safe destination. I did not know that a friend owned a caravan their. Rather than tent, he put me up for the night, meaning not only creature comforts, but also that I will be able to get away earlier in the morning. Thanks Barry :).

Kilometer marker.
Tomorrow I hope to find a patch of ground at Yielma Station, which is just before the Gulf in the Barmah Millewa Forest. From there it will be a short day to Tarragon lodge, before a leapfrog to Echuca. The forest is like home territory and i look forward to seeing it full of water. Should make for some good photos too I hope.

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