The day has finally come!
Tomorrow morning I will be beginning my journey from echuca to the mouth of the Murray/the realisation of a childhood dream.
Human history has always included journeys: aboriginal songlines, exploration, emigration, travel. We are all on a journey of one sort or another.
Thanks for the positive write up Ruth Clayton, and the photo Bianca Oliveri.
Now the trip is officially public knowledge.
This shot shows the Canberra steaming towards the wharf.
What I first thought was a bit of dirt on the lense turned out to be a swallow in vertical flight.
Close up of the swallow in vertical flight above the Murray River at Echuca. I love how the sun shines through its wings.
What it is like to be out on the river. There was a bit of a wind today and the boats behaved beautifully.
Training paddles with my daughter Anna and brother Laurie were a highlight of the preparation time. When the sun causes the water to sparkle you just have to soak it up and enjoy .
A good close up of the prijon kodiak (and Laurie). Thanks mate :)
An abandoned paddle steamer landing not far out of Echuca. I like this old jetty and wind mill. It is all that is left of the days when this sheep station used to get its supplies via paddle steamer. The trees in front show how the river is always changing. The fish-eye lens of the camera created an interesting perspective.
Training next to the PS Canberra - a taste of waves for us river paddlers and an old friend who is the captain.
In Echuca we love training with the paddlesteamers. Many of the captains are our friends and one is a dedicated paddler himself (go Peter Garfield!!!). It is also fun interacting with the passengers and mucking about in the waves made by the paddle wheels.
Training with the paddle steamers in Echuca.
The 1.5km long old cast iron bridge in Echuca. Still the only connection between Victoria and NSW despite 50 years of campaigning. It has survived many floods, but suffers under 20,000 vehicles daily and the weight of ever larger trucks. Legend has it that one of the workman building the bridge in 1880 fell into the concrete that was used to fill each pylon.
Came across this collection of old news clips from 1984 - I remember this, it took a long time to get her in the water.
Paddlesteamer Adelaide Relaunch
Paddling under a darkening sky.
Trial pack - everything ready except for a bit of fresh fruit and veg.
Trial pack, testing how the wheels and boat behave with a full load.
The first idea I had was to load food in meal times (breakfast, lunch and dinner). Shopping bags were good storage units because they fit the shape of the boat, so there is little wastage). I later abandoned the bags, preferring to fit food and cooking gear loosely in the front storage compartment and camping gear and clothes in the rear compartment.
It fits... what a relief. My aim was to have nothing on top of the boat, to cut down wind resistance and minimise the risk of loosing gear in rough weather. I lost a phone once. It floated all the way to Swan Hill where it was found in an irrigation channel by an inspector, handed in to the police, who identified me as the owner and sent it back to me.. still in working order... but I did not want to risk that again :)
Test paddle with the PS Canberra in the background.
Heavier, but well within its limits. One week into the trip and I still cannot fault the boat. It is excellent.
Spending a lot of time researching how best to manage this page on the trip, including which devices, power, waterproofing, file transfer and storage, capacity, usability.
Would like to keep it simple if I can. Found a niffty device for transferring photos from cameras to iPads... some people seem to think that it will also do the same to an iPhone. If I can avoid taking a computer, then the solar panels do not have to be as powerful (and expensive).
Apple iPad camera connection kit.
Also found out that iMovie can be used on an iPhone (with iOS6). Memory may be an issue though.
Solar panel review, including experiences and impressions of travellers and expeditioners.
It never ceases to amaze me. I have been on this river in all manner of boats for 48 years and I keep seeing new things, stuff that lifts my spirit on every journey. The low flying wedge-tailed eagle chased by 3 crows, struggling to build speed as it crossed the river and then flying straight through the dense undergrowth of the shoreline forest (just yesterday) for example. The photo is generic - couldn't get the camera out quick enough. It was much closer than this. I could see the colour of every feather, every joint in the wing as it struggled to get away and to be able to tell that each wing was at least a good meter in size.
Aiming for 80km today. Having lunch on the most magnificent Sandhills 50km out of Echuca.
OC6 rescue service. If you want a friendly place to learn to paddle, try Echuca.
Gearing up for the trip: seems like more and more electronics. Picked up a GoPro Hero 2 Camera today. Will try it out on the water tomorrow on a 30km training paddle. Should be fun.
One of the pleasures of moving along a river slowly and quietly is witnessing the birdlife. I have been canoeing for over 30 years, but still get a thrill every time I see the flash of blue, or little bobbing head of an Azure Kingfisher.
Yesterday, I saw 2 wedge-tailed eagles circling and flocks of cockatoos and galahs screeching in alarm as they flew away. Memories of flocks of cockatoos flying along the river go back to my childhood. I hope they are around for many generations to come.
Many people have a bit of a chuckle when they see the big boat on our small car, but with the custom made racks it sits well and the overhang (less than 1m front and back) is less than on much bigger cars with standard racks.
One of the things I hope to achieve in documenting my preparation and journey is to empower others to begin their own adventures. This is why I also share other people's stories.
Beautiful images from Rose Fletcher.
9 weeks till I begin my paddle from Echuca to the sea.
The St. Jo's Kayaking Team (seen farewelling Dave Cornthwaite ) should be proud of what they have achieved in bringing canoeing skills, building resilience and social awareness in 4 years of Murray Marathons (2005-2008) to not just those who raced in this legendary 400km race, but all who were involved in the journey.
Another video of paddling with Dave. His professional approach was an inspiration.
When people ask me why I don't start at the source of the river I explain that the way I understand it is that this journey has a spiritual element. Travelling from my home to the ocean seems natural. Since I was a boy I have watched the river flow past my door and imagined its journey. Imagined that if I threw a bottle with a message in, it would eventually reach the ocean... and then where? The river is my natural connection with the world beyond our nation's boundaries. I want to be part of that journey. Take part in the natural event that has so much been a part of my life.
This is why I am beginning at my home town and not at the source. Starting 1000km above where I live and then just paddling past would feel wrong for me. The source to Echuca will have to be another trip :).
Being aware of river history helps to understand what it looks like today. The amazing achievements of others put my own journey into perspective. Although I will be unsupported, I have a comfortable boat, lots of gadgets and will never be more than 5 days from a town. How different it would have been in the days of Sturt and Cadell? Sturt had to go 1500km back upstream. Tammy Wise swam the whole way. Respect!
Epic Murray Journeys: Charles Sturt. In 1829 Sturt set off to find the mouth of the Murrumbidgee River which he followed by horse. When swamps made further passage impossible he swapped to a whale boat. On this journey he discovered "a broad and noble river" which he named the Murray (unaware that it had been discovered and named the Hume by that explorer already). 1,500km later they reached the sea. When the expected steamer never arrived, they rowed all the way upstream again - nearly perishing on the homeward journey.
This trip has been re-enacted several times;
1984 for a Bill Peach Documentary, in
This link includes some of Sturt's original words
This is a shot of the wet dock area of the Echuca wharf, with a few small padlle-steamers in it. The post in the corner used to be the edge of the river. It was to show the paddle boat captains where the bank began in high river. The wharf reached almost all the way to the council chambers. Since the 1880's the path of the river has changed. Almost 100m of river bank has built up. It is hard to imagine the old wharf reaching all the way in here - but it did. My father used to collect riverboat photos and wrote several books on this aspect of our history (Riverboat Days & Red gum and Paddlewheels). I will upload a picture from these of the old wharf.
These majestic old river gums are forever dropping their branches, but in doing so they provide nests for all types of birds.
More from this expedition:
More information about topics from this page:
- Port of Echuca: Visitor Information
- Echuca-Moama: Visitor Information
- Wikipedia: Echuca,
- Barry and Maureen Wright's River Murray Charts
- Environment Victoria: The Living Murray
- ABC Central Victoria: News and Community Events