Day 15: Sunday 2/12
Colignan - Karadoc
River markers: 984 - 923 km from the sea.
Distance travelled today: 61 km.
Total distance travelled: 789 km
I slept to the gurgling of the river as it flowed over the rocks around St. Helena Island. In the back of my mind, I remembered that when the Campaspe River was in flood it made a similar sound as its rising flow clawed at the trees, swirled around the bridge supports and lapped ever higher at the road in front of our house. The night the river was to peak I met my mother at 3 am in the lounge, the front room of our house. She wanted to know if it was in the front yard already. Camping on the edge of the river has its pleasures. Being caught by a rising river is not one of them. But I knew that the river I was on would not rise that fast. I had caught up to the rising river and passed it. Now it was rising behind me - but not that fast. I was above the wash zone and safe.
Having said that it is a good thing I don't sleep walk. One of the doors of my tent opened directly onto the river. This afforded a great view, both of sunset and dawn. The evening sun lit up the red sandstone in the cliffs opposite my tent spectacularly, contrasting them to the building rain clouds behind them. In the morning they were bathed in a gentle golden light. I am a sucker for photography, but I did not try and capture everything. Some of it I just enjoyed.
My campsite backed onto the Kemendok Nature Reserve. In Nov 2013 is was the only National Park which contained riverbank landscape in NSW. It was left in good condition by previous landholders and sold to National Parks in 1987.
Kemendok Nature Reserve was originally part of Tapalin Station, a squatter’s lease which incorporated most of Mallee Cliffs National Park and stretched as far north asThe contribution of farmers to the maintenance of our bush is little known and underestimated. On the beach were emu and wallaby tracks and coming down to the water to drink were all manner of birds. I identified a family of white-eared honey eaters and a black fronted dotterel. I had never seen dotterels on the river before, though my bird guide says they occur along all inland waters. They are shy and quick to flee, making them very hard to identify. They have quick little legs and prefer to catch insects by running after them. When they do fly they have swept fighter plane-like wings.
Prungle Station. John and Mary Grace are thought be the original leaseholders. The property passed through various families and was purchased in 1965 by Jim Maynard who sold the land, which become Kemendok Nature Reserve to the NSW NPWS in 1987. Kemendok Nature Reserve Management Plan.
It was a great day for birds. On leaving a couple of pelicans came gliding in. They are such massive birds, their shadow sent all the others crazy and flying in all directions. The pelicans landed just below the rock reef. Presumably it is good fishing there. Muscles aching, not yet warmed up, I eased into the first long straights, so common on this part of the river. A family of black falcons did not appreciate my presence and made quite a racket till I passed by. Later in the day, I saw blue winged parrots, (a delicate much smaller version of the familiar Murray Rosella), and a juvenile sea eagle with its white head and long white legs. I couldn’t see where it's parents were.
After fifteen kilometres I passed by Nangiloc. You wouldn't know you were passing a town except for the concentration of boats moored and the sign painted on the local water pump shed "go saints!" Each of these little towns seems to have at least one of its own paddle steamers. I used to think that paddle steamers were restricted to Echuca and other large river boat towns wit a loud and celebrated history. It was a real eye opener.
|The Bungunyah at Nangiloc.|
Since Torrumbarry, I have mostly been passing through forest and today was no exception, however every now and then farmland was obvious. Other human features were also a welcome sight after so long without people. The old pub on top of the Mallee Cliffs was impressive. The mail coach from Gol Gol used to stop there. The cliffs themselves were the highest I have seen so far. As I neared Mildura, I saw more and more people. I was now close enough for day trippers, houseboats and encountered my first speed boat since Torrumbarry and loads of fishermen. The difference between the fishermen yesterday and today was that today many had their families. I dare say the language improved also.