Sunset at Murrumbidgee River

Murrumbidgee River, Darlington Point to Hay, 30 Jan – 4 Feb 2023

A good week in the oasis of the Murrumbidgee River

Anne and Simon Langsford lead a fantastic trip down the Murrumbidgee River, from Darlington Point to Hay. Paddlers included Berny Lohmann, Robert, and Robin Phiddian (AKA Rob & Rob), Terry Holder, Courtney Kirkwood, Simon Delaine, Hugh Stewart, and Peter Vincent. The group met at the Darlington Point caravan park on Sunday evening after a car shuffle that left two cars at Hay. It had been raining much of the late afternoon.

A bumpy start (Monday)

The weather cleared overnight for a 9 am start on the water, after parking the cars. Anne and Simon L gave a briefing about what to expect for the trip, including the dangers of snags lying under the water. The group slid their kayaks off the muddy banks, gathered in the water, and set off, passing under the Darlington Point Bridge. The river was flowing at a good pace, and it was nice being able to coast and watch the trees go by. But soon whistles were blown, and we turned to see an upside-down kayak! Robert had been pulled into some bushes and capsized.

Simon L, tailing the group, swiftly rescued Rob, and his kayak, though Rob’s paddle was lost in the roll, likely dragged underwater and lost in branches. The group continued down the river, learning how to spot dangerous ripples in the water. Unfortunately, one was spotted too late, and Terry badly hit a snag on the side of his boat which soon began leaking. We applied duct tape  as a temporary repair, luckily mostly holding for the remainder of the trip. We made camp after 36km.

Days without incident: 0 (Tuesday)

Another 8:30ish start on the river. A smooth day of paddling until Terry capsized on a snag after lunch. This got us accustomed to calling out snags as some can be easy to miss. Bird life was proving to be wonderful. Australasian Darters were spotted, and Rainbow Bee-eaters visited our camp late in the evening. Despite a shallow stream of water flowing right beside our camp, the mosquitos were not as bad as we had feared. This was a theme for the whole trip.

Getting into the groove (Wednesday) 

Last night ‘boat-monitor’ Berny heard water lapping at the kayaks, so he rose to shift some forward. Each morning it was clear the water level had risen. Being day three, everyone was quicker getting their boats packed. Saw the first small motorboat of the trip. We came across some shortcuts on the river which we took advantage of after checking enough water was flowing through. Peter, in his durable plastic kayak, checked on one shortcut but had to turn back. We had westerly winds for much of the day and by the end most people were getting exhausted. Started looking for campsites, but a few good options had houses nearby. Eventually found a suitable camp in a small forest reserve after travelling 43km. Many of us enjoyed a refreshing swim close to shore where the current wasn’t too strong.

Halfway (Thursday)

I (Simon D) didn’t check the elevation between my tent and the river last night. Turned out it wasn’t much, and the rising water got very close! Another quick getaway this morning and we soon passed a bridge marking the very approximate halfway point. It was a windy day but luckily there weren’t too many straight sections of river, plus everyone’s fitness levels seemed to be rising so we were mostly able to power through it. Rob & Rob were doing a remarkable job keeping up in their much smaller 12ft Carolina Perception kayaks. Saw more birdlife today, including Yellow-billed Spoonbills, Sacred Kingfishers, and Peter was excited to spot a White-bellied Sea Eagle after spotting them on previous trips. We made camp after 42km, landing on a beach beside a large, forested area. Some enjoyed another swim and wash. The wind became quite intense in the evening, and we retreated to our tents for an early night.

‘Love the fallen tree’ (Friday)

It was a very windy start to last night but not all of us had the same experience. Hugh had his tent flattened soon after getting to bed, yet Terry said he heard the wind but barely felt it. The day started with action when Courtney backed up from shore into a branch and capsized. Luckily her insulated coffee floated. The wind was still blowing so she put on a cag to prevent wind chill. Today was forecasted to be the windiest day and it felt like it.

We came across an interesting section of river where a tree had fallen most of the way across. Peter and Berny were up the front and chose a zig-zag route to the right. However, the middle route at first look seemed viable. Courtney was next and chose the middle section but found a large log laying just beneath the surface. Fortunately, she acted quickly, remembering the advice given at the start of the trip, and leaned into the log to prevent the flowing water from capsizing her boat (a technique known as ‘love the rock’ in white water kayaking). She did well to keep calm while flowing water kept her kayak pressed up to the log, as Simon L and Peter devised a rescue plan.

After Peter traveled back upstream, Simon L attached a rope between Peter and Courtney’s boats. Some hard, upstream paddling from Peter eventually freed Courtney’s boat from the log. A good rescue effort. Though slower in the straight sections, Rob and Rob’s shorter, plastic kayaks cruised through these tight sections. At lunch break Simon L had the group discuss what happened. We reflected on how crucial the ‘love the rock’ technique was in that situation as it’s unknown how big that log was or what lay beneath the surface. In future tight sections, we held paddles above the head horizontally, earlier, to hold the group back while the front-runner (mainly Peter) found a safe route.

Back on the water after lunch, we heard barking dogs by a house and Anne said on the last trip the dogs tried to herd them off the river. This time we sneaked by without the dogs noticing. During the afternoon tea break, we discussed how much longer to continue as campsite opportunities would become less frequent the closer, we got to Hay. A short, sharp shower fell after setting off for the final leg before camp.

After 41km we pulled onto a wide beach for camp. The weather was kind enough to let us set up tents before unleashing wind and rain. Simon L set up a tarp for the group to shelter under, and this action seemingly stopped the rain. Turned out this campsite is a bit of a rookery for White-necked Herons now, with many nests scattered high in the forest. These White-necked Herons were abundant for most of the trip, taking advantage of all the recent wet weather.

Back to civilization (Saturday)

A perfect start to the final day. The wind and rain of yesterday had mostly subsided and the sun was out but not too hot. We pulled up for morning tea on a beach about 18km from Hay. Anne said they’d tried to camp here on a previous trip but were told to move on as the farmers were planning a party. Hugh, Peter, and I decided to sprint the final stretch into Hay. The whole group made it into Hay by around 1:30 pm after 30km. People were relieved to have made it and surprised by how fast the trip went. Simon L looked after the kayaks while Anne and Berny drove everyone else to pick up their cars from Darlington Point. The group farewelled Rob & Rob and the rest drove back to Hay for a pub dinner at the New Crown Hotel. Now, off to clean a muddy kayak.

Winter day paddles at Blanchetown and Punyelroo — 30/31 July 2022


The Adelaide Canoeing, Caving and Climbing Club. Maybe that’s what we should rename the club. There was some of all of that on the weekend trip to Blanchetown and Punyelroo.


Paddling around Blanchetown

The winter weather in the Riverland is normally much better than Adelaide, but not for this trip. Five paddlers set from Blanchtown on Saturday morning. The sky was overcast with a stiff headwind and the temperature reading a chilly 9 degrees. A bit of brisk paddling soon warmed us up. We crossed the Murray and headed up Cumbunga creek, threading our way through the dead gumtrees. We tried not to disturb the pelicans while being serenaded by the cockatoos, who must be preparing for spring.

The channel soon narrowed as we approached Roonka Conservation Park. This is where our first mishap occurred. Having done this trip many times I didn’t bother bringing my GPS, wandered up the wrong channel, and soon found myself in a dead end. I was firmly wedged in a thick bunch of reeds which I had tried to push through. Despite much pushing and pulling I was stuck, and was slowly resigning myself to a winter swim. Julie managed to attach a rope to the end of my kayak and pull me free. Many thanks Julie.

After backtracking and finding the right channel we soon found the Murray again, and crossed the river looking for more backwaters. Going up the narrow channel behind Julia Island, we found a secluded lagoon where we stopped for lunch. This didn’t take long thanks to the cold weather, and we were soon back in shelter of our kayaks, continuing upstream. The lagoon narrowed at the northern end of Julia Island, and we had a short portage over a road before getting back into the Murray River again.

Heading back

We decided to head home on the Murray, taking advantage of a good tail wind and a fast flowing current. Thanks to the winter, we had the whole river to ourselves. We gently paddled past the golden cliffs and magnificent gum trees, still being serenaded by the local cockatoos, until we reached our launching spot.

The group split up here. Some going back to Adelaide, while the rest of us set off to Punyelroo Caravan Park. We would stay for the night before Sundays paddle.

Thanks to new member Ghanshyam for being well prepared  and brought an electric heater and kettle. We managed to stay up in the cold and chat for a while before retiring to our tents for the night. With two sleeping bags, an insulated mattress, a couple layers of clothes, and a beanie, I had a warm cosy night.


Campground near Punyelroo

Next morning was a leisurely start as we waited for Abelardo to come up from Adelaide for the Sunday paddle. We set off from the Caravan Park, and headed directly across the river into the lagoon to try and find Punyelroo cave. This would have been much quicker if I had my trusty GPS. We eventually managed to locate the entrance and dragged the kayaks up out of the water. We then

replaced our PFD’s and spray decks with helmets and head torches, and entered the cave to do some exploring.

The cave

Punyelroo cave is supposed to be about 3 kilometres in length. I don’t think I have ever managed to get more than a hundred meters into it before my enthusiasm gives out. We spent a good twenty minutes crouching under low roofs, scrambling over fallen boulders, banging helmets on rocks and bruising shoulders on rocky walls before called it quits. We sat for a while in the pitch darkness and total silence, imagining what it must be like to trapped in a place like that. After emerging back into daylight and fresh air, we got back into our kayaking gear and carried on up the lagoon.

The Murray river levels were high due to all the rain the country has been having. The caravan park manager told us that it was now possible to paddle all the way up the lagoon into Swan Reach, and then join the Murray river again. We reached the top end of the lagoon, and sure enough the channel was high and clear, with a good current flow.

Not enough space go under

We slowly made our way upstream, paddling right over the bridges and pipes that would normally stop us. Our luck lasted right up to the end of the channel, a few meters from the Murray. The raised river level now worked against us. The footbridge across the channel, normally easy to paddle under, was now impassable. Only a few centimetres of clearance, and no easy landing due to all the reeds.

Desperate times call for desperate measures. By standing up in the kayaks, it was possible to climb up over the bridge, and then drag the kayaks out of the river through the reeds. After everyone was over, we had a well-deserved rest and snack on the grassy bank. Shortly after, we took advantage of the current to take us back down the river back to Punyelroo and the (heated) cars, and headed back to Adelaide

Overnight Trip from Wally’s Landing, Finniss River to Currency Creek and Return — 9-10 July 2022


Winds south westerly 0-5knots predicted felt like 8knots. The small group comprised of Simon Langsford, Peter McLeod, Matthew Eldred as trip leader. We gathered at Wally’s landing for the overnight paddle to Currency Creek. Peter was unable to stay the night due to work commitments and would return to the cars after lunch at Clayton Bay. We set off with the new paddle plan in place making our way through the reeds and into the lagoons to disturb the 100s of black swans that call it home.
Wasn’t long before the water ways widened, and we were heading to the Goolwa channel where we would turn left for lunch at clayton bay.

After lunch the team followed the northern bank of Hindmarsh Island protecting us from the southern wind. As this was a small back track west to currency creek, we were able to line Peter up with the Finniss river and send him on his way under sail.

Now there was two. Simon and Matt followed Hindmarsh Island until we reached the eastern bank of Currency creek. Finding camp at around 3:00pm we decided to set up the tents unload the kayaks and have a late afternoon paddle further up Currency creek.

The night-time activities were dinner and telling stories around the camp fire under the cold winter’s night.


Winds Northly 5-10knots predicted and felt like it. A frosty start to the day and the fire was re-ignited to defrost us from the night’s sleep. Camp pack up was quick and on the water by 9am. Today’s route we followed the western banks of Currency creek and around the islands at Goolwa north. Not to trace to much of our path from the day before, we stuck to the opposite sides of the rivers.

The trip was success and Simon is keen to attend again and explore more of the lower lakes.

Matt Eldred

Camping in Finniss River

White Water trip to Eildon, Victoria — 11-14 March 2022

It was refreshing and liberating to be back at Eildon after two years!

Most of us arrived on Friday. Charlie and Marina got there a night earlier and were surprised at the activities on the Sump. Fire rescue team and their rafts, Tafe students in their canoes and a few private little boats all practising. Never seen so many on the Sump at one time.

We inadvertently picked a long weekend in Victoria and were a little worried about the crowds. But this didn’t prove to be much of a problem. The only downside was that the group was spread across different sites.


Challenging stretch in Goulburn river

On Saturday, Scott Polley did some instruction on the basics for those who had not done any white-water before; Esther did very well, Anthony showed no fear (trying to keep up with his son?), and Leigh is a natural (who would think he has never done any white water) as he soon ended up surfing the big wave at the Sump without much trouble. After a little warming up, Anne, Simon, Fred, Will, Marina and Charlie played around the pumpkins (big man-made concrete blocks designed to create turbulence and eddies in the river), the s- bend and, for the more daring ones, the Sump in the afternoon.

Fred and Will played the role of the two acrobats putting their canoe polo skills to use (Fred managed to position himself in his boat on a pumpkin). And Phil who was the elegant smooth wave rider.

Water levels were quite ok at first, then on Saturday they seem to have released water from the dam, and some of the pumpkins were soon under water. Luckily the water did not seem as cold as it normally is in January.

The Campsite

Kayak on rock in the middle of the river

Moored in the river

Besides people coming into the camp kitchen to do their dishes, we were lucky enough to have the kitchen pretty much to ourselves, as the local hotel was still closed so we had to cook in the campsite. Next year we will remember to check the Victorian calendar before pick a date! In all, we all surely had a lovely time, and Charlie and Marina finished their stay with a 52 kms downstream paddle to Molesworth on Tuesday, having enough water to paddle down at a good speed.

Coffin Bay — 14-17 February 2022

First leg to Black Springs

Starting the trip

Anne and Simon Langsford were joined by Frances and Bernard Goble, Phil Doddridge, Mark Loram, Stephen Carter, Matthew Eldred, Simon Delaine, Charles Walker, Jo Molsher, Julie Rohde and Peter Vincent to paddle from Coffin Bay township out into the Coffin Bay National Park. The first day saw us heading out of the town bay towards Rabbit Island. The tide was very low by the time we got there and some of us walked our kayaks over the Mussel and Razor Fish beds. However, it was not long before we hit deep water again and those with sails enjoyed a good tail wind.

When we stopped for lunch on the beach past the Yangie Bay inlet Julie found her missing spray deck which had become squashed up in the bow as she packed other things. At last water-tight she enjoyed the rest of the day.

We arrived at Black Springs with plenty of time to pitch camp and relax, looking out over the amazingly blue ocean. After dinner that evening it started raining, and Simon and Anne’s emergency shelter was put to good use! as we sat huddled under it. Most people headed to bed early as we planned an early start to catch the tide around Point Longnose.

Lightning Day

So much serenity

Lightning, thunder and heavy rain greeted us the next morning, so the early start was postponed. By mid-morning the storm had passed but the wind forecast made paddling onwards unwise, so we did the walk to view Black Rocks on the southern side of the peninsula, then after lunch split into groups to paddle close to camp. One group went along the picturesque rocks while another group went out to more open water while Jo did her first sailing effort. Although both paddles were much shorter than planned everyone had an enjoyable day.

Windy Day

Paddling along the coast

Wednesday’s wind forecast was bad – 20 knot winds with stronger gusts. Change of plan again! We paddled through the oyster beds and over to Point Longnose where we had a short stop while Mark emptied his water-filled front compartment and put the hatch on properly. Around Point Longnose is a beautiful beach where we had lunch before retracing our steps. Each day Matt would be seen looking for cockles on the beach to bait his fishing hook. He did catch some Whiting, but alas too small to keep so we didn’t get fresh fish for dinner.

Return Day

Preparing the departure

Now we had spent 3 days at Black Springs camp and there was not enough time left to venture out to Point Sir Isaac, so we decided to return to Coffin Bay township. Along the rocky cliffs we came across some seal pups that played with us and followed us for about half an hour. Then we headed to The Brothers islands so Peter could check out the birdlife. We were rewarded with sighting the rare Rock Parrots and there were also some large sea lions, one of which gave an aggressive display towards the kayaks before leaving us alone.

The group split again into ‘paddlers’ and ‘sailers’ to cross over to the northern shore of the bay. Lunch on a sand beach with a very shallow approach made us walk the kayaks again to save scratching them too much. Then it was a pleasant paddle along the rocky cliffs with some of us paddling into Mount Dutton Bay for a short distance.

Wrap up

Coffin Bay Strava

Bernard, Frances and Steve left the group to head homeward. The rest of us pitched camp at the caravan park and then headed to the pub for a drink and dinner.

In total we paddled about 66 km, a bit short of the plan but we had to manage the weather conditions and even with this shortened trip everyone enjoyed the trip.

Some memorable comments:

  • OK everyone, the plan for today is changed, – again. – Anne
  • We have got to know this camp site well. – Frances
  • I’m not talking about the wind forecast. – Simon L
  • Can we stay here another night?  -Text message from Jo (safely in her tent during the storm)
  • I’m glad I remembered everything and I didn’t capsize. – Simon D
  • My jaw is sore from smiling so much, the sailing was so much fun. – Matt
  • I’ve found my spray deck.  – Julie
  • Thunder and lightning, very, very frightening.  – Julie
  • The colour of the water at camp, amazing blue.-  Charlie
  • Great paddling with new people. – Stephen

Check the facebook post for additional pictures

Sea lions

Huddle to avoid the rain

Paddling with seals

Delta Fleet

Checking the landscape

Resting at the campground

Campground site and sunset

Katarapko: Murray river backwaters 19-21 November 2021

Six brave paddlers ignored the weather forecast of “showers with possible heavy showers” to drive up to Katarapko in the Murray River National Park for a weekend of camping and kayaking the backwaters of the Murray River. Fortunately the weather forecast was wrong, there were no heavy showers, just showers! Most of the group arrived Friday lunchtime, slightly delayed due to road closures and new roads that didn’t quite seem to agree with what the map showed.

Setting Camp

After setting up camp quickly we all jumped into the kayaks for an afternoon paddle. The river level was probably 2m higher than normal, due to strong flows in the Murray and an artificial flooding event that was in progress. As a result some normally dry creeks were now navigable. We took the opportunity to spend a few hours exploring Piggy creek before returning to camp. Highlight of the evening was waiting for Abelardo to arrive. Everyone was curious to see if he would navigate the route in the dark, never having been there before. Fortunately he arrived safely, having benefited from some last minute instructions.

Rainy Saturday

Two paddlers in the Murray River

Two paddlers in Katarapko Creek National Park

Saturday morning arrived overcast, but no rain to speak of. We headed up Katarapko creek to the junction with the Murray river, and then into Sawmill creek which was very navigable thanks to the high water levels. From there we turned right into Eckert creek and followed that up into Eckert Wide Waters Lagoon. By this stage the rain had increased to a steady drizzle. It was not unpleasant and we kept up a good pace as no-one wanted to stop and get out of their kayaks. We found the northern entrance to the Wide water with no problem, and kept paddling up Eckert creek.

The increased water helped with this, but also made it hard work going up the current. We reached the Murray and, since no-one wanted to stop for a break, immediately started on the downhill run back to camp. We made good time with a strong flow in the Murray helping us along. After a very scenic shortcut through the Ajax Achilles Lakes we arrived at Lock 4. Due to the good pace we had been making, this resulted in an enforced lunch stop as the Lockmaster was having his  from 1 to 2 o’clock.

After a hasty lunch (still drizzling, and everyone was starting to get cold) we passed the time warming our hands on a public electric barbecues.  Eventually the Lockmaster arrived and gave the bedraggled paddlers a bemused look. After remarking that he could think of better things to do that day instead of paddling in the rain, he let us through the lock. From there it was a short paddle back to the camp and a warm cup of coffee and soup, just as the rain started to ease up followed by a glorious sunset.

Perfect Sunday

Paddlers in Katarapko CreekSunday morning dawned with no rain in sight and none forecast. After rapidly packing up, we eagerly paddled back up Katarapko creek, and Sawmill creek back up the Eckert creek. This time we turned left to head towards The Splash, an area which is normally narrow, but due to the low lying banks, spreads out into a large floodplain when the waters are high. First problem was a road bridge which we normally paddle under, this time we had to get out and do a short portage due to the water levels. Not much of a problem now that the weather was cooperating.

The Splash did not disappoint, as the creek spread out and we were soon paddling amongst flooded gum trees and bushes, admiring all the bird life which was now making the most of the sunshine after a few days of rain. Too soon we re-joined Katarapko creek, and had a stiff paddle back up to the camp-site, and a long drive home, broken by the customary bakery stop.

Launch at Panka Point

Paddling the Coorong – Parnka Point to Goolwa Sun 31 October – Tue 2 November 2021

I had been very keen to paddle the Coorong after reading about Mike and Tresh’s paddle in January 2021. We replicated their Salt Creek to Goolwa trip as a three-day trip in the club calendar for late October. Just when we were about to cancel the trip due to lack of bookings Matt Eldred booked. After a phone call we agreed on a plan to paddle the northern lagoon from Parnka Point to Goolwa (approximately 80km). Neither of us had paddled this part of the Coorong. After my paddle to Cattle Point with Mike, Tresh and Peter McLeod on the recent Snake Pit trip, I was keen to explore more, hopefully without the 35kn winds!

Getting there

Sailing in the Coorong

Kayak with a sail in the Coorong with the dunes in the background

We had transport (kindly arranged by Matt) from Strathalbyn to Parnka Point at 7:30am on Sunday 31 Oct. The countryside on my early morning drive looked great and judging by the crops, appeared to have had good rainfall. I arrived to Strathalbyn just after 7.30am, and we were soon on our way via the scenic route and a ferry crossing at Wellington. Coorong Park Rangers Chris Hannocks and John Gitchem (thanks to our Meningie member, Julie Palmer for the suggestion) advised that the water levels were the highest they had ever seen. Didn’t take long to get everything transferred and we were soon on our way. Our confidence increased as we observed more water in Pink Lake as we approached Meningie, so hopefully Coorong levels would be good as well.

Day One: Sunday 31 October

Arrived at Parnka Point about 9.30am ready for our first challenge – would everything fit into the kayaks?! Maybe we were not travelling so light after all, good to have a bit of contingency! Yes Tresh, I took some chai tea along as well as a nice slab of home-made focaccia to go with the cheese, and Matt brought some Green Ginger wine.

Looked a lovely day ahead of us, with only a hint of breeze, unfortunately from the north. Launching was easy, we set off about 10.30am just south of the Parnka Point Boat Ramp. Couldn’t resist getting a photo of the sign warning that cars were not to proceed any further. Yep, the Rangers were correct; plenty of water in the Coorong.

Shed in the Coorong

Shed in the Coorong

We spotted a couple of fishermen launching from the boat ramp, so Matt took the opportunity to ask about conditions. They were headed further south but confirmed we wouldn’t have a problem navigating The Needles. We paddled towards the Parnka Point Campground (discussing car camping opportunities on future trips) until we spotted what we thought was Needles Island. We had a perfect paddling day with a clear sky and calm water, great for paddling unknown waters with the channel clearly defined and easy to follow. There were sandbars, but easily spotted and avoided. The shallower water was covered in algae which did slow our progress somewhat and had to be occasionally cleared from paddles and kayak decks.

I kept having flashbacks from Mike and Tresh’s report, dreading having to drag our kayaks through the limestone reef around The Needles. We brought Matt’s Delta and my Prijon, so the last thing we wanted was a sharp limestone reef. The Kayak Gods must have been on our side as we paddled over the narrow channel with at least 0.5m of water. The Needles is well marked with a pole on the SW corner of Needles Island, and sections of the reef were clearly visible during our transit. We spotted several small birds foraging on the algae weed mat formed around the narrow channel. We became mesmerised by the scenery and calm conditions until the paddle blades encountered numerous limestone bommies.

The channel continued to be very pronounced and easily navigated, a stark contrast from Mike and Tresh’s experience. Aside from the waterbirds, we had the Coorong to ourselves, having left the one and only boat we encountered at the boat ramp. Wind was from NW around 5 to 6kn, so my sail remained stowed, however Matt managed to get some assistance at times after we cleared The Needles. The wind dropped mid-afternoon and changed to SSW from about 3pm, so we set the sails and sat back to enjoy the sand dunes rolling past. Only had about 5-6 kn from SSW but getting along at 6 to 7 km/hr. I said to Matt, with the sand dunes rolling by, it reminded me of a trip down the Nile River, just didn’t see any feluccas.

Around 1pm we spotted Camp Coorong, with several shacks visible from our mid channel position. Also passed a few well-established homesteads around the area. We had considered this as a start point, but after confirming water levels we opted for Parnka Point to check out the islands of North Lagoon – Rabbit Is, Snake Is and Needles Is. The scenery continued to improve, if this was at all possible as we paddled and sailed further north. The vegetation looked very healthy from the water, especially around some of the little bays we passed. Judging by the number of reedbeds, and bird populations these were freshwater soaks.

Setting camp

Our plan was to overnight opposite Long Point, which we reached around 5pm, so we selected a nice sandy beach and headed for shore. Not much room for tents so decided to continue north. Good decision as we would have had to share the beach with mozzies and an echidna that eagle eyed Matt spotted trying to escape our presence.

We were now north of Long Point and heading towards Nine Mile Point when we spotted what looked like a clearing behind a perfect beach, so in we went to explore! Discovered a perfect campsite area with plenty of room for several tents (noted for future trip!). Looking further we stumbled on a couple of old footings, signs of previous habitation, so continued exploring back into the clearing. We were blown away when we spotted an old shack nestled in the sand dune vegetation. Judging by the etching in the concrete footings (followed up with information from National Library), it was owned by George and Andy Ross, mulloway fishermen in the Coorong during the Great Depression years of the 1930’s. From a diary left in the shack it seems that it is gradually being restored by a group called the “Secret Shack Society”. Very important to retain these old buildings that depict early life on the Coorong.

The GPS showed that distance from Parnka Point was 37km, so not a bad day’s paddling with good assistance from our sails.

Still plenty of daylight so unpacked kayaks and set up camp, feeling very elated that we had discovered this little hideaway and a piece of SA history. Spent the evening talking about the highlights of the day and all the paddle options such as Car Camping at Parka Point or Long Point and exploring the section of the Coorong in more detail. Some of the dunes we passed were just stunning I will let the pictures speak for themselves. A very enjoyable evening, made even better with some cheese, focaccia bread, glass or two of red and some of Matt’s Green Ginger Wine. A very clear sky, so plenty of stars and satellites, much better than watching television.

Day Two: Monday 1 November

Woken up by sunrise just before 6am then got the day going with a nice cup of chai! No sign of wildlife around the campsite but plenty of fresh droppings around, so wallabies must have been grazing during the night. We did notice plenty of the small white snails glued to the tents and also on our PFDs. Also, Matt is now a bit more careful about putting his PFD on after discovering an interesting centipede who found a new home overnight. On the water about 9am, looking forward to another great day and wondering what we were going to see. The original plan was to make for Snake Pit, about 20km paddle, but opted for a shorter paddle to Lousy Jacks and enjoy the afternoon.

Coorong coast line

Coorong coast line

Managed to get some benefit from the sails with the 4 to 5kn NE winds – all good practice, especially with the Pacific Action sail. With the 28°C day and light breeze it was perfect for paddling the Coorong, the dunes were getting higher and more stunning as we approached Cattle Point. With the sails doing most of the work we were just mesmerised by the scenery – calm turquoise water, contrasted by green reeds from the freshwater soaks with a backdrop of golden sand dunes against the rich blue sky – wow! Landed at Cattle Point about 10.30am, while telling Matt about my last visit with Mike, Tresh and Peter McLeod – no 35kn winds this time. Just like last visit we were welcomed by a large flock of pelicans and smaller birds on the Point.

While Matt went climbing the dunes, I spent time recording this stunning location in a few photos and watching three fishermen on the point pulling in their nets, I assume for Coorong mullet. Unfortunately, they left before I had an opportunity to beg for dinner.

Matt returned after an interesting walk, all excited after discovering a large soak in between the dunes, dug down about 0.3m and found fresh water – good to remember if doing a solitary walk on the Coorong. Lousy Jacks was only around the point so back on water for leisurely paddle having a good close look at the shoreline around Cattle Point.

Soon had the tuart gums at Lousy Jacks in sight and made a beeline for the beach. We arrived before midday and just after fishermen had left – campfire was still warm and fish scales left around unfortunately. We selected our campsites either side of the tuart gums and set up camp. And then the mozzies arrived, not unexpected at Lousy Jacks, luckily we came prepared!

Setting camp

After getting settled, Matt decided on a walk across Younghusband Peninsula in search of cockles – about 1.6km across at this point. After making sure Matt had his phone, I settled into our lovely campsite enjoying the view while I read the “European Heritage of the Coorong” that Matt had brought along.

I breathed a sigh of relief when he returned safely. Looking very proud of himself with a small container with large Coorong cockles. I thought that was our dinner, but as we didn’t come prepared to cook cockles Matt tried to catch us a Coorong Mullet – we must have picked the wrong spot for fishing, although the pelicans seemed to be doing OK. Back to the dehydrated dinner again!

Another great evening under the stars and counting satellites, but turned in earlier on our second night as we knew the last day could be a challenging paddle, depending on the wind assistance.

Up early, at least I was! Matt took a bit longer as he didn’t get much sleep. He was visited by a Bull Seal during the night calling out for a mate. He tried getting up shouting and shinning his torch but to no avail! Check out the pics, the seal can be seen near Matt’s kayak. As if that wasn’t enough, apparently, we also had a fishing boat shining spotlights looking for a spot to cook their midnight snack. I obviously slept well, didn’t hear a thing!

Day Three: Tuesday 2 November

Back on water about 8.30am for our final day’s paddle to Goolwa, about 30km. Wind was forecast from NE to 18kn and again on our beam so would have to work hard with the sails. Needed to make the Barrage Lock by 4pm, so had a bit of flexibility depending on winds.

Real contrast on the water compared to last two days, overcast day, windier and gusty which made sailing a lot more challenging with the Pacific Action. Matt managed much better and I used the sail conservatively, not wanting to capsize.

Ended up getting more assistance from wind than expected, although we pretty well used the full width of the Coorong to get the best wind advantage. Bit of fun with the sandbars but no major problems.

We made good time and reached the Barrage Lock with 10 minutes to spare before it closed for lunch at 12.30pm, had to do a sprint on the final leg to get there! Short wait for a boat to come down from upstream, but wasn’t long before we cleared the Lock and made our way up towards Goolwa. Matt was on his phone arranging for his Dad to meet us at the Goolwa Wharf. It was about 1.30pm when we reached the small sandy beach just before the Wharf.

Over the three days we paddled 78km and managed to explore the northern lagoon of the Coorong in perfect days to see the Coorong at its best. Average speed was around 6km/hr with max run at 12km/hr. Not bad considering winds weren’t the most favourable. Hopefully with the Hume Dam currently being at capacity, we will have more water coming downstream with good opportunities for conducting a Salt Creek to Goolwa paddle in the new year.

Many thanks to Matt for keeping me company and organising the car shuttles, and particular thanks to Robert and Don for helping out. Enjoy the photos and keep an eye on the calendar for the next Coorong Trip.