Morning in Chowilla

Four days exploring the creeks in the Chowilla reserve, in the Riverland — 19-22 Aug 2023

From Plan A to Plan B

Enjoying the calmness of ChowillaThe original trip was planned to traverse the Lindsay River. But the high river levels put paid to that, as the whole Lindsay Island was closed to the public. Making the best of a bad situation, we changed the trip to the Chowilla area, where high water levels open up a lot of normally dry creeks.

We launched at midday on Saturday and crossed the Murray to find the entrance to Suders creek, which is the entrance to backwater area. This is normally a challenge, with the entrance to the creek being narrow and fast flowing, but this time the levels were high and the current very manageable, and we were soon through to Hypurna creek, which we followed up for a few kilometers before setting up a base camp where we would stay for the next three nights.

Setting camp for the trip

After setting up camp and relaxing for a bit, we went off for an afternoon paddle to check out if the short-cut through to Salt Creek was open, as we planned to take that route the next day. Luckily the normally dry creek was easily navigable so we didn’t have to change our plans. We then retired back to camp to start dinner and sit around the campfire solving important world issues.

Day 2

Next day was an early start as we didn’t have pack up the camp. We were soon paddling through wide creeks and flooded trees through to Salt Creek.  We followed it upstream for about 8km to a horseshoe lagoon which we normally bypass. Encouraged by the high water levels we decided to explore it. We were rewarded with yet another new creek which took us back to Salt Creek, cutting 4kms off our trip.

After a few hundred meters on Salt Creek we found an unmarked creek which was flowing in the right direction. We decided to throw caution to the wind and set off down it into the unknown. Flowing water is always a good sign as it has to go somewhere. We were pleasantly surprised to find ourselves ending up in Hypurna Creek, which is where we were planning on going. After a gentle 5km paddle downstream we ended up back at camp. We were soon relaxing around the campfire discussing the next day’s paddle.

Day 3

Lunch break before paddling the MurrayNext morning, after a quick breakfast, we set off back up Hypurna Creek to do another circular loop in a different area. We passed the entrance to a shortcut to Wilperna Creek which had been planning on using, only to find that the water level was not quite high enough to make it passable. Disappointed, we carried on up to Salt Creek to have a mid-morning break and talk about our options. After a bit of discussion we decided to continue to the Murray, and follow that around to the entrance to Wilperna Creek.

Normally we try to avoid the main channel of the Murray, too big and too busy. But this time we found the river pretty much deserted. A relaxed paddle had us going down the river at 10 km/h. There was a lot of water in the river! At that pace we were soon through Higgins Cutting and did the 8kms to Wilpurna Creek with no trouble at all.

Wilpurna Creek is one of my favourite creeks, narrow and winding, with not too many obstacles. But it can be hard to find, as the entrance is small and is just downstream from the NSW border. Unfortunately the sign for the border is about ½ a kilometre away from the actual border, on the wrong side of the creek. Luckily my trusty GPS had the entrance marked with a waypoint. We practically floated down Wilperna Creek, around fallen trees, escorted by curious emus and seeing the occasionally kangaroo, and were soon back at camp again.

Chris had bought his yabbie nets along (I don’t know how he fits it all in his kayak), and had got lucky while we had been away. That night he treated all of us to some fresh yabbie meat snacks.

Day 4

Salt creek navigationOvernight our luck changed, and we had a bit of rain. Nothing heavy, but just enough to turn the ground into sticky mud, 10 steps were enough to add a few kilograms of the stuff to your shoes. After breakfast the camp was packed up quickly and carefully, trying to avoid most of the mud, and stopping occasionally to scrape the worst of off your shoes. Most of the gear went into the kayak reasonably cleanly, but the kayak cockpits ended up decidedly brown.

We paddled back down Hypurna Creek, aided by the current, paddling through trees which normally line the side of the creek. Some paddlers decided to do the portage back the Murray, while the rest decided to try paddling back up Suders. The portage point is well signposted, but we couldn’t find any of the signs, can only think that they must have been underwater. Kayaks were soon carried across to the Murray. The rest of the paddlers set of to try our luck going up Suders Creek. This proved to be an anti-climax, as it was an easy paddle back to the Murray and the cars.

We quickly threw  all the gear back in the cars, loaded the kayaks on the roof and put on some presentable clothes.  We then headed back to Renmark and the nearest bakery to indulge in a cup of hot coffee and some unhealthy treats before heading back to Adelaide, and a lot of washing of kayaks and gear.

Overall statistics (Links point to GPX track files)

Saturday 19 August – Customs House to Campground, recce in the arvo – 11.95Km

Sunday 20 August – Salt Creek, Horseshoe Lagoon, Hypurna Creek – 24.1Km

Monday 21 August – Salt Creek, Wilpurna Creek, Murray River – 26.0Km

Tuesday 22 August – Campground, up Suders creek back to Customs House – 7.45Km

Cave near Stansbury

Plan B Paddle – Port Vincent to Edithburgh and then Troubridge Island — 27 – 29 May 2023

Early Arrival at Port Vincent

The original Plan A was to paddle out to Wardang Island and spend a couple of nights camped on Goose Island but the weather failed to cooperate, so Phil as Trip Leader suggested a Plan B, paddling on the eastern side of Yorke Peninsula from Port Vincent to Stansbury and then Edithburgh while car camping at caravan parks and visiting the local pubs for dinner. Then on Monday a return trip to Troubridge Island if conditions were suitable.

Winds were forecast W to WNW over weekend, generally below 15Kn so the east coast of Yorkes offered more protection by paddling close inshore. We ended up with 5 members booked from the original 11: Phil, Simon, Abelardo, Giresh and Mark opted to explore the coastline we hadn’t paddled previously.

It was good to form our own opinions of this section of the coast after hearing varied opinions.

Phil and I drove down on Friday and checked into Port Vincent Caravan Park, a well setup park with unpowered sites protected from westerly winds.

Squid Snitzel at Pt Vincent

Squid Schnitzel at Pt Vincent

Once settled in we took the opportunity to catch up with local Adelaide Canoe Club members Carol and Robert.  We discussed possible Club involvement in the Salt Water Classic event planned for April next year, when a flotilla of wooden boats and kayaks will be sailing, rowing, motoring, and paddling from Stansbury to Port Vincent, taking advantage of the flood tide on the day. Robert took the opportunity to show us his wooden boat collection which was very impressive (as you can see in the pictures).

Carol and Robert offered to help with the car shuttle when we arrived at Stansbury and also recommended the Dalrymple Hotel there, but emphasised that we had to make a reservation –  nothing like local knowledge!

An easy walk to the Ventnor Hotel on Friday night – excellent squid schnitzel, comparable to our visits to the St Kilda Hotel when paddling Barker Inlet.

Day 1: Port Vincent to Stansbury 

Paddlers before launching in Pt Vincent

Paddlers before launching in Pt Vincent

The rest of our group arrived at the Port Vincent Yacht Club about 10:30am on Saturday, a nice easy location to launch just adjacent to the Port Vincent Kiosk – very handy for coffee and a range of seafood – and noted for future trips.

Robert and Carol soon joined us and after introductions and a couple of pictures we were all on water about 11.40am. They had arrived in their 16´ ‘Double Ender’ wooden boat, lovingly built by Robert from plans by Doug Hyland of Maine, USA which were styled after the lobster boats used in the area about 100 years ago. The day was a bit overcast and wind around 10kn W so best option was to hug the coast as we paddled south.

Robert and Carol easily kept up with the kayaks and looked great on water, reinforcing the attraction of the concept for the Salt Water Classic paddle with a range of boats and kayaks. With sunshine breaking through the cloud cover, we spotted a stingray then a pod of dolphins, so the omens promised a good paddle!

Rob and Carol joining the start of paddle at Pt Vincent

Rob and Carol joining the start of paddle at Pt Vincent

Around 1pm we said farewell then worked our way into the cliffs, admiring the stunning formations which only improved as we paddled south. Erosion over the millennia has formed a beautiful landscape along this section of the coast.

We encountered several overhanging rocks and selected one that looked stable and took the opportunity for a group photo.

Paddling close inshore we had to remain alert for limestone outcrops that just popped up unexpectedly – reminded me of our recent trip to Parnka Point on the Coorong.

The first stage of the paddle was turning out to be above expectations and we made several stops along the way to admire the cliff formations, we even spotted a beach that might be suitable for an overnight stop with the right tide.

We knew we were close to Stansbury when we spotted the jetty and shortly after there was Robert on the boat ramp breakwater taking photos as we approached. After being entertained by the numerous seals resting on the breakwater we continued along the township coastline of Stansbury, arriving about 3.30pm to a very kayak-friendly caravan park with a nice sandy beach, perfect for landing and launching kayaks just in front of the unpowered campsites.

Arriving to Stansbury

Arriving to Stansbury

Wasn’t long before we had checked in and met by Robert with his kind offer to ferry drivers back to Port Vincent to collect our vehicles. Phil booked us into the caravan park while waiting for our return with the cars and camping gear.

We quickly set up camp overlooking the beach, before heading off in search of the Dalrymple Hotel, we couldn’t muck around as we had a table booked for 5.45pm – yes, the restaurant is popular!

Once again, squid schnitzel was on the menu. Strolled back along the beach to the camp kitchen for a chat with supper and discuss the day’s adventure and plans for the next day and then into our waiting tents for a well-deserved rest.

Day 2: Stansbury to Edithburgh

A bit of wind and rain overnight but tents still standing in the morning, although Phil decided to take his tarp down overnight before it blew away. After a quick breakfast our first task was to ferry all the cars to Edithburgh with Abelardo driving us back to the launch site.

Headed inshore after clearing the sandbar, more wind at start of paddle but good protection inshore, the stunning scenery continued.

The Accolade II, from Adelaide Brighton Cement

The Accolade II, from Adelaide Brighton Cement

Wasn’t long before we spotted a ship in the distance at Klein Point, moored close inshore. It turned out to be the Accolade II, the Adelaide Brighton Cement (ABC) ship that transports limestone to Birkenhead at Port Adelaide about 4 times per week. We later heard that Simon’s Dad used to be an Officer on the Accolade I and II as well as the Troubridge. Simon has fond memories of attending Christmas parties at ABC as a “little tacker”, so this trip ended up being a very significant paddle down memory lane for Simon.

As we progressed south the coastal formations changed noticeably, with much more of a limestone appearance and not the coloured sedimentary layers.

The next coastal feature was the Lime Kiln Ruin at Wool Bay, looking almost like a small temple when we approached. It is the only one remaining of the six (6) built to produce quicklime by heating limestone, an important ingredient in mortar and brick making in the late 19th Century. The Kiln operated until the 1950’s.

Limestone near Stansbury

Limestone near Stansbury

The next significant structure we encountered was the Port Giles Jetty – 340m in length and Phil said sharks loitered around the end (might be an old surfer’s myth!) so we took the shortcut close inshore. The Jetty and adjacent storage silos are used to store and ship grain from the Lower Yorke Peninsula.

Our next challenge was a crossing of 4 to 5km across Coobowie Bay, in what looked like a 15kn westerly wind, possibly gusting higher occasionally. No more protection from the stunning cliffs so time to put some effort into our paddling. Coobowie Bay is home to the local oyster industry and according to Carol also serves great meals at the local pub – perhaps next trip! We opted for a short stop at a boat launch site prior to tackling the crossing.

Back on water we set course for a prominent group of pine trees in the vicinity of Edithburgh. As expected, the crossing was just a head down slog but we soon made out the brightly coloured Edithburgh Tidal Pool as we approached the shore and the wind eased.

Lime Kiln Ruin at Wool Bay

Lime Kiln Ruin at Wool Bay

We paddled past the Jetty then Boat Harbour and on to Sultana Point Jetty and a small beach we had previously selected as a landing point. After checking in we had a short portage up to a nice grassy unpowered campsite well sheltered from any southerly wind.

Too far to walk to the pub so Abelardo with the tidiest car provided a taxi service. We dined at the Edithburgh Hotel on Edith Street, again a very popular hotel and three (3) of us can recommend the slow cooked lamb shanks.

A stunning evening, couldn’t hear any wind or rain overnight until a light shower just before 7am.

Day 3: Troubridge Island Return

Sail up on our way to Troubridge Island

Sail up on our way to Troubridge Island

Hardly any wind overnight and only light rain before we poked our heads from the tents, very excited about paddling to Troubridge Island for morning tea and coffee, and the conditions looked great with only a light westerly breeze, probably below 6Kn for the 8Km crossing.

The island was named by Captain Flinders in 1802 after the Commander of the Fleet at the Battle of the Nile, Sir Thomas Troubridge.

We rushed through breakfast, loaded the kayaks and moved to the Boat Ramp for our departure. No mucking around, we were keen to be on water to take advantage of the conditions. Things only got better as we approached the Island and wasn’t long before we were paddling in tropical-looking turquoise waters in full sun. The real extent of the shoal was visible about 1.5Km out, tide was approaching high water mark with at least 1m of water as we approached the Lighthouse – perfect!

Troubridge Island

Sail up on our way to Troubridge Island

We were amazed at how extensive the shoal spreads around the Island, very apparent how vessels came to grief in the past.  According to Google there were 33 wrecks and groundings until the Lighthouse was constructed in 1856.

Even managed to try out Phil’s 1m² Pacific Action sail with the light breeze, a lot more relaxing than my 1.5m² but the larger sail would have been perfect with the 6Kn westerly.

The noise of numerous birds greeted us as we approached, we could see a mass of them nesting on the sandbar on the SW end of the Island.

The bright red freshly painted lighthouse stood out, contrasting the turquoise waters and white sands of the shoal.

We set up on the table in front of the Keepers Cottage with an amazing view and the constant sound of the birdlife. I will let the pictures tell the story! How lucky we were with the weather and our visit has inspired us to investigate the possibily of arranging a couple of days’ overnight stay for a future visit.

Coffee and cake at Troubridge Island

Coffee and cake at Troubridge Island

After coffee, cake and a few pictures to capture the moment we were back on water for the return paddle, but not without a circumnavigation to appreciate the size of the bird population.

Wind had picked up on the return as forecast so we settled in for a heads down paddle with the Water Tower as reference point until we got in closer and spotted the boat ramp.

We made good time and were soon back in the safety of the harbour, Abelardo leading the way (having decided to use the last stage for a bit of pace training).

Back in harbour about 2.30pm, Giresh and Phil decided to show off with a couple of celebratory rolls – judging by their reactions the water was cold!  We landed at the boat ramp and soon had the kayaks loaded before heading back to Adelaide.

Giresh left for the west coast of Yorkes for another 2 days of paddling while Abelardo, Phil and Mark set off for the return drive to Adelaide.

Our last day’s paddle completed a perfect trip exploring a section of the coast that we hadn’t paddled before, but a trip we will definitely repeat. Lots of stunning scenery and great to visit the towns of Port Vincent, Stansbury and Edithburgh and compare the squid schnitzels along the Peninsula.

It was great to catch up with club members Carol and Robert and we appreciated the assistance in shuttling cars as well as local advice. Both are involved in preparing for the Salt Water Classic in 2024 for Wooden Boats and Kayaks intending to catch the tide from Stansbury to Port Vincent. Rest assured we would love to be involved and the weekend of 13/14th April 2024 is now in the Club calendar, so consider the date for your long term planning.

Overall Statistics


A fantastic trip so very close to Adelaide CBD with lots of options available, including staying on Troubridge Island. A great future alternative back-up for Wardang Island’s trips or just to add to our paddling calendar.

A great Plan B Phil, well done!

Click on the maps below to download the GPX files

GPS Port Vincent to Stansbury

GPS Port Vincent to Stansbury

Stansbury to Edithburgh

Stansbury – Edithburgh

Parnka Point Car Camping – 6-7 May 2023

Arrival at Parnka Point – Pelican Campground

It’s been a while since Adelaide Canoe Club (ACC) has car-camped at Parnka Point, so I was keen to visit the area to experience the high water levels (after last visiting here with Matt Eldred in Oct 2021 when we sailed from Parnka Point to Goolwa). This location was a favourite of Eddie Andriessen so I was keen resurrect the Car Camping tradition.

With fingers crossed for some good Autumn weather, I had earlier booked Campsite No 1 at Pelican Campground, providing room for 14 campsites and semi-sheltered protection should the forecast wind and rain arrive. We had a good take-up with Peter McLeod, Mark Loram, Charlie and Marina Walker, Abelardo Pardo, Berny Lohmann and Terry Holder booking for the weekend. I was pretty excited about this trip, as National Parks had advised that there was plenty of water and prolific birdlife in the area, particularly pelicans and ducks.

We all arrived at various times during Friday afternoon and set up camp, keen to get settled before rain arrived. Hopefully not much following the downpour on the drive from Adelaide. Berny saved the day by bringing along his recently purchased gazebo – this made our stay nice and cosy. During our stay we checked out other campsites and agreed 5 and 7 also have potential, particularly when no wind is forecast and with easy access to the water.

Rain overnight which along with the sound of surf made for authentic autumn camping on the Coorong.  The forecast 17Kn SW had not appeared on Friday and we were presented with very calm conditions in the morning although an overcast day.

Paddling South Lagoon to Long Island

Bit of a slow start after casual breakfast, on water about 9.30am to meet Peter at the Boat Ramp in his plywood Sabre dinghy, Boat No 1461. Slight breeze from the SW had built up, enough for Peter to make headway and practice his tacking. It wasn’t long before the sea kayaks were leading the way down the south lagoon towards Long Island with Peter following.

The aim was to paddle south and explore the cutting at Hack Point and hopefully circumnavigate Cow and Long Island. Sunshine was occasionally breaking through so all looked promising.

We had a short stop at the derelict Coorong Wilderness Lodge. It is still in pretty good condition but could use a refurbishment. Stunning views of the South Lagoon.

We continued paddling south, trying our best to avoid the limestone “bommies” that seemed to pop up when least expected.

Peter under tow

It was not possible for Peter to stay with the kayaks so we agreed to meet up around Hack Point. The cutting just south was easily navigable so we continued further south along the eastern side of Cow Island. Too cold for a beach stop so we had the occasional on-water snack and refresh. Nice sandy beaches on the eastern side of both Cow and Long Islands:  perhaps next trip?

The small channel between Cow and Long Islands also looked navigable, but we continued further south around Long Island, leaving Round and Swan Islands for the future.

Back from Long Island

After rounding Long Island we made our way back towards Hack Point and hopefully Peter and his dinghy. It wasn’t long before Abelardo spotted Peter in one of the small bays opposite Bull Island – apparently becalmed. Abelardo and Charlie went in to investigate and soon had Peter under tow. Once they had re-joined the group Berny also helped out with the tow.

Safely returned to the boat ramp we left Peter to get his dingy loaded up and head back to the campsite.

Still plenty of daylight remaining, so Charlie and Peter decided to explore Bluff Island in the north lagoon while others relaxed at the campsite.  I explored the Sandy Beach walk from campsite No 5, further north towards Avocet Campground – birds everywhere!

Lovely evening cooking our meals under the Luci lights from the protection of Berny’s Gazebo. The plan for Sunday was to explore the north lagoon, weather permitting, but probably not The Needles as a 14Kn SW was forecast about 3.30pm.

We must have had a good day’s paddling as most of the group turned in by 8pm.

Paddling North Lagoon to Rabbit Island

Sunday Departure – still Perfect

More rain overnight but not as heavy – less water in my tent! On water around 9.30am, having agreed on a more realistic departure time, Peter opting to paddle his kayak this time. We had agreed to explore Bluff and Rabbit Islands following Charlie and Peter’s successful circumnavigation on Saturday. As you can see from the departure picture, the Coorong was like glass with no sign of wind. Winds were forecast to pick up mid-afternoon, so the planned return paddle to The Needles was assigned for another trip.

With the constant sound of breaking waves each night, we were keen to check out the beach, using the Cockle Fishers track just south of Hells Gate. An easy paddle back past the boat ramp to a small beach used to unload vehicles and equipment, and perfect for landing our kayaks.

The first interesting encounter we had was the Cockler’s car graveyard adjacent to the track, with only a few that appeared to be in working order. We were soon at the beach with the track only about 500m across the well used dunes. Plenty of cockle signs, either from an old coastline or aboriginal middens. We could see breaking waves almost at horizon level, showing how dangerous the Coorong coastline can be to kayakers attempting circumnavigation.

Back on the water

Pelican Squadron

Too chilly standing on the beach, so we were soon back on water and making our way to the eastern side of Bluff Island. We still had the sun breaking through the clouds, only interrupted by several flocks of pelicans flying in formation – stunning, they seemed to go on forever. I have never seen so many pelicans on previous trips and this hopefully sets the trend for future trips.

The pelicans must have attracted the rain, as the clouds released on our kayaks, leaving a nice pattern on the still waters. Not very heavy and it wasn’t long before the sun broke through again.

We could see clear water on the eastern side of Rabbit Island. The sound of cars from the Princess Highway were now audible as we hugged the east side of the Coorong waters. We found our way out of the little bay (thanks to Charlie and Google Maps) on the south of Rabbit Island. We eventually found the shallow channel leading us around the northern end of the island. Plenty of shallow areas with jagged limestone outcrops.

Snake and Needle Islands were now so close and very tempting but not for this trip. The wind had started to pick up. We lifted the pace and sought protection from the south westerly from the lee side of Bluff Island for a short rest before heading back to camp. Timing was perfect as we were about 100m away from shore when the full front arrived.

Return Trip

We had already packed up tents and loaded non-paddling gear so didn’t take long to wash and load kayaks. Then, on our way by 2pm and heading for Meningie Bakery for a hot coffee and debrief.

May not have been perfect weather, but much better than forecast and some very pleasant time on water. We ended up paddling 17Km exploring the south lagoon on Saturday and then 16Km for Sunday’s paddle. Not a bad effort and will definitely repeat this trip.

The Coorong is looking great with a very obvious increase in the bird population. We returned with the promise of some great trips in the next 12 months.

Mark Loram

Click in the maps at the bottom of the page to download the corresponding GPX files.

Long Island Paddle Sat 6 May 2023


Through Chowilla

Four day downstream meander in the creeks of the Riverland, 7- 10 Apr 2023

The River is Green

Five kayakers headed up to the Riverland to inspect the aftermath of the recent floods by paddling all the backwaters from the Chowilla Reserve back to just before Renmark, a distance of 68kms. Happily we can report that the river levels are back to normal, most businesses are open, and the whole area is looking magnificent: I have never seen it so green with so much bird life. If you can, get up there to have a look, the floods have done wonders for the countryside.

Good Friday

Charlie in the MurrayWe started our trip on Friday lunchtime from the launch spot near the Customs House Houseboats, crossed the river to get into Suders creek and off the Murray as soon as possible. Suders creek was its normal fast-flowing self, but now (thanks to the floods) with a new tree stuck right in the middle of the channel at the fastest spot, with associated eddies. This resulted in one capsize and a few near misses, not a good start to the trip! After getting organised again, we continued down the creek, avoiding the many snags to set up camp on Chowilla creek.

Leisure Saturday

A leisurely start next morning saw us paddling slowly down Chowilla creek, assisted by the current while we watched the scenery. A pair of wedge tailed eagles was spotted, along with many straw-necked ibis and the more common sacred ibis. We were also fortunate to see a lot of Black-tailed native hens, which we have never seen before. Apparently they are nomadic and take advantage of temporary wetlands, so the conditions after the floods must be ideal for them.

At the end of Chowilla creek we reached the Murray and turned left for a few kilometres to look for the next creek which would take us into Hunchee, and then RalRal creek. We stopped at the Chowilla Woolshed for lunch, where the full extent of the flooding became apparent; we were sitting on the bank at least 2 meters above the river, and could see the flood marks another 1 meter up on a building. Trying to estimate how wide the river would have been at the level was truly scary, I’m sure it must have been difficult to even find the main channel of the Murray at that level.

A Short Shower on Sunday

The third day dawned cool and overcast as the others had, but this time we were treated a short shower of rain, luckily we were all in our kayaks with wet weather gear on so we didn’t get much wetter than we already were. After turning off into RalRal creek we had a short detour to have a look at Lake Woolpolool, but the water levels were already too low to get over the regulator and into the lake itself. Maybe next time.

Portage in ChowillaJust after that there was a bit of excitement where the creek narrowed into almost a small rapid under a low bridge, with a tree waiting in the river downstream. With memories of Suders creek still fresh in our minds, some of us opted to do a short portage to avoid the obstacle, while the rest of the group took it in turns to carefully paddle through. Luckily it wasn’t as bad as it looked and no-one else went swimming.

After a leisurely paddle down the RalRal Wide Waters (which is actually a lake wider than the Murray itself), we found the entrance to Nelbuck creek and set up camp for the night. Peter put out his yabbie net and managed to supplement dinner with 2 nice size yabbies, although cooking them in a small hiking stove was a bit of a challenge.

Wrap up Monday

Next morning we continued down the creek back into the Murray and had a brief stop at the old Woolenook Internment Camp from World War II. Nothing much is left of it now except for a few plaques, but worth a look.

Another kilometre or so down the Murray and we found the imaginatively name Inlet creek, which we followed into Horseshoe Lagoon, and from there navigated our way through the creeks and lagoons back to Canoe-The-Riverland, where Ruth and Jim had kindly let us leave one of our cars for the shuttle back to our launch spot.

If you feel like a paddle in the area, be sure to contact them. They do organised tours and kayak hire, and have the best maps of the area:

Eildon white water, 9-13 January 2023

Many ACC paddlers will associate the annual Eildon White Water trip with Wayne and Libby. Wayne has been involved in instructing on the trips since 1985 and Libby joined in 1990. Wayne says this year’s trip was their last, so we take this opportunity on behalf of all those paddlers that have learnt and enjoyed white water paddling because of their instruction to say a big THANK YOU.

First Day

The river level this year was lower than usual, which exposed previously covered rock features and gave us many options of eddies and waves to play in. Scott started us all doing some warm up exercises in small eddies above the main area, perfecting our edging, strokes and body position before coming down to the main area to spread out and play. Wayne broke his usual rule and tackled The Sump rapid on the first day, successfully. The floods earlier in the year rearranged The Sump rocks so once again the wave was different. Monday and Tuesday saw us all enjoy and hone our skills in the rapids alongside the caravan park.


On Wednesday we travelled up to Big River. The level there was higher than our usual. It was 0.6m, so we didn’t hit as many rocks on the way down. The narrow river made negotiating some rapids quite technical, which was fun. Unfortunately, flooding left too much debris in the Slalom Rapid to make it feasible for us to paddle it so we portaged around and then played in the wave below the rapid before continuing on to the pull out point near the road bridge. The scenery around Big River makes for a very enjoyable day’s paddling.


Thursday morning we took the boats up to the dam wall and had an enjoyable paddle down, through the S Bend rapid and back to the caravan park. Our last afternoon was filled with playing around the top features then Wayne, Scott, Simon, Steve and Charlie progressed down to enjoy The Sump. There were a few capsizes, some rolls and only a couple of rescues.

This was a great week paddling white water. Thanks to our instructors, Scott and Wayne, we improved our skills and had lots of fun. Think about joining us next year to experience the exhilaration of white water paddling.

Kayaks in the beach in Coffin Bay

Coffin Bay — 7-11 November 2022

Head wind

The weather forecast for the week at Coffin Bay National Park was looking great as Bernard, Francis, Charlie, Marina and Anne set off from Coffin Bay township on Monday 7th November. With a 10-15 knot north easterly wind we paddled along the cliff edge on the northern side of the Bay We gained some advantage from the easterly component and sheltered from the northerly aspect until we crossed Mount Dutton Bay. The wind hit us again as we crossed above The Brothers Islands and made our way along the coast to Black Springs campsite. It wasn’t long

Seal behind a 2 person kayak with two sails up

Seal playing with the kayak at Coffin Bay

before we had set up camp and were relaxing.

Trying to get to Point Longnose

The plan for Tuesday was to paddle around Point Longnose and make our way to Morgans Landing camp. However, the forecast calm wind turned into at least 15 knots from the north and the swell was predicted to be about 2m. We battled into the head wind through the oyster farm to Point Longnose and beached the kayaks on the more sheltered side. Francis and Marina looked after the boats while Bernard, Charlie and Anne went to check conditions on the exposed side. The wind was very strong and it was whipping up waves which would have been breaking side-on to us along Seven Mile beach.

Back top Black Springs to see the eclipse

To continue would have given us about 12 km of very difficult paddling so we decided to retreat back to Black Springs. While we were checking conditions around Point Longnose a large wave and strong gust launched Charlie’s kayak back into the sea and quickly took it out of reach. Marina jumped into her kayak and managed to grab it but without a tow line to return it to the sandbar. She was stuck in waist deep water with a deep trench between her and the sandbar. We needed to work out how to reunite Charlie and his kayak. Bernard and Frances managed to ‘deck carry’ Charlie out to Marina and then it was easy to get everyone back into kayaks.

Moon eclipse in Coffin Bay

Moon eclipse in Coffin Bay

The strong northerly wind made sailing back a great option for those with sails. Anne and Marina decided to go around the coast while Bernard, Francis and Charlie planned to sail directly back. Luckily we did a radio check before we split the group and we had not gone far when we had radio contact that Charlie’s rudder wasn’t working and we collected together on the beach for repairs. That sorted we returned to camp, more or less as a group with some sailing nearer camp. In the evening as we walked along the beach we noticed the moon rising, but it didn’t look right. We checked Google and discovered we were seeing a total eclipse of the moon in progress.

Heading back

Wednesday’s winds were predicted to be even stronger and we woke up to rough seas and about 27 knot winds so we opted for a bushwalking day and visited the lookout to Black Rocks in Avoid Bay. We walked a little further along the cliffs and found an enormous Osprey nest perched on a rocky island, with the resident bird standing on top of it.

The wind forecast for Thursday was a westerly (tail wind returning to Coffin Bay) and Friday was back to easterly (head wind returning to Coffin Bay) so it didn’t take much discussion to pick Thursday as our last day. With a good tail wind we made our way along the coast then across to The Brothers Islands to check on the birds and seals there. There was one seal that swam around our kayaks checking us out as we photographed it.

Multi-day kayak camping trip in the backwaters of the Murray river in the Chowilla reserve — 14 October 2022

Water Everywhere

There is a lot of water in the Murray at the moment. So much so that all the campsites in the parks are closed due to flooding. We even considered  cancelling this trip. So glad we didn’t. Murray river may be high and flowing too strongly to paddle easily. But all the backwaters are even higher, with easy paddling and lots of normally dry creeks now easily navigable

The launch from near the Border Cliffs Campground was easy thanks to the high water levels. No scrambling down steep banks! We paddled slowly across the river as the current took us downstream to the entrance to Suders Creek. This creek is normally narrow and fast-flowing, and can be challenging. This time it was wide and easy. The usual obstacles were under water and we could paddle in amongst the trees that were normally high and dry on the banks.

From there we headed up Salt Creek and took advantage of the high water to investigate a normally dry creek. This route took us back to Hypurna Creek via some newly created wetlands. An unexpected treat was spotting a pair of wedge-tailed eagles, with what looked like a newly built nest. No sign of chicks, but it was hard to tell with the nest being so high. A short paddle up Hypurna Creek and we reached our campsite for the next two nights. We quickly put up tents, chairs and tables and we settled in to relax for the rest of the afternoon.

The Big Loop

Setting up camp

Next day was a relaxed start as we did not have to pack up camp. We did a nice easy circular route planned with unloaded kayaks, to bring us back to the same campsite. Started paddling slowly up Hypurna creek, which was sometimes confusing due to all the new channels which were now open, thank goodness for the trusty GPS. We were accompanied for a short period by some emus, which seemed curious more than alarmed, and allowed us to get really close. I guess they didn’t know what to make of these brightly coloured things floating on the water.  When we reached Salt Creek we opted to take the longer route to the Murray, this is normally not navigable without a portage due to a causeway. This time there was no sign of the causeway or the bridge which were marked on the map.

We reached the Murray River, paddled a whole 100m downstream, and went back into the other entrance to Salt Creek. Must be the shortest distance I’ve ever paddled on the Murray. Our aim was to get back to a small creek which was not on the map, but now had plenty of water and was flowing from Salt Creek in the direction of Wilperna Creek, which was where we needed to go.

Wilperna Creek is normally a small, winding, snag choked place, today it was a broad, open river, and we made good time following the current downstream towards our campsite. All went well until a kilometre before the turnoff to the campsite, where we inadvertently took a wrong turn into yet another creek which wasn’t on the map. We soon realised our mistake, but the creek was flowing in the right direction, so we continued along and magically popped out into the right creek just above our campsite.

The Scenic Route

Paddling Hypurna Creek

Next day the camp was quickly packed up and everyone was feeling good. We decided to take a more scenic route back to the cars. We paddled down Hypurna Creek which, in places, resembled a lake rather than a creek, and spent our time trying to pick out the normal course of the creek amongst all the flooded trees. Then we bypassed the normal portage back to the Murray, and also Suders Creek (which we could have easily paddled up in the current conditions), and continued down Slaney Creek for another 3 kms to a small creek which joined up with the Murray.

We had never paddled this creek before due to the imposing regulator at the entrance, which is normally impassable without dragging kayaks up steep banks and through thick bush. This time the water had bypassed the regulator, and we all paddled past without even getting out of our kayaks.

Back in the Murray, we crossed over and hugged the bank out of the main current as we paddled the last kilometre back to the cars. Getting the laden kayaks out of the water was easy thanks to the conveniently high water levels. We were soon packed up and heading to Renmark for the customary debrief at the bakery.

Map and GPX file

Click in the image below to access the map of the trip and its corresponding GPX file

Wilperna and Hypurna Creeks

Winter day paddles at Kingston-On-Murray/Loch Luna — 13 August 2022

It was a cold, rainy weekend in Adelaide. Up in the Riverland, we had a rain-free, mostly sunny (but still cold) weekend kayaking on the Murray backwater around Loch Luna.

Overarching in the Murray

Saturday morning we all met up at 10am on the river front of the Kingston On Murray Caravan Park, where we would be staying. It is a very convenient and safe launching spot, being on the park grounds, and the managers are always very helpful, a recommended place to stay if you want to visit the area:

Wooden Rowboat

New member Carol brought her husband along with his gorgeous hand-made wooden rowboat, which despite some misgivings, kept up with the kayaks with no trouble, and managed the narrow channels easily. The Murray is flowing really fast at the moment, thanks to all the rain they have been having in the rest of the country, and we made our slowly upstream for a few kilometres before reaching the entrance to the relatively still waters of Nockburra Creek.

We made our way slowly up the maze of backwater creeks up to Loch Luna, where we stopped for lunch just as the sun came out from behind a cloud. Perfect timing. After lunch we continued through Loch Luna to the Murray River for a look, before finding another backwater channel to take us back to where we started, and from there we took advantage of the strong flow to let the Murray River take us back to the campground.

Canoe Adventures

Relaxing in the Murray

We met up with Kym from Canoe Adventures while relaxing in the campsite, and had a long chat about the current state of the river and picked up some tips for Sundays paddle. They hire kayaks and run guided trips of the area, and are a goldmine of information about the local conditions if you ever want to visit up there: After a lovely meal in the Cobdogla club (country restaurants really give you a big serving ), we retired back to the campground for the night, with some braver souls camping out, while the wiser ones had hired a cabin.

Sunday morning was lovely and sunny. A bit cloudy over slightly as we set off again, this time to explore Chambers Creek, which eventually leads into Lake Bonny. Have paddled all the way there once, but it is too long a paddle to do in a morning.  So, we contented ourselves with just meandering around the different islands of reeds. We enjoyed the scenery for a few hours before making our way back to the cars, and head off back to Adelaide, interrupted for the customary pie stop at the bakery of course.

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

Ningaloo Reef, six day kayak trip out of Exmouth, WA — 31 July 2022

By:  Kaye & Stephen Parnell

Ningaloo Trip WA


The Ningaloo Marine Park is located on the north west coastline of Western Australia and is designated a World Heritage listed site due to its incredible biodiversity. On this trip we spent five days paddling and snorkeling between the reef and the beach and it was planned that we would land at pre-determined beach sites. The weather had other ideas.



We were picked up at 3.15pm from our hotel for transfer to the Cape Range National Park with a detour to the Exmouth Adventure Kayaks depot to collect the camping gear along with wet suits, hats, rashies and other snorkeling gear plus dry bags for our personal gear. EVERYTHING – food, water (in bladders) had to be carried on kayaks. We filled the hatches at the front and rear with our gear, put the communal food and sundries in the centre hatch and then strapped down more gear on the top of the centre hatch.  The group numbered 11 keen paddlers plus our two guides to travel in the five double Sea Bear Packhorse kayaks and three singles.  The double kayaks were big and heavy and took a minimum of 6 people to carry unloaded.

The first night at Yardie Creek 86 kms from Exmouth was a permanent camp site of tin shed shelter with rustic sleepers made into a large table with bench seating with a luxurious “drop dunny” facility! Tents were pitched and after a delicious dinner of baked fish and salad we disappeared into our snug sleeping bags lulled to sleep by the booming of waves breaking on the Ningaloo Reef.


Resting in a beach at Ningaloo

The day started with us carrying the kayaks through the sand dunes before loading them and heading into the waiting challenge of the Indian Ocean. The plan included an “average” day with 3-4 hours of paddling and with time for snorkeling. But our first paddling day had very strong head wind of 25 knot. White-capped waves greeted us as we launched off the beach. After 2.5 hours paddling and rain clouds rolling up from the south we had covered a grand total of just over 2 kms before the guides called a stop on a narrow beach fronted by sand dunes for a rest and rethink.  It was a very tough paddle and we were very grateful for the experience of our Sunday morning peer paddles with Matt at Semaphore.  Our guides managed to get a weather report that predicted wind and rain increasing until midnight so tents were hurriedly pitched in the little shelter provided by the small dunes and after a quick lunch of wraps and salad with heavy rain arriving we spent the rest of the day “holed up” in our little tents. We emerged briefly at dusk for a delicious meal cooked and eaten huddled under a canvas shelter held up by paddles before we all quickly retired to sleep out a night of driving wind and rain.


Miraculously the next day we awoke at 6 am to find all peace and tranquility with a southerly blowing up the coast.  We had everything packed up and ready to load before breakfast at 7am and an early start on the water to make up for yesterdays’ lack of distance.  What a difference a following wind makes! Our guides were very pleased with our progress, with the same distance covered as yesterday but in just ¾ hour. After stops for morning tea and lunch we were able to make up all of the lost time and distance arriving at the planned campsite after 16 kms of paddling. Being back on schedule made for happy kayakers and even happier guides and the chance to drift snorkel was an added bonus.  There were plenty of turtles popping their heads up along with fish jumping out of the waves ahead of us as we paddled along. There was even the sight of a whale breaching to make everyone gasp with wonder.  Thoroughly exhausted we sat on the sand hills and watched the sunset before staggering off to our tents.


Team work at Ningaloo

The destination for Day 4 was Torquoise Bay which proved quite a paddling challenge. We were given strict instructions on precision paddling in close double column formation with our guide drawing a detailed sand map for going through the gaps between the breakers of the reef where strong currents could see us whisked off in the wrong direction if we weren’t careful. Torquoise Bay is a beautiful and popular tourist spot with safe swimming and also provided an opportunity to restock supplies driven up from Exmouth.  Another chance for a drift snorkel with a nice slow day with a leisurely lunch before setting off further up the reef to another well chosen camp site.

This site entailed quite a tricky landing in a little cove with a strong cross current and tidal pull. The tide drop is quite marked here, with the water disappearing on us as we were landing. To safe guard the kayaks they had to be emptied and hauled right on the top of sand hills for safety. The actual reef was further away than for our other stops but the pounding and booming of the surf still provided a notable backdrop to the otherwise complete isolation of the campsite.


We were granted a lovely sleep in until 6.30am then yoga on the beach with El (our young guide from Seattle) and a cooked breakfast from Dave (our guide from NSW) before setting off to lunch at Mangrove Bay which was full of stingrays skimming through the shallows along with pelicans and little schools of fish plus the odd frolicking dolphin or two to entertain us as we casually paddled up the coast with Ningaloo Reef on our left and the beach and Cape Ranges on our right. While checking out the mangroves we took advantage of the opportunity to run aground – just to prove it’s not just a Phil Doddridge thing! Well away from the mangroves a previously unknown and yet to be named campsite was carefully chosen amongst dense scrub.  More unloading and lugging of kayaks to higher ground before settling into our last night of pitching tents.

Another restful start to the last day of our expedition as the tide was out at least 100 metres and the big packhorse doubles are not something you want to drag fully loaded. We all enjoyed walking and fossicking along the beach.  Finally underway around 11am with a short paddle to Tantabitti for a final snorkel, this time directly off the kayaks moored to a buoy proved a challenging method of getting in and out in flippers and full gear!  A late lunch after unloading kayaks and hauling everything to the trailer ready to load.  Arrived back at the depot in Exmouth (at this point only 36 kms away) where a chain gang formed to unload the van and sort our gear before finally and thankfully being dropped off at our respective accommodations for hot showers.  Such a luxury! We found the Ningaloo paddle a very physical but enjoyable trip and we are very grateful for the “training” paddles with the Club particularly those at Semaphore and on the Port Augusta Spencer Gulf trip. This was our first “expedition’ and the first time we have needed to carry everything with us. It is astounding what can be squeezed into these big NZ kayaks although there were occasions on that first rough day when we wondered at our wisdom in paddling a heavily laden kayak sitting so low in the water.