Murrumbidgee River; Darlington Point to Hay – Sunday 22 to Friday 27 Oct 2023

The group

The Murrumbidgee River from Darlington Point to Hay is fantastic. The serpentine river ‘keeps you on your toes’ changing from peacefully calm, to requiring maneuvers past snaggy fallen trees and submerged logs. It provides stunning scenery, lots of wildlife including kangaroos and many different birds. The banks are covered with trees and there are beautiful campsites – what more could you want from a paddle?

Setting out


Charlie and Marina Walker, Berny Lohmann and Peter Drewry joined Simon and Anne Langsford for the 230km paddle from Darlington Point to Hay. We set off in perfect weather with the river running at about 2.5m depth and the flow pushing us along at an extra 2km/h. Being a weekend there were many other people out enjoying the river, camping and fishing. We came across a couple of blokes that had well and truly bogged their car trying to launch their fishing boat. We stopped to lend some assistance and our colourful kayaks helped their friend locate the bogged car. The car wasn’t the only thing we saw stuck. We passed a canoe and a sit-on-top kayak both very wedged in fallen trees. Charlie thought about rescuing them but decided towing them all the way to Hay would be too difficult.

Wildlife along the river

Kerarbury homestead

There were lots of birds. Most notable were the flocks on Rufous Night Herons that appeared from the dense foliage of willows and other introduced trees. There were also many White Faced Herons and a few Pacific Herons spotted. Of course there were lots of Cormorants swimming, catching fish or resting on the fallen trees along the river. This year we also saw many Yellow Billed Spoonbills and a very large flock of Black Shouldered Kites. Our days started with Kookaburras laughing at the sunrise followed by a huge variety of birds calling the morning in. Whenever we stopped there were Swallows darting around and occasionally we spotted Kingfishers.

Finding Kerarbury homestead

Portage with Charlie

Peter was on a quest to find Kerarbury homestead. His wife’s grandfather had worked there as a wool classer. He asked around Darlington Point but no one could help locate it until we met a local at the Punt hotel when we went there for dinner before starting our paddle. Now with the knowledge that it was either 15, or 50km down river we set off hopeful of locating it. On the second morning’s paddle we rounded a bend to see the magnificent homestead. We stopped and chatted with the owner so Peter could verify it was Kerarbury. Then it turned out that the current owner was also related to Peter’s wife. It is a small world!

Twists, turns, mud, wind and other fun

By road the distance between Darlington Point and Hay is about 115km; by river it is about 230km. The river twists and turns often and the recent floods have provided some short cuts. Berny enjoyed the fast flowing water through some of these short cuts. However, we did need a portage in one which had a tree right across the water. Further down the same ‘shortcut’ Charlie had to get into the water to push our kayaks over an offending log.

Peter and shoes

In places the floods had washed away parts of the bank exposing the intricate tangle of tree roots.

There were a couple of very windy days, over 20 knots, but the trees on each bank protected us most of the time. We had short spells of paddling into the headwind, but soon turned another bend and enjoyed a tailwind along the next stretch. Berny’s kayak was particularly stable in the short choppy waves whipped up when wind and current were in opposite directions.

There are lots of trees in the river, creating snags, so you can’t just watch the scenery or relax too much. Even though the front paddlers kept a look-out there were snags that either caught someone momentarily. This year the water level was dropping as we paddled down, leaving the once sandy beaches covered in mud. Peter found a particularly deep patch and had to hunt for his shoes which the mud had sucked off his feet. The retrieved shoes and Peter needed a good wash before joining us again.

Personal best records

Camp 5

This paddle saw ‘personal best’ records shattered. Peter did a PB for distance 3 days in a row and Marina achieved the furthest she had paddled for a trip on day 4 with 164km completed. She then paddled another couple of days to reach a new record, 230km. This section of the Murrumbidgee is a very looooong paddle but we all agreed it was an addictive section, ever changing with another beautiful spot around each of the many, many bends.




Image below links to the GPX file

Trip Map

Peer Paddle at Blanchetown exploring Cumbunga Creek and Julia Island in the Riverland – 2 Sep 2023


Our WhatsApp initiative is working well! Berny Lohmann suggested a Peer Paddle at Blanchetown exploring Cumbunga Creek and Julia Island on Saturday 2nd September 2023. The forecast was looking great with temperature in low twenties, sunny sky and good river flow.

Wasn’t long before Rob and Robyn Phiddian had expressed interest and as we are looking for more members to put hands up to lead Peer Paddles. I thought this would be a great opportunity to support Berny, at least by offering to drive him to Blanchetown. Berny had reported good flow there so I was keen to experience the conditions (having missed out on the flooding event in 2022).

Launching and Cumbunga Creek

We met at the carpark opposite the Caravan Park (which is still not operational following flooding) at 10 am by Paisley Riverfront Reserve, north of the bridge. Parking was nice and easy with grassy beach for launching our kayaks. After Berny’s well prepared safety briefing we launched at 10.30am and headed across the river. There was a noticeable eddyline so we angled our way upstream to accommodate the obvious flow – probably about 2 to 3 knots. After surviving the crossing without mishap we navigated our way through the numerous dead gumtrees and logs and into Cumbunga Creek.  When I bumped over a submerged log I thought maybe I should have brought my plastic kayak!  We were soon being welcomed by screeching Sulphur-Crested Cockatoos as we followed the Creek and headed north. The flow was still obvious, but nothing like mid river channel.

This section of the Creek is very open and must have been the main channel in time past! Paddling was easy with lots of Pelicans flying overhead and Cockatoos sticking their heads out of tree hollows to see who was paddling through their stretch of the river.

Roonka Conservation Park

It wasn’t long before we reached Roonka Conservation Park where the channel narrowed considerably and we had a first sighting of old homestead ruins from a bygone era.

The Cockatoos were soon replaced by Parrots emerging from hollows. The discussion soon turned towards whether they were Regent Parrots or Superb Parrots. Peter Vincent, where were you when we needed identification?

Berny, Rob and Robyn had paddled here previously so there was no problem finding the correct channel as we moved further north towards Reedy Island and Julia Island. Berny successfully led the way through the narrow channel at the northern extremity of Roonka Conservation Park and into the main river channel.  From there we headed downstream and into the channel east of Julia Island and past the Bedrock Waterski Club on the SE end of Julia Island. Judging by the ski jump and two observation towers, this area may get busy during the summer months. Thankfully this time we had the river to ourselves.

Tummies were staring to rumble by now. We went up to the northern extremity requiring a short portage across the small service bridge leading to Julia Island. After moving the kayaks to an easy launch site leading to the main river channel we unpacked lunch just below the old homestead off Murbko Road.


We spent lunch soaking up the scenery and looking at the timber wedged in nearby trees. It was very helpful to gauge the river height during the 2022 flooding. Lunch was followed by a very relaxing paddle downstream in the main channel. We made our way along the western side of Julia Island, passing Roonka River Adventure Park and back towards the stunning cliffs below Murbko Road.

We paddled close into the cliffs and mostly had the river to ourselves aside from the occasional houseboat. The scenery was stunning with several sedimentary layers showing in the cliff.  We noticed more Whistling Kites and Cormorants along this section of the river, with the Kites nesting in stick nests high in the eucalypts while the Cormorants favoured the willows allowing easy access to the water. We encountered several nests in the willows with baby cormorants well camouflaged by the dying branches and leaves. The chicks were still covered by white down and not making any movement as we paddled by.

Just before arriving back at the launch beach we spotted a dead gum with several river height markers – 2022 at the top of the tree. One can only imagine what the river flow would have been like!

Packing and heading back

Arrived back at start at 3pm after a very enjoyable 17.5km paddle. With a short lunch break, overall time was 5 hours on a perfect day. Checking my GPS, top speed of 11km/h for an 80m section about 2km before reaching our launch point gives an appreciation of river flow.

This was my first time paddling at Blanchetown and I highly recommend this trip exploring Cumbunga Creek and Julia Island. A very easy 2-hour drive from Adelaide with a coffee and pie stop at Truro Bakery (a must visit if you haven’t already stopped there). Berny managed the trip very well and I appreciate his assistance with Peer Paddles.

After loading our kayaks and before heading of back to Adelaide, Robyn spoilt us with tea and cakes while we talked about the trip. Keep an eye on the calendar and the next river paddle.

Overall statistic (Links point to GPX Track Files)

Braving the waves in West Beach

Paddling on a Winter Day in Summer

Impromptu Paddles through WhatsApp

A bit of winter weather in the middle of summer doesn’t stop Adelaide Canoe Club members from braving the unseasonably weather. We cancelled the Thursday Evening Skills session at Tirana Way. But this was soon replaced with an impromptu surf session at the Adelaide Sailing Club on 5/Feb.

The surf was rolling in along the coast. Charlie posted an ad hoc surf session in our WhatsApp channel, and therefore, outside of the calendar. The unpredictable weather is showing that this channel is allowing  paddlers to connect and get out on water. At the time of writing this post, the channel has 43 club members.

The winter day

We had Charlie Walker, Bella and Anthony (and Leigh), Giresh Chandran and Mark. We were braving the 25 knots plus winds with the sand blasting in our faces (and on the cars)!

Braving the waves in West Beach

Conditions looked challenging when we arrived at 5.30pm. We decided to use the protection of the Boat Ramp rock wall with some good waves forming inside the harbour. Lots of surfers were just outside the northern rock wall, so we didn’t want to encroach on their turf.

We launched from the southern end of the beach and gradually made our way outside the harbour to experience the swell. Confidence gradually built as we paddled further out (some further than others).

When Charlie, Anthony, Giresh and Leigh warmed up they managed several successful runs into the beach – most without mishap – the pictures tell all!

Well done to Giresh on successfully managing to control his kayak in the soup zone with some perfect looking bongo runs onto the beach. Pretty impressive having only been introduced to low support strokes at the previous evening skills session at Tirana Way.

The adrenalin was running after we finished and cleaned up, so we adjourned to the protection of the Sailing Club to debrief and plan the next adventure, perhaps from Noarlunga depending on the interest from Club members.

Tour of Lefevre Peninsula

The Loop

Great suggestion from Mike Dunn on the WhatsApp channel on Friday for a paddle with a difference – doing a loop of the Lefevre Peninsula. The plan was to  launch from the Outer Harbor area, paddle down the Port River, portage across Bower Road into West Lakes, paddle south to Oarsman Reserve,  portage again across Military Road over the Tennyson Dunes and into the sea again – just in time to catch the southerly wind for the 13km final leg back to Outer Harbor. Distance was estimated to be about 28km. We had an ebb tide to begin the paddle so expected to work on our way up the Port River.

I felt I couldn’t resist Mike’s suggestion and was feeling pretty good about our Training Session at Tiranna Way on Friday so agreed to join up with Mike for his adventure.

The Start

Departure was from the small boat ramp just down from the Royal South Australian Yacht Squadron (RSAYS) at 9am, plenty of space for leaving our cars. Once we had loaded our very important trolleys for this paddle, as it requiring a couple of portage sections we were on our way by 9.30am.

Our sightseeing started with the Container Terminal – no shipping in sight so we explored underneath the concrete wharf which looked all very well maintained. As we approached Port River past the Snapper Point Power Station the ebb tide was very evident and even managed to practice some ferry gliding.

Mutton Cove Conservation Park

We had the river to ourselves as we paddled up past Mutton Cove Conservation Park. It’s great to see the increase in mangrove growth. This was a regular lunchtime break and the area has gradually improved, largely thanks to the local community group.

The regeneration of Mutton Cove Conservation Park become very evident as we approached ASC and were almost swept into mid channel by the tidal flow coming out from the small creeks that have been restored. This was all noted as a potential area for some whitewater skills practice when tides are favorable.

We made sure we were on the correct side of the Exclusion Zone buoys of the ASC building to ensure we didn’t set of any alarms. Brought back lots of fond memories to see a Collins Class Submarine on the Hardstand outside the Production Shed. The work on the Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPVs) seems to be progressing well with one in the water for final fit-out prior to Trials and another on the hard stand under construction.

Snowden Beach

Near Snowden Beach we spotted a small wooden boat in the distance. As it approached we saw it was skippered by club members Bernard and Frances Goble. They were doing a Sea Trial prior to departing for the Wooden Boat Festival in Hobart. Bernard had previously given Mike a call to advise that we might encounter them on water. We kept them company as we paddled into Port Adelaide and stopped at Cruickshanks Beach for a leg stretch and lunch.

After lunch our little flotilla continued on its way under the Birkenhead Bridge. We past all the construction happening around the old Fletches Dock and then up into Port Creek and what used to be called Port Misery when sailing ships moored there.

Crossing Bower Road

Water was becoming shallower as we approached the railway bridge before Bower Road. We said our farewell to Bernard and Frances. It was great having their company as we explored the Port. I’m sure our little flotilla was observed by a few of the locals.

We soon ran out of water after managing to navigate the many small rocks leading up to Bower Road. We must approach the council about a nice sandy beach for future trips! The portage across Bower Road went well, interesting dodging traffic with a 5m kayak in tow.

The new home for Paddle South Australia and West Lakes Canoe Club is looking near to completion. It should be a great venue for aquatic activities. We rolled our kayaks down to the beach and were soon back on water for the West Lakes leg of the paddle. Plenty of rowing activity around so we kept out of the way as we approached PAC Rowing Sheds and a busy event.

The forecast southerly had picked up as we approached West Lakes Boulevard bridge. And yet another surprise as we approached a group of kayakers – club members Bella and Anthony out on the water with visiting family.

Oarsman Reserve

We soon reached Oarsman Reserve and brought out our trolleys again. We navigated Military Road and found our way down to the beach via the backstreets of Tennyson. Much easier portage and no rocks to avoid.

The wind had certainly picked up and we searched the horizon for Matt Condon paddling his Audax up from Semaphore to join us on our final leg.

After safely getting through the surf on the Tennyson sandbar we headed further out and headed for Semaphore with Matt. Swell was on our beam and wind picking up so we delayed putting up sails until we reached Semaphore South when the wind was on our backs. I hadn’t used my sail for over 12 months. I asked Mike to stabilize my kayak until I got the Pacific Action rigged and we headed towards Largs Bay. All went well and Matt kept us company until Semaphore then headed back to his beach.

No wind

We had Outer Harbor breakwater in sight but the wind had dropped considerably. Down sails and back to paddling – just as well as the conditions as we rounded the breakwater were very messy but thankfully no water traffic around. Soon had the Overseas Terminal in sight then around the corner and back to our departure point. We both agreed we would sleep well that night after 32km and roughly 6.5 hrs in our kayaks. A fantastic paddle in various conditions with lots of interesting sites on the way.

Thanks Mike for organsing and many thanks to Bernard, Frances, Bella, Anthony (and family) and Matt for joining us during our adventure.  This is definitely a paddle that we will repeat, so keep your eyes on the calendar.

West Lakes Sunset Paddle — 3 February 2022

Choppy waters in West Lakes next to the North Bridge

Eight (8) paddlers – Bella, Anthony, Phil, Bruce, Abelardo, Charlie, Marina and Mark set of from Tiranna Way West Lakes about 6.30pm last Thursday (3rd Feb) to enjoy an evening paddle around Delfin Island. This paddle was a big day for Abelardo now in possession of his nice shiny Delta, a very racy looking red and white colour scheme.

We met up with potential member Tony, who Bella had invited to check out our kayaks and gear prior to launch. Sails being erected when I arrived – oops, mine is no good sitting in the garage!

We were soon on our way – bit on the windy side which does seem to be normal in the afternoons recently, I just had to paddle faster to keep up with the kayaks fitted with Flat Earth sails – at least for part of the lap around Delfin Island until we were all paddling into the wind.

Bella led us down towards Bower Road end, hoping to maximise the stretch under sail. Met up with another kayaker on water for a training run in his green P&H Delphin and getting along at a good pace. After an on water chat we discovered it was new member Pawel who joined the club only a week ago. He is jumping in the deep end and will be joining the Canoe Polo training group at Corcoran Drive footbridge at West Lakes. Pawel continued with the group for most of the circuit, but was in training mode and continued up to the Trimmer Parade at southerly end of West Lakes, while we relaxed on the last leg of the paddle.

Finished up with a bit of rolling practice back at Tiranna Way before adjourned to the Bartley to discuss paddling tactics.

Another great Thursday paddle and thanks for organising the outing Bella.

Downwind from Seaclif — 1 February 2022

Downwind from Seacliff

Great Seacliff paddle Tuesday with four (4) paddlers (Phil, Mark, Anthony and Simon) braving the forecasted conditions of a 20kn southerly. Phil opted for a downwind run to West Beach to take advantage of the blow. Started off well, at least until we had a capsize just before the Brighton Jetty but soon on our way again.

No need for sail, just had to hang on and get blown up the coast! We had adjusted to the conditions just of Somerton Park, just as well as the wind started to increase with horizontal spray spreading out in front of our kayaks, an indication that wind speed was getting up to 30kn. Aside from the Temptation Catamaran, we were the only ones out on water. She was heading south with the deck covered in fun seeking sailors, we could see waves breaking over the bows.

Riding waves from Seacliff

The last leg from Glenelg to West Beach Boat Ramp was the most challenging, when we got hit by 1.5 to 2m waves forming on the sandbars. After gusts of 30kn plus hitting us, we opted to seek the shelter of West Beach Boat Ramp. A fantastic paddle and enjoy the pics – I managed to get a couple while keeping a good lookout for inbound swell.

Peer Paddle Semaphore South 30 January 2022

Preparations under way before departure

Sails up on our way back to Semaphore

Another great Sunday morning paddle from Semaphore South last Sunday 30th Jan. A good turnout with six (6) paddlers out on water. Paddlers were Matt, Julie (up from Meningie – love that devotion to paddling!) , Abelardo, Shauna, Nicholas and Mark.

On water about 9am and paddled south to the West Lakes inlet and then that little bit extra to Grange Jetty. SW wind below 10-12kn, just enough for Shauna to unwrap her Flat Earth sail.

Once again we were entertained with a sky diving exhibition towards the end of the paddle and a friendly seal at the northern end of the breakwater – totally oblivious to the beach walkers. Finished up with coffee at Noonies, a great way to end the mornings paddling.

Sea Kayak Paddle at Rapid Bay and Environs — 15 January 2022

On Saturday 15th January 2022 we had 13 club members head down south to Rapid Bay for Phil Doddridge’s Rapid Bay Sea trip. Paddlers were Julie Rohde, Mark Loram, Charlie and Marina Walker, Bruce Gregor, Shauna Ashewood, Pete Drewry, Julie Palmer, Bella and Anthony, Matt Eldred and Simon Delaine. We weren’t the only ones enjoying this stunning area – the campground was packed, probably the busiest we have seen. Most of us drove down but newer member Julie Palmer joined us on the beach, showing great commitment having driven from Meningieand camped in amongst the multitude at the campground.

Getting on the water

After Phil’s paddle briefing we were on water about 9.30am and headed south aiming for Rapid Head, hoping to spot a few seals. Thought we might have lost a couple of paddlers after Phil’s explanation of “Essence of Shark” as part of the safety equipment!  (Always a handy item when paddling this area).

We grouped up just before the new jetty for final instructions about avoiding the collapsing sections of the old jetty. Wise advice considering that collapse looks imminent and many thanks to Peter Carter for the “Notice to Mariners” alert he sent. Good to see Peter is still looking after us at Sea Rescue!

We then proceeded under the new jetty, taking care to avoid the many fishing and crab net lines dangling into the water, before finding a clear section between the old jetty pylons that also offered a good photo opportunity.

Paddling around the jetties

As we paddled in between the two jetties, Phil explained how the mine and original jetty was developed and worked by BHP from 1942 until 1981, with the quarried limestone being shipped to BHP’s steelworks at Whyalla, Newcastle and Port Kembla where it was used for steel production.

In late 1981, the South Australian Government accepted BHP’s offer to transfer ownership of the mine and jetty at a cost of $1. Shortly afterwards, the mine was sold to Adelaide Brighton Cement (ABC) with the limestone shipped to its Birkenhead cement plant until 1988, when the Rapid Bay operation was scaled down. Shipping from the original jetty ceased in 1991 which was the start of its decay. The new jetty was completed in 2009 with the old jetty now off limits due to progressive collapse.

There was plenty of discussion about the state of the old jetty and mine, but Phil made the comment that without the mine tailings, there wouldn’t be a beach at Rapid Bay.

Rapid Bay is also one of SA’s best scuba diving locations with a Leafy Sea Dragon population inhabiting the bay and probably building up around the collapsing jetty.

Perfect paddle day

Perfect day to be paddling, with no wind, so it wasn’t long before we were nearing Rapid Head in search of the usually resident Australian Sea Lion population, and as always the seals didn’t disappoint! We played round for a while trying to get the perfect photo but also with eyes looking up at the stunning cliffs in search of a Sea Eagle – unfortunately no luck this trip.

After spotting the Starfish Hill Wind Farm looking towards Cape Jervis, the memories of all our Bass Strait training trips along this section of the coast came flooding back, nothing like the pleasant conditions we were experiencing with hardly any wind this time out but the memories were great.

Phil took the opportunity to check out potential rock gardening locations for future trips and it wasn’t long before Charlie was poking his nose into some of the smaller caves to take advantage of the low tide. The rest of us kept the seals company, not as many of them compared to springtime but still a good number, just wish they would be a bit more cooperative for the camera!

The turquoise colouring of the water on a calm day with the inquisitive fur seals coming close to investigate really makes this area very special! On the return paddle we even had a couple of friendly seals follow the kayaks towards Rapid Bay jetty.

Again we avoided the old jetty on our arrival, but Bruce took the opportunity to have a close look at the old rusted pylons on the way through.

Arrived back at the beach for a leg stretch and loo stop, seemed like even more people camping and enjoying the water as we navigated our way between the sit-ons and onto the beach.

After a brief stop we were soon back on water and heading north towards the sea cave then lunch stop at a small beach that Phil had selected. Wasn’t long before Mike and Shauna had their sails up taking advantage of the increasing SW wind.

Getting into the big cave

The trip date was well picked out by Phil with tides perfect for accessing the big cave. On the way north we passed plenty of come-and-try kayakers heading down to the same location, so very busy on water. Any little exposed beach seemed to have kayakers and swimmers taking advantage of the low tide.

After reaching the small rocky headland before Second Valley we turned kayaks to face into the increasing swell and wind, while those wanting to explore the cave ventured in one at a time. Others kept a good lookout for the cliff jumpers which were landing just in front of the cave entrance.

After most of us had explored the cave, we then headed back south hoping for a nice lunch stop at the larger beach – conveniently vacated by the come-and-try group just as we arrived. With the low tide, landing was easily achieved and it wasn’t long before all kayaks were nicely lined up ready for a quick exit if conditions changed.

This is a great spot for lunch, looking out over the sea without anyone else in sight. An enjoyable break for all the group, but Mike had a surprise when he discovered a skink (587) had made its home in his hat while he was busy eating lunch.

The exit channel from the beach is quite narrow, so we worked as a team to get kayaks launched and back on water again – no mishaps!

Casually paddled our way back, weaving through all the other craft heading back from Second Valley. Charlie didn’t want to leave and took a last opportunity to check out the smaller cave on the way.

Wrapping up

Bit of excitement when we arrived back at the beach, with one of the swimmers asking us to paddle out and rescue a swimmer drifting out towards Edithburgh on his car tyre tube insert – “didn’t realise how far out I was and the wind has picked up” he said as we towed him back to the beach.

Safely back on the beach about 2.30pm and soon packed up after another very enjoyable day padding from Rapid Bay. Many thanks to Phil for organising and leading the trip. Trusty GPS shows we covered 14km, with lots of twists and turns.

Semaphore South Peer Paddle — 9 January 2022

Towards North HavenEight of us (Matt, Bella, Anthony, Anthony, Abelardo, Bruce, Simon D and Nicholas) departed the sunny Semaphore South shores with almost no wind, very flat seas and lots of sunshine. Along the way to North Haven, we navigated through fleets of yachts, stand up paddlers, and boaties out fishing. Simon had his new kayak out for its longest paddle yet, which was completed with apparent ease. Some took a break at North Haven beach while others practised manoeuvres. The way back was a little more work, with headwinds up to 14 knots and the water a little more lumpy – yet it was still very pleasant. No one was eaten by sharks, run over by yachts, nor had aircraft land on them. So all-in-all, a successful paddle!

Thanks to Nicholas for pictures and very entertaining report.