Day 37 – Finished – Murray Mouth

Yesterday we completed our journey finally reaching the mouth of the Murray. River Spirit’s hull finally tasting the salt waters of the Southern Ocean.

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Our final day was short as we made our way through our last barrage/lock and on the other side greeted by two seals and an abundance of sea birds as we head towards the Murray Mouth passing the Coorong National Park. _IGP9021 _IGP9029

The smell of salt water in the summer’s air confirming we had made it after travelling over 2,200kms down the Mighty Murray River. I struggled to locate my emotions as joy and sorrow immediately followed as soon as River Spirit was turned around to head back to shore. While home is calling me as I count the hours in seeing my beloved family and fur babies, I am not tired of the river and could linger here forever.

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The absolute highlight and surprise of the day was when we met with the Mayor of Alexandrina Council, Keith Parkes and Frank Tuckwell from the Goolwa National Trust. _IGP4073We were presented with a certificate which confirms that our journey will be forever documented with Inland Rivers National Marathon Register at Goolwa National Trust.
We felt completely honoured and moved. Our children and grandchildren will be able to visit the museum in Goolwa in the future and see our names and details of our journey.

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I was simply elated to know our journey will be held in a museum by the National Trust. We sincerely thank Frank who spent considerable time with us in explaining how the register works and the many stories of the Murray River after spending a life on the river and welcoming all who made the journey. Frank’s time made all the more special as he came to greet us after losing his wife only a few weeks ago.

In completing our final blog documenting our journey I would like to share a poem I wrote one evening earlier up the river. Our last blog will be the tally of funds raised along our travels which will hopefully be posted in the next couple of days. Thanks to all who have followed our journey over the 2200kms.

Murray River Spring Lullaby

The Murray River she sings me a sweet lullaby

Her melody drifts through the bush with the longings of spring as kookaburras above echo her tune in the morning’s sunlight.

As the sun’s rays dance on the rustic brown waters beckoning the wildlife to greet her in the promise of new life.

Mother with joey in toe drink at the river’s edge knowing the Murray’s season of spring will replenish their thirst.

Emu joins the sweet lullaby of the Murray’s morning as he makes his way out of the shadows of the shaded red river gums walking gently on spring’s new vegetation covering the earth.

Eagle soars on the breeze of the morning’s wind following the currents downstream watching for his morning feed.

Oh sweet lullaby of the Murray’s spring with her great wisdom to the cycle of life.

How you sing to my spirit from the home of the fairy wren, dragon fly and cormorant basking in the sun on a stump reaching out of the water’s depths.

Your music resurrects my soul in the magic of spring as the renewal of the bush fills me with hope as the Murray’s melody sings me her lullaby on a spring’s morning light.

By Dianne Yoong     

Day 36 – Murray Bridge to Goolwa

We set off a bit earlier today as the weather was calm and we want to go through Lake Alexandrina safely. This lake is renown for high waves and unsuspecting weather changes; making this section the most dangerous. We have been told numerous time on the treachery of the lake and how dangerous it can be as it has been known to produce 2.5m waves. Locals seem to avoid going through it, making us very nervous. But to get the the mouth of the Murray, we had to pass it.

The lake is very shallow and we got depths of about 2-3m. We head to Milang, the only town around the shores of the lake and had to call for assistance as fuel was running low. This is because by the time we got there the winds picked up and  that generated 1-1.5m waves. The lake is very wide and long, making us feel venerable like we were in the open ocean. Our destination was no where in sight as it was over the horizon. We had not seen any other boat in the lake. To make matters worst the rough conditions make the ride very uncomfortable. At parts we had to slow down as the waves were high and pounding on the boat constantly.

As we head closer to the channels towards Goolwa, we saw two seals rolling around the waves. We had to stop to take some photos. Lake Alexandrina is a freshwater lake and so seeing seals there is a novelty.

Eventually we made it to Goolwa with great relief. Tomorrow we head to the Murray mouth.

Day 35 – Day out at Hahndorf, Adelaide Hills

A chill out day at Murray Bridge so we decided on heading to Hahndorf, Adelaide Hills. It wasn’t too far away but the day was very hot. Overall we had a great time just looking around Australia’s oldest surviving German settlement.

Day 34 – Blanchetown to Murray Bridge

We changed our plans a bit by skipping Manum and heading straight to Murray Bridge but staying there for 2 nights. But his means that we had to travel 158 kms in a day. The day went well and was calm and we made the distance without any issues. We had lunch at Manum and saw Murray Princess, the largest paddle boat on the Murray. Quite a sight and she makes large waves at the stern from the rotating paddles.

In the evening we went to the Murray Bridge RSL for dinner. Mum and Neil had organised a fundraiser with them which they kindly offered to host. Dianne spoke about her journey on MS and the importance of MS research. The patrons of the RSL were very generous on the night and their donations were greatly appreciated. Overall we had a great night of socialising, meeting new friends and raising awareness on MS.

 

Day 33 – Waikerie to Blanchetown

We thought we had seen all the cliffs but more was to come with many surprises. Cockatoos were using the cliffs as hangouts under shade and holes in the cliffs as substitute tree hollows. They were a common sight at cliffs in this section. We managed to get up close to some Fairy Martin nest and got some interesting photos. To our surprise we also saw ostriches at tops of cliffs.

Along this section we passed Morgan, a charming little historical town on the Murray. We went for a tour of this town. In the past this town was one of the busiest South Australian Murray River ports.

Below are some highlights of this section.

Day 32 – Loxton to Waikerie

We decided to purchase a tent for the remainder of our expedition and drove to a camping shop in Berri at 9am. They were very helpful and gave huge discounts on our new tent after learning of our plight and fundraiser.We then had to drive to Loxton to continue our journey hence we were a little late this morning. As we have to pass Lock 3 by 11.30am (morning closing time) some 65 kms away; we had to speed up without any sightseeing. We just made it at 11.30am and we were on our way again. We stopped by at the Overland Corner Hotel (built 1859) and had lunch thinking it was a quick hour or so to get to Waikerie. Were we mistaken; we came across many cliffs along the way and had to stop and admire them. They were breathtaking; colourful, majestic, and ancient. Trees were growing out of crevices. On a Cave Cliff, we went in close and was mesmerised by what we saw close up; ferns and plants growing in small caverns, swifts nesting in holes and building nest under overhangs, spider webs blanket parts of the wall face, etc. We could continue exploring but had to continue to Waikerie. The next day we head to Blanchtown another 107 kms away.

Day 31 – Renmark to Loxton

Yesterday was a disaster for us and a setback to our plans. It was a hot and windy day at our site and in a distant we saw a white haze/cloud above the river. Within seconds, we were hit by a mini tornado which lasted for seconds. Our completely pegged tent with a carload of gear was picked up and flipped over, bending and breaking joints and poles, and ripping zippers and putting some holes in the canvas. Gill’s gazebo flew up and wrapped around a tree. This was followed by rain and we had to pick up pieces and load stuff into our boat and car. Looking around, we were the worst hit and must have been in the centre of the tornado. We packed up and paid for a cabin for the night. It must be a feature of this area and locals as we now know are aware of this occurrence.

_IGP3470We now don’t have a tent and have to work out something for the rest of the journey. We continue as planned on the water to Loxton while Gill and dad worked on our accommodation.

The morning was not too bad but got very very windy by late morning to the afternoon. We had big waves on the river in sections facing the wind and in channels. To make matters worst, this section is full of sand bars often covering 80% width of the river. It was strange seeing pelicans in the middle of the river, ‘walking on water’. At one stage we almost got stuck in a middle of the river and had to reverse to find an alternative route. Unknown to us we had collected a big bunch of weeds in the boat’s propeller leg. The boat handled strangely and Kiam had to turn the engine off and removed the weeds.

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Fairy Martins live here. Looks like something from the ‘Hobbit’.

We still managed to poke our heads out when we see something interesting to take some pictures.

IMGP9391IMGP9422There were many spoonbills in this section, heaps of pelicans and now more terns sighted. I suppose we are closer to the sea with only 490 kms to the mouth of the Murray River. Can’t believe we are have traveled so far.

Eagle's nest
Eagle’s nest. There is a chick there in the top nest. Click to enlarge.

Gill and dad had found a cabin for us for the night. Tomorrow we head to Waikerie some 107kms away.

Day 30 – some pictures in Renmark and surrounds

Some picture we took while we were in Renmark.

Day 29 – Day in Renmark meeting Chookman

We met the Chookman of the Murray today,  an eccentric character of Renmark/Paringa. He lives on a quirky home made house-boat named ‘Willitsinkorwontit’ with his chooks.  Dianne was ‘invited’ to sing along with Chookman (Frank Turton), who was such a warm and kind gentleman. Man of many talents, full of imagination and life.

His boat has it all; a wood stove in the middle, dunny, chook pen, vege patches, flower beds, wind mills etc. He lives in this house boat and entertains the locals and visitors of Renmark.

On one of the nights, he lights up his house-boat and plays music to visitors holidaying on the Murray. What a sight!

Day 27 – Border Cliffs to Renmark

We drove back to Border Cliffs to launch our boat and resume our journey on the Murray. The morning was chilly but calm so we took it easy and enjoyed the day on the Murray. We reached Lock 6 but had to sound horns and drove around to attract the attention of the lock master as we had no phone reception. Slight delay but the Lock Master was very friendly and we passed without any problems.

We had a mission today at Chowilla creek to deliver a stack of newspapers with an article on Ron’s camp. This article was written in 2006 by Alan Erskine, a retired journalist who graciously invited us to stay at his house in Colignan (see Day 20).

Mildura Weekly - first page
Mildura Weekly – first page

Mildura Weekly - second page
Mildura Weekly – second page

Mildura Weekly - third page
Mildura Weekly – third page

This last stack of newspapers had been kept since 2006 to be delivered to Ron’s camp for the circulation of interested visitors. Jasmine symbolically watered Ron’s cedar tree – which no longer exists. We had tea and snacks there before heading back on the Murray to continue our journey.

As we continue, the sight we were waiting for emerged through the trees. It was the golden cliffs (Heading Cliffs) and we had to stop and immerse ourselves within the colours and splendour of the cliffs bedside the river.

Again sightings of birds, kangaroos and emus were common and we would stop to observe them from a distance.

Red Kangaroo
Red Kangaroo
Red-rumped parrot
Red-rumped parrot