Locks and Weirs

DURING the 8½ days of our record breaking run we passed through 15 locks and weirs. Two of these were weirs that were portaged.

 

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Yarrawonga Weir was the first obstacle encountered. The six boats had to carried across the weir and the main road connecting Victoria and New South Wales and then re-launched on the downriver side of the weir. This took about 45 minutes.

Torrumbarry Weir (Lock 26) was not operating on our arrival, necessitating another portage. Re-launching posed more of a problem on this occasion as the downriver banks were lined with slippery rocks. With assistance from the Lockmaster the boats were underway 30 minutes after arrival.

Two days were to pass until we came upon the first operating lock – at Euston (Lock 15). From this time we instituted a procedure that was maintained at each lock through to the Goolwa Barrage. The support crew forewarned the Lockmasters of the estimated time of arrival of the boats. The Nav Boat would inform the support crew by radio when their arrival was imminent and this information would be relayed to the Lockmaster who would have the water at the required level by this time – that is, the lock would be full. The gates of the lock would be opened only sufficient to allow passage for the boats and the green light would be on. The boat crews would plane into the lock chamber and each one would then proceed to a position adjacent to its changeover fuel tank that had been placed on the chamber wall by the support crew.

After refuelling all boats would be moved to the rear of the chamber and the Lockmaster would start the process of emptying the lock. As the water level dropped instructions and requests would be passing back and forth between the boat crews and the support crew. Immediately the down river gates would begin to open motors were started and the boat crews would speed off with barely enough room to allow their exit.

Television cameras and representatives from Kentucky Fried Chicken greeted the expedition at Lock 11, Mildura. The boats had to wait for the P.S. Melbourne to clear the lock before they could enter. The entry was filmed and each crew collected a container of chicken as part of a publicity exercise. Similarly, TV cameras were on hand to film events at Lock 10, Wentworth.

As a result of the efforts of the support crew and assistance and co-operation from each Lockmaster passage through the locks was reduced from 30 minutes to a mere 8 minutes.

The locks, while they did cause delays, provided an opportunity to re-fuel and check motors. They also allowed such things as jackets, sunburn cream, sunglasses, soft drinks and chocolates to be obtained from the support crew.

Watching the plug being pulled on over five million litres of water is a fascinating experience.

 

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Approaching the lock, in this case Lock 11 at Mildura.

Depending on the circumstances the boats would be at full speed or subject to speed restrictions.

 

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Tony is controlling entry into the lock by the use of a red and green flag system. This particular lock is at the Goolwa barrage.

 

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Robert Whitney and Roly plane into Lock 3, early on Day 8.

The gates, at most locks, were only partly opened.

 

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A.T.V. camera filming at Lock 11, Mildura. This is a busy lock.

 

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Vic, Dave Coles, Rob Craker, Robert Whitney and Roly relax inside Lock 15, Euston, before the water level is lowered.

 

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Adrian and Ivan supervise refuelling at Lock 15. The rough concrete walls at these locks caused minor damage to the boats and motors.

 

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The upriver gates of Lock 15 did not exactly inspire anyone with confidence in their ability to hold back the waters of the mighty Murray River.

 

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David and Kim follow Vic, Dave and Rob out of the lock. No time was wasted in waiting for the gate to open fully.

 

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Ted and John negotiate their way through the open downriver gates at Euston.

 

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Leaving the Goolwa barrage lock with the media still filming the event.

 

 

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