Day 4 Lock 7 to Renmark
Our final run along the back creeks of the Murray River would be through Lock 7 again to the Mullaroo Creek. We would go down the Lindsay to the Murray with a small diversion through Salt Creek before the final run to Renmark.
After breakfast we packed up camp and prepared the boats. I’m going to miss having bacon and eggs cooked for me every morning for breakfast.
We went back through Lock 7 and down the Mullaroo. Going down the stony crossing was much easier.
We took a few photos of the boats going over the crossing then made our way through the rest of the creek. Todd and I battled with each other but he had a little more pace than me.
When we got to the spot where Greg lost his gearbox I marked the spot with my GPS, so it would be easy to find at a later date.
We made our way out of the Mullaroo and down the Lindsay River to the Murray. The next lot of creeks start a couple of kilometres upstream from Higgins Cutting. This is the top end of Salt Creek.
The Logs of Salt Creek
Before the trip I went through all the creeks to check that they were ok but I didn’t get to go through this one.
A local to the area told me it was a good creek with a couple of logs at the start but once you get through them it was plain sailing. Well there were a few more than a couple of logs! About every 50 metres there was some sort of obstruction. It took a few hours to get to good water.
At least now we were up on the plane and covering a lot more ground. In the shallow spots we had to drag our boat because of the standard transom, while the guys with jacks could zip by.
Finally we came to Punkah Creek and I knew we didn’t have far to go to reach the prearranged RV.
By now we were late again. When we pulled in Kim asked, ”What happened?“ I said, “Just had to drag over a couple of logs.” That was an under-statement. We’ve renamed the creek “Bloody Salt Creek”.
We ate lunch like it was our last meal. We never said much. Everyone was pretty shagged. The weather was warming up and we were thinking about the trip from here to Renmark.
I was concerned about my gearbox as it was leaking oil from the seal. The bent shaft must have damaged the seal.
We topped it up with oil and Cliff and Kim thought it would be ok to continue. We finished our lunch, filled our water bottles and pushed on. We wanted to reach Renmark before it was too late.
We continued on through the Punkah, squeezed under the footbridge and then through the shallow water. The Punkah flows into the Chowilla.
I wanted to go through the Monoman but that would take much longer than straight down the Chowilla to the Murray River. Just before we reached the river, Greg stopped with fuel problems. It was the fuel pump. To keep it running he had to keep squeezing the fuel line bulb.
For the rest of us it was a pretty easy run down to Renmark. When we arrived the Support Crew had already set up camp in the caravan park.
The hot showers were soothing to our weary bodies. After the showers everyone found a comfortable chair and a cold ale.
Soon there was talk about preparing for next year, and a houseboat was mentioned with boats zipping through creeks as the houseboat cruised along the Murray. Sounds great, count me in!
Kim Epton, Steve Leersen, Leah Adams, Alan Barndon, Greg Barndon, Margot Barndon, John Bousfield, Stephen Bousfield, Steve Brown, Cliff Hills, John Haynes, Kevin Williams, Ian Williamson (deceased), Todd Williamson
The Search for Greg’s Gearbox
I had marked the spot on my GPS so I could find it easily by land. Before heading off to the Mullaroo I checked the batteries (I didn’t want to drive 100 kilometres only to find that the batteries were flat)
I was within a few kilometres of the area where I knew the gearbox would be, so I turned on the GPS and selected ‘landmarks’ on the menu. I couldn’t believe my eyes. The screen showed ‘files are empty’. What’s going on here, I thought. I switched it off and back on again and had the same answer. There was nothing I could do but walk along the bank and hope to recognise the landscape, after a couple of hours I gave it away and decided to go home. I would have to come back in a boat and motor along to the area and find the tape left on the tree root.
Before heading off on my salvage mission I had loaned to the GPS to John Chigros to do some speed testing. What could go wrong, it’s only a GPS and they’re foolproof?
I returned to the general area with a boat and motored along the Mullaroo Creek until I found the duct tape attached to the tree. We then found the snag and proceeded to search the area. The log was about 200 mm under the water in the middle of the creek. It was in the perfect driving line, so I don’t know why everyone else missed it.
Underwater the visibility was zero. It reminded me of cave diving without any lights. We searched for most of the day with no luck. As it was getting late we would have to come back the next day. I marked the spot on my GPS again.
We would drive back next time – it would be much quicker.
When I returned I searched around the marked log with no success. I decided to search a bit further upstream in the direction Greg had been travelling. After an hour of searching I found the gearbox approximately 50 metres from the point of impact. Eureka!!
© Steve Leersen and Kim Epton 2004-2019
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Text by Steve Leersen
Editing and layout by Kim Epton
Additional text by Leah Adams