Day 2 Mulcra Island to Wentworth
After a good night’s sleep we woke to the smell of bacon and eggs cooking. Just the thing to get us ready for our upriver trip to Wentworth and the Darling River.
After breakfast, Todd finished fixing a crack in his boat. The repair on my cover had hardened over night and was ready to go. Leah was about to have her first trip in the boat.
Today we plan to head through Lock 8 and along the Frenchman to the Walpolla. After lunch at Ropella Rocks we will head onto Wentworth where we turn into the Darling River for about 50 kilometres and then return to Wentworth to camp the night.
After passing through Lock 8 we motored up to the Big Rigamy levee.
A short drag and lift and we were into the Frenchman Creek. This is the main channel that fills Lake Victoria.
We were supposed to go through the Frenchman regulator but it had been closed off since last time I checked and the only option was to go around.
We had to drag over rocks and through a fence and then up and over a built up road, then back into the creek.
With a little team work it was made easy – although Leah thought that treacherous was a better description of the experience.
Meanwhile, the Support Crew were waiting at the Lock 9 boat ramp, the planned RV.
The inordinate amount of time spent in doing this section and the lack of information was a cause of great concern to Kim. Eventually, to the relief of all on land, they arrived with Leah and Todd standing up in their boat.
Lock 9 Boat Ramp
The sound of boats arriving was a great relief to the Support Crew.
We had a quick drink and pushed on to the Walpolla Creek. This is one of my favourite waterways because there are a maze of creeks all joined up together and you can spend days in there just driving around exploring each one. I think everyone enjoyed the Walpolla. It was a shame we couldn’t spend more time in there.
We came out of the Deadman Creek and drove across the Murray River to a sandbar on the other side. Margot couldn’t believe there was a toilet in the middle of the scrub. From here it was a quick blast up to Ropella Rocks for lunch.This is one of my favourite waterways because there are a maze of creeks all joined up together and you can spend days in there just driving around exploring each one.
Kim had arrived before us and decided that a spot a bit further on around the corner was a good spot for lunch as it had a sandy beach and a picnic table.
Meanwhile we had landed and were waiting for the Support Crew to arrive at the chosen spot. Todd decided to kill some time by going for a spin upstream. He returned a short time later and told us that the Support Crew were around the corner. We jumped in the boats and raced off to lunch.
Once again lunch was very appetising, with cold sliced meat and salad and my favourite, fresh soft bread rolls.
After lunch it was off to Wentworth and up the Darling.
Because of the low rainfall the Darling had stopped flowing so we could only go about 50 kilometres safely before the water turns to sludge.
At Wentworth we waited for the Support Crew to catch up. While we waited we met some local native kids swimming in the river. Some of them had an old bread dolly with a seat on it and were riding it down the boat ramp and into the river. When we arrived they came over to look at our brightly coloured and funny-shaped boats. A few questions and then they were gone.
The Support Crew arrived and we quickly refuelled the boats and set off up the Darling. Little did we know that we had missed a 4 knot zone sign. It was overgrown by grass.
Back on the Darling the plan was to head up to the Tapio Station mail box. It was about 50 kilometres by water and, as it was right beside the road, it would be easy to find by land.
The Darling is a lovely, winding, narrow river and at about 70 kph it is very exciting. Unfortunately we were only doing about 40 kph and it was not quite as exhilarating but I enjoyed it anyway and so did Steve as he had never been up the Darling before.
The whole point of doing the run was so we can say we’ve been on the great Darling River, Australia’s longest.
It had been about 14 years since I had been on this part of the Darling and there was a section that had cut through to form a horseshoe. Because of the high bank it was difficult to tell whether it was a creek leading off or the river.
We stopped for a while for me to get my bearings then once I realised what had happened, we moved on.
The lower end of the Darling is virtually log free. We used to run a two day race from Pooncarie to Wentworth – a distance of about 150 kilometres.
We met the Support Crew and had a drink then headed back to Wentworth.
Browny wanted to have a drive so he took over the tiller and we were off again. It had been a while since Steve had done a trip like this and he loved every minute of it – he was very glad that he came.
On one corner Todd and Ian nearly flipped their boat. They caught a wave and Ian fell out. He looked pretty wet when we came by. After that they relieved the boredom by standing up in their boat.
About 10 kilometres from Wentworth Kev ran out of fuel so Ian and Greg stopped to transfer some of their fuel to Kev’s tank. We kept going because it wasn’t far to Wentworth.
Entering Wentworth we saw the clearly signposted 4 knot zone and proceeded onto the caravan park where hopefully Kim had already booked in and chosen a good spot.
When we pulled in to the spot where the Support Crew had parked there was some guy with a dog arguing with Kim about yahoos in boats speeding past the caravan park and that he (Kim) should have told us to slow down.
By now Kim was getting a bit pissed off with this guy’s attitude, and replied, “How could I tell them, they had no radios and they were on the water.”
The park manager didn’t let up despite the fact no harm was done and he and his dog were probably causing more unrest in the park than us.
I mentioned that we hadn’t seen the sign but he said, “That’s no excuse“ and walked off like a wanker, grumbling to himself.
I’ve travelled around Australia and stayed in many caravan parks and have never met a park manager with an attitude like that.
Boat maintenance was done, camp was set up and the evening meal was cooking. Aaahh, it was time to have a bourbon.
Everyone headed for a much needed shower.
Kim can come camping with me anytime – his meals were fantastic. After a scrumptious meal it was time to relax and have a chat – about boats, of course.
Leah was having trouble with the digital camera and asked me to look at it. She couldn’t work out why the memory stick was full because Ian had only taken one photo. After reading the instructions it turned out that the function was set on video and we had a five minute video.
Everyone was pretty beat from today’s effort so we all had an early night.