Day 14 – Murray Bridge across Lake Alexandrina to Goolwa

Thursday 26 March 1982

The trip across the notorious Lake Alexandrina was the last great obstacle of what was a monumental journey.  Over the years the Lake has claimed a number of victims.  It can become extremely rough in a very short time.

We tackled Lake Alexandrina as early as possible – before the winds became too strong.

Although the wind was only light to moderate when the boat crews started their lake journey it was a headwind.  Boats became airborne as they bounded across the confused pattern of waves.  Flat bottomed dinghies are not the ideal design to tackle waves and chop.  It was bone jarring for the crews and a test for the hulls after such a long journey.

With the shoreline not being visible once out in the great open expanse of Lake Alexandrina, navigation by compass was the only option.  Reading a compass accurately, however, is not all that easy in a small craft being bounced and tossed around.

Regardless, navigation was precise and once out of the Lake the only obstacle remaining was the barrage lock that holds back the seawater.  Through passage and a refuel was made in short time.

However, just as the crews started their motors to head off for the last few kilometres of the journey, the start rope on John’s motor broke.  After so many kilometres it would have been tough indeed if he and Ted were unable to complete the last section of the journey. Roly collected a spare motor from the bus that was waiting nearby and he and George got them underway again.

The boat crews headed to the mouth of the river, performing some precision driving manouevres along the way for the benefit of the cameraman in the news helicopter hovering just above.  Mark had inveigled his way into the chopper and was able to film some exciting sequences for the documentary.

The arrival at the mouth of Australia’s longest river system was as sweet a reward as any boat enthusiast could wish for after such a long, difficult and adventurous journey.

The river expedition concluded but it was then time to prepare for the ‘post expedition expedition’.

The bus had to be repacked for the trip across the Nullarbor.  Boats were tied to the roof (a total of eight plus one canoe).  As Roly was not returning with the main party all the gear from Escort had to be shifted into the bus.  Finally, all was ready and the westward journey began.


 Departed Murray Bridge 0737    
Wellington 0848    
Goolwa Barrage Lock 1105    
Departed Goolwa Lock 1125    
Mouth of the Murray 1145    
Running Time 3 hours 43 mins 110 hours 51 mins 114 hours 34 mins
Refuelling 2 mins 7 hours 38 mins 7 hours 40 mins
Delays 23 mins 18 hours 07 mins 18 hours 30 mins
TOTAL TIME 4 hours 08 mins 136 hours 36mins 140 hours 44mins
Distance 114 kilometres 3312 kilometres 3426 kilometres
Average Speed 30.7 kmh 29.9 kmh 29.9 kmh

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