Day 3 – Goondiwindi to Yarrowee Station

Monday 15 March 1982

After Goondiwindi the floodwater of Macintyre River was to create navigation challenges for the boat crew and access issues for the refuelling crew. The river narrowed and became more winding.

The floods peaked about 20 kilometres downriver of Goondiwindi, spreading over the countryside and, in many places, cutting roads and isolating towns.  By Terrawah Station it was very difficult to follow the course of the river.

The floods caused great problems for the wildlife.  Many snakes, kangaroos, pigs and other animals were swimming, or stranded on high ground.

At one point we spotted a tiger snake swimming across the river.  Mario wanted to take a photograph of it but it took a lot of encouragement before he could get me to take the boat close enough.

Wild pigs were trying to cross the river.  Pandemonium broke loose as boats darted all over the river chasing them.  Eventually, two little piglets were hauled from their watery haven and claimed for the pot.

The height of the floods caused problems for the boat crews.  Tree branches that would normally be well clear of the water were now obstructing progress or creating underwater hazards.  Two boats collided with trees – one swamped.

At the Boomi River junction the weir that normally diverts part of the water from the Macintyre River down the Boomi was out of sight – under water.  Navigation was difficult in the floodwater and on numerous occasions we in the boat crews had to cast around looking for the correct channel.

The support crew in Escort, Mark and Cam, were having their own problems trying to reach the boats.  Poor maps and flooded roads were thwarting their efforts.  Many kilometres of tracks and roads were flooded and impassable.

The Boomi River is an anabranch that rejoins the river 210 kilometres downstream, from which point the river is known as the Barwon.

After rendezvousing with the crew from Escort at Boonanga Bridge I realised that there was a distinct possibility that the boat crews would not reach Mungindi, and the main support crew, before dark.  The alternative was to camp at Boonanga.  However, as the other support vehicles would not be able to reach the bridge, because the roads were passable only to 4WD vehicles as a result of the floods, I decided to push on. 

Mark and Cam in Escort refuelled the boats at Boonanga Bridge and then drove into Mungindi via Boomi and booked into the caravan park.  What was expected to be one of the park’s biggest single influx of patrons did not happen.  Bob, Ted, Ivan and Tony in the bus and Rover were unable to reach Mungindi and spent the night at Nyngan.

Members of the Expedition kept Daily Log Sheets.  Mario’s contribution for the day encapsulated the excitement and dangers of power dinghy expeditions:

“At the fuel stop I changed boats and went with my good friend George the tireless motor mechanic but the mad boat driver.  As usual we were going at full speed.  Two boats had stopped on a curve in the river.  The only way through was between two trees. We hit a stump.  The boat was thrown to the right.  I hit my head and face against a tree on the left, got thrown out of the boat, went underneath it with the motor still going and the boat climbing up my shoulder”

All part of the experience!  The Expedition continued.

At nightfall the boat crews were stranded 28 kilometres upstream of Yarrowee Station.  Camp was made on a very small strip of dry land between the river and surrounding swamplands.  The incongruity of the situation – being stranded with little food, no shelter and no dry clothes yet having bean bags on which to relax – was not lost on the crew.

During the last half hour of the day’s run my boat had barely been able to reach planing speed.

The motor had a badly bent propeller shaft.  George and I decided to straighten the shaft with the only tool suitable for the task – a large log.  After only one blow the boat became a towing proposition for the next day.


 Departed Goondiwindi  0730    
Boomi River Junction 1225    
Boonanga Bridge (fuel) 1505    
Departed Boonanga Bridge 1539    
Riverside camp (overnight) 1850    
Running Time 9 hours 12 mins 6 hours 55 mins 16 hours 07 mins
Refuelling      34 mins 1 hour 21 mins 1 hour 55 mins
Delays 1 hour 34 mins 1 hour 44 mins 3 hour 18 mins
TOTAL TIME 11 hours 20 mins 10 hours 00 mins 21 hours 20 mins
Distance 207 kilometres 208 kilometres 415 kilometres
Average Speed 22.5 kmh 30.1 kmh 25.8 kmh

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