Route Planning and Navigation

Route Planning and Navigation were key to the success of the expedition.

The late Bob Cooper and I did the initial, ‘broad brush’ route planning.

The final plan evolved as below:

Day and Date                                                        Overnight

Saturday         14                                                  Albury
Sunday           15                                                  Corowa
Monday          16                                                  Morgans Beach
Tuesday         17                                                  Lock 26
Wednesday     18                                                 Nyah
Thursday        19                                                  Robinvale
Friday            20                                                  Mildura
Saturday         21                                                  Lock 6
Sunday           22                                                  Waiderie
Monday          23                                                  Mannum
Tuesday         24                                                  Goolwa

We obtained copies of the River Murray Charts and Murray River Pilot.

I spent many hours pasting each page of the River Murray Charts and the Murray River Pilot together to form a strip map that was covered in clear plastic to make it waterproof and durable.

These three rolls of charts covering the whole length of the river were placed on an aluminium holder and used similar to ancient scrolls.

Roly Ritson produced a waterproof map of each day’s planned travel. These ten maps proved invaluable throughout the trip.

During the expedition Roly, David Whitney, Vic Watt and I alternated as navigators. From Yarrawonga the three part strip map was used in conjunction with the daily charts.

The support crew was advised per radio of the location of the boats every 15 minutes. (if possible) This was facilitated by marking the grid references from the relevant 1:100 000 map onto the daily chart which was also carried in the Nav Boat.

An orienteering type compass was used when crossing Lakes Mulwala and Alexandrina.

Each evening Roly spent many hours planning the next day’s travel, calculating fuel stops (with alternatives) and the overnight stop with two alternatives. Roly and Harvey were in close liaison on these matters, often burning the midnight oil.

The charts were so accurate and detailed that it required little effort or time to establish or re-establish the position of the boats when required or should there ever exist any uncertainty. There was, however, some difficulty in relating the charts to other maps as the charts show roads at very few locations and then only when the road is very close to the river. Reference to the daily chart was needed to overcome this problem.

One might imagine that following a defined river course would preclude the possibility of becoming lost but this is not so nor was it a simple matter of just ‘heading off’.

Careful pre-planning and liaison was necessary to avoid delays (at fuel stops and locks) and ensure that continual contact was able to be maintained between the boat crews and the support crew.


© Kim Epton 1981-2022
494 words, three photographs, seven images
Text and layout Kim Epton
Photographs by David Whitney, Tony Poole, Vic Watt, Roly Ritson

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