Day 2 – Yarrawonga to Tocumwal

Tony’s foresight in retrieving the boats the previous night proved fortunate. Unfamiliarity with procedures meant that it was 0900 before the move to Yarrawonga was underway and it would have been midday if the recovery operation had been left till morning.

There seemed no urgency in getting on the water after we arrived at Yarrawonga Weir (perhaps as a result of the cold weather, perhaps the realisation that that a record attempt needed to be all about ‘push, push, push’ had not yet sunk in.

After much stuffing around the boats departed  at 1045 (Tuesday 8 June 1993). I despatched Kevin and The Bus crew to repair the spare wheel holder that had broken when passing through Mulwala the previous day. They were to catch up to the boats when they could.

Tony and I took bush tracks through the forest to rendezvous with the boat crews. Most of the tracks were not on the map.  The boat crews reported seeing many campers and fishermen along the way in what seemed like isolated spots.  The low water revealed sand bars and snags that once again slowed progress.

As the boat crews headed towards Tocumwal it became evident that the planned stop at Echuca was unobtainable. The consequence of this realisation was that the crew in The Bus had to turn around from their target of Echuca. Tony and I were out of radio and mobile telephone range so the only alternative was to drive towards Echuca to establish comms.

This opened the possibility of us missing the planned refuelling rv with the boat crews.  We could not be in two places at once. We made a quick recce of Time Out Caravan Park, about three kilometres downriver from Tocumwal, and I decided it was suitable overnight stop. We placed flagging tape, a  red flag and on the mud on the river bank a message for the boat crews to stop there. I hoped the boat crews would see our signals!

We then dashed off to catch The Bus.  Approaching the bitumen road from the bush track that is the entry into the caravan park, I heard Adrian calling on the Nav Boat radio. The boat crews had reached Tocumwal. They had made better time than expected although water levels were still low.

Tony and I were only only a few hundred metres away so we headed to the river, told the boat crews of plans and let them continue to the caravan park. We again headed towards Echuca and The Bus. Luckily we established contact when we were only three kilometres out of Tocumwal.  Bernie, Kevin, and Rin in The Bus were 30 kilometres out of Echuca. The extra 60 kilometres they had to travel to get to the caravan park meant that they would not arrive until just on dark.  

Meanwhile, Tony and I headed back into the caravan park along the now quite familiar track. Adrian, Geoff, Greg, Michael, Peter and Stewart had arrived by boat at 1615 and were waiting on the beach. Two of the boats were transported to the campsite in the caravan park, about 200 metres away.  Both needed maintenance.

While waiting for the The Bus to arrive we mounted a search for firewood – not an easy task in a popular camping area. We emptied the boating equipment from the back of the ute and, after 30 minutes searching and collecting, filled it.

Fortunately we had a large flat grassed area in the caravan park on which to establish camp.  This was to be the first time it had been set up properly.  With only a small amount of stuffing around the annex was quickly erected.  Its size and ease of erection silenced earlier critics who were unable to erect it on the first night. Next to the campsite was a large flat area of concrete that was an ideal work area.

The toll of damaged gearboxes was mounting.  Cannibalisation of other motors was the only way to keep the show on the river. I hoped that deeper water would be found farther downstream and lessen further damage.

Rin had been sick most of the day and after the evening meal Adrian drove him to a doctor at Finley.  They returned with a diagnosis of gastroenteritis and a prescription to be filled tomorrow.

It was Tony’s turn to relax.

Lessons learnt on Day Two were:

  • The method of ground support leant from 20 years of dinghy racing (do not pass checkpoints until through passage of of boats is confirmed) also applies to expeditions unless comms can be guaranteed to next downstream rv.
  • Maintenance of motors is vital. Gearbox oil must be changed daily, particularly with ‘rubberised’ gearboxes.
  • Camp away from populated areas or collect wood on the way to a popular spot.

Go to DAY 3 – Tocumwal to Barham