Kayak the entire length of the Murray River from it’s source up in the Aussie Alps to the it’s mouth at Goolwa, South Australia.
- Andrew Crawley
- James Castrission
- Justin Jones
Distance Covered: 2560km
Days paddling: 49 days
First kayak traverse of the Murray River
A real Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer style adventure! This was the first big proper expedition that I’d been on. In a way it also was part of my rite of passage into manhood (I know how corny that sounds).
We started from Dead Horse Gap near Thredbo in the Aussie Alps and walked 45km that first day to Cowombat flat where the might Murray springs out of a marsh. We then followed this river by foot for the next two days. After initially walking along side the bank and making ridiculously slow progress due to the thick vegetation we ended up swimming down the river using our packs as floatation devices and kick boards. Although we’d waterproofed our packs as much as possible, a lot of our electronic equipment was damaged and food, sleeping and cooking gear saturated. It meant we had a very tough couple of days huddling together for warmth in the frigid nights in the Aussie Alps.
Near Murray (Hell’s) Gates we met with the team from Rapid Descents and rafted down the grade 4 rapids with them, that our touring kayaks would not have been able to manage. Admittedly after running down grade 3 rapids on our packs, the thrill of running down a rapid with 5 other people and on a big rubber raft seemed slightly diminished!
We met with Cas’s dad and Brother Clary at the end of this leg and after having an impromptu feast that evening, we jumped into our Dagger Apostle kayaks…with approx 2500km in front of us before we’d hit the ocean.
The next month and half saw us paddling along the lifeblood of South Eastern Australia. We’d paddle from town to town sleeping on the side of the bank. At the towns along the way we’d pick up supplies, doing the odd bit of fundraising for the Starlight Children’s Foundation.
It was amazing to be able to experience the country side of Australia in such an intimate manner. Have snakes mistake you for bits of driftwood floating in the river, bake in the harsh Aussie summer sun, pull into the bank and hear the water gurgle past as you sat chopping veggies for that nights dinner…of course cooked over an open fire.
The people we met will ALWAYS stick in my mind. The river might be the lifeblood that the farms, towns and environment require to survive, but it’s the people, the characters along the banks that make up the story of the Murray River and Australia. Their names have slipped by my mind now, but their faces and tales never will. The widower living at the Swan Reach Caravan Park suffering from terminal cancer waiting for his number to be called, taking time from some of his final days to teach three boys lessons about the Aussie outback. The old codger that lived on the Gypsy Ellen paddle steamer. He’d waiting on deck for a week to see us paddle past us after hearing us do an interview on the ABC. We’d unwittingly almost managed to slip past him until he hailed us back, offered to cook us a rib eye steak each and gave us $100 to donate to charity. To this day I regret bring our city slicker paranoia with us and not having the grace to sit with him and have that steak.
We finished the expedition in January 2002…paddling into across Lake Alexandrina (so big we lost sight of the bank on two sides of us), through the final lock and into the open ocean.
We used Dagger Apostle Kayaks to kayak down the mighty Murray. Food and provisions were picked up along the way at towns along the river.
This expedition would not have been possible without the financial, media and product support from the following companies: (Perhaps these would be best visually represented)
- Resi Mortgage Corporation
- Dagger Kayaks
- Mountain Equipment
- Rapid Descents