Well done to the intrepid dozen Swannies who joined me for the first ‘winter version’ of the Murray Delta Paddle!
Driving down to our start at South Yunderup it did look a bit damp and we arrived to find Tony huddled under the door of Jetty’s Bar and Grill in an excellent impersonation of a drowned rat! So things could only get better from there on – and they certainly did – with cool and cloudy conditions, but otherwise rain free, for the rest of the day. Perfect winter paddling!
With an overly-cautious approach to sending our team into a potentially flood swollen river, this year’s paddle route was revised after a reconnaissance the week before, to reduce the total length and minimise the amount of upstream paddling. On the day however it turned out to be a very pleasant smooth ride as we cruised downstream from Jetty’s Bar and Grill past the riverside ‘shacks’ and their private jetties (now above water) and into the natural bushland environs of Wargooloop channel along the northern side of Cooleenup Island.
Emerging out near Coopers Mill we headed around Jennala Island and into the lower part of the Serpentine River (the Murray and Serpentine on one trip – what a bargain!). Heading into Peel Inlet your leader tried in vain to get a few paddlers entangled in the jaws of a dredging barge but we had to settle with a few dolphins for entertainment instead.
Going back into the Murray, we stopped for lunch at the well-appointed picnic spot (yes, with BBQs and loos!) on the southern side of Cooleenup Island, and revisited Coopers Mill to admire the local history artefacts and the flood level record on it’s side.
The return paddle up the main boating channel was against the river flow but of little significance to our battle-hardened team. After some detours into nooks and crannies looking for birds and more dolphins, most of us tackled the delicate landing manouvere near ‘Pelicans on the Murray Café’ and proceeded to balance out the health benefits of our exercise with coffee or hot chocolate, and a trough of chips!
A small contingent decided to stay on-water to explore the nearby canal development and were rewarded with more dolphin displays. Given the unexpectedly benign river conditions we all paddled back upstream to Jetty’s Bar and Grill rather than the earlier planned car shuffle from ‘Pelicans’.
Some diehards stayed for a drink at the bar, and then we headed home to buy a lottery ticket to build upon our luck in having avoided the rain and wind that had most of us (not you Patrick!) in hibernation for some time leading up to the paddle.
Thanks all, a good day – with a great mob!