Upper Murray Paddle and Nanga Weekend – SEPTEMBER 2023



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On Friday 8th September a group of ‘Swannies’ travelled down to Dwellingup and the Nanga Bush Camp for the weekend. Elena Lennox had organised two houses, Hermitage and Marbo for the fifteen of us. Down at the Hermitage we had Elena, Colin, Craig, Ian, Roz, Fiona, Lisa, Jennifer, and Geoff, and up the hill at Marbo we had Vicki, Fran, Gemma, Karrie, Des, and Penny. It was a great setting in the forest, not far from the river and best of all we had a nice open fire at the Hermitage.


On Friday we had a pleasant wander upriver to near the new footbridge below Baden-Powell with hot soup and homemade bread for dinner, followed by a tango lesson from Craig and Fran! We sat around the fire before going to bed and were unlucky to have noisy neighbours playing music until around 1.30am, but most of us managed to sleep.


On Saturday, Elena, Colin, Craig, Des, Geoff, Karrie, Fran, and Vicki went through the locked boom gate and headed down the riverside track on the Middle Murray River looking to ‘park and play’ on the rapids. Vicki, Fran, and Geoff practised their ferry gliding, breaking in and breaking out on the rapids near the picnic ground, while Elena, Colin, Craig, and Des ran the Middle Murray to the get out point, while Karrie took pics and did the car shuffle. We had a great day and we all managed to be tired but dry, unlike Gemma, Ian and Roz who got wet walking into Dwellingup. That night we all had a pleasant pub dinner at the Dwellingup Hotel, in an overheated dining room, perhaps intended to encourage us to drink more?

Unfortunately, our noisy neighbours played loud doof-doof music until about 4.30am which was painful, especially for those in the direct firing line up at Marbo.


On Sunday Colin and Janet joined us for the Upper Murray Paddle and we all went upstream to Yarragil and dumped the boats, gear, and non-drivers before going back to Baden-Powell where we left our cars and dry gear. Having some non-paddlers was a bonus, as Ian and Roz and Jennifer were kind enough to ferry us back to Yarragil, meaning we didn’t need our usual car shuffle. On the water we split into two groups with Geoff’s group having Fran, Vicki, Karrie, Craig, and Colin Scully as tail-end Charlie. Colin Priest’s group had Janet, Gemma, and Des and Elena as back-up.

We all had a play on the first rapid which was good fun and the newer paddlers impressed with Janet, Gemma, Fran, and Vicki demonstrating good white-water skills and once again we all stayed dry! We worked our way downstream from there through a few small rapids and around a few tea-tree thickets for about four kilometres until we reached Island Pool. With the water being lower than last year there seemed to be more rocks than usual. Geoff went through first followed by the rest of the group and most of us ran through fine. Karrie was unlucky in her longer kayak, when she brushed a rock on her left, feeling somewhat hot with embarrassment she dived into the water to cool off. Not being the sort of girl to give up, she promptly carried her boat back above the rapid and ran through cleanly wearing a large smile. Colin’s group also ran the rapid cleanly and I was particularly impressed with Janet making a clean run in her first contact with white water.

Our usual lunch stop, on river left, had a few fishermen on the platform so we went over to river right where Ian and Roz were waving, and joined them for lunch on the river bank. With batteries recharged, legs stretched and calls to mother nature sorted we headed off downriver again weaving our way on the moving water through beautiful forest.

At Bob’s Crossing, Craig got annoyed with his club paddle and managed to break it. Fortunately, Colin Scully had his trusty back-up paddle handy, and we soon had Craig paddling again. Colin and I agreed that breaking that particular paddle was the nicest thing that could have happened to it. There was a bit of tomfoolery when a drifting tennis ball was found and thrown about, until Colin reached out a bit too far and flipped his Finnatic. He failed his first roll but recovered with his second roll to cheering from the crowd.

Finally, after about a ten-kilometre paddle we made it back to Baden-Powell and those beautiful dry clothes. The wet gear was packed away, more cake was eaten, and boats were tied onto cars. Geoff won the prize for the most tie downs ever used to secure three kayaks on a vehicle, and after that we all headed back to Perth. We had a great paddle, and it was really good to see our newer white-water paddlers improving with each trip and reassuring to see the club developing a group interested in white-water. Once again, a special thanks to Elena for organising the Nanga Bush Camp accommodation and helping out on the paddle. Likewise, thanks again to Colin Priest, Colin Scully, and Des McLean for being there and for everyone else for coming along. Hopefully we’ll see the same faces on the Blackwood River paddle in November and have some more white-water fun.


Geoff Emery 13/09/23.

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