A Windy Day in Shoalwater Bay
While you might think that work is the curse of the paddling class, for me it’s the wind. At this time of year, the weather gods take delight in sending us easterly winds, that often get up over twenty knots and do more than ruffle my thinning hair.
We’d planned the Shoalwater Bay paddle for Sunday, the twenty-seventh of February and not unexpectedly the weather gods, probably with a sinister chuckle, gave us a strong wind warning. Undeterred, ten hardy Swan Canoe Club paddlers went south anyway, and found that the wind was a gentler fifteen or so knots or twenty-seven kilometres an hour if you prefer. There was the usual scramble to unload boats and gear, carry the kayaks to the water’s edge and get ready for a briefing, before hitting the water. I was impressed that everyone was on time and ready to go, no doubt hoping for a briefer briefing from me.
Martin ‘Delta’ Wells led us off the beach and north west toward Bird Island, while Rowan ‘Badger’ Davidson was our man in the middle, leaving Geoff “Two Dogs” Emery to be the tail-end Charlie. We had the usual suspects, ‘Eskimo Roll’ Mike, ‘Epic’ Trish, ‘Ozgirl’ Janet, ‘I Brake for No-one’ Evi, ‘Qi Gong’ Elena, ‘No Dog’ Colin and ‘New Girl’ Fran. The wind fetch and the resulting waves increased as we paddled further out from the shore, and a rudder problem in the Scorpio made it difficult for Fran to control the boat. Trish was also having some rudder problems but managing o.k. It was somewhat of a relief to get in to the lee of Bird Island and have a break in the green lagoon there, adjoining the small cave. Having had a rest and girded our loins once more, Martin led us north to Point Peron where we had to dodge a few snorkellers and a side sea that was determined to push us onto rocks. With the wind rising, we abandoned Mushroom Rock and turned south toward Seal Island.
The wind increased, gusting at times to twenty knots, creating a few white caps and the occasional breaking wave, but overall, the kayaks felt more stable punching into the wind, rather than being pushed from behind into a broach. We made Seal Island and met up with Jimmy and his flotilla of double sea kayaks from Capricorn Sea Kayaks and had a chat. The three sea lions sleeping on the beach appeared uninterested in the crowd of onlookers, and after weaving our way through all the craft, we paddled on south to Penguin Island.
In view of the forecast twenty to twenty five knots of wind from the south west, we landed on the east side of Penguin Island and had a leg stretch and some brunch on the west side of the island. In fact, there wasn’t a lot of surf on the west side and in retrospect, it would have been a straight forward landing. Having attempted a repair of the Scorpio rudder, we headed off north to Gull Rock and Seal Island once more, with Mike leading us back to shore, near Manuel Towers.
Once the kayaks were loaded on the cars, we headed down to Pengo’s for some social distancing and a coffee. At the end of the day, I was impressed that Fran, having only started paddling in December, managed her maiden sea voyage, with a damaged rudder. Well done, Fran. Thanks to Martin, Rowan, Elena and Colin for support on the water, to Mike for navigating us back home and to Janet, Trish and Evi for just being there.
A good day on the high seas with good company.
Broke 2022 Trip Report
Broke 2022 was attacked by just 10 adventurous souls this year. The roll call being; Geoff Emery, Elena Lennox, Colin Scully, Paul and Ruth Covolato, Trish Schuttler, Susie Parker, Phyll Tiller, Marjan Shircore and myself. A ‘dream team’ ?? of experienced Brokers.
For much of the trip we were rewarded with mild (low twenty degree) temperatures, the occasional gentle pitter patter of rain, and some ‘challenging’ wind conditions (approaching 20 knots on one day) – what more could Swannie paddlers possibly want as an escape from Perth!
On Sunday 23rd a preliminary early morning reccie was undertaken by Geoff and myself to determine we had no competition for our usual ‘Windy Point’ campsite, and while Geoff was supposed to be preparing the red carpet and gin and tonics, I paddled across for the team briefing on the beach at Camfield.
The team was presented with a busy car parking situation, a pleasantly (just) higher water level than last year, and initially warm temperatures. The cats were herded together for the briefing after dragging Phyll away from providing fishing advice to a local power boatie, and we then set across to Windy Point as the wind started increase to what became the norm for much of the trip.
Meanwhile at camp, Geoff discovers and secures an empty fishing boat that has drifted across onto Windy Point and so he returns to Camfield to find the owner/s. Needless to say the boat owner/s, while grateful for his Geoff’s efforts, failed to provide the anticipated carton of cool ones as a reward. Geoff then proceeded back to the campsite under sail but after a convoluted course and a damaged mast, it was decided that Susie’s sailing expertise should be tapped into for advice on any future kayak sailing activities.
Camp set up with Geoff, Marty and Susie in the exclusive real estate of ‘Urea Heights’ and the remainder on sand flats with careful spacing to avoid impact from snoring competitions. Colin was the next to make a return trip to Camfield in order to retrieve a second tent after his and Elena’s borrowed one didn’t live up to expectations upon set-up.
This, and subsequent, evenings were spent in social camaraderie (otherwise referred to by some as ‘jaw-boning’) under the cover of Geoff’s tarp and around our virtual campfires. Meals were critiqued and many benefited by the addition of copious amounts of parmesan cheese and red wine. The beers sadly didn’t retain their coolness for long and much discussion devoted to how a decent small solar powered esky could be developed for Broke trips – this matter being left for Colin to resolve before next year. Massages were dispensed by Elena and Geoff with a passion and strength to match those of previous years, and with no subsequent trips to physios that I have heard of – so far!
Monday 24th was a tad windy with up to 20 knots from the south east at times. We headed down wind towards Shannon River – initially a cruisy journey with paddle blades acting as sails as we generally stuck close to the shore. It became more challenging as we needed to head more side-on to the waves (in shallow water) to get to the entrance into Shannon River. This involved a bit of wading dragging boats but thereafter we were protected from the wind and it was a pleasant meandering paddle upstream to the spot off Springbreak Road for lunch. The return journey across the inlet and into the wind was a good workout, and on completion of about 25 km that day it ensured we had no excuse for not being able to sleep that night.
Tuesday 25th saw four of the team opt for a day relaxing in camp as the predominantly south easterly wind remained, although not as strong. Susie’s beachcomber immediately developed rudder cable problems and Elena kindly lent her the Stellar for the day, with Geoff and Colin volunteering to attempt a repair rather than just relaxing in camp. Six of us then set out into the teeth of the wind (mild exaggeration permitted) heading for the shore east of Coal Point where, flushed with renewed energy, we decided to go on to Birthday Beach and Bald Island.
Landing on the sheltered beach around the corner from Birthday Beach we explored this beautiful area with its granite boulders masquerading as large loaves of bread and the secluded camp sites amongst the trees. All rather special in the absence of any other campers due to Fisherman’s track being closed to 4WDs by Parks and Wildlife to prevent disturbance to migratory bird nesting sites around Coal Point and the inlet sand-bar. Lunch was held on top of the granite dome of Bald Island where unsuccessful attempts made to radio back to those on Windy Point that all was AOK. Return trip with wind behind us was made without incident by remaining close to shore again. Given the lack of earlier radio contact we were met by Geoff and Colin coming out to escort us back in after a total of about 18 km this day.
Wednesday 26th Australia Day! was marked by a communal breakfast and games of Bocce before Susie and Trish (with Geoff as escort) headed across to Camfield for departure to Perth. All others then paddled in lighter winds towards the inlet sand-bar and ocean beach. Geoff had another sail attempting to catch us before reaching the ocean sand-bar but was foiled by shallow water off Coal point. Winds strengthened at the ocean with some opting to return back to camp while the Marjan, Paul, Ruth and myself found a protected secluded sheltered area around the headland for lunch as we watched the wonderfully wild southern ocean do its thing! A pleasant return paddle to camp notched up 13 km for this day.
On return to camp (and in tune with some interpretation of the significance of Jan 26th) we were invaded! Five members of Action Outdoors Association (AOA) led by Phyll’s close associate, Richard Jolley, had paddled across to share our sacred campground for the evening. Although we maintained our separate groupings for the evening we felt it appropriate to let AOA know we were having a good time on our last night at Windy Point – with Ruth leading a chorus of artificially loud fake laughter at regular intervals. (we had been away from civilization for too long by that stage!).
Thursday 27th. Despite plans for a relaxed start we were all packed and ready for the paddle back to Camfield at least half an hour ahead of schedule – certainly a first for your’s truly!. While Paul and Ruth headed off to Pemberton’s Karri Lake resort for more R and R, the remaining six of us headed back home to Perth with a lunch stop (in clean clothes!) in Balingup.
Reflecting on highlights, Geoff deserved a ‘best bit of gear’ award with his tarp providing a great fun game as it caught the evening rain which, with a strategic poke here and there, could be directed to channel runoff into water bottles or, better still, down someone’s back as they huddled below. The Bocce set brought along by Paul and Ruth was a great addition for the celebration of Australia Day – with Marjan crowned as the ‘Broke Bocce Queen’ and any foot-faults by her (and others) being dutifully ignored by Phyll, as self appointed scorer.
Paul should receive a “misplaced pride in frugality” award after proudly claiming success in purchasing a very cheap camp chair “absolutely identical to those expensive Helinox ones” only to end up ‘breaking thru’ to the ground on more than one occasion despite best repair efforts with gaffa tape and cable ties. More successful repairs were effected on Susie’s kayak by the ever-helpful team of Geoff and Colin.
Elena kept the ‘energy flows’ moving for most of us with her constant supply of healthy food nibbles and her early morning Qi Gong exercises. Trish amazed all with her packing skills and lightness of kayak (although it may have had something to do with discarding certain unnecessary items such as a sleeping mat, tent fly, warm clothes, cooking equipment and food etc). Phyll demonstrated her ‘way with men’ by soliciting a free cuddle from AOA’s Richard, and Ruth used her formidable nursing skills to stem the flow of blood from wounds on at least three occasions. Finally, Susie (she of the new radio call sign of ‘mellow yellow’) should be encouraged to take on the club role of kayak sailing coach (and potential regatta organiser) after demonstrating her uncanny ability to pick, and deal with, impending wind gusts just before they hit.
Thank you all for contributing your patience and humour to a challenging but fun trip.
Flatwater Guide, and Broke 2022 Trip Organiser
SCC PENGUIN ISLAND TRIP 2/1/22:
It seemed a long time in the making, but seven of us finally made it to Penguin Island on Sunday the 2nd January 2022. The original plan was for fourteen, Swan Canoe Club paddlers to do a Penguin Island paddle on the 12thDecember 2021. However, that dreaded strong wind warning, meant we had to abort that trip and so lost a few paddlers along the way.
Things weren’t looking too bright this weekend either, with yet another strong wind warning, predicting winds over twenty knots or a bit over thirty-six kilometres per hour. The only glimmer of hope was that the wind might drop to about ten knots in the morning. To the surprise of all of us, when we launched in Shoalwater Bay about 8.00am, the wind was only seven knots. Not only that, but the sun was shining, the water was a great shade of blue-green and Geoff had finally finished his not so brief, briefing.
With Dave and Pat leading the way, Bernadette and Jocelyn following and Ben, Pat, and Geoff tail-end Charlie’s, we headed nor-west for Bird Island in great conditions. We visited the cave on Bird Island for a few pics and then headed north to Point Peron and picked our way through shallow reef in behind Mushroom Rock. We turned around there and headed south, passed by a grumpy sea-kayaker who didn’t reply to our cheery hello’s. Possibly the fact that he was using a Greenland Paddle, rather than a Euro, made him grumpy?
Jocelyn and Bernadette led us out to sea and around the back of the reef at Point Peron and then down to Seal Island, where the sea lions were not cavorting, despite many onlookers. They looked like overstuffed, brown bean bags, collapsed on the beach with no desire to do anything but melt into the sand. There was lots of bird life, with Pelicans gliding and circling overhead like overgrown white buzzards, just waiting for a kayak capsize.
Steve led us south from there to Penguin Island, where we landed without incident on the west side of Penguin Island for a break and leg stretch. Once more on the water we circumnavigated the island, chatting to Jimmy a Swan Canoe Club member, who owns Capricorn Sea Kayaks and was leading a group of kayakers around the island too. As we headed back north, Jocelyn led us astray into some shallow sea grass on the east side of the island, but by about 11.00am we had reached our starting point in Shoalwater Bay. While Bernadette and Jocelyn went for a swim, Ben gave scores for elegance as Pat, Dave, Steve, and Geoff, practiced their rolling, with varying success and not a lot of elegance.
Once we’d unloaded the boats and put them on the cars, we showered and were ready for a coffee and something to eat at Pengo’s Café. As we drank our coffee and enjoyed the company, we were pleased with our timing, as that ESE wind of about seven to ten knots was now SW at midday and hitting sixteen to eighteen knots, on the way to twenty knots. Overall, a great day, with wonderful conditions and a small group that worked well together. Thanks to Bernadette, Jocelyn, Ben, Dave, Steve, and Pat for a great day and great company.
Geoff Emery – Instructor – 2/1/22
Little Island is a small sand and limestone island situated in a marine sanctuary approx. 3km off the coast of Hillary’s in Perth’s northern suburbs.
This is a club trip for members with sit-in type sea kayaks, who have successfully completed a club Intro to paddling a sea kayak course or who have equivalent skills.
Starting at the Hillary’s marina we will kayak out to the island and hopefully see some sea lions. Beaching kayaks on the island is prohibited.
We will then head north towards Whitford Rock, paddle around the rock towards Pinnaroo Point and then head south back to the marina. Total distance approx. 10km.
As we will be paddling more than 400m from shore please make sure you have the correct safety equipment. For info on the paddle craft safety equipment requirements click on the link. www.transport.wa.gov.au/mediaFiles/marine/MAC-B-PaddleSafe.pdf
Contact details: Colin Priest firstname.lastname@example.org
On Friday the fifth of November, eleven paddlers arrived at the Warner Glen Campsite on the Blackwood River, for our annual Swan Canoe Club trip. As in past years, it was well organized by Colin Priest with his usual attention to detail. Our merry band included the Swan Canoe Club crew, of Colin and Gail Priest, Colin Scully, Jocelyn, Phyll, Des and Geoff Emery. This year we also had four Sea Kayak Club members, Pel, Chris, Austin and Jacob come along too. Friday night was spent around the campfire getting to know each other and telling tall tales.
On Saturday, the weather was a bit overcast and the water level was about 1.52 metres at Hut Pool, where we left two vehicles, before driving on to Sue’s Bridge. Unfortunately, Gail had an injury which meant that she couldn’t paddle and instead spent her time walking and taking her usual high-quality photographs. We anticipated a fast trip with the higher water level, but there was less fun to be had playing, as many rapids were washed out. Fortunately, the excellent company and scenery compensated for the reduced rapid playtime. Nevertheless, there were some spills and thrills and a few near misses. Chris grew to love the rapids, while Pel became intimate with a few logs. Austin showed his previous white-water experience and was the master of the open V chute. His wise words were “It’s all about reading the water.”
Meantime, Jocelyn who enjoys getting out in nature, was admiring the riverside foliage when she decided to have a close inspection from underwater. Phyll showed impressive female solidarity by joining her for a swim too. The two Colins and Geoff helped the girls back into their boats and we all paddled on downriver with some of us damp but refreshed.
The paddlers in the short white-water boats had to work hard to keep up with the group, but usually caught up at each rapid. Jacob was working particularly hard, as his low volume kayak was taking water and didn’t have a lot of buoyancy. Colin Scully, Des and Geoff were also paddling short boats and tended to drift to the back of the group, despite paddling hard while Phyll, Jocelyn and Austin in the longer plastic kayaks were steaming ahead at the front. Our lunch break, at about ten kilometres downstream from Sue’s Bridge was welcomed by all, especially as we knew we had another nine or so kilometres to go before Hut Pool. With lunch over and back on the water, we soon arrived at Hut Pool, where water was running over the weir. It was good to stretch the legs and change into dry clothes before collecting vehicles and heading back to camp.
That night there were some tired paddlers sitting around the campfire at Warner Glen, enjoying a wine or three and telling war stories. The rapids increased in severity with each telling along with our skills. Eventually we ran out of energy and there was an early drift towards beds. There was a bit of camp envy, as Phyll filled a hot water bottle before heading off to her A-Van Camper ‘Annie’ and Des casually mentioned that he’d turned on the electric blanket in his camper. It was a cold night for the rest of us, warmed only by our sleeping bags and our virtue at avoiding mod cons.
On Sunday morning we awoke to Colin getting the fire going, ready for his breakfast jaffle. After coffee and breakfast, we broke camp and returned to Hut Pool for the thirteen-kilometre paddle down to Chapman Pool. There were occasional glimpses of blue sky, but it remained cold, as we paddled through some small rapids. We had a bit of a play at Morning Tea Rapid before having a break on the bank for morning tea. There were a few more close encounters with rocks and trees and Jacob decided to work on his roll under Des’s guidance, but otherwise all went well. The day got warmer, especially for the slow-moving white-water boats and Des was seen to do a few Eskimo rolls to cool off. Jocelyn and Austin were having a race up ahead of us and Austin while impressed by Jocelyn’s speed, was less impressed when she beat him. After a tiring paddle, the Warner Glen Bridge was a welcome sight and not long after that the creek into Chapman Pool. Once in dry clothes and feeling almost human again, Austin ran Chris and Geoff back to collect their cars from Hut Pool. After a well-earned barbecue lunch, we all headed back to Perth more than a little tired from a great weekend. Thanks to Colin Priest for his usual excellent planning and to his assistants, Colin Scully, Geoff, and Des. While it was great having some Sea Kayak Club members with us, hopefully we might entice a few more Swan Canoe Club members next year.
Last Sunday an intrepid crew of twenty Swan Canoe Club paddlers set off into the wild wetlands of the Serpentine River for a lazy twenty-kilometre paddle downstream.
Things didn’t start well for Tony when he snapped the rudder cable on his ski at Karnup Bridge. Recognising trouble, Geoff quietly led his crew of Rowan, Bernadette, and Karen into the Serpentine Drain, leaving Bob and Marty to sort out the problem. Karen was having fun identifying birds and bumping into kayaks, over the next five kilometres as we weaved our way through clumps of reeds and shallow water. The VHF radio came in useful to call ‘Delta’ aka Marty, “Badger’ aka Rowan, ‘Osprey’ aka Bob and ‘Petal’ aka Rose to check that they were still alive behind us. The crew finally all caught up at Kerulup Pool, where we portaged the floating boom net that was being used to control Water Hyacinth and soon after that we came to the portage at the top of Lake Amarillo.
An exploratory trip the previous Wednesday, by Geoff and Marty, had resulted in an hour or so of wading and dragging kayaks for two kilometres while trying to find the way into the open water of Lake Amarillo. After avoiding tiger snakes and with some swearing, we escaped the ‘Swamps of Despair,’ aka ‘The Everglades’ armed with the knowledge of the correct route. On Sunday the portage and paddle to the lake was muddy and wet but uneventful, apart from Rowan trying to get lost. Graeme, Grace, and Karen were impressed with all the bird life and enjoyed making up bird names as if they were real ‘twitchers.’
Marty led us through the Ox-Bow short-cuts, under the farm bridge and so to our island lunch spot, about eleven kilometres from the start. We were all keeping an eye on Tony, who was still having control issues with his damaged ski and looked very pleased to stop for lunch. Having refuelled our bodies and answered the call of nature, we headed off south past Guanarnup Pool where Bec and I set up a V-tow to help Tony maintain direction. Mike led us on a scenic route through the reeds, but the WNW wind kept us cool, and soon Rowan and Marty took over the towlines and led us through Yalbanberup Pool and eventually to the finish at Woodland Pde about 4.00pm, making it a six-hour paddle.
It was great to have Marty, Colin, Bec and Bob to help guide the group and criticise my navigation. Thanks to the rest of the crew too, Tony, Katherine, Pete, Marion, Graeme, Grace, Trish, Rose, Steve, Phyll, Mike, Rowan, Bernadette, Trevor, and Karen who all helped make it a great day out. Possibly Tony and Katherine might not agree it was such a great day, as to add to Tony’s woes he had car key problems and they had a cold hour waiting for the R.A.C to arrive and break into the vehicle! We’re glad you both made it back o.k. and that Tony will be still able to give us Yoga lessons when he recovers. Hopefully we’ll do the trip again, maybe when I’ve recovered.
Geoff Emery – Instructor
It seems if you want Swannies to come out in numbers, simply mention the word wine. Hot on the heels of the sold-out wine tasting night, came the fully booked winery paddle to Mandoon Estate on Sunday, September 12.
The weather and river gods blessed us with a beautiful sunny day and perfect paddling conditions. A small flotilla of Swannies took to the water at Fishmarket Reserve in Guilford at the very civilized hour of 10am. From there, we meandered up river for 6 kilometres past Woodbridge House, nature reserves and vineyards starting to burst into leaf. Karen, our resident ornithologist, was able to educate us on the plentiful bird life we saw along the way.
While the wet winter has been great for the vines, it meant we had to disembark on a very muddy riverbank when we reached Mandoon. There was much squelching, sloshing and sinking ankle deep in the quicksand-like mud. Despite the slippery conditions, we managed to get everyone on shore safely.
As our kayaks enjoyed mud bathing in the sun, we feasted. We arrived in time to secure a long table under the flame trees at the Llawn alfresco area, where we enjoyed woodfired pizzas and a Mandoon Estate vino, cider or beer. The more cultured among us squeezed in a visit to the adjoining art gallery. All too soon, it was time to leave. Next time, we’ll make sure to stay for the live music.
Getting back on the water proved even more challenging, with seal launching off the riverbank being the preferred option. There were some yelps and speccie entries – but luckily no capsizes.
The paddle downstream was even more relaxed, with the river doing part of the work. The only challenging part of the day was washing the mud off our kayaks back at the club.
A big shout out to Rob Coops for driving the trailer, Leigh and Lauren for co-ordinating attendance and Jen, Sarah and Marty for guiding.
An intrepid crew of Swannies met at the Dwellingup Hotel last Sunday, ready to tackle ten kilometres of the Upper Murray River from Yarragil to Baden Powell. Intrepid because with a few exceptions, most hadn’t had a lot to do with white water, albeit it was grade 1 and 2.
Colin Scully and Geoff Emery had done a paddle during the week with Baden Powell at the 2.0 metre level, to look for hazards such as logs and found it clear, apart from a few friendly thickets. In fact, the biggest hazard were the potholes on the gravel road between Baden Powell and Yarragil! Our group of twelve paddlers in seven vehicles bounced up to Yarragil where we left boats, gear, and non-drivers while the vehicles all made the return journey to Baden Powell. Geoff and Dave Gilbert brought the shaken and stirred drivers back to Yarragil and parked there.
Once on the water Colin and Geoff led the way with Gillian Henderson and Steve David while Des McLean and Colin Priest were our tail-end ‘Charlies.’ With the water level having dropped a little to 1.8 metres some rapids were no longer washed out and after a kilometre we had a pleasant rapid to play on. Everyone had a go at ferry gliding from side to side, remembering to lean or edge downstream and breaking in and out of the eddies. While there were a few wobbles there were no swims.
Emboldened by the new skill levels we all enjoyed navigating the next three or so kilometres, dodging small logs and large thickets and the occasional rock and arrived at Island Pool, a grade 2 rapid. I was impressed that everyone ran the rapid. Gillian did a great run through but celebrated prematurely and hit the eddy line and decided to swim. Once we were all through there was a bit of playing with Des and Colin Priest the stars, both rolling successfully in the rapid. Beck Wong and Steve David were feeling a bit hot and decided to have a swim to cool off, but everyone else was comfortable in their boats. Julia Davies was having fun in the Finnatic, and Dave was puffing along in the Corsica. Jocelyn Sisson looked relaxed and like she was enjoying herself, while Amanda Simper had difficulty wiping the grin off her face. Shantha David looked totally in control in a Dancer, even if it was the first time in twenty odd years!
After a lunch break and change of clothes for some, we pushed on another four kilometres to Bob’s Crossing where water was going over the road. We all portaged on the right and got back into the fast flow again for a little play before heading downstream. Baden Powell came into sight after a couple of kilometres, and we pulled up to the steps to get off the water. Geoff foolishly decided to try rolling his Mamba and failed! A second attempt with a Pawlata Roll also failed leaving him wet and red-faced. Des wisely commented that one needs to keep practicing. Thanks Des!
Back on terra-firma we all got out of our wet gear, tied the boats on and collected the cars from Yarragil. The drive home was a bit tiring and anti-climactic, after the long day on the water. I really enjoyed the paddle and was very impressed that everybody had a go and had fun, even those of us who got wet! I agreed with the sentiment that it was a paddle worth doing again. Thanks to Colin Scully, Colin Priest and Des McLean for all the help and advice.
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!