A Mountain perspective by Alana Mountain
Slow days drifting down the Goulburn – Murchison East > Shepparton
Arriving at Murchison East, I found Leigh camped by the river, in amongst some young river red gums, with a hammock strung up and his feet all muddy. This was to be the state of our feet for the next little while as a release from the weir had covered everything by the banks in silt. We embodied our inner mud gremlin.
Floating down this section of the river was so soothing. The current was gentle, the shades of green from the banks mellow and calming. Each night we made a fire to warm our bones and sipped on tea and wine. I felt a rewilding taking place again. I love this feeling, when you are on the time of nature. Surrendering to the elements. Living by the rising of the sun and moon. Each day felt present and nourishing, there are many lessons to be learnt on the river.
All along the banks were River Red Gums, their roots exposed in entanglement and I wondered to myself how and what they were hanging on to! I felt one could fall at any moment.
The Azure kingfisher kept making an appearance, 13 times in fact. I love watching as they quickly fly across the surface of the water, exposing their beautiful royal blue feathers to the sun. They are my favourite bird, so I was very excited every time I spotted one. We also encountered a bush stone curlew, a strange and rare bird.
It was interesting to witness the evolution of the riverbanks, seeing such visible degradation in some areas, with high erosion and no riparian vegetation. Then not far ahead, there would be beautiful plant diversity all along the banks. So much can change so quickly even in amongst the slowness of it all.
We passed under some cool old bridges too.
On the last afternoon together on the river, we were searching for a place to camp. ‘One more bend, just another!’ We patiently kept faith that a little beach would pop up or a bank that was easy to clamber onto and park our boats for the night. We came around a peninsula and I yelled out ‘what about here!’. I jumped out of my boat, plunging my feet into mud and walked up the hill to discover a gorgeous old growth woodland with some old red gums, wattles and native grasses. It was quite open up top, but also concealed by all the lush trees growing down the side of the bank. The light was filtering through the canopy for the whole afternoon, throwing all the shades of green. Did you know that the human eye can see more shades of green than any other colour? I felt I could see them all then and there in that little place.
We sat by the river bank, watching the sun disappear and dusky swallows swoop the tension surface of the water for insects. We laughed, shared thoughts and fell asleep again listening to Lord of the Rings audiobook, feeling into the magick of this remnant woodland we’d found. The last few days were my favourite as it was so lush the surrounds being that we were in the Shepparton Regional reserve. There was so much life and colour all around.