I left the Mannum caravan park, having washed my clothes and my body, and resupplied food and fuel for my stove. Most nights I cook on the fire, although with winter having set in, I thought it wise to have my stove as a backup for those truly sodden days; which seemed very likely with the low pressure system continuing. I was on the water by midday and had timed leaving between rain showers. The wind was still whipping the trees as I paddled past marinas and more river shacks, I watched the river curve on my map and tried to predict how vicious the headwind would be around upcoming corners. After a handful of kilometres, the weather began to worsen. I had left the town and shacks behind me so I pulled in for the day with the hopes of setting up camp in a sheltered spot while the rain still held back. I had set up just in time for a powerful front to charge through bringing heavy rain and intense wind, my tarp, that I was sheltering under flapped like it had been loosely fitted to a trailer flying down the highway. Pegs were flung out of the ground and I scrambled around trying to maintain my shelter. Within ten minutes the front had passed and things relaxed into a consistent rain shower, with the wind blowing up the river. I was relatively protected from the prevailing winds.
That afternoon I was fishing between showers and caught a Callop aka Yellow belly aka Golden perch. The fishing through the middle reaches of the Murray had been off, although after dropping below the last weir on the river there were suddenly more fish and species other than carp. The previous few days I had been catching and releasing a few Golden Perch, today, having not yet prepared dinner, the fish I had just caught made its way to the camp oven and on the fire with herbs and lemon.
Below Mannum, the Murray becomes very wide and is boarded by levee banks and large irrigation areas. From the river it is hard to see the extent of these areas, however, the map lends some gauge of the size. The banks and levees of this section are vegetated by willows, and for tens of kilometres, the trees extend out into the high-flowing river, making bank access nearly impossible for long sections. With the wind blowing strong and the afternoon growing thin, I paddled for long hours seeking a place to camp. Before finding camp I had stopped at a landing and found that not all the levee walls were for irrigation. I had found Paiwalla Wetlands; an area that had been rehabilitated into a nature sanctuary that used the levees to mimic the natural cycles of flooding and drying out, providing habitat and more natural rhythms for fish and birds to breed.
Timing my days to paddle in the best conditions, I was leaving camp early, often at sunrise enjoying the relatively calm mornings and pushing on to make a campsite before the wind kicked up and made paddling very unpleasant. I paddled into Wellington only a couple of nights after leaving Mannun. Wellington is the last town on the Murray before it opens up into Lake Alexandria, a massive inland water body before the Coorong and the Murray mouth. I booked into a budget unit at the Welly (Wellington Hotel) and enjoyed an afternoon of rest in the unfamiliar comfort of a roofed room with a bed and shower.