From Towumbarry weir, where the weir master drove my boat and I around to the boat ramp on the lower side, I dropped into the high banked and heavily vegetated river. I was now surrounded by national parks; Gunbower NP to my left, on the Victorian side and Perricoota NP to my right. Vast river redgum forests concealed the river for days and I paddled on. During this time the rain came, and it came down for nearly three days. There is a lovely feeling about paddling in the rain, the water drops falling from the sky bounce off the surface tension and the movement of air cast patterns across the water. It is peaceful and the solitude increases, the veil of water that now surrounds you holds you present to the place.
Camping was a wet ordeal. My tent was wet, my clothes were wet, the banks were sloppy and nothing stays clean when the weather is like this. Some strong fires and warm meals definitely comforted my moist soul.
The weather was clearing as I approached Barham, the thick forests gave way to houseboats and riverfront houses again. In town I stopped at the caravan park and settled in for a night, it was a different camping experience than I was used to. Caravans filled the powered sites and people wandered around, I found a nice spot by the river where I set up. I put things out to dry, then had a shower and washed my clothes, I also charged my gadgets. While at the park I got talking to a couple of older gentlemen, who were the only other visitors in tents; they had been cycling touring along the Murray River from Canberra and were on their way to Adelaide. We went to the local hotel (country pub) for drinks and dinner together, sharing stories of travel and the world we had a lovely evening and returned to the caravan park for a modest bedtime.
The following day, my parents arrived with their silver and orange, teardrop caravan in tow and a yellow sea kayak on the roof. Mum paddled with me for two days through beautifully forested riverland, while dad drove into each campsite with the car provided comforts. We spent the afternoons fishing and sitting around a campfire sharing stories and enjoying tasty food. Mum and I would also spent one afternoon wandering through an oldgrowth river red gum forest, where we found ancient trees and sign of historic logging.
From Murrabit, my parents departed and returned home. Thankfully mum had resupplied me with food and my boat was heavy but I again was eating very well. The following days I experienced sunshine, more rain, nice camping and the forests begging to give way to more cleared land before reaching Swanhill. Stopping at the riverside caravan park, I asked some friendly caravaners to watch my kayak as I walked into town, to buy food and purchase a beanie for the cold nights that were approaching. Upon returning to the caravan park, I got talking to my kayak watchers, and the friendly questions of “Where are you paddling?” and “Where have you come from?” turned into deeper conversation, then drinks and nibbles. By this point it was getting too late in the day to paddle further, and encouraged by a dinner invitation from my new friends I stayed the night at the park and enjoyed warm food and a warm shower.