Category Archives: Kayaking and Canoeing


Paddling Australia’s mighty Murray River.


The following  is an account of a  kayaking trip done by my  hiking friend , kayaker and intrepid traveller, Bernhard Weitkuhn….  a 49 day expedition down Australia’s Murray River from the Snowy Mountains to the Southern Ocean. This was  an impressive feat of endurance…. solo and unsupported.  Here is Bernhard’s report:

Text and photos by Bernhard Weitkuhn
Bernard celebrating the half way mark on his Murray River journey.
Photo: B.Weitkuhn: Bernhard celebrating the half way mark on his Murray River journey.

2400 kilometres , one million strokes and 49 days

 After one million paddle strokes, 2400 kilometres and 49 days of continuous paddling, usually 8 hours a day I arrived at the Murray River mouth on 28th of April at 9.30 am. I was lucky with the weather crossing the Lake Alexandrina. It has a reputation of getting very choppy in any kind of wind as it is very shallow and big.
Map: Glenn Burns
Map: Glenn Burns


Bernhard’s Photo Gallery:

I had a wonderful time doing this trip and although it was at times quite hard and lonely I am really glad I decided to do it. Living in Australia it has given me a lot of insight of how Australia must have been when the early explorers discovered the Murray and the country. Of course a big part of the river is built up now, but there are lots of stretches where you could think you are the first person to be there.

A quiet reach in Murray Sunset National Park
Photo: B. Weitkuhn: A quiet reach in Murray Sunset National Park
The weather:

The weather was  kind to me. Until the last week I had only one full day of rain and one wet morning. There were  strong winds much of the time, especially during that last week where the Murray does not wind as much. There are long straight stretches towards the west where the wind funnels along and builds up a steep chop. At the notorious Pellaring Reach even Captain Sturt waited for better weather. It was too rough even for him apparently. Well, I did not want any rest days so I kept going on, but at times was actually pushed backwards and had to take shelter in the reeds and willows.


The scenery along the Murray does not change like on our bushwalks. The banks on both sides were mainly  river red gums.

River Red Gums
Photo: B. Weitkuhn: River Red Gums

On the upper Murray after leaving from Corryong you can see a few distant hills. Later I did not see any until I came into South Australia where there are also the colourful cliffs lining the Murray River.

Cliffs on the Murray River
Photo: B. Weitkuhn: Cliffs on the lower Murray River
Because I had a good full river I was having a better view sitting high, and I could see over the embankments most of the time. That was important to find a suitable campsite.
Bernard's first campsite on the upper Murray
Photo: B. Weitkuhn: First campsite on the upper Murray
Birdlife was prolific, especially waterbirds. I also saw eagles and other raptors,  kingfishers and other small birds as well as emus.
Other wildlife was a bit disappointing. I only met some kangaroos, a few white-tailed water rats, one brown snake and one platypus as well as turtles and one seal. Then, of course, I encountered the ones I didn’t want to see, like rabbits, foxes and feral pigs.
White-tailed water rat
White-tailed water rat
Duck hunters !!!
There were few other day paddlers and one couple who did it for a week.  Caravan parks right next to the river were the exception,  so it was mainly camping wild along the river.
Caravan Park on the river
Photo: B. Weitkuhn: Caravan Park on the  banks of the Murray  River
Sometimes in New South Wales, other times in Victoria. I tried to avoid Victoria because of the duck shooters. I could hear continuous shooting for some days and it worried me. I don’t think I looked like a duck but they might have had bad eyesight.
Paddlesteamer Emmylou
Photo: B. Weitkuhn: Paddlesteamer Emmylou
Fortunately there were no equipment failures or accidents. I never had a bad day feeling unwell. I was bitten at least 50 times by mosquitoes every day, you just can’t avoid it, but I did not pick up any of those fevers.
Now I will have to build my legs up to their old strength and I hope my fellow bushwalkers will have patience with me… ha!
Sunset at journey's end: Lake Alexandrina
Photo: B. Weitkuhn: Sunset at journey’s end: Lake Alexandrina
Bernhard W.

Useful Info:

Website: for info on the Murray River Trail.

E.Gill Rivers of History booklet ABC Radio History.

C.R. Twidale Geomorphology Nelson.

A. Hughes: Australia’s Paddling Hit List A.G.Outdoors Jan-Feb 2010.

A. Gregory Kayaking around Australia .  My kayaking  bible. Well worth buying . Has very detailed information on paddling the Murray River: maps, camping, seasons, access supplies etc.

Charts for the Murray River:

  • Maureen Wright: Renmark to Yarrawonga .
  • K. and L. Bentley: Yarrawonga to Hume Dam.
  • Baker – Reschke: Goolwa to Renmark. 



Australia’s  Murray-Darling Basin

The 2520 kilometre long Murray River forms a natural border between New South Wales and Victoria. It is joined  by many tributaries  including the Darling and Murrumbidgee on its journey from the Australian Alps to the Southern Ocean. The Murray-Darling Basin is the fourth longest river system in the world, exceeded only by the Nile, Amazon and the Mississippi-Missouri systems. In terms of catchment area the Murray-Darling is the sixth largest behind the Amazon, Congo, Mississippi, Yangtze Kiang and the Ganges. But the crucial difference is that the annual discharge is far less than any of the rivers listed. Much of the Murray-Darling  catchment is arid or semi-arid with the average annual rainfall over the whole catchment only 425 mm per annum.

The Murray is an allogenic stream, that is, it rises in the high rainfall Australian Alps and has sufficient discharge to survive passage across extensive semi-arid deserts. In its variability of flow the Murray is typical of most Australia’s inland rivers, experiencing periods of high and low flow but as much of the infrastructure is geared to the usual low flow states any flooding results in significant damage to bridges, buildings, fences and livestock.

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Bushwalking on Water: the Upper Noosa River



Glenn Burns

In early May four of my bushwalking friends and I took to the water; swapping packs for paddles, Leki poles for lifejackets and snakes for sharks. We set out on a four day kayaking trip in the upper Noosa River. My kayaking guidebook, Andrew Gregory’s “Kayaking around Australia” describes the Noosa River as a “paddler’s paradise…black water under a canopy of paperbarks”.

Goog earth Upper Noosa River cropped

As is the custom with many of our trips this year, the weather prognosis was decidedly dodgy. But my companions Ross, Linda, Damien and Eva were unfazed. So our mini flotilla assembled mid morning at Harry Springs Hut.  Built in 1957, the hut has had varied usage, first as a base for many of the region’s timber cutters and then as the weekend fishing retreat of local Cooroy pharmacist Harry Spring, who was rewarded with a lifetime lease on the hut once the land was proclaimed a national park. He passed away  at the age of 94, but Harry’s little piece of history is now a protected cultural heritage site.

Harry Springs Hut May 2015
Harry Springs Hut

Damien did a bit more assembling than the rest of us – he put together his three metre Folbot: think of those fold up commando kayaks from World War II or the collapsible canoe that the writer Paul Theroux used to paddle around the SW Pacific in writing his book “The Happy Isles of Oceania”.

The Folbot
The Folbot

Eva appeared punctually at our launch site after having done some hard yards the previous day, paddling up from Elanda Plains in her little Santee river touring kayak.

Eva's Touring Kayak
Eva’s Touring Kayak

Photo Gallery: Upper Noosa River.

The  three hour paddle to campsite 13 was dampened somewhat by the arrival of the promised rain. But these were mere showers … a minor irritant as we settled into the spacious campsite 13 with our own sandy beach front, private swimming pool and, no doubt, the occasional lurking bull shark. Tarps kept the evening showers at bay, but not the miasma of mossies. Ever prepared for all eventualities we circled up the mossie coils…which did the trick.

Tuesday dawned fine, cool and slightly cloudy. Ideal kayaking conditions. We ventured upstream to check out Teewah Creek and the head of the Noosa River. Teewah Creek rises in the high dunes just south of the Rainbow Beach road and does a lazy meander in a SSW direction to its junction with the upper Noosa. I have occasionally encountered hardened paddlers coming down Teewah Creek, having launched their canoes at Coops Corner about 5 kilometres upstream. Their reports of log jams, fallen trees and portages have not enamoured me of the idea of launching at Coops and paddling downstream. Instead, for us, there was an undemanding but beautiful enfilade paddle up the pristine waterway of Teewah Creek as far as our  craft could go.

Teewah Creek
Teewah Creek

The creek is deeply incised into the swampy sand plains west of the Cooloola High Dunes. Its tannin stained waters ripple over white sands in a kaleidoscope of colours: sometimes clear, sometimes brown but mostly with a reddish tinge. Back at campsite 13 we had a leisurely lunch on our own Costa del Cooloola followed by a lazy afternoon on the beach lounging in our Helinox deck chairs reading and chatting.

Beachfront at Campsite 13
Beachfront at Campsite 13

Wednesday: Today we earn our keep. A one and a half hour paddle back to campsite 4 then the 7 kilometre hoof up to the Cooloola Sand Patch (225m). After lunch on top, reverse the whole process. But what a day for it: sunny, clear blue skies with just a vague whisper of a cool autumnal breeze. And my well rested friends were in fine fettle for the longish paddle on the glassy Noosa waters.

The Cooloola Sand Patch
The Cooloola Sand Patch

The Cooloola Sand Patch dominates the scenery of this part of Cooloola. Migratory white sands of the patch are derived from siliceous oceanic sands blown up into a giant mobile dune by the predominant south-easterlies after the last ice age (about 6,000years ago). During our wanderings over the sand patch I was lucky enough to spot a small aboriginal lithic flake. Not an unusual find for the sand patch. Although I have never found an aboriginal campsite on the sand patch where more artefacts are likely to be found. Minor aboriginal artefacts like these flakes can be photographed but should be left in situ.

Aboriginal Flake
Aboriginal Flake

I have been to the Cooloola Sand Patch innumerable times and views from the sand patch never fail to impress. Don’t forget your map for identifying topographical features (Cooroy 1:50k). Directly below were Lakes Como, Cooloola and Cootharaba. In a sweep from south to our west were volcanic sills and plugs of Mt Tinbeerwah (265m), Mt Cooroora (439m), Mt Cooran (279m) and Mt Pinbareen (346m). Directly west, the Wahpunga Range topping out at Sheppersons Hill(282m), a vantage point known to all walkers on the Kin Kin Trail Network. And so back to our camp with a sighting of Rainbow Bee-eaters to add pleasure to the  haul back.

Thursday. We bade farewell to campsite 13 and commenced our downhill run in perfect conditions: sunny cool and still. Past a pair of resident Sea Eagles, past a jolly armada of pink-skinned paddling backpackers and onward to Harry Springs Hut to retrieve our parked vehicles… wheels still attached. Of course, no Burnsian trip is complete without a post paddle feed and a ginger beer; this time at the Kin Kin watering hole on the way out.