Goulburn Grail Stage 1 - Eildon to Acheron
A Grail can be defined as 'A thing that is eagerly pursued or sought after', or 'the object of an extended or difficult quest'. The satisfaction we will get from paddling and sharing the full 565km of Goulburn River will be our Grail.
Here beginneth the Goulburn Grail – a mighty but not quite original (at least one other pair completed it last year) project of Jamie Kaye & Peter Dewez (with support from friends and families), to paddle the length of the Goulburn River from (as close as practicable to) its origin, at Woods Point to its confluence with the Murray upstream of Echuca.
STAGE 1 - Fortunately the lower than anticipated water level (due to recent rains in the downstream irrigation area, so reduced irrigation release) did not particularly hamper us. The water remained cool and clear for the most part with minimal scraping and bumping. It was beautiful to measure our speed by watching green reed beds scud by beneath our hulls. A large number of paddlers invariably leads to slower transit down rapids and shoots, but we arrived on time according to Jamie’s schedule.
Paddlers were all in two-man canoes except Al and Greg in sea kayaks, which proved to be useful depth gauges as their metal rudders chinked over the shallower riffles. Their sleek lines meant that little paddling was necessary to keep up with their lumbering cousins.
Highlights of Stage1 began with the initial decision to portage the top of the slalom course at Eildon, as “swamped” would have nicely described our exit status from the first steep stopper. It was very nice to see a collection of young and older kayakers in slalom and play boats practicing and playing on the course, which would be seriously fun in higher water.
Downstream, there were a few sections that required a little thought, but nothing more than grade 2, and all safely negotiated. One rapid might have raised a little anxiety, but the crew, seeing Gin lead the way and safely negotiated, only led to a bit of a thrill.
The river would seem to be a favourite haunt of fly fishermen, with many wading in army camouflage, and seemingly with moderate success. One boasted of a great day with six fish including a “stonker of 5 kgs”.
We also spotted platypus, numerous birds and lots of willow and blackberry – so sad not to have the river lined with beautiful Red gums, and other native vegetation, that, where present, add immeasurably to the magnificence of this river.
Click this Video link to see some of this journey
The stats are:
- Date - Saturday 6 February 2021
- Distance 25.8 km, from Eildon Pondage Wall Ramp Chainage 121.2 km, to Acheron (Breakaway Twin Rivers Caravan Park) Chainage 147 km (Chainage is the distance downstream from Woods Point)
- Time taken 5:45 hrs (4.5 km/hr), about 3:55 hrs paddling (paddling speed approx. 6.6 km/hr)
- River Gauge Height (Goulburn River at Lake Eildon D/S, Stn. No. 588125) = 1.08 m
- 13 paddlers: Jamie and Jane; Pete and Gin; Podge and Gonz; Clare and Mick; Greg; Al and (number 1 support crew) Donna; Loretta and Col.
- 7 boats including 2 x Dagger 'Reflection 15' Canoes, 1 x 'Rapidrider 14' Canoe, 1 x Mad River Canoe 'Journey 156', 1 x Dagger Drifter II, & 2 x sea kayaks