Six of us in three boats tackled this 19 km Stage on a cold, yet fine and partly sunny, mid-May day. The river flow was providing a little bit of assistance and we pushed along at around 6.3 km/hr, with the indestructible plastic boat (Toy Boy Scout, which I am very fond of by the way) providing the greatest workout.
We entered the river from the end of Moss Road, where you need to get over the fence at the end of the road reserve and drag/carry your boat about 150 m down through the river reserve to the rivers edge. The exit point at Murchison is much easier, being at an informal boat ramp in the reserve at the end of Campbells Bend Road.
This section of river, being immediately downstream of the Goulburn Weir, is quite different from the stages upstream. The river is now a true lowland river meandering through the flatter plains, with high banks and loads of large woody habitat within the channel.
Most of that lovely fast clear (Lake Eildon stored irrigation) water we've been paddling on through the summer (Stages 1 - 7) is diverted off down irrigation canals above the Goulburn Weir. So this reach of the Goulburn River downstream of the Weir receives far less water, particularly in summer when irrigation water is being diverted. Since this reach was not used to deliver large volumes of irrigation water, the river was not as heavily de-snagged (logs pulled out of the river) because irrigation flow conveyance was less important. Desnagging was a damaging river management practice that only ceased about 40 years ago. Check out the blog 'Why Wood is Good" for some facts on why we should leave wood in rivers. Since this section was not as heavily desnagged, it has great habitat for native large bodied fish and we passed a fisherman along the way (location confidential) who had caught (and released) a 1 metre long Murray cod that morning.
Did you know? The Goulburn Weir was built in 1891 and was the first major diversion weir for irrigation developed in Australia. There are 3 irrigation channels that come off the lakes created upsteam of the weir; the East Goulburn Main Channel to the east, and the Stuart Murray Canal and Cattanach Canal to the west.
The stats are:
- Date - Sunday 16 May 2021
- Distance 19 km, from Goulburn Weir Chainage 317 km to Murchison Chainage 336 (Chainage is the distance downstream from the headwaters at Woods Point)
- Time taken 4:30 hrs (4.2 km/hr), about 3:00 hrs paddling (paddling speed approx. 6.3 km/hr)
- River Gauge Height (Goulburn River @ Goulburn Weir No. 405253) = 1.99 m
- 3 boats, 6 paddlers: Jamie & Jane, Pete & Gin, Ross and Sa