Murrumbidgee River - Wagga Wagga Paddle
Wagga Wagga is the largest inland city in New South Wales with an urban population close to 60,000. The city straddles the Murrumbidgee River, a major tributary of the Murray River, with its headwaters in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT). The word Murrumbidgee, or Marrmabidya , means "big water" in the local Aboriginal Wiradjuri language. And the Marrmabihya lived up to its name with loads of water flowing down the river when we paddled it in 23 January 2022. This river is highly regulated, so the combination of recent rains and irrigation demand for water meant the river was running big. The sandy inside bend beaches that are usually visible (e.g. Wagga Beach) were under water on the day we paddled through. This 17.6 km, 2.5 hr paddle, was relatively quick due to the high flows, so your trip might be considerably slower if you are paddling this route outside the irrigation season.
This paddle was a family affair, with Megan and Jack joining me on the water, while Jane and Jessica provided support including a much appreciated mid paddle coffee at Wagga Beach. This river is very broad but has many pesky willows on the banks that can be hazardous, particularly when the water is high and flowing through the drooping canopy. Be careful, particularly if you have young or inexperienced people in your crew. Don't be complacent, move towards the centre of the river and away from the willows early to avoid entanglement.
This paddle begins just upstream of town at the East Brick Kiln Reserve, passes through town, under four bridges (Eunony Bridge, Railway Bridge, Hampden Avenue Bridge and the Gobbagombalin Bridge) and ends at the Gobba Travelling Stock Reserve (TSR). The river is lined by River Red Gums and River Sheoaks, with exotic willow trees also abundant in places.
The car shuffle is very easy and quick, taking only 15 minutes between the river bank at each reserve. The reserves have dirt track access that can be very boggy if wet.
- Entry point Brick Kiln East Reserve - Access off Eunony Bridge Road, south of the river on the upstream side.
- The exit point is within the Gobba TSR. Access the TSR off River Road, a rough 400m long track then gets you to the Rivers edge. My advice is to follow the track down the western side of the reserve.
- Date - Sunday 23 January 2022
- Distance 17.6 km, from Brick Kiln Reserve East to Gobba TSR
- Time taken with stop at Wagga Beach 3:10 hrs (5.6 km/hr), 2:30 hrs paddling (paddling speed approx. 7 km/hr)
- River Gauge Height (Murrumbidgee River at Wagga Wagga No. 410001) = 3.471 m
- 3 boats, 3 paddlers: Jamie, Megan and Jack