Ovens Odyssey Stage 3 - Warby Range Road to Wilsons Bend
The third stage of the Ovens Odyssey was paddled on the 2nd January 2019. This was deliberately a short stage as it was proposed to fish while paddling downstream.
The stats were:
- Northern end of Warby Range Road (Orange Grove) to Wilsons Bend (within the Warby- Ovens National Park)
- 6.7 km (Ch:153 to Ch:159.7) (note Ch:153 = Chainage 153 river kilometres downstream from Harrietville Ch:00)
- Time taken 3:45 hrs, this was slow as we were fishing throughout this stage.
- River Height - Wangaratta Gauge 8.04m (day before) and steady (falling very slowly)
- 3 paddlers (Jamie, Pete and Bloggs) in 3 boats
Three paddlers (Jamie, Pete and Bloggs) launched from Warby Range Road at 7:30am, having dropped a car at Wilsons Bend, about 20 minutes downstream by car (45 min shuffle). Wilsons Bend is within the Warby-Ovens National Park (NP) and can be accessed off the Yarrawonga Road, via Francis Lane and Hill Track. The tracks in through the NP are good in dry weather, can be a bit pot-holed, but are usually suitable for a 2WD in dry conditions. If it has been wet, you should avoid driving in here as it really chews up the tracks. Speaking from experience, it is pretty easy to get bogged in that floodplain clay too! Access at Warby Range Road is easy with a short distance down a steep path from the car turnaround area.
This short distance Stage was deliberately chosen as a lure fishing morning. We were spectacularly unsuccessful with no fish caught and not even a strike in the river. However, when we reached our destination (Wilsons Bend at the confluence of the Ovens River and Reedy Creek) we decided to take a look up Reedy Creek. Pete paddled up until snags impeded progress. Pete got out of his boat and watched an Azure Kingfisher swoop down to the water three times. On the third swoop, a large cod swirled up and nearly engulfed the small bird. Apart from being a spectacular sight, Pete then wanted to lure the cod using his fly rod, got hit once and followed twice but could not catch him. Jamie tried his luck up the Creek also, had his lure hit twice but also failed to hook up. So it was interesting that we couldn't generate any interest in the river but the creek was alive with cod!
Despite the lack of fishing success, the paddle was glorious. This section of river has variable landuse but is dominated by cattle grazing and nature conservation. This reach, not surprisingly) had fewer woody weeds than the reach downstream of Wangaratta. Black Willow was the dominant woody tree weed, while there were large, continuous infestations of Hawthorn on the right bank floodplain through the middle of this reach.
As with the previous Stage 3 downstream from Wangaratta, there was an abundance of snags (instream large wood) to negotiate but we were not forced to portage at any stage. It is expected that passage down this reach would be more difficult and slower under lower flow rates (i.e. lower than 8.04m at Wangaratta) due to the exposure of more snags.