Ovens Odyssey Stage 4 - Pioneer Bridges (Everton) to River Road (Tarrawingee)
Updated: Jan 5, 2022
The fourth stage of the Ovens Odyssey was paddled on the 5th January 2019.
The stats were:
- Pioneer Bridges Rest Area, Markwood-Everton Road, Everton, to Ovens River Streamside Reserve, River Road, Tarrawingee
- 12.4 km (Ch:98.6 to Ch:111) (note Ch:111 = Chainage 111 river kilometres downstream from Harrietville Ch:00)
- Time taken 4:45 hrs, average speed 2.61 km/hr
- River Height - Rocky Point Gauge 0.70 m and steady
- 10 paddlers (Jamie, Megan, Pete, Bloggs, Gigi, Mick, Clare, Minnsy, Lily, Nate) in 8 boats
This moderate length reach (12.4km) is easily accessed at both ends from sandy beaches within streamside reserves. You can park vehicles very close the access points.
We began this paddle in overcast conditions with light rain at about 22degC. A dramatic change from the 42degC of the previous two days; we were happy with a bit of rain!
This is a very interesting reach as the river breaks out across the floodplain (called that for a reason) on both sides under high flow conditions. The Deep Creek anabranch system on the northern floodplain is keen to capture the river, however, numerous river stability works (particularly, bed control structures (rock chutes)) have been constructed over many decades to prevent an avulsion occurring. The main Ovens River channel also shows evidence of historic and current bank instabilities, with bank stabilisation works (e.g. rock beaching, log revetment and alignment training structures) observed along much of this reach. What is also evident is the enlargement in channel size once the Deep Creek anabranch rejoins the Ovens River, as can be seen in the photos above.
This channel within this stage before Deep Creek re-enters (Ch:98.6 - 106.5) is relatively narrow and woody debris (habitat) jams are numerous. This made travel slow with much maneuvering and numerous portages. The water level was low and some paddlers (those with delicate fiberglass or kevlar bottoms!) were forced to walk their boats over a number of shallow gravel riffles. The debris jams, tricky water and shallow conditions all conspired to make the trip longer than anticipated, with an average speed of only 2.61 km/hr.
The fauna highlight of this stage was Sea Eagle observed closer to the Tarrawingee end of the stage. The native woody vegetation observed included the species commonly seen in the downstream stages (e.g. River Red Gum, Silver Wattle and River Bottlebrush) however the shrub Tree Violet is becoming more common as we move up the catchment. Woody weed species were dominated by Crack Willow, Poplar and Weeping Willow, with Box Elder and Hawthorn less abundant. It was encouraging to note that the seeding Black Willow, although present, was not as abundant as it is further downstream.
A key note from this stage is to be wary of the potential hazards within this relatively confined reach. Respect should be given to every snag/debris jam as even the innocuous ones may have the potential to be dangerous. Not a stage for the inexperienced.