Ovens Odyssey Stage 5 - Myrtleford to Whorouly
This 15km stage took us 4 hours to complete, we were not slowed down by debris jams, rather we were negotiating bedrock and rapids under fairly low flow conditions. The day was a scorcher, reaching 40degC, so the Ovens River was the place to be. it is so much cooler on the water and there is always to opportunity to jump/fall in. Full length quick dry pants and shirts are definitely the go. Water booties or sand shoes are also a must for this reach as there were many times we were clambering over rocks.
The 2 person boats outnumbered kayaks on this stage with three couples teaming up.
Beginning on the Ovens at Apex Park, the channel is reduced in size due to much of the flood flows breaking out upstream and following the Happy Valley Creek through Myrtleford township. The Happy Valley Creek (and Barwidgee Creek) join the Ovens around Ch:69.2 and the channel becomes noticeably wider. The same enlarging of the channel occurs again when the Buffalo River, a major tributary of the Ovens, enters at Ch:71.4.
This stage was very different from the previous four stages with much rock outcropping in the bed of the river particularly in the upstream half of this reach. This meant lots of rapids to negotiate and everyone in our party had a spill at some stage during the day. Nobody was too concerned about taking a dip on such a hot day! However, this is a stage in which you should be wearing helmets.
The fauna highlight was seeing an Azure Kingfisher up close on a log, then having it fly across the river past our boats. Sacred and Azure Kingfishers are always heard calling on the Ovens but you don't see them up close very often.
Flora wise, the concerning weed throughout this stage was the proliferation of seeding Black Willow. Many gravel bars were heavily infested with seedlings and mature trees were plentiful.
Parts of this stage can be a bit tricky and not for beginners, particularly from the confluence of the Buffalo River (Ch:71.4) to Rocky Point (Ch:75) where rapids are plentiful. and ... don't forget your helmet!
The stats were:
- The fifth stage of the Ovens Odyssey was paddled on the 13th January 2019.
Myrtleford (Apex Park) to Whorouly (Whorouly Bowmans Road Bridge)
- 15 km (Ch:67.5 to Ch:82.5) (note Ch:67.5 = Chainage 67.5 river kilometres downstream from Harrietville Ch:00)
- Time taken 4:00 hrs, average speed 3.75 km/hr
- River Height - Rocky Point Gauge 0.69 m and steady
- 8 paddlers (Jamie, Jane, Pete, Virginia, Kath, Thomo, Tony & Sam) in 5 boats