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  • Writer's pictureRiver Rambler

Ovens Odyssey Stage 6 - Whorouly to Pioneer Bridges (Everton)

Updated: Jan 5, 2022

Having just come off a day of 44degC, we were happy to have a mostly overcast morning that only made 37degC by the time we got off the river. Perfect weather really!

Well, what a team, 15 paddlers in 10 boats, this is a record number for the Odyssey.

Great to have Mon and Tony pulling out the old 2 man team skills in the canoe, as Mon said, 'we haven't paddled since we had kids, I hope it is like riding a bicycle'. Also great to have Ian and Sue come down from Leeton just for the paddle, seems you loved our Ovens, very different from your mighty Murrumbidgee. Liz, Robby and Bill, great to have you along!

This 16km Stage started on long straight sections of river, mostly broad shallow water with lots of shallow riffles, some of which required wading across. The recent lack of rain and scorching temperatures have seen the river slowly falling and we were predicting a lot of walking on this stage, but we were pleasantly surprised that the river was still paddleable (I like that, paddleable, I'm going to keep using it).

What can we say about this stage:

- mostly a cobble/gravel/sand bed stream, some outcropping rock but only where the river pushes against the rocky valley margin.

- A very weedy reach, lots of willows (mostly Black & Crack, some hybrids, Weepers and Pussy), Poplars, the occasional Robinia and some Box Elder near the bottom end).

- Native veg included the usual species, River Redgum, River Bottlebrush, Tree Violet, Silver Wattle and some Tea Tree.

- The only fauna of note was a few Nankeen Night Herons and lots of large carp scooting off in the shallows (you'll see the carp regularly if you're the first boat through).

- The Tea Garden Weir was one of our portages (see photo above). This weir is 3.5km upstream from Pioneer Bridges and has been identified as the highest priority fish barrier (for removal) in Victoria. This weir blocks the movement of native fish under low and moderate flow conditions. Under high flow conditions the weir is 'drowned out' and fish can pass. This weir is a priority for the restoration of fish passage because the river has good populations of cod (Murray and trout cod) and yellow belly (golden perch) and movement is important for breeding and genetic diversity. If this barrier is removed (through the retrofitting of a fishway to the existing weir) it will open up natural passage (fish still have to negotiate some large rock bars) from the Murray River to Porepunkah. Fishways are also planned for the other two remaining barriers at Porepunkah and Bright Weirs.

Click this Video link to see some of the Stage 6 action.

The stats were:

- The sixth stage of the Ovens Odyssey was paddled on Australia Day, 26th January 2019, Whorouly (Whorouly Bowmans Road Bridge) to Everton (Pioneer Bridges)

- 16 km (Ch:82.5 to Ch:98.5) (note Ch:82.5 = Chainage 82.5 river kilometres downstream from Harrietville Ch:00)

- Time taken 4:20 hrs, average speed 3.7 km/hr

- River Height - Rocky Point Gauge 0.57 m and falling slowly

- 15 paddlers (Jamie, Jane, Pete, Gin, Tony, Mon, Geoff, Liz, Minnsy, Robbie, Tony, Bill, Ian, Sue & Col) in 5 canoes and 5 kayaks

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