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Left: Whopper windmill at Robinvale
Middle: Lock 15 roaring
Right: Massive Red Gums dwarf the car


Trip Report




Robinvale to Wemen, Part 1
November 2017




Could I do more on the river?

I had just completed the Boundary Bend to Robinvale leg in north western Victoria. It was tempting to push on, downstream towards Wemen.

The Albert Park Land Crew, good weather and a helpful current made the previous 6 days on the river enjoyable and successful. Unfortunately Dave and Kala the camp dog now had commitments in Melbourne. So I would be on my own - no land crew. I took a rest day before pushing on.

I used the rest day well. I quizzed the locals about the Murray-Darling food bowl around Robinvale. The area is known for its agricultural produce. Table grapes, wine grapes, almonds, pistachios, olives, carrots, broccoli, asparagus, avocados, pumpkins and citrus fruits are grown in the sandy mallee soil. The abundant irrigation water works wonders in the semi arid environment. I'm not sure if the old adage "We sell stone fruit fresh if we can and what we can't we can." still applies.

A large seasonal workforce from more than 21 different countries picks the produce. There is also a population from the southern Italian province of Calabria.

Robinvale used to be called Bumbang. The name was changed to Robinvale (Robin vale - meaning Farewell Robin) in 1924, in memory of Lieutenant George Robin Cuttle. He managed a local property for his father, before being killed in the Great War at Caix, near Villers-Bretonneux. A sister town link between Robinvale and Villers-Bretonneux was established in 1984. The family homestead Robinswood is now an interesting museum. The huge windmill nearby that pumped water from the river, still spins in the wind. It is possibly the biggest windmill in the Southern Hemisphere.

The rest day was also useful to gather information on the river downstream of Robinvale. When I last saw Lock 15, about 5 kms downstream from Robinvale, the river was in flood. Water was pouring right over the top of the weir with terrifying force. This time the water was more controlled, but the noise was still thunderous! I had a good chat to the Lock Master who helped me devise a plan for the following day.

I pushed off from the Robinvale Riverside Caravan Park. Under the bridge, around the wide river bend and through the little town of Euston. After days in the bush the sounds of voices and a lawn mower were particularly noticeable. Further down the river I could hear a sound like a jet engine in the distance. The Euston Weir noise became louder and more threatening as I got closer. I approached the lock carefully, ensuring I kept to the left to avoid the multiple waterfalls to the right. Once again the Lock Master was helpful. Before long I was sitting on the board inside the lock, as the water level slowly fell by 4 metres.

The email below describes the rest of the day:

Thanks Dave,

I did a day on my own after you left.

Through the lock as we had discussed. The exit was like riding a bucking bronco but I stayed on.

Couldn't find a spot to pull in until 4 kms down stream of the lock, at Gadsdens Bend. It is a beautiful sand bar. With the temperature at 38 degrees I expected plenty of swimmers with cars to help me get back to my car at Robinvale.

No one there!

Several people had told me it is too far to walk back. I had no choice but to prove them wrong.

I left a note on the board, explaining my intended walk, and that I had food and water.

I walked mainly through bush, carrying my heavy walkout bag (snake bite kit, emergency tucker, blanket etc.) and 3 litres of water, in the heat.

I kept the river on my left to avoid getting lost.

When I reached a road I tried hitch hiking. No luck until a helpful electrician from Port Adelaide picked me up.

I have always been aware of the benefits of a land crew, but never more so than on that day!

Today I went back to retrieve the board. Just got out of Robinvale before the big storm hit!

Rod




This report will be continued when further progress is made towards Wemen.





Sources include:
Historical Information from the Robinswood Homestead museum

Local information from the Robinvale/Euston Tourist Centre

River Murray Charts, Wright M. A.,
http://www.rivermurraycharts.com.au

Murray River Recreational User Guide – Map Booklet Series
http://www.spatialvision.com.au/html/pdf/email-sv-project-murray.pdf



Trip details
Robinvale (1124 kilometres from the river mouth) to
Gadsdens Bend (1112 kilometres from the river mouth)
12 kilometres

Date: 29 November 2017

Water temperature: Perfect



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