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THE SENIOR TRAVELLER April, 2010 5
ABOVE -- Paddling the Murray.
OPPOSITE PAGE -- The early morning fog covers the river as the sun announces a new day. Photos: Chris Hoffmann.
2am when large slow drops of rain
announce the expected change from the
By 6am there's a break and I cook the
Camped as I am "on a hillock in a hol-
low" all is dry, but my companions are busy
analysing their gear and the little rivers
and patches under their tents. It's a case of
the old real estate adage, position, position,
At 7am we get a more thorough pelting.
We pack and paddle off.
The new and old gear has been thor-
oughly analysed and a luxury GPS tells us
all we need to know about distance, direc-
tion and rate of progress.
A slippery portage over the weir reveals
the cut-off of Katarapko Creek.
This lovely wilderness begs two more
luxuries -- the field glasses and bird book.
Gliding through the water allows a
glimpse into bird behaviour in the wild --
kites attacking ducklings, pelicans fishing
their backwaters of snags, elegant egrets,
herons and cormorants.
The whole creek is ours for two days.
The excellent marked campsites show
signs of livelier times.
We use one for the night and light a fire
as the weather is now quite cool.
Morning brings a steamy water fog, a
long leisurely breakfast and then a walk to
Craigies Hut, a memorial to the white pas-
toralists who toughed out European life in
a world of Aboriginal plenty.
The morning paddle shows us more
beautiful gums and glimpses of ancient
shell middens in weathered banks. Bark
canoes once plied these waters and skilled
spear fishing and hunting sustained life
from a living river.
Another easy paddle brings us to the
daily bustle of the broad main river. We are
soon back at the grassy bank where we
started. Lazily we opt to eat at the hotel,
our local stimulus package which we rec-
ommend to all regional travellers. Steak
and chips are good at the end of a trip.
Some beer helps too.
Rowland-Hart ate at this hotel in 1945.
Midway through his book I discover a
stamp -- Barmera Hotel Library 265A.
Somehow I yearn for that slower time when
travellers took a brandy and a book to the
lounge after their dining room meal.
Our trip has brought three days of slow,
thoughtful travel. We take with us the
memory of the pace of life we adopted,
along with the thought that perhaps we
need to promote the recuperative powers of
our river a bit more.
As the Major observed: "It was ridicu-
lous, all through the cruise, how much
interest the press took in what ought to be
a commonplace pleasure-trip: ridiculous,
and a blot on the sporting enterprise of
young Australians, who ought to be making
it a commonplace trip".
At least I made some of that dream come
about, albeit in 2009.
Some dry land activities to enjoy -- Page 6.
THE Katarapko Creek is a rather
rare canoe circuit; you can return
to your point of departure rather
than a down-river pickup.
The map is 1:50000 River Murray
Canoe Guide Katatarapko from
outdoor and canoe shops.
Camps abound along the creek
and permits are available at vehi-
cle points of entry or by phone.
Department for Environment &
Heritage, Berri (08) 85-952-111.
LOXTON is a full-service rural
centre about three hours by car
from Adelaide. It has a variety of
accommodation. We camped by
the river at the caravan park. The
caravan park will store your vehi-
cle for a donation to the local
hospital. Phone (08) 8584-5817.
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