Trip Report: Paddling the Murray River from Yarrawonga to Cobram

I have done quite a few trips over the years and paddling this 70km section of the mighty Murray in February 2015 has to be one of my all time favourites. When you combine a family adventure with idyllic beaches, perfect weather and Australia’s longest river you will see why.

Murray_Garmin_2015
Click to enlarge map and see GPS track
We started the trip just downstream of the Yarrawonga weir.
We started the trip just downstream of the Yarrawonga weir.
With long days in the sun we had to be vigilant with the sunscreen and hats
With long days in the sun we had to be careful with hats and sunscreen
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The weather was fantastic
The initial enthusiasm for paddling wore off after a few hours leaving me and  Mrs Bretto to do all the work
The initial enthusiasm for paddling wore off after a few hours
This is a bit more relaxing than Bass Strait
This is more relaxing than Bass Strait – even if I had to do most of the work
Whenever we got a bit warm we just pulled up on one of the many beaches for a refreshing swim. Sometimes we would only get in half an hour of paddling between swims

It doesn't get much better than this

We purchased this canoe about 12 years ago with the intention of doing some multi-day canoe trips. It has served us well and been on many rivers around Victoria but this was the first time we took it on an overnight trip.

This was our campsite on the first night. No vehicle access meant no grey nomads.
This was our campsite on the first night. No vehicle access meant no grey nomads.

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Dinner with waterfront views

The Hilleberg is overkill for these conditions – but we had enough ventilation for a comfortable night. Dont forget your sand pegs

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We saw heaps of birds along the way
We saw heaps of birds along the way
Camp 2
Another perfect night on the river

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There were sections of the river where there are many campers. This area near Cobram was popular with waterskiers and bogans.
There were sections of the river where there are many campers. This area near Cobram was popular with waterskiers and bogans.
Everyone loves a rope swing hanging over the river
Everyone loves a rope swing hanging over the river

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The bridge over the river was indicated the trip was nearing an end
The bridge over the river was indicated the trip was nearing an end
We made it to the finish point at Cobrams Thompson Beach
We made it to the finish point at Cobrams Thompson Beach

I am hoping the success of this trip will mean the family will be interested in doing another (longer) stretch of the Murray next summer. Who knows – maybe over many years we could cover the whole length of the river.

The boring stuff

We avoided taking 2 cars by catching a local taxi back upstream. I dropped off the family and all the gear at the start point (Yarrawonga weir) then I drove our car to the end point at Cobram (Thompsons Beach). I had pre-arranged for a taxi to pick me up and take me back to Yarrawonga and it was only $80. So then it didn’t matter what time or day we finished the trip – our car was there waiting for us. Contact Cobram-Barooga Taxis on 03 5871 1111.

Average river current / drift speed 2.5km/h to 3.0km/h. Sprint speed 10.0km/h (over ground)

Day 1 – 15.9km. Moving Average 5.4km/h. Total time 4 hours

Day 2 – 36.1km. Moving Average 6.4km/h. Total time 9 hours

Day 3 – 16.0km. Moving Average 5.8km/h. Total time 4 hours

While paddling on the Murray isn’t very demanding – you need to have some decent skills especially if taking kids with you. The most challenging situations are dealing with wash from ski boats and avoiding trees in the river and submerged logs etc. A current of 2.5km/h doesn’t sound fast but it is very unforgiving if things get out of shape. When I was younger I saw a Canadian canoe hit a tree side on, then capsize upstream and fold in half around a tree with one of the paddlers feet getting caught in the folded boat. He was very lucky not to drown.

We took about 24 litres of drinking water plus 4 litres of frozen/bottled water in the esky. With the warm weather we only had a few litres left over at the end. If we had to spend another night/day on the river we would have had to get some drinking water from one of the riverside campers.

Our canoe is Coleman branded but I am not sure you can get them anymore in Australia. It is actually made by these guys:

http://www.pelicansport.com/en/products/canoes/pelican-155

One could argue that you don’t need a map if you are just paddling downstream – but we used Spatial Vision’s Murray River Access map and found it pretty handy.

mrag-blue-ed3

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2 thoughts on “Trip Report: Paddling the Murray River from Yarrawonga to Cobram”

  1. Your trip details have been exactly what we have been wanting to find for preparing us for our first extended overnight river trip. I was able to get my hands on an old style fibre glass canoe (a barter prize for work done) and at 4900mm overall the old girl is carrying some weight. but she is sturdy, tracks well and can carry an impressive amount of gear.
    One question where did you manage to secure you car at the end point of the trip.

    1. Hi there,

      We left out car at Thompson’s Beach at Cobram. There is a cafe there and plenty of people around during the day and I believe fruit pickers sometimes stay in their cars overnight so there is often people around. There is some lighting there and we had no problems with the security of our car. Come to think of it – I have never had anything stolen from an unattended campsite or had my car broken into – and it is often left in isolated places. Australia is just a great place isn’t it?
      I hope you trip goes well…have fun!

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