If you are planning a trip to Chowilla or Renmark in the next month, you will interested to know that a new plan is underway to drop the river level above Lock 6 from May 21st and above Lock 5 in June 2018. At this time of year, water levels would have dropped significantly before the weirs were put in 1920-35 to prevent natural drying out phases.
A news release from 18 May states:
“Department for Environment and Water (DEW) River Murray Water Operations Manager Jarrod Eaton said the water level will be gradually lowered by up to 20cm at Lock Six, and will be returned to normal by around mid-June. “The lowering forms part of water level variability trials to help restore more natural drying and wetting cycles to benefit the local riverine environment,” Mr Eaton said. “As always, water users around Lock Six should pay attention to hazard signs on the river and proceed carefully.”
It is expected that allowing riverbanks to dry out will encourage vegetation growth, provide feeding habitat for birds and help flush accumulated salt from floodplains.
Because the river and creeks are already at low pool level and expected to drop a further 20cm, consider how this could affect your kayaking route. We are interested to hear your findings because no-one has faced this kind of event before.
Our paddle-wheeler PS Julie Fay B&B has been turning heads since she opened in January. Here she has listed seventh on this amazing list of 16 awesome aquatic adventures. Check them all out and start planning your bucket list!
16 Awesome Aquatic Adventures in Australia And New Zealand
People are feeling enthused by Spring and asking “What are the river conditions above Renmark?”
The 22/9/17 Flow Report advises that the flow at the South Australian border is approximately 5.5 GL/day and will reduce to around 4.5 GL/day during the coming week.
Lock 5 has recently been manipulated, affecting river levels from Paringa up to Lock 6 in lower Chowilla. First the level was dropped a little and then very slowly raised to a little above normal pool levels. This means that we can see over the reeds and across the islands as we kayak along, so we are seeing more wildlife like emus, kangaroos and tree goannas (see our photo of one swimming across the river).
Landings are a bit unpredictable; some places its deeper, other places (like at our landing) it is long and shallow. The changes are keenly welcomed by the frogs and birds who love the water tipping over low banks and forming shallow lagoons. We have heard that kayaks are going straight over the top of the causeway on Little Hunchee Creek.
The Flow Report says that these levels will start to lower back to Normal Pool Level in early – mid October. At this stage there does not appear to be enough water coming down to allow the Chowilla Regulator to be closed in October & November this year but it hasn’t been entirely ruled out.
If you want to get out kayaking but don’t know how to do it, give us a call. We have a camping area for hire and we know the best places to camp out too. We produce the local river map to guide you and there are many options to loop around islands or be dropped off to kayak back to your car. We are happy to just give advice – there is no obligation. We just love helping people get out there and enjoy the natural environment.
Most people are aware of the plan under consideration to introduce the Carp Virus into the Murray River. We keep our ears to the ground to follow developments and have collected a couple of interesting links.
Firstly check out this site if you don’t understand why carp are considered such a significant pest http://www.carp.gov.au and I quote:
“Common carp … are the worst pest species affecting freshwater ecosystems in south-eastern Australia. Carp completely dominate our freshwater fish communities in southeastern Australia, making up 80% of the total fish biomass in many Australian rivers, and up to 93% in some places. They are also referred to as ‘ecosystem engineers’, which means they modify their surrounding ecosystem through their bottom-feeding behavior, muddying waters, blocking sunlight to aquatic vegetation, and impacting on tiny plankton, aquatic invertebrates, waterbirds, and native fish.”
Now here’s something very interesting from the USA’s Mississippi River. (Click here to read the article) A media release from May 2017 showed that, after introducing the carp virus in the 1990’s they noted a decline in carp and an increase in their native fish numbers.They wrote:
“It was particularly interesting to see that the richness and abundance of native species including Bluegill – a fish species native to North America that angler like to catch – exploded as carp numbers dwindled”
It sounds very promising, doesn’t it?
Here above Renmark, the Murray River has returned to pool level, the current is minimal and flows across the border are dropping. So it’s perfect conditions for all water sports although you should take care with motor boats until you locate the newly fallen trees and snags.
It’s a wonderful season for being on the river and we’ve been busy making Canoe the Riverland bigger and better for our guests. We joined Youcamp to help you get out and enjoy the serenity. We have established a camping area with camp kitchen, bathroom and flushing toilet so that you can continue to enjoy the peaceful surroundings before or after your tour. For more information and bookings: https://youcamp.com/view/canoe-the-riverland
Exciting news! We are preparing Dinghy Tours of the wetlands for those who just can’t see themselves in a kayak. Everyone comes to Renmark to enjoy the river so we are making it easier for you to appreciate the behind-the-scenes beauty of these world renown wetlands. We anticipate that these tours will be available within the week.
The Murray is flowing across the Victorian border at 60Gl/ day and is now estimated to peak at 90 or 95 in Late November/Early December. While this means different things to different regions of the river, we can attest to it being a sensational time in the Riverland.
As the main channel overflows into the Wetlands, myriad backwaters are filling with water. This is not a flood; it’s the natural filling of dry streams and lagoons that depend on spring flows for rejuvenation. It attracts the birds, fish and wildlife into scenic areas that many people never dreamed existed.
Some of our usual loop trails are going to be out of action for a while but we have the most amazing downstream trip lined up for those who want a very special paddle.
The river flow rate above Renmark has been rising slowly over the last week – the attached photo was taken on last night’s Sunset Tour so you can see that we are still kayaking upstream in the creeks with ease. Today it is 50Gl/day at the border and, while the level is clearly above pool level, it is only breaking the banks in the low-lying wetlands. The flows have been slower to arrive than predicted, with lots of hype and differing opinions. It seems that since the drought, any new water to reach the river is big news.
So let’s put it in context:
The peak flow is estimated to be 80Gl at the border by the end of November, then fall.
Our last high water was in 2011 which peaked at 94Gl and we were all enjoying kayaking downstream that year.
The flood of 1974 reached 180Gl. The 1956 flood reached 350Gl/day.
So clearly this is a good flow of water for the environment but not a flood.
Come and enjoy the beautiful environment and wildlife that water brings to the wetlands.
Chowilla Creeks are 3m above pool level and well over their banks. The regulator was closed last month and they have deliberately held back water to inundate the wetlands. National Parks have been advising schools not to use the area for canoeing because the creekline is unclear and most of the campsites are underwater.
Katarapko levels are low at the top requiring portages because they are keeping levels low to work on the Katfish Reach project. However the weir on the connecting creek is underwater allowing an easy passage if you access Katarapko via Lock 4 area.
Our area, being below Chowilla and above Katarapko is excellent kayaking at the moment. The bridge at Calperum must be portaged but everything else is perfect. Lots of people are kayaking from Victoria to Renmark and loving it. One thrilling change is that Squiggly Creek is open and running from below Headings Cliff into Woolenook Bend thanks to funding to unblock the entrance and give the old wetlands a drink.
This week, flow into SA is about 37 GL day increasing to 40GL this week. Its not difficult to kayak against the flow unless the wind is against you. We have heard that the water from the Victorian rains are likely to reach us in the middle of October, increasing the flow to over 40Gl/day.
There’s a lot happening in the Murray-Darling system right now. The flow over the South Australian border is around 25.5 GL/day and increasing. There is potential for further increases due to high inflows above the Yarrawonga Weir.
So, how does this affect kayaking in the Riverland?
Well firstly, the current is OK for novices and remember that keeping to the edges avoids most of a current’s influence.
Experienced kayakers will be keen to experience the river differently:
- Squiggly Creek is flowing so why not kayak down it from Murtho Forest Landing to Main Lagoon through the Woolenook Wetlands.
- The small weir at the top of Ral Ral Creek is submerged so you can paddle right over the top of it.
- The big stone weir in Katarapko is underwater so this is a great opportunity to loop around the top island without a massive portage.
- Be careful at Calperum’s bridge. It may be too low to get under, plus there is a risk of being caught on a strainer just below it. Plan to land here and check it out before proceeding.
The Chowilla regulator is closing until the end of the year so be aware this creates a difficult portage (about 300m of uneven ground) until it reopens.
We took the above photo about a week ago. It is the Murrumbidgee River at Narrandera three days after a flood passed through on its way to the Murray.
The Murray River is experiencing increased flows from the Murrumbidgee and Ovens Rivers. The only storage area for these waters is Lake Victoria – which is full.
So the flow at the border is now 11GL/day and is expected to increase up to 16 GL/day in this coming week. Which is GREAT for the environment and still pleasant for kayakers.