Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Reflections of spring

Spring has finally sprung and the weather is warming up and over the last couple of weeks the weather has been perfect for paddling. Naturally, I've taken every opportunity available to get out on the river. This has so far meant several trips upstream from Baum's Weir to the Merrawarp Road bridge and beyond. The end result is that I have significantly increased my supply of scenic photos which began with a couple of trips upriver early in 2013.
These images were taken near the weir in the late afternoon with very still conditions about a week ago.

No, it is not upside down...
...it's only half the picture...
On each occasion I hit the water at the car park off Cyril Synot Drive which has a small boat ramp and fishing deck. An 800m paddle upstream from the boat ramp takes you under the Geoff Thom Bridge which carries the Geelong Ring Road over the Barwon.

The Geoff Thom Bridge on the Ring Road
From there, it is under the Barrabool Hills in a big loop as the river heads first south then north before curving away to the west and towards Ceres. From this point onwards, the birdlife increased significantly and on my most recent paddle I counted almost 30 different species.
More reflections beneath the Barrabool Hills
The base of the Barrabool Hills
Out from under the hills, the river passes through open farmland and thanks to the weirs and breakwaters below, is wide and deep enough for an easy paddle. The riverbanks are mostly tree lined with sections of reeds and Tangled Lignum in some places.
Between Baum's Weir and Merrawarp Road
 
Between the weir and the bridge
At the bridge, it is possible to put a kayak in, although there is no formal boat ramp and the area is used by vandals and worse. I believe however, that there is public access to the south  bank of the river via a track which runs down from Gully Road a few hundred metres downstream of the bridge, although I have not used it myself.
The Merrawarp Road Bridge, looking south east
Above Merrawarp Road, the scenery is similar however within about a kilometre of the bridge, the channel narrows in places and obstructions in the form of fallen trees either fully or partly submerged become more frequent and harder to negotiate. It is however still fairly easily navigable by kayak at the present water levels, although this may change seasonally.
Above Merrawarp Road
Above Merrawarp Road
About two and a half kilometres upstream from Merrawarp Road, the channel narrows substantially and things start to get really tricky. On this occasion I left it at that point, turned around and headed for home.
All up, a paddle of about 16km without rapids and without serious obstruction. My next mission will hopefully be to paddle the section of Barwon from Inverleigh down to Pollocksford Bridge.