04 December, 2014

Launching from Inverleigh

Last weekend I had the opportunity to paddle a short section of the Barwon and Leigh Rivers at Inverleigh. I have walked part of the distance on the track along the western bank from the Hamilton Highway to the Inverleigh-Winchelsea Road. This time I was able to see it from a different angle and to access short sections of the Barwon which I haven't seen before, so I thought I'd share a few of the photos.
I put in at a campsite a couple of hundred metres down the track from the bridge on the Inverleigh-Winchelsea Road (easy 2WD access in dry weather) where the bank is quite flat. From there, I paddled down to the confluence of the two rivers.

Launch point
Just downstream of my entry point
View of the eastern bank

Looking back to the south

The confluence from the south. The Leigh River enters to the left of the viewing
platform and the Barwon flows to the right (east) towards Geelong.
From the confluence, I paddled the 1km section up the Leigh River to the bridge on the Hamilton Highway however, rather than drag the kayak through the shallows under the bridge, I headed back to the confluence.
The Leigh River, looking north
The rail bridge over the Leigh, looking north

The rail bridge over the Leigh

The Hamilton Highway bridge from below
Looking downriver (south) 
From there, I hung a left and headed downstream. This is a part of the river I haven't seen in a very long time, however I have been here once before. In the 1980s, my brother, father and a friend of mine paddled the Barwon from Inverleigh down to Pollocksford - a journey I am hoping to repeat soon. I don't remember much of the event, except that there were several sections of rapids and that the trip took much longer than any of us expected.

A bunch of less-than-impressed bovines
On this occasion, I headed off with the intention of seeing how far I could get before things got tricky. For over 1km, the river was relatively wide and unobstructed.
Heading east

Farmland to either side
 However, a little more than 1.2km downstream, I was confronted by a small weir, below which was a stretch through which the flow of the river passed around reeds and rocks which would have been tricky to paddle through heading downstream, let alone coming back upstream, so I had reached the end of my journey in that direction.
Approaching the weir
At the weir
Consequently, I paddled back upstream to the confluence and then back beyond my starting point, this time with the intention of seeing how far upstream I could make it.
Inverleigh-Winchelsea Road bridge over the Barwon
 Beyond the Inverleigh-Winchelsea Road bridge, things became a little more tricky. The river narrowed somewhat and became littered with fallen trees and branches.

Upstream a short distance towards Winchelsea
Surprisingly, I was still able to navigate over 1.5 km upstream before I came to a fallen tree which would have required me to disembark and undertake some haulage. Again, not insurmountable if I was undertaking a one way trip, but not today.
I headed back to my starting point to arrange a pick up. With any luck I will be back sooner rather than later.

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