05 March, 2015

Branching out: a Moorabool paddle - rushing around

The final part of Saturday's expedition was less of a paddle and more of a hike - towing the kayaks up and down the rather steep banks of the Moorabool River at this point. After a rocky start to our paddle (described here) from Batesford Bridge followed by a relatively easy 3km section in which we traversed the re-routed section of the river around Batesford Quarry as described in my previous "changing course" post, we exited the formed channel and almost immediately found ourselves confronted by an almost impenetrable wall of reeds.
Into the reeds
There had been a few patches upstream which we'd worked through and around and we did the same here. Once on the other side we found a wide pool and some easy paddling, however as the river narrowed only a short distance away, we were confronted by more reeds. Once again we proceeded to plough our way through, emerging into a small cleared section - much to the surprise of two fishermen standing on the bank.
Pool in the Moorabool below the Ring Road
We gave them a wave and on we went. Another clear section appeared as we approached the remains of the old trestle bridge - part of the Fyansford Cement Works railway which ran between 1924 and 1966 to carry limestone from the Batesford Quarry to the works.
Overlooking the site of the trestle bridge, part of the Fyansford Cement Works
private railway, with the Geelong Ring Road on the rise beyond 
Here however, we could go no further so we hauled the kayaks up the bank and, seeing more trouble ahead, cut across a bend, dropping back to the river once again in another clear section, however, after another short paddle we were out again and then once again.
A pretty little pocket amongst the reeds
This time, we followed the river some 500m past a number of reed-choked sections to the remains of the conveyor belt which carried limestone between quarry and works after the closure of the railway.
From here we were once again able to get on the water and with only a couple of short sections requiring us to haul the kayaks until by early evening we found ourselves paddling under the Lewis Bandt Bridge on the Ring Road.
Lewis Bandt Bridge, Geelong Ring Road
I have looked at this bridge in passing in a previous post and talked briefly about the man himself who was responsible for designing that iconic Australian vehicle - the ute, so I won't elaborate further here.
The places junk can end up!
From this point onwards it was (fortunately) a relatively simple paddle back to Fyansford. Sadly, most of the river through this section is overgrown with exotic plantings and the water quality does not appear as good as further upriver - but this is just my observation. It is also worth noting however, that community activity in the form of weed removal and native revegetation is beginning to occur along the river banks near town.
Then finally, we were faced with one final hurdle - a log jam created I suspect from the dead branches of the woody weeds we had been passing over the last few hundred metres, so for one final time, we dragged the kayaks up the bank, around the logs and dropped back into the water for the paddle to our finishing point - the historic Monier bridge at Fyansford, built in 1900.
Old Monier bridge at Fyansford with the current bridge just visible behind
And so after five hours of rocks, prickles, boxthorn, ants, bees, rushes, reeds, barbed wire and leeches we were finally done. Not exactly a "paddle" I would recommend, however a very interesting part of the Moorabool to have seen at close quarters.

1 comment:

  1. Hi, Jo! Thanks for sharing your very interesting and most informative blog and photographs on-line. I really appreciate your work. I have a web-site in which I have included some of your images and comments. See link: http://www.fyansford.com/#!moorabool-river/tog6u
    If you wish me to remove your material (which I think would be a shame) please let me know and I will oblige. Regards, John