There’s a lot to mastering the Murray

PADDLING a canoe or kayak on the Murray from Mungabareena reserve to Noreuil Park poses many dangers for the unwary.

At Mungabareena, the river is the full width because it hasn’t yet divided between the Wodonga Creek and the main stream flowing past Doctor’s Point.

The Kiewa comes in from the left at a spot where the depth of the Murray ranges from deep to very shallow, so a craft can easily touch the bottom or hit stones.

As well, there are lots of snags in this area.

After a few turns, the river widens again before the flow of the left side turns into Wodonga Creek.

An unsuspecting paddler might easily be dragged into the creek from the main stream — so it’s best to keep to the right.

A kilometre or so later, the river divides again, where it has cut into the original bank and formed a short anabranch — which flows fast and is full of snags and even old fence wire.

At present, the cold (18 degrees) river is flowing high, so any paddler must always be alert to avoid logs or branches lurking just under the surface.

Care must be taken to pass under the Hume Freeway and railway bridges, for at this point the river flows fast and deep on the right bank, while being shallow and slow to the left.

Another likely hazard is the sharp bend near Harvey’s fun park — there are fallen trees between this point and the Union Bridge.

Youths jumping from the Union Bridge pose a special risk, as some think it’s “fun” to bomb onto the river in the path of canoes.

Downstream of the bridge, a paddler must watch for swimmers floating down to the Noreuil foreshore, and again avoid fallen trees on both sides.

Other hazards can be avoided by paddlers themselves — by wearing safety gear, not drinking alcohol before or during a trip and never trying to stand up or push others into the water.

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