Drama on the high seas as Murray River sweeps away pontoon at Wahgunyah | Photos

A LARGE pontoon was swept down the Murray River at Wahgunyah yesterday, driven by a gush of water from Lake Hume.

The pontoon was pushed 500 metres before five Roads and Maritime Services workers, using ropes, managed to pull it into the bank.

Wahgunyah’s Riverside Motel owner Terry Young said he saw the pontoon, which was tethered to the John Foord Bridge by rope, break free about 11am.

There were three people on a second floating platform nearby.

Mr Young said it took more than four hours to return the pontoon, which was about eight square metres, to its moorings.

And the retrieval wasn’t without its own drama.

The current, driven by the Lake Hume release, was too strong for the small boat sent to control the pontoon.

Mr Young said the boat’s motor went up in smoke and burnt out and another boat had to be called in to move the pontoon back upstream.

“The ironic part is that the boat actually belongs to the RMS and they are the people who are supposed to control boating and control what goes on in the river,” he said.

“It’s a bit funny that it’s their boat that is out of control.”

RMS workers have been using a large cherry picker on the platform to upgrade the bridge.

Mr Young said he believed the bridge work should have been done sooner.

“The Hume releases water about this time every year,” he said.

“It is surprising the RMS didn’t co-ordinate the bridge work around this release.

“The river here was very low from April up until today, so the works could have been done two months ago and this would not have happened.”