In December 2010 the Knoxes built a special kind of canoe, a CatCanoe. Two Canadian canoes fixed together like a catamaran. Setting of Just after Christmas from Echuca they paddled nearly 1000 km down the River Murray to Mildura.
Extracts from the ships Blog
27/12/10 – Day 1
Today was one of those days when everything goes to plan and to top it off we managed to fit all our clobber on to the canoes without sinking.
Because the river is flowing fast we are making about 6-7 km per hour. Very happy with that. I’m also please to report that the canoes are not getting too much water over the side from the wake boarder. God bless them.
Currently we are sitting in our mozzie dome. Must admit it feels very much like a private club, me on the inside them on the outside.
28/12/10 – Slow Motion : By Sam
First full day on the river. Eventful one at that. We received our first donation by a lovely lady at Deep Creek Marina Supermarket, we were almost run over by a speed boat, drenched to the bone, ambushed by mossies and now sitting in the safety of our mossie dome.
After a poor night sleep, the temperature felt like 5 degrees below, we woke up at 9 am to Weet-Bix and a swift start by 10 am. We stopped at 11:30 at a local caravan park to boost supplies and refill water.
After lunch at 2 pm everyone was extremely sleepy and took it in turns to have a little nap. I fell asleep on the trampoline and every time a boat came past I had a cooling dip in the wake.
The Canoe-maran coped well with wake until a ‘friendly’ speed boat LS 617 sped past at almost 20 knots nearly 2 meters from our starboard. Their wake proceeded to drench us all and all our belongings.
We then arrived at Deep Creek Supermarket and Hotel. The staff there were delightful and gave us plenty of advice and chocolate. Very happy!
Today we accomplished 42 km and have worked out we will be in Barham for NYE. Be there.
I feel today we have accomplished a great deal, and although many of us have doubts about the trip we are on our way and making good and steady progress.
Missing all my friends, my bed and many other luxuries of home.
Hopefully a better sleep tonight.
28/12/10 – Harder than I thought
Yep it is – and the mozzies, there are black clouds of them. Sue has tooth ache and is putting on a brave face, either that or she is pulling faces at me. Hoping for a good night sleep tonight.
29/1/11 – Still Alive
The Murray marathon was on so the river was closed to power boats. Bliss.
Currently camping 10km down river from Torrumbarry Weir, secretly on the NSW side of the river.
We are still finding it hard to get into the groove and are very aware that we need to pick up speed if we are to make it to Mildura.
Reception is bad so I can’t upload images but I’d like to leave you with the first line of a song “Hullo Mudda, Hullo Farda, here I am at Camp Granada…”
30/1/11 – Sue has got a sick note.
On the morning of the 29th Sue’s mouth took on a very new look and we thought it best that she get medical attention. But by this time we were 12km down river from the nearest house. The day before we had passed through the Torrumburry lock and had talked to the lock keeper – he’d said that if we needed anything we should contact him. With only one bar of signal on our mobile phone we did and within half an hour he was at our campsite and later took Sue to the hospital. She’s on antibiotics and the swelling is going down. Forget Thunderbirds, if you ever need any emergency help, call the lock keeper. We thank him.
Poppy went with the lock keeper and I carried on into the wilderness with the boys. The stretch of river between Torrunburry and Barham is some of the finest I have ever seen. Such a pretty place and we had it nearly all to ourselves. The river is lined like a French avenue with red gum trees. Behind those trees there are more trees, millions of them. It is thick thick forest verging on jungle.
The 2 other people we met were Chris and Ian, they are canoeing to the sea in kayaks. There trip too was a fundraiser for Australian Youth Against Cancer. We kept on bumping into them. They had faster craft but needed to get of every now and then. We can keep paddling. It was the tortoise and the hare scenario for a while. But this time the hare won. Good luck to them and if you’d like to find out more about there trip visit www.ayac.com.au
Later this morning we’ll make a decision about Sue coming the on the next leg.
In the meantime Happy New Year.
Some images setting off and others from Echuca to Barnham
Barham to Mildura
31/1/31 – Party Time
From Sam: Day 6: Mother had aboandond ship with her partner in crime Poppy to see the doctor in Echuca, She was suffering from a infected lip. They have been waiting in Barham for us to arrive. The rest of the crew consisting of Leo, Father and I have paddled over 100 km in the last two days to make in to Barham for tonight. New Years Eve!!! We are going to be ‘Hanging out’ at the local RSL. While the women were away we have encountered many beautiful views and infamous insects, such as mosquitos and spiders. We are collecting many bites and in total we must have over 300. Seriously! In the last 100 km from lock 10 to Barham there has been nearly no civilization and we were running low on water. we ran out just as we got to Barham, thankfully mother was there before we arrived with coke and chocolate. Happiness.
We met some canoeist along the way who are canoeing down to raise money for cancer. Their website below.
Have a great new years eve and don’t forget your new years resolution.
1/1/11 – The Admiral is back on board
Yep the Chief of the Navy is back on board and the Captain is just a Captain again. We had a big night last night – please see recovery pics above and after a good bit of paddling we find ourselves in Murabbit. Most of the river banks are flooded but a local showed us his site near to an orange grove. Pity the mozzies are keeping us from a bit of honest scrumping.
Leo has been working hard as you can see from the pics below.
Despite Admiral Sue feeling better she is not fully recovered and may take a bit more shore leave in Swan Hill – we are due there the day after tomorrow.
2/1/11 – No modern day Cap’t Bligh
11 hours of paddling a day. This a long river and the odd thing is that we are still heading inland. Tomorrow we will be in Swan Hill. That means that we have paddled over a third of the way to Mildura.
Our daily average is about 45km a day. And the following describes an average day. I wake up at 6am. I look at the hundreds of mosquitoes (no exaggeration) on the mozzie dome and decide there is no point in getting up. So I don’t. At 7.30am the hope direct sunlight on the dome becomes a reality. I get up and make tea. At 8.30am the mozzies have gone and we pack up and get on the boat. By 9.30 we’re under way. There we have breakfast, lunch and tea. In between we paddle, chat, paddle, sing, paddle, argue, paddle and at 7pm we start to look for a place on the river bank to sleep. By 9pm we are in our sleeping bags.
I think we are going to get a motor in Swan Hill. I want to be popular with my crew. I don’t want to be a modern day Captain Bligh. But I do want to get to Mildura.
3/1/11 – Suggestions Please
Oh misses – there’s drama afoot.
We are in Swan Hill. Having set off from Echuca we’ve paddled over 300km in a week. That’s like paddling from Sydney to Taree (if you are reading this in the UK, that’s London to Leeds).
Then you have all the rough camping and the mozzies – not just one or two of them hundreds of them. So you can see it’s tough going. And the paddling, 10-11 hours a day.
I said to Sam “think of all the muscles you’ll have” he told me that holidays are not for building muscles. Quite the Aussie don’t you think?
Leo is getting stuck in and is a consistent paddler but I know he would rather be in front of the TV.
Poppy is a lot of fun but she is not strong enough to keep going all day.
Sue has not been well but would be very happy if I put a big outboard on the back of the canoes and whizzed her to Mildura by the end of the week or earlier.
Me, I’m having a great time, the river is gorgeous and I keep on saying out loud “wow look at that tree, isn’t it beautiful”. The others then make me explain why it is any different to the other million other trees out there. There is another big difference, I really enjoy being in the middle of nowhere with not a soul around.
At the moment if I put it to a vote, I’d have 4 – 1 in favour of quitting.
Mildura is over 500km away and I’m reminded of Jesse Martin’s ill fated voyage on Kinjara where the whole thing imploded.
The fact is that I do need to do something to make the experience more positive for all. And I do want to finish the trip. Any suggestions? Please before they tie me up and run away.
The pic below is how others are enjoying the river. Am I missing something?
4/1/11 – Call the Pope
We have a new Saint. Saint Doris – the Patron Saint of family holidays in the shape of an old 2.5HP outboard motor.
9/11/11 – Last Day Tomorrow
Sorry to have not posted the last couple of days due to a very large steak on friday night and atrocious weather last night.
This will be out last night of our voyage of nearly 1000km, half of which we have paddled. It has been very eventful with floods, a plague of mosquitoes and illness. The heat too has been incredible. The day before yesterday I drank 5 litres of water and didn’t need to use the bathroom once. Good job too because there wasn’t one.
Sue decided that the last 200km were going to be too much for her as she is still feeling under the weather. She’s installed in a hotel in Mildura with a real bed in it. I’m looking forward to seeing her tomorrow night.
I touched on the weather last night. We knew there was a blow on the way and we’d allowed ourself plenty of time to set up camp. Aware of the danger from falling trees we’d found a spot that was safe. However, at around 7.30pm the wind was blowing so strong that it was flattening the tent. We had to move. Not easy in that kind of wind to pack everything down and load it into the boat.?Sam was fantastic, calm and resourceful. We checked our several sites that we better sheltered from the wind but worried about falling trees I made the call to move on. Those boys are too precious.?Sam spotted a solid looking snag sticking up in the water a safe distance from the shore and its trees so we tied up there. Not conventional but safe. We put the tent up on the boat but had to sleep on the bare wood deck. A long but safe night followed.?We took on a motor in Swan Hill but whilst it gives us kilometers, it’s a bit dull, so we tend to paddle in the morning and motor in the afternoon.?Tonight I’m writing this by a campfire with tent erected and blown up carry mat. Hardly a mozzie around. I think we are going to have a happy ending.
10/1/11 – We did it
We did it and we are very please to be here in Mildura.
I won’t give you a full update because I’m having a fight with a bottle of champagne and I think I’m loosing.
Full update due tomorrow.
11/1/11 – All Over Red Rover
Right now I’m sitting in a caravan with a fly buzzing around my head. It’s one of those that is impossible to catch. You’d think that I’d be use to this sort of thing by now.
The last few weeks have been tough, very tough and full of the unexpected. It crossed my mind on more than one occasion that I hadn’t prepared well enough for the trip. Indeed, the whole adventure didn’t exist 10 weeks ago and now it’s over so there wasn’t a lot of time to prepare.
Our intention was to paddle the whole way – nearly 1000km – precisely its 826km. That didn’t happen but I’m happy to say that we paddled over half that, 432km to be exact. It’s a long way when you think that Sydney to Canberra is only 285km.
Australia has a harsh climate and to survive it you need to be adaptable. You can plan you life away but out in the wilderness you are going to face problems that can’t be foreseen. You need to improvise and compromise. And that’s just what we did to get to Mildura.
The flooded river made it very difficult to find suitable places to camp. And when we arrived the mosquitoes got stuck in. We learnt to hit the river bank in military fashion and get the mozzie dome up in 3 minutes. Even with repellant this translates to about 20 bites each. Then if you need to go out of the dome to answer a call of nature you better be quick. 60 bites was Sue’s record.
But the day’s were great. It felt like we were paddling into an masterpiece. The river looked magnificent in flood and the wildlife was bountiful. We spend several days without seeing another human. I like that.
It was wonderful spending so much time with my family without the distraction of modern life – ever year the children change a little, their personalities develop and it’s a real pleasure getting to know them all over again and appreciating them as individuals.
Leo was a great help. At first he was very angry to be taken away from his toys. He found it difficult to paddle for more than 5 minutes. To be frank he was a pain. Then he settled down and would paddle solidly for over 2 hours at a time. When he talked to us he’d look us directly in the eyes. We had some very nice conversations.
Leo knows he is not like other people. Sometimes he asks “why am I not clever like Poppy and Sam”. I haven’t found a good enough answer to this question. He so much wants to be like the others but it’s not going to happen. If there is a point to this adventure it’s to get people to think about intellectual disability. People like Leo need to feel included, important and valued and in that way they are no different to us all. So please, if you are standing in a queue or sitting on a train next to someone with an intellectual disability, chat to them, or if you are an employer, a part time job would be great.
Along the way we have met some wonderful people. I’d particularly like to thank the following.
• The lock keeper at Torrumbarry
• The lady at the campsite in Barham
• Leighton and Trevor in Swan Hill Power Products
• The lady at the Post office in Tooleybuc
• The lady at Deep Creek Marina
• And all the wake boat drivers that slowed down for us.
During the trip we used 8 cans of Mortein, lucky for they fly I have no more. So I resorted to more traditional means and opened the window.
We hope to see you in the future.
Barham to Mildura