The Joy of Small Streams

This is the Morwell River somewhere neither you nor I (probably) ever thought to canoe. I present it here as an example: The great adventures are mostly over.  People have crossed all the continents and seas, plumbed the deepest depths and ascended the tallest mountains – but they haven’t been everywhere. There is oft surprisingly a largely unexplored wilderness right next door which will reveal many delights if you ‘take the road less traveled’ or preferably no road at all, as I prefer to do.

A couple of earlier posts such as Travels in a Donkey Trap & The Commute may illustrate this better.

You will have read that Della has a new Alpacka Scout which we are keen to try out, but it is difficult to do much with this knee (agonising) as it presently is. Less than a month to go and I will have a new one, and hopefully a new lease of life to go with it – but there will be quite a few weeks of recuperation and restoration I’m sure before I travel far and wide.

The Morwell River is a very small river which rises behind the village of Boolarra in Sth Gippsland. The canoeable section (paralleling the River Rd) is (roughly) from the East Branch confluence (bridge) down to Fox and Fanke’s Road – though you can go down to the next bridge (a private driveway – luckily owned by a couple of friends of mine!)

This trip will take about three hours when the river is clear and will be just beautiful at river heights on the Boolarra Gauge of between .5 and .6 metres.

Today the height was .42 so just above the minimum I would say though a little more work on pebble races would improve this still further. You will often encounter heights like this in the warmer months particularly after a bit of rain, as the river is very responsive. The access (tar road) is very easy and pleasant at these two points and at two intermediate points Apex Park and Fox’s Hole (at the Prosper Valley Rd intersection).

We had an awful storm back here on 10th June (Droughts and Flooding Rain) and are still recovering from all the damage it did. This included (so far as the Morwell River is concerned) many trees down across and into the river not all of which have been removed. The more of this work you are able to do (we did some yesterday) the more enjoyable this trip will be for everyone concerned.

I think if you are able to stop at pebble races where you are bottom scraping at .4 metres and move a couple of stones sideways this will benefit future ‘navigation’ too. It is very hard work for me at the moment with the knee as it is but I can see my children and grandchildren are going to enjoy this river – and I hope yours do too.

We certainly did. We even met a (local) friend just as we were walking back to our car who kindly supplied this photo of us – as proof.

Here is where we set out at Apex Park. It still contains a few exotic trees: cottonwoods, ash, Monterey pine…This is the second (easy) access point about a third of the way down (say 45 minutes). Fox’s Hole is probably a similar distance/time below here, and so again Fox & Fanke’s Rd.

Setting out. We only managed a couple of km (at most). I did quite a bit of pruning but that section is quite good now. It will show you at least how fine the river will be when the work is done and I hope encourage you to do some yourself.

What follows is just some ‘for and aft’ shots to illustrate the quality of the stream. It is a small delight. The road is never more than about 20 metres from the river so if you tire of your clearing efforts you can quit then come back another day and continue. Realistically a couple of young (say sub-60 year olds) could have the river cleared in an enjoyable day or two.

The river is only pebble races and Grade 1 rapids with a couple of small (.5 metre) drops for entertainment. Mostly it is quite shallow (knee deep) and quite suitable for children to have fun and learn canoeing in.

It is surprising that this wonderful gem is only half an hour from major centres in the Latrobe Valley – likewise incidentally the Tyers River which is worth caneoing anywhere downstream from the Moondarra Dam but particularly below the W2 Track to the Morwell Pumping Station (Wirilda Park).

The Wirilda Track parallels the river if you should want to check it out before you try it. It is a little bigger than this river and almost always has (just) adequate flows due to environmental releases from the dam. You will scrape your boats a bit though. I did have his section cleared (ten) years ago but it will need work again now.

Another lovely river to consider is the Upper Latrobe though the 2WD access sections are all of roughly two days duration. It is excellent at heights above 1 metre on the Willow Grove gauge. There will also be trees to get around there but not so many. The Tanjil River is another small local river which is worth exploring. See also Tanjil Canoeing

Of course the Latrobe below Morwell (Tom’s Bridge) provides more  than a week of wonderful falt water paddling. The section below Rosedale (three days) is particularly beautiful. See also Messing About in Boats.

A little further up the (West) Branch are the famous Morwell River Falls (three) which are worth a visit/picnic. Above that the river continues to narrow. Even when it is only a metre wide it can produce good-sized trout, blackfish, crays and eels – and surprisingly perhaps the freshwater herring for those who don’t mind a bit of bush-bashing.

Of course our paramount local river is the Thomson River, the most commonly canoed section is the two day trip from Bruntons Bridge to Cowwarr. I wrote about the trip in these two posts Only the Moon and Me and How Green was My River. There is also a Video of our trip.You can find a one-day trip on it here and there as in this post Thomson Autumn Pack Raft .

My avourite river here in Southern Victoria is the Wonnagatta on which you can have Fourteen Days of White Water.

BTW: The photos show Della trying out her Xmas Alpacka Scout 1.47 kg raft for the first time: See:

A Good Scout.

See Also:

A Good Scout

Travels in a Donkey Trap

The Commute

Wirilda Track

Life on a River

Long and Lazy River

Messing About in Boats

Upper Latrobe

Tanjil River

Thomson River

Thomson Autumn Pack Raft

Only the Moon and Me

How Green was My River


4 thoughts on “The Joy of Small Streams”

  1. That was nice read – two weeks ago now… River is up again. The way it looks with that exposed rock bank (third and fourth last images esp.[Della canoeing]) that was not at all typical until the June storm. I kind of like it actually, looks cleaner and sort of ‘wilder’. I will read up up on some of those other links you have made in the story too. BTW: nice surprise the Apex Park picture – works in really well with what you’ve done, I think. Ciao for now…

    1. Thanks Alan, Do you want to borrow a canoe and paddle so you can start on some clearing works? You could work on a section Fox’s Hole to Fox & Fanke’s for example. It would be great to have it done so we could have an adventure on this beautiful river any time we wanted. Cheers, Steve.

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