Ending the Murray River trip doesn’t just involve breaking apart and transporting the boat, nor airing tents and returning borrowed gear to the rightful owners. We also have to internally manage the change from 3 weeks of floating life to the pace of cars, clocks, the media and electronics.
I’m continuing the dreams that visited me each night of the journey, half-waking to believe that our bed (or tent) is afloat, or more distressingly, run aground in low water. I find footprints on the wall where I’ve groggily tried to kick the bed away from a riverbank, and turn the light on in the middle of the night, surprised to find myself surrounded by carpet, not the river.
Once again, there is more to do than just paddle, watch birds or meet interesting people by the water. One must collate footage, prepare a float and a presentation – to contextualise and clarify impressions of a river system that is a living culture of water, creatures (animal and human) and politics.
While we are able to share our stories and experiences of our 3 week Murray journey, we can only talk about a small section of the river. In total we travelled along just 7% of the river’s total, a 224km journey that would take 40 minutes by road. On average we travelled 10km a day, working with the river’s natural flow and only rowing, by yuloh or sailing.
Even without a motor, there are more efficient ways to travel the river, but going slowly was in many ways magnificent. Slow and silent forces you to pay attention, gives you time to notice the water skater insects and the birds, to spy a river rat ducking and diving along the shore.
Before we even finished our trip we began plotting ways that we can return to make a further journey along the Murray. Despite loving the slow pace, we’re thinking about more streamlined boats and solar powered electric outboards to speed up our journey. However we next travel down the Murray, this slow winding journey will remain with us.