Distance table going via Lake Cawndilla
My personal take on the dangers of the trip
The usual risks such as remoteness, drowning, weather, water, navigation, fire and wildlife apply to this and all other inland rivers of Australia. Please refer to the Risk Assessment page for the Darling River for an overview of these.
Along with the usual risks associated with remote flatwater kayaking, the following hazards along the Darling Anabranch made this a more challenging paddle than the bigger rivers like the Darling, Murray or Murrumbidgee:
Low level bridges were common. Even with the low 300 ML/day flows, I only just managed to navigate under a number of these, some by just centimetres. In saying that, only one bridge portage was required and this was on Tandou Creek. For some peculiar reason, many bridges have fences on both sides of the bridge.
Sapling trees were common in shallow sections of the system and got so bad in places that they made navigation difficult and time consuming. These sections were usually flowing, adding to the difficulty traversing around dense sections of saplings. Sometimes there was a channel through the middle but sometimes the entire river was clogged with only small clear sections near the banks.
Snags were found along the entire length of the system but in general these are easily avoided albeit you would occasionally hit a submerged branch or truck that didn't cause any ripples to detect it. However, there were a few short sections of problematic snags that were difficult to negotiate. Often drowned saplings would create snaggy sections near the thickets of Red River Gums.
Fences were common along the entire course of the river. Thankfully, most landholders breed sheep that usually use standard fencing wire but there are a few cattle stations that use barbed wire. At least two electric fences were seen. Most were submerged, dismantled or damaged and could be negotiated without a portage. Be careful of stray wires across the river, there are a few at head height!
Of the approximate 100 fences across the main path of the river that I saw, the only portage was once over the fences that lined a low level bridge on Tandou Creek. I did have one other fence portage on a shortcut.
Note, while you can rest your kayak on solid fence structures, don't put any weight on the fence wires. You should lift the boat fully over these to avoid damaging the wire.