April 2020 Report from IRNMR

April 2020 by Frank Tuckwell

Heavy rains in Queensland and N.S.W. has broken the drought in some areas recharging dry water courses and flowing into empty dams. Among the beneficiaries of these life-giving rains is the Darling River, which in recent years was nothing more than a dry riverbed but now it cascades over the Bourke weir and flows on down into the Menindee lakes.

The Inland Rivers National Marathon Register team of the Goolwa National Trust History Centre looks forward to the first arrival of a Darling river traveller to Goolwa for seven years. Presently, we have not received news of anyone planning or already on such a voyage, but their hopes are for welcoming the first of many future Darling voyagers to Goolwa.

The last Darling River travellers were greeted to Goolwa and interviewed by the IRNMR registrar on May 20, 2013. They were Danielle and Alyn Ovenden, who launched their Quintrex 390 Explorer, powered by a 20hp Honda four stroke motor into the Barwon River at Brewarrina NSW. After 109 days of Darling River adventure passing over or around authorised (or otherwise) weir structures the couple safely arrived in Goolwa on May 20, 2013, exhilarated and refreshed.

IRNMR Registrars during interviews with applicants for registration inevitable to find something different in every voyager’s experience of their journey. With Danielle and Alyn there were many, given the nature of the Darling River but one was unique as far as I knew. This was in relation to a small box that Danielle put on my desk which she explained was the urn containing the ashes of her dog Connie, who had travelled many times on their travels and would continue to do so in the future. That was a moving moment for all present.

Sometimes for the IRNMR team there are moments of concern and drama when we have a traveller on the river where problems arise in their progress. One incident has just occurred to the latest kayaking voyager we were expecting to arrive at Goolwa. On the day before his arrival his wife rang the team to advise that she was pulling him off the river as he was facing a state of complete exhaustion, but he was determined to reach his goal. It was a valiant but dangerous position he was in that required her intervention. He agreed to take a break, conditionally on him being able to complete the trip once properly rested. This he was assured, had the IRNMR team approval and we will stand ready to receive him once properly rested and his identity will be revealed on his arrival to complete the Bringenbrong to Goolwa venture soon. Of course, this may be a little difficult by the fact that the SA State government has closed the state borders as from Monday March 23 under Covid 19 regulations.

Also, from this date for the duration of the Covid 19 regulations the IRNMR team work sessions have been suspended, with such contact between members to be continued by phone, email and Facebook. For the duration all contact will be handled electronically with voyagers and they be met on arrival by a lone registrar, or if required, conducted remotely under retro registration facility.For those voyagers who wish to continue and cross the SA border under the conditions of the SA Covid 19 regulations and who intends to proceed, contact should then be made for remote reporting with the IRNMR team, giving their ETA at Goolwa with a 48 hour notice prior to arrival. This will allow a team representative contact on arrival under the Covid 19 regulations. Under these conditions future contact should be made with the IRNMR Team leader, Frank Tuckwell (08) 85552991 or frank.tuckwell5214@outlook.com or to Assistant Team leader, Kathy Sutton on 0456639650 or at kathyjsutton@gmail.com

May the duration be short and by our full individual cooperation, may it be even shorter!