Camping on the Murray River

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A few days away with friends to a quiet spot on the Murray River turned out to be the perfect ‘Australian’ refresher that I needed. A few of us decided to seize the opportunity over our uni mid semester break and the tail end of easter to get out of the city for a few days with a tent, a board and 2 jet skis. The 6 of us headed north late on Sunday making the mandatory stop off at KFC and Maccas for dinner on the way up to Bundalong. Upon arrival we set up camp in a surprisingly perfect secluded clearing and hit the sack well before midnight. It’s strange how total darkness in the wilderness prompts bed time hours before we would perhaps usually sleep under a roof with electricity and running water.

We awoke to the laughing of Kookaburras at the early hour of 5:30am! Interpretable perhaps as them gleefully and ironically laughing at our expense. With the tent windows wide open and the ebb of darkness upon us we changed into bathers and shorts, emerged from the tent and put the jet skis in the water. It was early and quiet. The water was warm as it lapped over our feet but the air was chilly. This was only made worse and more evident as I accidentally threw three of us off my jet ski within about 10 minutes. Following which we were forced to endure the rest of the ride wet and shivering as the wind whipped against our drenched skin.

11112584_10203674625340348_2529243051789152838_n11112584_10203674625300347_9113490415686822162_nTying the jet skis to the bank, which was conveniently sandbagged, we hurriedly changed into trackies, hoodies and ugg boots! Putting my girl guide skills to some use we lit a fire and nestled down eating breakfast picnic style. The smell of smoke filled the air and clung to our clothes as the fire crackled in front of us. We spent the morning hanging out by the fire, collecting sticks to keep the fire going whilst a few of us made a trip into town to collect food, fire wood and ice.

Lunch time was cause for a story when Steve had the brilliant piece of advice “Put a dent in the can and when the pressure inside builds and the dent pops out it means the can food is hot and ready”. Someone did voice the possibility that the can might explode before the dent popped out, but somehow we decided to test the dent theory regardless. So there we were sitting around the camp fire and one of the three cans in the fire EXPLODED! …all over me, and Tom’s esky. No it was not scolding hot so I did not get hurt, but my poor grey track pants were hence forth covered in ravioli! Before anyone had time to consider that perhaps we should remove the other cans from the fire and pop them open before they too exploded the second can exploded! This time with us all a little further back the damage was not so severe. Although it was with incredible apprehension that Tom edged towards the fire with a stick and carefully removed the third can before it too could explode.

We ate tinned food, bread with ham, salami and cheese and nibbled on packeted chips, shapes and easter eggs throughout the day. The only things we forgot, that should have been included andwill be next time, were Milo, Vegemite and Tim Tams! All six of us played Cards Against Humanity on the picnic rug. Then 3 of us went and tested out the wakeboard behind the jet ski. It felt great to get out on the water again! The river was like glass and the scenery was so tranquil! It hadn’t even occurred to me how ‘Australian’ this little get away would be until I found myself sitting out on the river and sitting by the fire surrounded by trees, bush, the smell of smoke and the freshness of water in amongst the unmistakable fauna and flora of Australia. The landscape looked like one of Ken Duncan’s Panographs. It’s no surprise I am definitely a city girl but I love escaping it too. I’ve done my fair share of camping and lake/river style boat holidays but I’ve never overly loved camping. This time however I enjoyed it far more than I previously have.11102655_10203674546458376_4478231068388871779_n

I went for a ride by myself later that afternoon before pulling the jet skis out of the water. There was no one on the river and I flew at around 95 km per hour along the glassy surface of the water, letting the wind rip through my hair with my arm out stretched feeling the rush and resistance against my skin. It was amazing and I felt so free. It was one of those moments when I found myself happily alone. A rare moment since returning home. It sometimes slips my mind the freedom and liberating solitude I used to love when I was overseas. I’m happy here and wouldn’t trade my life currently just to experience that feeling again as often as I did when I was away. But it is still fantastic to achieve that feeling when possible here.

Monday night we went to dinner at a great Indian restaurant in Yarrawonga. Returning to the tent just before the thunder storm hit and the torrential down pour begun. By torch light we played Uno and Cards Against Humanity in the tent before ending our incredibly long day! Because we had woken up so early the day felt so much longer than we were used to.

11018100_10203674564018815_3730669263630700182_n11102655_10203674546498377_3680538306843669044_nSleeping in the next morning someone somehow managed to light a fire even though the wood was wet. After breakfast we went exploring on the jet skis. This time I promised not to throw anyone in, considering I had managed to do it twice the day before. The first time I will admit was an accident. The second time…well I forgot that we had the wakeboard on board as well, which had I considered I would have driven a little more cautiously and not thrown the three of us into a very sharp and fast turn that I knew would most likely throw us all off, which it did, and land the jet ski a solid 15 metres from us. Ah well, no one was hurt…really. A little bump on the shin never killed anyone – “Sorry”.  We explored different corners and areas of the river. Despite the cold, the sun shone at times and our hoodies kept us warm. Packing up and clearing out camp we prepared to head home to Melbourne in the early afternoon.

These few days were a breath of fresh air that surprised me and let me enjoy Australia with people I love and missed terribly. This entire week has been fantastic. From the glitz and glamour of Melbourne luxury at Crown, to the countryside wilderness of the Victorian & New South Wales border, I could not have asked for a better week.

So Happy – belated – Easter!

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