The weather gods blessed the 2013 WomDomNom paddle with 4 perfect days giving paddlers the best of conditions for their 150km trip down the Macquarie River Nov 28-Dec1.
Nearly 100 paddlers participated over the 4 days. Most completed the full course but several who could only paddle 1-2 days were also catered for.
The 2013 paddle could not have been a bigger success. Weather and water conditions were perfect for the early summer paddle, with irrigation releases from Burrendong Dam upstream providing an excellent 3000megs flow.
An unexpected visit from "Pirate Nev of Oberon" got the pre-paddle dinner at Wellington's Lion of Waterloo hotel off to an hilarious start for the large contingent of paddlers who arrived in Wellington on Wednesday in time for the meet and greet evening with fellow paddlers and organisers. The historic pub provides excellent meals and host Garth and staff ensured a great night for all.
Wellington to Bril Bral Reserve -38km
The welcome aroma of bacon and eggs on the barbecue greeted paddlers on arrival at Wellington's Oxley Park Reserve.
With the enthusiastic help of the arriving paddlers the 6T support truck was quickly filled with camping gear and supplies while scrutineers inspected their vessels. Click The Wellington Times to view their great photos and article. Meanwhile ABC Western Plains Radio announcer Dugald Saunders kicked off their coverage of the event with a live cross to WomDomNom president Andrew McKay.
With breakfast, scrutineering, safety briefing and media interviews complete and paddlers vehicles moved to a secure overnight parking area, it was time to get on the water and what a great sight it was to see 70 kayaks and canoes of all shapes and colours fill the Macquarie as we began the first of the 70000 paddle strokes that would lead us 150KM NW to Narromine in 4 days time.
The first few kms west of Wellington pose potentially the greatest safety risk of the 150km course due to the current and willows that line the winding bank. For many, it was their first experience of paddling an inland waterway and the strong and unpredictable current caused more than a few bush christenings while paddlers learned to read the flow and use it to help them steer around the hazards they encountered. Fortunately for those who took an unscheduled swim, the warm 38 degree day soon dried them off and there were plenty of willing helpers and safety crew enroute to rescue paddlers and their belongings and drain capsized vessels.
The lunch stop at Ponto Falls Reserve was a welcome chance to rest, refuel and swap tales of the 'willow that got in the way' before we headed back out on to the river for the 17km run to Bril Bral Reserve.
Thrills and spills were less of a feature of the afternoon, though a few classic exits made for some light hearted ribbing at the overnight campsite. Paddlers tucked into a great dinner provided by Dubbo's popular Cattleman's Restaurant which set the tone for the entire weekend with the quality of the catering receiving rave reviews.
Sunset brought an invasion of bugs that saw most of us opt for an early night. The balmy evening made for a great sleep under the stars once the bugs departed.
Bril Bral to Lazy River Estate
With only 35km to paddle today we enjoyed a leisurely breakfast that included the welcome surprise of pancakes and plunger coffee and were on the water around 8am. "How's the serenity?" was never more aptly quoted, with the river alternating between rippling riffles and long languid stretches that allowed plenty of time to take in the scenery and enjoy the happy chatter of fellow paddlers and the resident birdlife that punctuated the sleepy silence of the peaceful morning. Visiting paddlers were delighted by the lack of visible civilisation and rubbish - a real treat for eyes accustomed to sharing bustling waterways with the flotsam and jetsam of populated areas. The grazing stock and kangaroos enroute added their bucolic charm to the scenery we passed on our way to our first checkpoint. Recharged by morning tea at a great private site, we restocked with enough red frogs and snacks to sustain us - and a small army - till our picnic lunch stop and continued west to our next checkpoint at Butlers Falls Reserve. The overcast sky made for a cool day on the river but forecast storms did not eventuate- good for us but disappointing for the locals who desperately need rain for their summer crops.
The short run from Butlers Falls to Lazy River Estate starts with a sweeping right bend that can catch paddlers unaware but we all negotiated this safely and soon arived at our Friday night campsite, a very pretty spot amongst the grapevines with the welcome sight of acres of soft green grass and hot showers. Taking advantage of the early finish, oganisers ran a bus shuttle back to Wellington so that paddlers could move their cars to another secure parking area at our final destination, Narromine. The rest of us sat back and enjoyed the serenity some more and fortified ourselves till dinner time with the tasty appetisers trundled down to our campsite from the Lazy River kitchen by quad bike. It's easy to see why the young couple who arrived with their wedding party for a final rehearsal chose this venue, the staff are friendly and professional, the food excellent and the site is beautiful. Hosts Peter and Pam Scott have created a paradise.
With hardly a dent made in the gourmet barbecue dinner whipped up by Lazy River we had the option of enjoying the outdoor cinema show that was ingeniously projected on to the side of the support truck or turning in for an early night. Paddling the WomDomNom can never be called boring...
To be continued.