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“I would like to acknowledge that the river was of vital importance to Aboriginal people for many thousands of years before the Colonists arrived. It runs through the lands of the Ngarigo, Ngunnawal, Wiradjuri, Nari Nari and Muthi Muthi Aboriginal peoples.

I would like to pay my respect to the Elders of these Nations, past and present, and those growing into this custodianship role.”

Marrambidya: Riding the Scorpion's Tail

 

Photographs

1. Discarded Inflatables, Inkjet print on rag, 20.5 x 26 cm, $100

The cheapness of inflatable float toys sees many discarded and I would see them on many of the sections I paddled. These are caught on snags just down from Wagga beach. There were more lying on the track.

2. Wantabadgery Sunset, Inkjet print on rag, 26 x 20.5 cm, $100

After paddling from Gundagai this was the view from camp, I made at Sandy Beach Wantabadgery. The leaning tree on the right of the photo fell into the river ten minutes after this photo was taken.

3. Sun Flare, Inkjet print on rag, 26 x 20.5 cm, $100

One of the many photos my Gopro captured on canoe, the river, and light.

4. Lower Bidgee, Inkjet print on rag, 26 x 20.5 cm, $100

On the section of river from Balranald to its meeting with the Murray, the riparian environment changes and was often bare like this, with farming right up to the top of the bank, and the only trees growing there.

5. Taemas Bridge, Inkjet print on rag, 42 x 30 cm, $200

The impressive Taemas Bridge on the back road from Canberra to Yass. It was completed in 1931 and replaced the original metal MacDonald truss bridge, also known as the Taemas Bridge, built c. 1888, located 3 kilometres downriver from the existing bridge. The original bridge was destroyed by flood in 1925, as was two punt services and a low-level bridge in 1929.

6. River View

This is a view of the river that many Canberran’s have seen. The Murrumbidgee River from Shepherd’s Look-out.

7. Feral Horses

The plains and forests around Long Plain have many feral brumbies on them, the river edges and soft marshes made boggy by their hoofs. Everywhere huge piles of horse faeces override any delicate alpine scents.

8. The source

Up near Peppercorn Hill at the end of Long Plain in Kosciusko National Park, this puddle is the first freestanding water in a boggy clearing, the source of the river.

Even here, the impact of colonising could be seen with blackberry abounding, and horse paths, and the boggy clearing made more so by their hard hooves.

9. Daisy

A delicate Alpine daisy (Brachycome decipiens) on Peppercorn Hill track, with a backdrop of Alpine Ash bark (Eucalyptus Regnans).

10. Stream

By the time the river has reached the Port Phillip Track crossing it a stream bubbling noisily.

11. The storm

The altitude of Long Plain means that you are often in clouds and storms swirled around me on several trips. The rolling thunder can be almost continuous.

12. Alpine Fog

Even in the middle of summer the cool morning Alpine air pools in the valley where the river runs down into Tantangara. Here seen from Bullock Hill.

13. The Forgotten PowerStation

Burrinjuck No 1 PowerStation, destroyed by the 1974 floods. It sits on the river’s edge looking more like a Greek temple than a PowerStation, complete with an obelisk.

14. Inside the Forgotten PowerStation

The PowerStation was built in 1927 and shows the attention to detail that engineering had in those days. There are beautiful art deco light fittings, curved stairwells, and rusting coloured paint machinery.

15. Wiradjuri Reserve

Much of late 2021 the river in Wagga Wagga was in flood, with heavy rain and releases from catchments. This was taken at the Wiradjuri Reserve. The usual riverbank is where these two large River Redgums stand (Eucalyptus camaldulensis).

16. Flood mist

Another shot of the river with minor flooding. This morning, the low sun caught the fog rising of the flooded river.

17. Balranald

The starting point of the last leg of the river, Balranald. Waterbirds flew ahead of me all of this last leg, and the water was a carpet of brown leak, bark and yellow blossoms.

18. Throwaway culture

Pool toys are not the only rubbish on the river. In the sections I travelled I saw many poison drums, fridges (perhaps washed out of fishing shacks), and many drink bottles and cans of a variety of flavours.

19. As only the aged can

A drink can that has been in the river for a long time, until finally deposited on Kohhagen’s beach.

 

 

 

Installations

 

20. BCF (Bottle Caps from Fishermen)

From a variety of beaches and campsites.

 

21. Cockatoo feathers (and other birds)

Also, from a variety of river stretches. The cockatoo is almost ubiquitous along the river. When camping they are the last to quieten down and go to bed, and second only to Kookaburra’s in their morning calls. I wonder sometimes whether other birds think they are too noisy as well.

 

22. Sticks and Stones

There are many many sticks floating in the river or hooked on almost everything, but on the sections I paddled the only stones were just west of Gundagai (and this bit of wood come from there as well. The three stones came from Billilingra north of Cooma when I stopped to check the access.

23. Berry Jerry

One of the features of the river after Wantabadgery is anabranches, sometimes massive. One such feature is the Beaver Creek, Old Man Creek that leaves the river near Collingullie and joins again just out of Narrandera, 50 km away. Beaver Creek floods into Berry Jerry National Park and I paddled there when it was flooded. So much junk left around the water.

Another outlet, Bundigerry Creek, is used to siphon water off the river for irrigators, running into Narrandera’s Lake Talbot and then further.

These anabranches and lagoons are crucial for the river environment and when they are dry or there is not enough water allowed down the river to run over into them, the fish and birds and plants all suffer. This is particularly an issue in the Lower Bidgee, after all the irrigation has taken its allocations.

24. Bobbing Things

Often you see something bobbing and go to investigate and find it is a bottle, a ball, a bike helmet, and other things.

 

TV 1

 

Creek names

Every Creek that runs into or out of the Marrambidya Bila. 4.41min

Go Pro Go

45 minutes of paddling compressed into 10 minutes, from Oura towards Wagga. Entire trip 4 hours. 10.18 min

 

 

TV 2

A selection of videos from my explorations of the river.

 

 

Samsung Tablet with soundscapes

 

Note: Most of the lower Murrumbidgee is not far from a road on each side, and even in the quietest moments planes will pass overhead. I have learned to live with this, and you will hear in in some of the sound recordings.

 

1.The_Source_Greg_Prichaard

2. Long_Plain_4_Channel_Greg_Prichaard

3. Mountains_4_Channel_Greg_Prichaard

4. Uriarra_river_Greg_Pritchard

5. Cockatoos_at_Low_Level_Bridge_Greg_Prichaard

6. The_Rocks_in_Flood_Inhalare_Greg_Prichaard

7. Choughs_Pipers_Reserve_Greg_Pritchard

8. Pipers_Reserve_Greg_Prichaard

9. River_Morning _with_truck_noise_Greg_Pritchard

9a. Cockies_Lower_Bidgee_Greg_Prichard

Dr Greg Pritchard