THE mighty Murray River, Australia’s longest river (at 2508 kilometres), starts its journey in the Australian Alps and then makes its way across Australia's inland plains before it flows into the Indian Ocean at Goolwa, South Australia.
Like the Murray, Oberon cycle-adventurer Glenn Sherlock’s most recent journey began in the Snowy Mountains and for the next 10 days he experienced the pure magic of this majestic waterway with its rich indigenous beginnings, the makings of our earliest European explorers and its unique river life.
His adventure captured how the river has transformed and supported the growth of this part of the Australian landscape.
“The river still holds its history close to its shores,” Mr Sherlock said.
“As you make your way along the winding roads and trails that seem to mirror the path of the river itself, each bend brings more wonders than one can expect in a single day’s ride.
“The abundance of magical camping spots is endless from start to finish and is not so much where can I stop for the night, but which spot?”
Knowing the indigenous story of the Murray’s creation is a must if you are seeking to explore its true wonder. It is told the river was formed by the tracks of the Great Ancestor, Ngurunderi, as he pursued Pondi, the Murray Cod. The chase originated in the interior of NSW.
Ngurunderi pursued the fish (who, like many totem animals in Aboriginal myths, is often portrayed as a man) on rafts (or lala) made from red gums and continually launched spears at his target. But Pondi was a wily prey and carved a weaving path, carving out the river's various tributaries.
Ngurunderi was forced to beach his rafts, and often create new ones as he changed from reach to reach of the river.
“When you’re following the banks of the river and navigating its many billabongs and offshoots, you can really picture the chase between these ancestor giants,” Mr Sherlock said.
The Murray towns such as Swan Hill and Moama, near Echuca, were welcome ports of call after long days across the plains.
Towns once dominated by the paddle-steaming trade now offer travellers and visitors a rare glimpse of days long past.
After 1500km and 10 days, Mr Sherlock’s adventure ended on the sand dunes of Hindmarsh Island overlooking the mouth of the Murray River as it passes from its land bounds to the open ocean.
As this latest trek comes to an end, Mr Sherlock offers this advice for those seeking a pure Australian experience: “Just have a go. With some planning and a degree of fitness, the river is there waiting to be explored.
"It’s not what to do next, but what to do first. Enjoy.”