Wednesday 9th May 2012:

It's not often that you set out on a hovercraft cruise that will extend for 2500 kilometres on Australia's longest river, so it was with some intrepidation that we launched our craft from Sugars Beach boat ramp on Hindmarsh Island opposite the mouth of the mighty Murray River.
A blustery wind from the west chopped up the water on the incoming tide as we cruised the short distance across to the mouth and took a few photos of the 4 hovercraft where the river ends its lengthy journey as it flows into the Southern Ocean.

Unloading the craft

The Murray Mouth

Heading upstream

For us this was only the beginning of the journey, and we proceeded upstream from the mouth in the choppy waters until a minor breakdown of the honda engine in Arthur's craft delayed our progress for a while. Once repaired, and after passing through the lock and into fresh water at the Goolwa Barrage (7.7 kms) the chop increased, slowing our progress even more, at least until we were close to the protected waters of Goolwa at the Hindmarsh Island Bridge.

A slow trip

Goolwa Barrage

Hindmarsh Island Bridge

At Goolwa the river swings north then east through 180 and cruising became much easier for a few kilometres. Beyond Goolwa North (14.2 kms), where we stopped so Pete could do some unscheduled skirt maintenance, the river widens to almost 2 kms and the wind intensified.
In this expanse we were bounced around like corks for an uncomfortable 20 minutes or so as the steep, closely spaced waves just kept on coming until we reached the more protected waters of Red Top Bay near Clayton. (24.0 kms)

Looking for hovercraft

Sam Waugh

Clayton boat ramp

The next leg of the expedition is across Lake Alexandrina, the largest of the Murray lakes and classified as open water for boating. With the wind still strenthening and on the advice of the locals who had gathered to witness the strange machines that had appeared, we decided to camp at the Clayton Bay boat ramp for the night and make our crossing early in the morning.

The Support Crew

Clayton campsite

Cooling down

Total river distance travelled for today:- 24 kms.