The Murray Meander has turned a quiet week of motoring down the country’s largest river into a fundraising, carousing adventure.

Story By Genevieve Barlow

Dick Phillips is standing on the road verge overlooking the Murray River at Mildura, Vic. It’s February, the irrigation season is in full swing and the flow in this major aquatic artery of the nation is steady and strong. It’s 27 degrees, calm, windless – perfect for launching a tinnie, and perfect for pushing out into the flow to while away some hours.
Dick is finalising details before the 26 tinnies in the 2014 Murray Meander set out to motor, idle and float eight days down to the river’s mouth at Wellington before crossing Lake Alexandrina and rounding Hindmarsh Island to pull up at Goolwa, just short of where the river spills into the Southern Ocean.
It’s 883 kilometres and the final leg of the 2500km journey from Corryong, where the three-leg Meander began three years ago. That’s how the Murray Meander goes: Corryong to Echuca one year, Echuca to Mildura the next and finally Mildura to the mouth the year after. It’s for motor-powered boats only. For those occasions when things go awry, oars are recommended, too. Some years, the river runs so high the tinnies float over locks. Other years, crews have to get out and walk.
Tinnies are de rigueur, flat bottoms preferred. The line-up this year includes a flat-bottomed ex-army boat; a former oyster farm boat; a smart, amphibious semi-inflatable with wheels from Melbourne’s eastern suburbs; and a party barge with comfy lounges that northern Victorian dairy farmers Sue and Russell Pearson fashioned for family exploits. Team titles range from the curious (L_R_WE) to the benign (The Yabbies, Beats Workin’) to the geographic (Hunter River Rats). “Suck My Wake” reads another.

This Story is from Issue #99

Outback Magazine: Feb/Mar 2015