Travelling Australia - Journal 2014
25 February 2014

Balranald to Redbank Weir and rtn (not towing)
This was a short drive to Redbank Weir across the Murrumbidgee River. The weir is on the river upstream of Balranald but the road runs well away from the river and gave us an opportunity to look at some of the countryside around Balranald.

The road to Redbank Weir leaves Balranald as the road to Ivanhoe and Mungo National Park, this is a good bitumen road running through extensive mallee once we left the red gum forest around Balranald. Red Gum is primarily found along rivers and on flood plains but we were now too far from the Murrumbidgee River to be favoured by red gum. Mallee took over.

According to the road maps this road also goes through Penarie but that former township had been reduced to Homebush Hotel facing the road. Very shortly after passing the hotel we turned right onto the Oxley Road, there are no road signs. GPS co-ordinates are at the bottom. We were using a topographic map running on a Windows tablet with GPS input to get to the the weir.

By the time we reached Homebush Hotel mallee was no longer the sole vegetation lining the road. Large expanses of grain, probably wheat, were obvious and became nearly continuous after we turned onto Oxley Road.

sign Grain became nearly continuous past Homebush Hotel

After several kilometres we turned off Oxley Road onto a gravel road leading to the weir. Once again, there were no road signs; GPS co-ordinates are at the bottom.

This road to Redpath Weir was a single lane of fairly good gravel. Two stretches of a few hundred metres each were corrugated but otherwise the surface was good for driving. Very shortly after leaving Oxley Road the road entered the Red Gum and Black Box forested swamp lining the Murrumbidgee River for tens of kilometres from at least Balranald in the south upstream past Redbank Weir and the junction with the Lachlan River then further upstream nearly to Hay.

This is the heart of the Lower Murrumbidgee Wetlands which has a very mixed history of use and abuse mainly related to flooding; the forest relies on regular flooding to maintain the health of the trees but since white settlement emphasis has been on reducing, preferably eliminating, flooding in favour of traditional European type farming. Some local traditions have evolved of farmers relying on non-standard ways of using flooding for agriculture but they are generally regarded as anachronistic, even if they appear to be successful.

25 February 2014 - page 2
A few kilometres from the weir the road entered an area of creeks and channels with one wide channel (to 10 metres wide) full of water; the topographic map described this channel as the North Redbank Channel. The same map showed a network of creeks draining the swamp; most of these had manually operated vertical gates across them to control the flow. There was a sharp contrast between the water-filled main channels with subsidiary channels containing about half a metre of water, with the surrounding land which appeared dry and distressed.

sign Gravel road from Oxley Road to Redbank Weir. The road runs through the red-gum flooding forest along the Murrumbidgee.

sign One of the creeks draining the red-gum swamp.

The weir appeared to be full with a substantial flow being passed on to the river. We stopped for some photographs before returning the way we had come.

Weather all day had been hot with temperature over 35°C by early afternoon. There had been varying, but increasing, cloud cover all afternoon and as we were approaching Balranald from the north and were still 15 or 20 kilometres away we could see rain approaching the town. Shortly after we got back to the caravan very heavy rain began falling and the air temperature dropped quickly to the high twenties. But there was only a few millimetres in the cloudburst and the air temperature quickly returned to 34°C.

We later found out that this had been a trough moving west to east across Victoria and southern New South Wales which had bought thunderstorms and heavy, patchy rain as it moved along.
25 February 2014 - page 3
sign Redbank Weir on the Murrumbidgee River

sign Male Superb Fairy Wren at Redbank Weir

Turn-off Ivanhoe Road to Oxley Road.
34° 24' 11.2"S, 143° 36' 44.4"E

Turn-off Oxley Road onto Redbank Weir road.
34° 18' 59.0"S, 143° 42' 04.6"E

Redbank Weir carpark.
34° 22' 40.7"S, 143° 46' 59.4"E