The trail begins at Blanchetown and goes through Cumbunga Creek to roonka conservation park. For paddlers traversing this stunning lagoon and creek, a number of “canoe trees” can be seen and there is always an abundance of birdlife on the river and in these backwaters.
Blanchetown Public Boat ramp GPS: 34.3470 S; 139.6151 E
The loop starts from the Public Boat ramp Blanchetown (GPS: 34.3470 S; 139.6151 E) on the western (town side) of the river. It is located immediately below the bridge, however access is through the town; drive down to and past the Lock and the boat ramp is at the end of this road.
There is abundant bird life along the whole trail.
When setting out from the launch site keep left among the dead trees and you will soon enter a large lagoon. Keep to the right handside of the lagoon and you will then enter Cumbunga creek about 4.2K from the start point.
Take care to avoid the overhead rope crossing the creek, soon after entering the creek. This rope is used to move the manually operated ferry to transport sheep from one side of the creek to the other.
A number of “canoe trees” will be noted along the banks of the creek. The best example is actually on the right hand side close to the river not far past the ferry
Cumbunga creek widens out when it enters Roonka Conservation Park. There is a wide entrance back to river here but continue in the lagoon in a northwesterly direction and you will spot another narrow creek that goes back to the river at GPS34.2980S; 139.6381E.
Go left when you enter the river keeping to the left of a small island (Reedy Island).
The Scouts Aquatic training camp will be spotted on the left and also the old “Roonka” homestead can be seen soon after. B&B is available there at Roonka cottages.
Keep going upstream and on the bend you will see Lazy B landing. A good spot with a concrete table and chairs for a stop for lunch.
Then continue upstream until the next bend and you will see the entrance to a small creek on the RHS at GPS 34.2839S; 139.6423E. There is a short portage here across a roadway.
Enter this creek and this route takes paddlers around Julia Island There is a ski jump facility there (the Bedrock Water Ski Club operates here during the summer months). This immediate area should be avoided when they are active.
Follow this lagoon to the other end and the paddler will re enter the river at GPS 34.2973S; 139.6433E.
The route back to Blanchetown is back along the river, keeping an eye out for an excellent example of a “canoe tree” on the RHS about half a kilometer down from re entering the river.
Always check weather and wind conditions before embarking (see Meteye)
Note: There is one easy portage at the north end of the lagoon behind Julia Island although paddlers may choose to return directly to the launch site. There is limited river traffic in this area generally, however during summer months be aware that the river section near Blanchetown can be quite busy with motorised craft and water skiers.
Toilets at Blanchetown Boat Ramp
Camping grounds with facilities at Blanchetown.
Check the Murray River Pilot for historical information about the river, and its inhabitants.
Roonka Roonka Homestead can be found north of Reedy Island. This is one of the oldest river homesteads and was established by Lachlan and Alexander McBean in the mid-1840s. McBean Pound (just upstream of Roonka) was one of the first sites considered I the late 1850s for a railway crossing on the Murray, however it was also perfect pound for stock.
Today Roonka is camp headquarters for the Boy Scout Movement’s Water Activities.
Roonka Conservation Park
Roonka Conservation Park is located on the western side the Murray River about 8km N of Blanchetown (and just south of the Roonka community).
Proclaimed in 1978 it occupies a total area of 102 hectares. It is managed by the Department of the Environment, Water and Natural Resources. More than 50 different species of birds have been recorded in the park, the most common species being the Little Black Cormorant, Sacred Kingfisher, Yellow Rosella, Dusky Woodswallow, and the Welcome Swallow.
In 1980 it was described as ‘containing a most important archaeological site, spanning about 18,000 years. It has yielded evidence of an extremely wide variety of mortuary practices, a large range of archaeological phenomena and a long cultural sequence’. The site has been excavated over more than a decade by the South Australian Museum.