A loop trail from Murtho Forest via Nelbuck Creek and Hunchee Island through picturesque river backwaters.
This 2-day trip is recommended to include an overnight camp.
The open waters of Pike Lagoon and Mundic Creek are quite exposed and can prove to be difficult paddling under windy conditions
To check water levels: https://www.waterconnect.sa. gov.au
1018 Stanitzki Road, Lyrup. Turn off at GPS 34.2784 S 140.7441 E
Turn off Stanitzki Road 2.75km past the junction with Pike Creek Road when travelling in the easterly direction at GPS 34.2784 S 140.7441 E. Travel 400m to water’s edge beside the pump house.
This trail can be done in either direction. The trail notes below describes a clockwise direction.
Turn left at the landing and go downstream about 6.25km to Point A (GPS 34.0829 S 140.7552 E) and turn right into Nelbuck Creek. Follow this creek for about 3.5km and you will enter a large body of water (known as Ral Ral Wide Waters).
Note: if camping overnight there are good camp sites to be found on the banks of Ral Ral Wide Waters.
Turn right slightly across this body of water heading in a northerly direction for about 2km to the creek entrance on the LHS. This is shown at Point B (GPS 34.0751 S 140.7185 E)
Enter this creek and you will soon pass a large pumping station on the LHS.
Keep well clear of it and travel for about 1.8km avoiding both the RHS and LHS branches at this point as they lead to dead ends. Instead take the middle route and continue on your way for about a further 3.5km and Calperum Station Headquarters will be seen on the LHS.
There is a road crossing at this point. Point C (GPS 34.0456S 140.7144E)
You can obtain camping permits here.
The next T intersection is about 6km further along this creek, where it enters Big Hunchee Creek at Point D ( GPS 34.0464S 140.7614E)
(Note: A RH turn here will quickly take you back to the Murray River where you will emerge only a short distance downstream from the launch point)
Instead take the LH turn and continue along Big Hunchee Creek.
Note there are a number of campsites along the LHS of this creek and some have toilet facilities. There is also road access to this area from Calperum Station Biosphere Reserve. This area is very popular for bird watchers.
The next intersection is about 5km further along this creek, where you will come across Little Hunchee Creek on the RHS at Point E (GPS 34.0360 S 140.8040 E). There is good camping in this area with toilet facilities.
There are two options at this point
Go left for about 4k and you will return to the Murray River at Point F (GPS 34.0269 S 140.833 E) or
Turn right into Little Hunchee creek for about 2.5k and you will enter the Murray river at Point G (GPS 34.0442 S 140.8217 E)
From either point it is a direct paddle downstream back to your launch point. Depending on which route you take the distance will be 10km or 14km.
NOTE: On the way back The Woolshed Brewery is located on an anabranch on the LHS accessed at Point H (GPS 34.0526 S 140.8274 E)
The spectacular Heading Cliffs will also be observed on the LHS as you approach your launch site.
This trail starts at the Pump House on Pike River.
The directions here are for clockwise travel however this loop trail can be done just as easily in the reverse direction.
Travel in a northerly direction.
NOTE: there is a labyrinth of side creeks in this area, however if you keep to the right you will not get lost.
After 4.2km you will reach a junction with an island in the middle of the waterway at Point A GPS 34.2527 S 140.7616 E.
Turn left at this point into Rumpagunyah Creek.
Travel about 1.75km along this creek and then turn right into the creek at Point B GPS 34.2438 S 140.7473 E.
About 1km up this creek you will reach a wide body of water. This is Tanyaca Creek. Turn right into this creek at Point C GPS 34.2348 S 140. 7506 E.
Travel in Tanyaca Creek for about 2.5km and notice that it takes in a wide sweep to the left.
At Point D GPS 34.2293 S 140.7616 E take the small creek to the right and travel for about 1km to a junction at Point E GPS 34.2219 S 140.7585 E. Turn right here. The left backwater is a dead end.
Travel about 1.3km and you will reach a regulator. You will need to portage around this regulator to the upstream side. From here it is only a short distance to Mundic Creek.
Turn right into Mundic Creek at Point F 34.2231 S 140.7695 E. and travel for about 4m to a small creek on the RHS Point G GPS 34.2098 S 140.7882 E. Turn right into this creek.
After about half a kilometre you will reach a wide body of water – Pike Lagoon.
NOTE that both Pike Lagoon and Mundic Creek are quite exposed waters and a head wind can make them difficult paddling.
Follow the lagoon around to the right, ignoring the large anabranch about half a kilometre on the left and continue down the LHS of the lagoon for about 1.5km to Point H GPS 34.2083 S 140.8017 E.
This is the Upper Pike River. Follow this for about 5km to the junction with Snake Creek on the RHS at Point J GPS 34.2341 s 140.8205 E.
Turn left (straight ahead) at this point in a north-easterly direction to stay in the Pike River. Snake Creek rapidly turns into a dead end unless the water level is high.
Travel about 5km along this stretch of water to the remains of the Col Col Regulator at Point K GPS 34.2668 S 140.8085 E. This has now been replaced by a new regulator further downstream.
There is a nice camping/ picnic area here with road access.
Travel 3.5km further on and you will reach the new regulator. Portage around this regulator.
From here it is only 1km to the turn-off on the left at Point A GPS 34.2527 S 140.7616 E back to the pump house launch point. Travel down this creek for 4.2km and you will reach your starting point at the pump house on the Pike River.
Note: there is a labyrinth of side creeks in this area, but if you keep left you will reach the pump house launch site. Even if you enter this labyrinth of creeks you will still eventually reach the Pike River and your starting point.
Large trees near the Pump House provide shade for car parking
- Pike River Conservation Park
The Pike River Conservation Park is an important floodplain area with numerous ecological and cultural attributes worth preserving and developing. As part of the Riverine Recovery Project there has been a great deal of work done in the Pike river floodplain and other floodplains in the Riverland to improve the long term health of the Murray river and its associated floodplains.
Work commenced on the Pike river floodplain in 2015 and is due to be completed in 2020.
The aim is to mimic natural processes by periodically flooding the area.
To this end a long levee bank has been constructed between Lock 5 and the lower Pike river interspersed with regulators to control the flow of water into the area.
By raising the water level above Lock 5, water flows into the system through Deep creek and Margaret Dowling creek, flooding the area east of the levee bank.
This has three main benefits
- Helps the floodplain habitat to recover- both fauna and flora
- Improves the salinity levels of the Murray river by suppressing the highly saline groundwater in the area
- By installing fish ladders it helps native fish to survive and develop
For kayakers this means that the water levels will vary on the upside stream of the Regulators depending on the degree of inundation.
For more information on the floodplain :
To check water levels: https://www.waterconnect.sa. gov.au
Pike River is one of 359 protected areas in South Australia (as of March 2018). Of these protected areas 278 are Conservation Parks.