Camping at Lock 9, Kulnine

This is the second time we have camped beside the Murray River at Lock 9, Kulnine near Lake Cullulleraine. It is a bush camp with no amenities but there are toilets up at the lock if you feel like a bush walk to get there.

To get to this great campsite you turn off the Sturt Highway at Lake Cullulleraine and follow this road to its end at the river. It is some 8km of gravel road so we just have to go very slowly so we don’t rattle apart. Once at the Lock you take a left turn onto a track, follow this along until you reach the boat ramp. You can free camp anywhere in this spot. The track continues along the river to the end of the point but it crosses a steep water course and the angle of that is too steep for us. We would drag our rear end if we attempted to go down that! We chose a flat spot not far from the boat ramp where we could see the river and hear the water as it rushes over the weir.

The lock system on the Murray is extensive and consists of 13 Locks starting with Lock 1 at Blanchetown, SA. The others are as follows:

Lock and Weir completion dates

Structure Name Year Completed Location
Lock & Weir 1 1922 Blanchetown
Lock & Weir 2 1928 Waikerie
Lock & Weir 3 1925 Overland Corner
Lock & Weir 4 1929 Bookpurnong
Lock & Weir 5 1927 Renmark
Lock & Weir 6 1930 Murtho
Lock & Weir 7 1934 Rufus River
Lock & Weir 8 1935 Wangumma
Lock & Weir 9 1926 Kulnine
Lock & Weir 10 1929 Wentworth
Lock & Weir 11 1927 Mildura
Lock & Weir 15 1937 Euston
Lock & Weir 26 1920’s Torrumbarry (replaced in 1996)

Locks 12-14 and Locks 16-25 were never constructed.

The lock system enables boats to navigate up and down the river and the river is navigable for boats from the mouth of the Murray in South Australia to Yarrawonga Weir.

There are also two small locks on the barrages near the mouth of the Murray that were constructed in 1940.

The locks are manned by lockmasters and they usually live near the lock. There’s a great little video on a day in the life of a lockmaster here.

The locks are open from 8am – 11.30am and again in the afternoon from 1.00pm to 4.30pm. To let the lockmaster know you are arriving at the lock you blast three long sounds on your horn (or call him by phone, each lock has its own number to call). When he has heard or received your request the red light will start to flash. This lets you know the lock is being readied for you. Once the light changes to green you can enter the lock.

6-8 medium houseboats can use the lock at the same time. It only takes 5-7 minutes to empty or fill the lock but it can take up to 15-20 minutes for a craft to pass through the lock. There was a houseboat moored near the lock waiting for the lock to reopen in the morning.

Although the locks were built to allow river trade it is now the tourist industry that uses them. Houseboats, tour boats and other recreational craft are the users of the lock system today and the locks provide an enormous contribution to the tourism industry along the river.

It is a very peaceful spot to camp. We were the only ones there, apart from the Pelicans and a couple of kangaroos that hopped by as we sat by our fire pit. I recommend this free camp to most, big rigs excepted as you would have trouble negotiating the narrow track in.

The next morning we continued our journey along the river, crossed the border into South Australia where we had to stop at the Fruit Fly Bin and leave any fruit and veggies behind that are on the banned list, before arriving in the town of Paringa. Paringa has some new Silo Art and around the corner near the general store is the The Black Stump. This giant River Red Gum root is the remains of a 600 year old tree and is 8m wide.


One thought on “Camping at Lock 9, Kulnine

  1. Thanks for the very informative blog Jenny and Richard. I must remember to heed your advice more often, especially when you note, …..”We would drag our rear end if we attempted to go down that”. Noted!


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