The Loddon River is a 392-km long tributary of the Murray River that flows through central and northern Victoria, Australia. The river rises near Trentham and flows by Glenlyon. It then flows generally northward through Guildford and Newstead, 40 km west of Bendigo through the Cairn Curran Reservoir and Laanecoorie Reservoir and continues north through the town of Bridgewater. It then passes Serpentine and north to Kerang. Finally it turns northwest and flows into the Murray River near Swan Hill.
There are weirs in Bridgewater and Kerang to keep water in the towns, but otherwise the river can dry up in summer. There is current work going on to determine and implement suitable environmental flows in the river.
The head of the river is at Lyonville from where it heads northward to Glenlyon where it is crossed by the Daylesford-Malmsbury Road and on to Loddon Falls. The Drummond-Vaughan Forest Road crosses the river at three locations and the Porcupine Ridge Road crosses near the Vaughan Springs area. Further river crossings are encountered at Kemps Bridge Road, the Midland Highway south of Guildford, as well as Punt Road and the Pyrenees Highway in Newstead.
After Newstead the river flows into the Cairn Curran Reservoir before emerging at Baringhup where it is crossed by the Baringhup Road, and subsequently by the Baringhup West-Eastville Road, Rumbolds Road, Pickerings Lane, Back Eddington Road and Bendigo-Maryborough Road at Eddington.
At Laanecoorie, the river is crossed by the Janevale bridge, a reinforced concrete girder bridge built in 1911 which is listed as a Heritage Place in the Victorian Heritage Register. The river then flows into Laanecoorie Reservoir, and then northwards where it is crossed by the Tarnagulla-Laanecoorie Road and then to Newbridge where it is crossed by the Wimmera Highway. From Newbridge it flows due north to Bridgewater On Loddon.
The river at The Bridgewater On Loddon is used for waterskiing, swimming and fishing. At Bridgewater there is a designated 3.2 km general water skiing area, a 950 metre slalom and ski jump area. Water skiing events held in this area include the Australian Masters in January, the pre-Moomba tournament in February and the Bridgewater Ski Club Tournament. Additionally, a 90 metre swimming area is designated at the Flour Mill Weir.
When reasonable water levels flow, the Mill Rapid downstream of the Calder Hwy bridge provides technical whitewater kayaking of Grade 3 standard featuring a short fast run. Access is usually via local roads on the west bank. Upstream of the Calder Hwy bridge kayakers and canoeists will have a pleasant paddling experience but may have to share the river with swimmers, fishers, and waterskiers.
At Bridgewater the river is crossed by the Calder Highway and the Eaglehawk-Inglewood railway line. A further road crossing is encountered at Bridgewater-Serpentine Road, to the south of Serpentine. Fish found in this section include Murray cod and golden perch.
At Loddon Weir, also known as Fernihurst Weir there is road access which enables boats to be launched from the bank. After the weir, water is diverted to the Waranga Western Channel. The water downstream from the weir can be up to 5–7 metres deep and provides fishing opportunities for redfin, golden perch, silver perch, carp and to a lesser extent Murray cod. Downstream from Loddon Weir the river averages 7 to 14 metres wide, and up to 26 metres wide at certain points, with a bank height of around 3 metres. Road crossings in this section include Lagoona Road, Borung-Hurstwood Road, Ellerslie Road, Majors Line Road, Boort-Pyramid Road, Boort-Yando Road, Canary Island-Leaghur Road, Appin South Road, Hewitt Road and Wood Lane.
Ten kilometres south of Kerang water flows are increased due to water entering from the Macorna Channel, and the higher flows are maintained for the next 15 kilometres of river up to the Kerang Weir. A vertical slot fishway was constructed next to the weir in 2008.
The final stretch of the river flows through saltbush and Black Box forest. The main fish species are redfin, golden perch and Murray cod. After Kerang the river is crossed by West Road, O'Donoghues Bridge Road, Baulch Road and the Wells Bridge which carries the Lake Charm Road. The river ends at it confluence with the Little Murray River at Benjeroop.
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