After a not very promising start marked by a brief shower, six of us set out from the wharf at Cundletown last Sunday to paddle the Dawson River. (On the way down we dropped in at the Cattai Wetlands to check on the waterlilies which were in full bloom. If you have never seen them/wetlands now is the perfect time; pick a sunny day for the best colour).
It was only the second time we have paddled the Dawson & it was very rewarding. The short option is no longer available so it ended up being about 20kms return up to Brimbin Nature Reserve & back. Up at the reserve the river links up with Tommy Owens Creek & it is sublime; creeky, secluded & a bit other worldly, the river twisting & turning while the trees tower overhead in a canopy like effect shutting out a lot of daylight. We plan to go back & explore this top end on a good high tide as it abounds with natural beauty & birdlife. It is a hidden gem.
We set off on the Manning River & veered right into the Dawson which is quite wide in its lower reaches. It is flanked by wonderful tall stands of casuarinas, supported by both river & grey mangroves. We enjoyed tide assistance & the wind (what there was of it ) was not an issue. In some sections the water was dead calm. The further upriver we paddled the more birdlife I was aware of. I spotted six azure kingfishers & many other small birds I could not identify. As we got closer to Brimbin the river narrowed & the trees closed in around us; it was a lovely experience, like being swallowed up into a secret world. A pontoon signalled we had arrived & we secured our kayaks & wound our way up the pathway to the picnic area which we had to ourselves. There are some lovely short walks from here through the reserve to vantage points over the water.
After lunch & a bit of a stroll to stretch our legs, we headed back down river. Closer to Cundletown Bill organised us into a ‘conga line’ to practise wash riding, a valuable skill to learn to assist with fatigue/bad conditions.
After washing & loading the kayaks we headed to The Other Side Café for a well deserved coffee & cake! It felt strange making our entrance from the car park instead of Ghinni Ghinni Creek.
The area around Brimbin was used by the Birpai as a major transport route as there is a reliable crossing over the Dawson above tidal influences. It was also similarly used by the early settlers. The reserve covers 50 acres & trees within it include grey gum, grey ironbark, broad leaved white mahogany, white stringybark, tallowwood, forest redgum, turpentine & pink bloodwoods. It also has narrow leaved redgums..an important food & habitat for koalas.
Thanks to those who joined us; hope you enjoyed the paddle.
– Caroline & Bill