A beautiful blue sky, fluffy clumps of white clouds & lovely calm, high water greeted us at Tom Dick’s Hole last Sunday. Both groups enjoyed glasslike conditions, a great run in tide & a cool breeze in this pristine environment. After gliding around the various bays the top lake ( aka Shallow Bay ) stretched out before us, wide, open & inviting with barely a ripple on the surface. It was visually serene & silent except for the rhythmic splash of our paddles breaking the surface & a distant chorus of cicadas, muffled by the vegetation. We entered the creek, simultaneously entering a totally different landscape with bushy river mangroves spilling across the water, their grey mangrove relatives standing tall behind them. Tall timber towered overhead, birds flitted between the branches & elk ferns decorated many tree trunks. Here & there the thick forest like vegetation was broken up by open salt grass meadows & shafts of sunlight slicing through the treetops highlighted the soft greenery below the canopy. We paddled in & out of the shade being pushed along at a good pace by the run in tide. While there were few obstacles, the moving water made for some tight, quick turns. From open areas to winding sections & magical tunnel like sections, this paddle has it all, culminating in the remote beauty & solitude of Saltwater Lake at its extremity. After drifting around on the lake for awhile, we paddled back to the old scout camp ( which is sporting a few new additions ) for a relaxing lunch. The return paddle was pleasant & a nice breeze pushed us across the lake.
Just a little bit of history about Limeburners for those who are interested.
Limeburners was declared a Nature Reserve in 1971…the first on the north coast of NSW. It was re categorised to National Park status in 2010. One major reason for this was to protect a butterfly found only in this area, the Tisiphone Abeona Joanna. It also contains two distinct scientific areas: 1. The area encompassing Saltwater Lake : 2. The estuarine communities & islands at the south end of Limeburners Creek. Furthermore, an area of 8360ha within the national park has been declared wilderness. Most of the park is an extensive wetland with 70% identified as coastal wetland. Eight distinct wetlands have been identified within the park. Limeburners contains a range of vegetation communities & 12 plant species were identified as either listed in the threatened species conservation act at the geographical limit of their range , or have restricted distribution on the north coast of NSW. The park contains a number of threatened animals & important Aboriginal sites. The known period of occupation is 5-6000 years.
Limeburners National Park extends from Port Macquarie to Crescent Head. During the Pleistocene period, Point Plomer, Big Hill & Queens Head were islands separated from the mainland by higher sea levels. They are now joined to the mainland as a result of the deposition of sand. Limeburners acquired its name as a result of Europeans burning enormous quantities of oyster shells to produce building mortar. This denuded the area of oysters for many years. The next major activity was gold mining & the area around Limeburners Creek was proclaimed part of the Orara Gold Field in 1881. In the 1970’s the coastal sands immediately to the south of Point Plomer were mined for rutile, zircon & other minerals. Barries Bay was once the site of a whaling station. Big Hill also has its share of stories. During the Great Depression a small number of men lived isolated lives in this area. One was Kevin Hill ( allegedly a large man ) after whom Big Hill was named. He lived on the NW slope of the hill beside the creek where some of his hut’s foundations are still in existence. Another man lived on the southern slope while a third lived in a hut on the edge of Limeburners Creek. Apparently this hut still remains. (Information courtesy of the Limeburners National Park Plan of Management).
Hope you enjoyed your paddle in this truly beautiful & environmentally special area.