Last Sunday two groups comprised of five paddlers each checked out the Maria River between Blackmans Point & Hacks Ferry…a section of the river that tends to be omitted from our paddling schedule. The five of us who launched from Blackmans Point paddled up river & into the back channel between Boomerang Isl. & the mainland, past The Hatch, into the top lagoon & on up to big log where we pulled up on a white sandy beach ( yes, it’s true!!!) for a quick leg stretch before being driven back into our kayaks by hordes of ravenous mozzies. Just a little bit of background information. Blackmans Point is thought to be named after James Blackman who travelled with John Oxley on his journey to Port Macquarie in 1811. The ferry that used to operate from here across the Hastings River to the Fernbank Creek ramp was the vehicular transport point between Port Macquarie & areas to the north prior to the opening of the Dennis Bridge in 1961. This resulted in a major change to the Pacific Highway route impacting people in Port. With travellers no longer having to use the ferry to cross the river, the ferry was closed & Port was officially by passed. As well as the bridge the project included a 10 km deviation of the Pacific Highway & a 3km connecting road from the old highway to the new ( Hastings River Drive). There were often mishaps on ferry crossings & I have included an old historic photo which shows a car from Sydney that ended up in the river after bumping open the gate!!
The Aboriginal name for Blackmans Point is “Goolawahl”. It is alleged that a massacre took place here between European colonists & combined members of the Biripi, Dhungutti & Gumbaynggir peoples. There is a plaque & three rocks at the Point acknowledging the traditional custodians of the land. I have included a photo of this plaque complete with inscription. I could not locate an English translation for Goolawahl but further north is Goolawah National Park, a narrow strip of mainly beachfront land which runs from the outskirts of Crescent Head to Racecourse Headland where it links up with Goolawah regional Park. Goolawah means ‘yesterday’. I do not know if it is connected with the Blackmans Point ‘Goolawahl’.
We continued our paddle in perfect conditions which was great for Bill V who was giving his new Time Traveller its first long run. We had a great run in tide, calm water & a light breeze. It was interesting to paddle a different section of the river which in this area consists largely of farmland & treelined banks & the odd old shack here & there. It was quiet & peaceful as we had the river to ourselves. We paddled into the small creek which is the only one between the lagoon at the top of The Hatch & the Anabranches at Hacks Ferry. It started with a lovely small bay from which the mangrove lined creek ran off & while it was secluded & pleasant, once again after a cursory look around, voracious mozzies drove us back out into the main river. As we exited the other group were coming towards us. Not long after the light drizzle got a bit heavier & we paddled up to Hacks with an increasingly overcast sky & the rain casting a veil of water vapour over the river ahead; a bit of a mysterious look & another mood of the river. Although not heavy rain, it was enough over the distance to wet us all thoroughly & as it was still drizzling when we got back we had to abandon our planned picnic by the river. A shame as it is a great spot with a big long table. (As Murphy’s Law would have it, the rain stopped & the sun came out about 30 minutes later!!) Not much information is available online about Hacks Ferry except that it was named after the Hack family who owned land on the east bank of the Maria River. The ferry, which linked the east & west banks of the river, was probably built in the late 1800’s. I am still hoping to find some old photos of the ferry…maybe in the local history section of the library.
Thanks Greg for doing the car shuffle for the longer paddle & for leading his group.
Hope you enjoyed the outing.