Limeburners Creek to Saltwater Lake

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Hi everyone,

I am running a bit behind with trip reports, but will start with Limeburners Creek to Saltwater Lake which we paddled the day before Father’s Day. Hope all you dads had a pleasant Sunday.

Bill V, Stephen, Bill & myself enjoyed a great paddle which threw us a bit of a curved ball on the way back!!

While it is a long paddle, it is unique & I often wonder how  many ( or few ) Port Macquarie residents have enjoyed the experience of paddling through this beautiful & historical environment. In 1971 it was declared a nature reserve, the first on the NSW north coast. It was upgraded to national park status in 2010. It contains a number of threatened animals & important Aboriginal sites. The known period of occupation is 5 – 6000 years. Oyster farming in the early days was tough. Information revealed that sandstone rocks, which arrived in Port as ballast on sailing ships before they took on cargo & returned to Sydney, were placed on Ti-tree platforms at low tide to catch oyster spawn. When fully grown they were culled off ( 3 years ), placed in bags & shipped to Sydney.

We met at Tom Dick’s Hole on North Shore. Thomas Dick ( 1877 – 1927 ) was an oyster culturalist & amateur photographer. He was interested in nature & the history & culture of the local Biripi people. He produced a magnificent visual record of Aboriginal life in the Hastings. Collections of his glass plates & lantern slides are housed in Australian & British museums. Between 1910 & 1923 Dick took photos of re enacted scenes/staged projections depicting Aboriginal life. He had developed a close relationship with members of the local indigenous community & gained their confidence. He wanted to record their way of life before it was lost. Dick also wrote & published a paper on Aboriginal Shield manufacture in the Proceedings of the Royal Society of NSW. Sadly, his relationship with the local indigenous peoples was frowned upon by many in the local European community. The photographic legacy he left is well worth looking up.

We paddled across Shallow Bay & headed into the creek which at the start features shrubby mangroves on one side & saltgrass meadows on the other. With a baby blue sky stretched out above us we enjoyed  myriad shades of green vegetation including grasses & rushes, grey & river mangroves, casuarinas, melaleucas, eucalypts & clusters of elk & stag ferns. We paddled in & out of sunlight & shade listening to the chitter of birdsong & treated to the occasional flash of colour. From open stretches to narrow, tunnel like sections, landscaping features & fallen trees, the creek constantly changes. The closer to Saltwater Lake you get the more the trees thin out. We had a brief paddle onto the lake before returning to the old scout camp which, sadly, has been dismantled. All that remains is a stack of firewood, some stumps & the fish cleaning table. It was a sad sight as the only people who used it were canoeists like us & nature lovers. It was a welcome rest stop & we have many great memories ( & photos ) of the spot. Sometimes things don’t change for the better!

Conscious of the relationship between time & tide on this paddle, we had lunch & headed back, knowing we had to get over one solid tree trunk lurking not far below the surface. It had been a close encounter on the way down, but we were not so lucky on the return trip as there it was, totally out of the water in all its glory waiting for us!! The two Bill’s got around/over it in their plastic boats, but Stephen’s & my boats were another story! So, casting dignity aside, wishing I was more flexible & had better balance, I pulled up parallel to said trunk, dragged myself up onto it, crawled along it on hands & knees, turned myself around & crawled back into my relocated boat ( thanks Bill, Bill & Stephen) on the other side of the log. I was glad I was still in possession of the camera as the comments about what I had drunk at lunch were inevitable & photographic evidence of my log encounter would not have helped my case!! Stephen then scaled the same obstacle with much more finesse & we set off again with bits of bark etc hanging off us & the kayaks. Certainly livened up our day & added a bit of adventure to proceedings!! We re crossed Shallow Bay, which by this time was living up to its name, & paddled back to the start dodging the shallows. Bill & I got out at Tom Dick’s while Bill V & Stephen paddled back across to Settlement Point.

Thanks Bill & Stephen for sharing the day with us.

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