Well, although last Sunday’s paddle was probably the shortest paddle we have done, ( courtesy of a fallen tree which could not be navigated around ) It certainly rates up there with the most picturesque.
Saltwater Creek at South West Rocks meanders behind the sand dunes & up into a beautiful lagoon full of birdlife. Sadly we did not make it up to the lagoon being stopped just shy of it by a fallen tree. Despite this, & the shallow areas, this is a beautiful little paddle & well worth the effort.
The creek takes off from the beach below the surf club & is flanked by fabulous melaleucas, the shapes of which further upstream are amazing ( see photo of the one in front of German bridge ) . As we negotiated the shallows there was plenty of time to look at the vegetation & listen to the whispering of the tall grasses alongside the creek, a sound akin to the swishing of silk or taffeta. There were lovely glimpses up the creek to a hill in the foreground in Arakoon NP, & a pristine white heron posed atop a casuarina for us.
South West Rocks, traditional country of the Dunghutti people, is best known for Trial Bay Jail, the heritage listed former public works prison. Construction of the prison, which overlooks Trail Bay, commenced in 1886 when prisoners were brought to the area to construct a breakwall to make Trial Bay a safe harbour half way between Sydney & Brisbane. Work began on the breakwall in 1889, but progress on its construction was constantly hampered over many years by being washed away during storms etc. Due to a range of issues, the breakwall was never completed & the project was abandoned in 1903. However, the jail’s history had only just begun.
During World War 1 the jail was used as an internment camp for local German residents who were suspected of conspiring with the enemy. These were said to be Germans of ‘social standing’, professionals, German naval officers & other ‘elite’ German residents. It was the only internment camp to house internees from overseas as germans from British Commonwealth countries in the Pacific & South East Asia were also interned at Trail Bay Jail. Quite a community sprang up in the jail which seems to have had had an active social/artistic scene including a gourmet restaurant ( the Duck Coup ) & a more bohemian ‘hang out’ on the beach referred to as The Artists Den.
The bay immediately below the jail became known as Trial Bay after the brig “Trial” which was wrecked there in 1816. The brig had been hijacked by convicts in Port Jackson who, in a bid for freedom, forced the crew to sail north.
Thanks Leon for organising this paddle which attracted 18 members.
Even though it was short & sweet, the beautiful surroundings made me appreciate how lucky we are during this pandemic to be able to escape to areas like this so close to home.