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Pipers Creek


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What fantastic paddling last Sunday; Pipers Creek at its best.

As we drove in, the sleepy hamlet of Kundabung was coming alive with the Sunday markets being set up at the old hall. The enjoyment of this paddle for me starts with the drive into the reserve along the lovely winding dirt track through the tall trees with glimpses of the sheltered creek through the vegetation.
The calm, cool morning was perfect for paddling & enjoying the gorgeous reflections & creekside landscaping.

We split into two groups; the larger group, led by Greg, paddled the picturesque & meditative upper section of Pipers Creek & then Smiths Creek. They reported being able to navigate further up both these sections than we have in the past. The smaller group, led by Bill, paddled downstream enjoying the wider part of Pipers Creek with jaw dropping reflections showcased in the morning sunlight. At the end we turned left into the Maria River & paddled up to its junction with Connection Creek (approx. 24kms return). The last km or so of this section the river narrowed & with the overcast conditions that had come across throughout the morning the river & surrounding forest looked & felt isolated & remote, setting all your senses working & making you want to stop, listen & scan  the vegetation, like you were being watched from amongst the foliage. Tall trees towered above on both sides with cascading vines coming all the way down to the water. Elk ferns could be seen on many tree trunks & there was a great variety of vegetation.  It is an interesting stretch of water & on this day an atmospheric section of the river which links up our well known paddles on Pipers & Connection Creeks & the Upper Maria.

The whole area has an interesting history. In 1831 Surveyor James Ralfe discovered a stratum of limestone of superior quality about 6 miles from the head of navigation of Pipers Creek ( thought to be names after one Captain Piper). Between 1832 – 40 lime kilns were constructed ( most probably by convict labour from Port Macquarie). These kilns, now heritage listed, were referred to as Bonnie Corner Lime Kilns or Smiths Creek Lime Station. They are located in the Kumbatine NP 12 kms south of Kempsey & west of the highway. Cells were built in the area of the kilns where the convicts were locked up at night. The limestone burned up there was conveyed down to a loading wharf at Kundabung by low wagons with wooden wheels drawn by a team of convicts. It was then loaded onto barges & convicts rowed them down to Port Macquarie. Here it was used in the building industry, at least up until the 1880’s. (Every now & again heritage tours of the remnants of the kilns are conducted by National Parks & Wildlife. If you get a chance, go on one as its is fascinating. I have included a photo I took years ago on such a tour).

The first settlers in the district were all engaged in the timber industry & logs were brought out of the bush on skids & then hauled by horses to the wharves on either side of where Smiths Creek enters Pipers Creek. The logs were then transported by log punt to Hibbards Mill in Port Macquarie.

The early settlement was referred to as Smith’s Creek, but following the opening of the railway , people started a village close to it & the name proved unsuitable. It was renamed Kundabung ( meaning Black Apple tree in the local language) which was also applied to the railway station & the school which opened in 1909 & closed in 1967. There have been several timber mills in Kundabung over the years.

Although the four paddlers who did the longer option got back just as everyone else was finishing up, we could not resist having a campfire for awhile as it is almost club tradition to do so at Kundabung.

We hope everyone enjoyed their paddle. Thanks Greg & Bill for leading. Hope you have a safe & happy Easter break.

Caroline

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Ghinni Ghinni Creek


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Last Sunday was another perfect Autumn morning & 16 of us rolled up at Coopernook for the always popular paddle on Ghinni Ghinni Creek to The Other Side Café.

The morning was calm, cool & sunny & the end of daylight saving was an added bonus. I always enjoy a bit of a Sunday drive thrown into the mix so The Eagles were on my playlist this time; cruisy & laid back. Bill cycled down again & this week beat the ‘sag wagon’ (me) in!

Seven of us did the paddle around Jones Island & met up with the rest of the group ( & Kate who cycled in the vicinity )for coffee & cake at the café.
As our group paddled down the Lansdowne River we saw some lovely reflections on the water, perfectly intact as there was little or no breeze to disturb the surface of the water. This option took in the broad expanse of the mighty Manning River which on this morning was like a mill pond & stretched out before us like a sheet of glass. We paddled past oyster leases, waterfront properties, & Scotts Creek which runs down to Farquhar Inlet at the Tasman Sea. The Manning is the only double delta river in the Southern Hemisphere & Farquhar is described as an intermittent entrance. The other entrance is at Harrington Inlet. Its Aboriginal name is Boolumbahtee (Biripi) & translates as ‘a place where brolgas play’. The Manning rises at Mt. Barrington, is 261 kms long & interestingly is described  one of only a few Australian mainland rivers to receive annual winter melting snow deposits (Wikipedia).

After paddling past the village of Croki, which still has remnants of its original timber wharf, we continued along until we veered across the river & entered Ghinni Ghinni Creek. It was nice to see the welcoming red patio umbrellas & gable roof of The Other Side Café pop up ahead of us & we hauled our kayaks onto the bank & headed up the steps for morning tea. The other group were not far behind & after somehow getting 15 kayaks up onto the narrow bank we were all ready to devour coffee & delicious cakes – apple strudel ( sorry Gerg!!), hummingbird, sticky date & more. It was relaxing sitting in the café garden under the trees, looking at all the whimsical decorations including old wrought iron bed ends turned into a flower garden, quirky pottery, tree trunks wrapped up in crochet & old timber chairs hanging from trees. These chairs reminded me of stories & drawings depicting the ducking of suspected witches. In medieval times until the early 18th century, ducking was used as a way to establish whether a suspect was a witch. Ordeal by water was associated with the infamous witch hunts of the 16th & 17th centuries; an accused who sank was innocent while floating indicated witchcraft!
Back on the water it was pleasant to paddle in & out of narrow bands of shade in the cool as the day was warming up. A few of us did a quick detour into Dickensons Creek – an arm of Ghinni Ghinni-which we have not ventured into before. It is narrow & pleasant & looked like it went on for a distance, but we turned back after a km to join up with the main group. There were plenty of birds around including spoonbills, herons, ibis & kingfishers & a huge old fallen tree is now a permanent part of the creek’s landscaping.
Ghinni Ghinni means ‘mud crab’. In the 1880’s sailing ships would go up the creek picking up corn from the farmers. A big plank would be put out to load the corn onto the ship. The local baker, butcher & grocer also used to travel up the creek by boat selling their wares.

Back at Coopernook the pub carpark had filled up with lots of motorbikes out for a Sunday run. After loading up it was time to relax in the shade next to the river & enjoy a picnic lunch. Thanks Brad & Maria for the watermelon which went down a treat & to Greg for leading the main paddle.

Hope you enjoyed the day.

Cheers
Caroline

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Rocks Ferry


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Last Sunday fourteen of us revelled in a perfect Autumn day on the water. With a fresh nip to the air, a gentle breeze & a lovely clear sky above it felt great to be alive & paddling minus all that heavy humidity we have been experiencing.
Paddling upstream from Rocks Ferry we enjoyed the vistas afforded by the wide, open expanse of water with views up towards the distant hills. The grazing land along the way was lush ( thanks to the recent rain ) & everything looked renewed after the hot summer. The land along the way varies from pasture to steep, sometimes rocky banks with trees climbing upwards towards the sky to dense, jungle like vegetation with creepers & vines hanging down. An old Canadian canoe moored under some graceful casuarinas looked very much the part of the riverscape. We passed Yippin Creek & although the group did not go in, Bill checked it out later. He said that while it was still as beautiful as ever, a large tree has come down not far from the entrance which is difficult, but not impossible, to manoeuvre around. As we passed under the railway bridge & on towards the big bend in the river, two white bellied sea eagles looked down on us from their perch on high. (Bill V & I saw a sea eagle & an osprey on our way back having an aerial sortie over a fish the sea eagle had caught ).

The gentle movement of the water caused by the breeze ruffling the surface caused the sunlight to sparkle like shimmering sequins. The light also highlighted grassy outcrops & tussocks nestled at water’s edge, their straw colour a great contrast to the myriad shades of green. We paddled under Bain Bridge & on to a spot where we could have a leg stretch. A few of us ventured on for a km or more enjoying the scenery in this more narrow section of the river. It reminded me of sections of the Macleay up towards Belgrave Falls with areas of exposed river rocks complete with trees that bore the trademark lean of those that have struggled to stay upright during floods. As the tide had turned & we were in increasingly shallow water, we turned back before the first little rapid. It is beautiful up here, different to the main part of the river.
A few of us went into Morton Creek which was quiet & secluded with areas of gentle dappled light & some lovely reflections. Sadly, someone had left a gill net strung across the opening to the creek & when pulled up it revealed at least a dozen dead mullet & bream. There were a few survivors including a massive crab ( which Bill managed to cut loose from the tangle & release ) & a large flathead which Barry saved & released. We can’t understand why people do this. Gill nets are illegal but to leave a net like this in the water indefinitely is deemed a low act in fishing circles. Gill nets just keep killing & this one had been there for sometime.

Our paddle back down was pleasant & tide assisted & we enjoyed a picnic lunch in the shade next to the river.

Thanks Barry for leading this paddle ( & Trish for the chocolate slice).
A little bit of history.

A ferry operated at Rocks Ferry until the present bridge was built & opened in 1983. Bain Bridge was the first bridge built over the Hastings River. It was opened in 1907. Locals referred to it as the Bridge of Sighs, a reference to how long it took to come into existence. (The Denis Bridge was not  opened until 54 years later). It is named after local identity Duncan Bain, a tireless worker for the local community who sadly passed away a year before the bridge was opened.

Hope you enjoyed the paddle.

Cheers
Caroline

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Stewarts River


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It’s a great feeling setting off on a ‘Sunday drive’ on a Saturday in the cool of the morning with the promise of a lovely paddle awaiting you at journey’s end. Last Saturday was one of those mornings with a pleasant drive down to Johns River complete with George Thorogood & the Destroyers pumping out their classic blues/rock on the CD while the early sunlight was rolling out gently, gradually enveloping  the passing rural landscape in a soft light ( I passed Bad Billy around Kew; he biked it down also enjoying the cool early morning ).  Turning into Wharf Rd. at Johns River you get off the beaten track & a lovely avenue of pine trees ushers you to the banks of the Stewarts River. The air was cool, the light subdued amongst the trees & the water looked secretive & inviting through the vegetation. Stewarts River feels hidden as you have to be on it or alongside it to know it is there. While access is awkard it is well worth the effort as the river is a secluded stretch of water which meanders gently for approx. 5 kms through rural land before flowing into Watson Taylor Lake which opens up before you in all its  panoramic splendour.

At the start of the paddle we headed up towards the railway bridge, a more narrow section with trees leaning across the water & azure kingfishers darting through the bushes. David spotted several together which is unusual as we are lucky to see just one or two individually on most paddles. Dappled sunlight created pools of light on the surface & enhanced the Impressionist like reflections of the trees. Due to the lower level of water up here there was a bit of a swampy smell, but this disappeared once we moved off downstream. There were plenty of fish jumping around & birdsong up in the tree tops. Along the way, nestled amongst trees right on the riverfront was a house that looked like the perfect artist/writers retreat, complete with verandah for morning coffee & an evening wine. It is a visually relaxing & soul cleansing paddle.  Beautiful stands of tall timber are all around, corridor like in some parts, & the occasional fallen tree limbs & graceful tall white trunks added to the overall landscaping effect. It was easy to fall into a steady rhythm which felt in tune with the surrounds. All things considered it is a classic paddle that ticks all the boxes.

Before long Watson Taylor Lake opened up before us with North Brother in the distance. It was absolutely breath taking with water like glass stretching back towards Dunbogan. We all took a moment to just take in the vista ( & a photo opportunity!! ) before drifting out onto the lake itself. We paddled around to our right past Washtub Bay, which was too shallow to navigate,  on to Bensons Inlet, where I spotted a huge Osprey up in the trees, & on to a little sandy beach where we stretched our legs & enjoyed views back across the lake. We then paddled across to & around a small island before heading back up the river & enjoying the river views in reverse. After loading up we had lunch at the little park in Johns River.

Thanks Greg for leading this paddle & to David, Stephen & Bill V for joining us.
The Stewarts River is described as a perennial stream which rises on the northern slopes of Big Nellie within the Coorabakh NP west of Hannam Vale, flowing east by south & then east being joined by the Camden Haven River before reaching its mouth at Watson Taylor Lake. It descends 132m over its 62kms course.

Cheers
Caroline

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Wilson River


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Hi everyone,

Seven of us enjoyed perfect conditions on our Wilson River paddle last Sunday. The water was smooth as satin & a slightly overcast sky shed a different light on the riverscape, creating a different mood. This is a paddle where it does not have to be bright sunlight for it to be beautiful. A dull light seems to enhance the different hues of green & what some might pass off as ordinary becomes extraordinary by virtue of the light & shade, texture & composition.
There are some beautiful scenic stretches along the river’s course, ranging from the tall, vertical white trunks of the river gums which seem to march up the slopes, masses of cascading vines adorning some trees, grassy islands dotted here & there to the backdrop of darker green hills which seem to wrap around the river.

With a good run in tide we had no trouble negotiating the shallows above the cluster of little grassy outcrops round about the half way mark. This is such a pretty part of the river & it was nice to just be able to soak it all up without scouting around all the time for rocks beneath the kayaks! I was surprised how overgrown our regular morning tea/swimming spot has become with most of the river rocks at the water’s edge camouflaged by grasses & weeds. While most got out for a leg stretch, Stephen, Bill V & myself pushed on through a few obstacles & were rewarded with the call of bellbirds, cows that looked like they had been painted into the landscape & some lovely reflections. It feels wonderfully remote up here & as Stephen commented it is these extra experiences that make it all so worthwhile. I spotted some delicate little waterlily flowers nestling atop giant lily pads; they had fringed edges, almost like some orchids. Our paddle back to Tele Point was just as enjoyable with the sound of birdsong up in the trees, a light breeze & sunlight throwing a spotlight on the white tree trunks. Bill W was waiting for us, enjoying a cup of coffee & the weekend papers after paddling up from Riverside. The day had warmed up & we had lunch under the picnic shelter.

Thanks Stephen for leading this paddle.

A little bit of information on the Wilson River & Telegraph Point for those who are interested.

The Wilson River rises on the south east slopes of Mount Banda Banda in Willi Willi National Park flowing south east to its confluence with the Maria River near Telegraph Point. It is 69 kms long & descends 559m. It is named after Lieutenant W.E.B Wilson, engineer & inspector of works with the first settlement in Port Macquarie. Telegraph Point gets its name from the telegraph line which crossed the river in 1869. The river played an important role in the logging of the surrounding forest & there are the remains of several old wharves, the most well know being Log Wharf after which the reserve is named. The first land grants issued in the area (the region was formerly known as ‘Prospect’ ) were in 1832. The present day bridge over the Wilson & above the reserve at Telegraph Point replaced an old single lane timber bridge. There also used to be a railway station at Tele Point but it was closed in February 1983.

Cheers
Caroline

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