Seven of us ignored the overcast sky last Sunday & did our scheduled paddle on Khappinghat Creek at Wallabi Point near Old Bar.
We have had to call this paddle off a couple of times due to weather conditions etc so it was great to paddle this beautiful estuarine creek again.
However, the scenery has changed dramatically since the last time we were here. In early November last year, as our summer fire season from hell was underway, a ‘raging inferno’ came within a few metres of wiping out both Old Bar & Wallabi Point. There were reports of trees lining the outer roads being engulfed in a 70 foot high wall of fire. Water bombing helicopters & RFS personnel stopped the blaze & homes were saved, but you can see the aftermath of the devastation the fires caused in the trees & vegetation all along Khappinghat Creek. However, Mother Nature is fighting back & the blackened trunks & limbs are sprouting fuzzy green regrowth & the grasses are making a recovery in all their verdant glory. I never thought I would say this, but the bright swathes of yellow flowers you can see in the photos are not wildflowers, but fireweed, & they looked quite stunning on the overcast day combined with a backdrop of blackened trees!!
Khappinghat Creek rises 17.7 m upstream near Rainbow Flat & runs through the Khappinghat Nature Reserve & into Saltwater National Park & into the ocean at Wallabi Point. The name derives from the Kattang language & refers to ” having honey”. The Biripi & Worimi people have been assembling at the creek for possibly in excess of 20,000 years; some anthropologists say up to 60,000 years. The estuary is one of the few naturally opening & closing estuarine systems along the mid north coast of NSW. It is presently closed with a good level of water.
The diversity of the landscapes & associated plant & animal communities have provided for the spiritual, cultural & physical sustenance of the Aboriginal people in perpetuity. Saltwater in particular continues today as a place of cultural & spiritual significance as a coastal camping & ceremonial site. Part of the park is used as a seasonal camping area for traditional owners & their families & friends under a Memorandum of Understanding entered into with the Saltwater Tribal Council. Approx. 13 ha of the Saltwater National Park, including Wallabi Point, was formally declared an Aboriginal Place in 1986 under the National Parks & Wildlife Act. It was thus dedicated in recognition of its ongoing significance to the Aboriginal community & its associated significant sacred sites including artefact scatters, scarred trees, fish traps, middens & a burial site. There are some lovely old fig trees in the reserve also.
Despite intermittent showers, the paddle was lovely & the water calm. It was sobering to look at the damage wreaked by the bushfires on this ancient area, but positive to see the regrowth. I have always felt & described it as a dreamtime paddle, the peace & broken only by the rhythmic pounding of the surf in the background. When we paddled into the pretty side creek near the top end we were surprised to see a sunken tinny just below the surface. It looked like an orange creature just under the water. There were a few other people out paddling, but the rain saw them turn tail without exploring very much upstream; a pity as it is beautiful up there with little islands dotted here & there & other nooks & crannies. There was no sign of the little bush hut where we used to get out; perhaps a victim of the fires as this part of the creek looked particularly scorched.
We had a picnic lunch back at the reserve as by this time the rain had stopped & the sun had made an appearance.
Thanks to those who joined us & we hope you enjoyed it, particularly those who had not paddled here before.