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Queens Lake Nature Reserve & State Conservation Area


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Last Sunday twelve of us paddled Bob’s Creek from the Queens Lake picnic area in the reserve adjacent to little Wellington Creek.

In what seems to be the new ‘norm’, our paddles are scheduled with the proviso…’smoke & bushfires permitting’!!.

Being on the water can give a false sense of reality of prevailing conditions, & this paddle was an example of this. While paddling up the creek was pleasant & seemingly benign, the whole area is tinderbox dry & the atmosphere has a highly combustible feel to it. The vegetation is parched & fragile looking with trees having shed foliage to survive. Fallen branches & crispy leaves crunch underfoot & the slopes down to the lake & the creek are covered in leaf litter. Many trees bear the black scars of previous burns.

Despite these observations, Bob’s creek was relaxing & scenic as it meandered along. Although the creekside ( & lakeside ) vegetation is dry, the vistas are lovely with towering trees & graceful natural landscaping. The light, as a result of the continuing smoke haze, had a faded & washed out feel to it, the colours not as vivid as on previous paddles. As you looked up into the canopy, many of the trees had large clusters of dead/dying leaves waiting to fall, while down below in the understorey the grasses & other plants were far from vibrant. Towards the end of the navigable section of the creek a large tree right across the creek brought this paddle to a halt. Also in this area, just below the surface & lying haphazardly, limbs akimbo, are huge fallen trees , reminiscent of giants felled in some ancient battle. It was like perusing a disturbed graveyard.

This area has an interesting back story.

The parks comprising the Queens Lake Nature Reserve & the Queens Lake State Conservation Area are relatively long & narrow, stretching approx. 12 kms from north to south & covering approx.. 2449 hectares. Official dedication of the Nature Reserve occurred in stages commencing in January 1999; the State Conservation Area was reserved in July 2003. Most of the parks within it were previously part of Queens Lake & the Burrawan & Cowarra State Forests. The parks lie within the traditional Country of the Birpai People The parks are underlain by a range of rock formations of sedimentary, igneous & metamorphic origin, some up to 350 million years old. The parks protect stands of several threatened ecological communities & the habitat of approx.. 170 species of native animals, including 19 threatened species.

Based on written accounts from the first half of the 19th century, the parks once supported a strong population of Aboriginal people, particularly in & around the shores of Queens Lake. Four Aboriginal sites are currently recorded in the parks & there are believed to be many more within the general area.
In the 1820’s lime was extracted from the area to support the construction of the penal colony in Port Macquarie. The parks also supported a timber industry for 170 years.

In 1818 John Oxley camped for a night somewhere near the current picnic area near the mouth of Waterloo Creek ( where we launch). The boat ramp at the creek’s outlet is one of the few remaining sites where the heritage of the early timber industry can still be seen. Oxley traversed the northern & western shores of the lake & described the construction & use of canoes & bark huts by the local Aboriginal people. He described hunting in bark canoes, one of which he stated was large enough to hold 9 men & resembled a boat. In 1844, botanist/explorer Clement Hodgkinson commented that Aboriginal people living in this part of the east coast had plenty of food, claiming ..”a few minutes fishing would provide enough food for the whole tribe” . No detailed descriptions of local indigenous peoples around the lake were published after Hodgkinson’s 1845 report. It is thought likely that the traditional lifestyles around the lake & adjoining forests were completely disrupted around 1870 when intensification of both settlement & the timber industry occurred. The lime burning industry also modified the landscape & it is believed likely that this contributed to the displacement of the Aboriginal community from culturally important & resource- rich sites.

Management of the parks today is undertaken in conjunction with the Bunyah & Birpai local Aboriginal land councils (Information derived from the Queens Lake Nature Reserve & State Conservation Area Draft Plan of Management) Hope the above information is of interest. I hope bushfires do not ravage this beautiful area over the next few dangerous months.

Thanks Peter for leading the paddle.

Cheers
Caroline

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Camden Haven River, Kendall


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After all the recent smoke, heat & winds, Sunday was a perfect day to be out paddling on the beautiful Camden Haven River at Kendall.

With everything still so parched, it was a pleasure to paddle the calm waters bathed in a light sprinkling of rain. The droplets looked lovely as they landed gently on the water. As we headed downstream it was hazy in the distance & views towards North Brother were smudged somewhat mysteriously against the sky. In the absence of the smell of smoke, this haziness was quite atmospheric.

This is always a calming & relaxing stretch of river, meandering as it does down towards the highway bridge, & everyone ( nine of us ) enjoyed the scenery & the pleasant conditions. (Another four paddled across Watson Taylor Lake from Dunbogan & caught up with us at the bridge).

I saw five Azure Kingfishers streaking along the banks, narrowly avoiding collisions with branches,  a swamp fowl preening at its own reflection & two fearsome looking ‘watch’ geese. As we hugged the right hand bank going down the strait towards Rossglen I spotted a grove of grassplants/trees just below the railway line. You have to be right alongside the bank to see them. They are amazing, growing straight out of the rocks on a slope!!

Back at Kendall we washed our boats & settled down under the verandah of the shed for lunch.

Thanks Stephen for leading the paddle & Bill for the longer one.

Cheers
Caroline

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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.
Cheers
Caroline

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Pipers Creek


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Our Pipers Creek paddle two weekends ago attracted 17 members & one trainee!! (Billie) It was a great day & just a shame an obstacle prevented us from paddling the whole distance upstream. Thanks Richard for taking the photos. I had Billie with me on her first club outing & she was rather distracted so I could not take photos & balance her also!!. It was Marion & Julie’s first Sunday paddle with us & we hope they enjoyed it. Pipers Creek is one of the most picturesque & secluded paddles we do & is the epitome of what recreational kayaking is all about. After coming to a halt we retraced our steps & went into Smiths Creek & on down towards the Maria River for a short distance. We met up with the two Bills & Barry on their return from the longer 14 kms option. After getting everyone out & washing kayaks etc we settled down for lunch & a catch up chat.

Thanks David for leading this paddle & to everyone who came along. Hope you enjoyed the paddle & hopefully next time we can get right to the upper end of this lovely creek.

Cheers
Caroline

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Logans Crossing & Watson Taylor Lake


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We had another lovely day on the water last Sunday & got our paddle in before the wind really kicked in.

13 members left from Kendall to explore Logans Crossing while 4 of us departed from Dunbogan, paddling across Watson Taylor Lake & into the Camden Haven River. We had a comfortable crossing which we did in 35 minutes & the wind just started to pick up strength as we pulled in on the sandy beach for a rest stop. In case anyone is thinking of using the Apex Park ramp, it is closed off for ramp & retaining wall upgrades. We went over the bridge, veered right & launched at the little beach just a short distance up the road. The Camden Haven River is always a pleasant paddle with lovely trees & views. Just around the corner from our rest stop there was a group of ibis grazing peacefully amongst the mangroves. When we reached the bridge we checked out the ramp off Sunnyvale Road as an alternative to the one at Rossglen & then proceeded up the long straight. A couple of kms from Kendall we spotted some of the other group which had ventured downstream & caught up with them. Back at Kendall we all washed & loaded up & headed over to the little park for lunch.

Thanks Greg for doing the car shuffle for the Dunbogan paddlers & to Peter for leading the Logans Crossing paddle.

Hope everyone enjoyed their paddle.

Cheers
Caroline

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