Blog

Stingray Creek, North Haven


No Comments

Our paddle last Saturday was on Stingray Creek, North Haven.

Twelve of us enjoyed the morning on the water & Greg led us on a different route, veering west to explore a large, meandering lagoon then rejoining the creek for awhile before veering west again into another large bay just before the entrance to Queens Lake. A good run in tide enabled us to paddle these large, expanses of water, the first home to lovely sandy shallows which nurture juvenile & sapling mangroves, the second sheltering oyster leases.
Stingray Creek is part of the Camden Haven river system. The Camden Haves rises in the Great Escarpment & Comboyne Plateau & flows east for 72.4kms, descending 698m. It is described as a small but scenic river which broadens considerably as it nears the coast. It becomes part of an expansive & interesting waterways system including Watson Taylor Lake. It then joins water from Queens Lake, travels through North Haven & Dunbogan before entering the Pacific Ocean at Camden Head. It is referred to in Wikipedia as ” an open & trained intermediate wave dominated estuary”.

We started our paddle under the ‘new’ North Haven Bridge over Stingray Creek. This bridge cost $26 million to construct & was officially opened to traffic in February 2017. The original bridge over the creek was built in 1925 & was described as a “pack-horse” punt pulled by hand. After this old punt sank, travelling to & from Laurieton reverted to a rowing boat until 1931 when the Humpty Back Bridge was opened to the public.

Our paddle was very easy on the eye & some enclosed sections were quite ‘dreamtime’ with tree covered hills in the background descending down to lower areas of different  vegetation types. There were some lovely old mangrove trees along the way & shallows dominated by  mazes of the pale, spindly trunks of younger trees. Despite knowing that the local suburbs were just behind the tree line, you could feel a quiet solitude & sense of isolation in many sections with simply trees, water & hills all around you.

After exiting the second bay area we headed back up the creek, past two little side creeks which lead back to the lake but were too shallow to navigate. We pulled up for a leg stretch next to one of these creeks on a lovely sandy spot with a grassy area, shade & lovely views back up the main creek. Several black swans were gliding around & I spotted a beautiful white bellied sea eagle surveying our progress from on high. Bill checked out the lake but it was too shallow to get around to Limeburners without going right out towards the centre.
After loading kayaks etc back at the bridge we headed to the café under the North Haven Surf Club where we enjoyed ocean side refreshments of coffee & a variety of burgers which were very generous in their proportions!!

Thanks Greg for leading this paddle & showing us a different part of Stingray Creek.

Caroline

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Blog

Blackmans Point


No Comments

Hi everyone,

Last Sunday two groups comprised of five paddlers each checked out the Maria River between Blackmans Point & Hacks Ferry…a section of the river that tends to be omitted from our paddling schedule. The five of us who launched from Blackmans Point paddled up river & into the back channel between Boomerang Isl. & the mainland, past The Hatch, into the top lagoon & on up to big log where we pulled up on a white sandy beach ( yes, it’s true!!!) for a quick leg stretch before being driven back into our kayaks by hordes of ravenous mozzies. Just a little bit of background information. Blackmans Point is thought to be named after James Blackman who travelled with John Oxley on his journey to Port Macquarie in 1811. The ferry that used to operate from here across the Hastings River to the Fernbank Creek ramp was the vehicular transport point between Port Macquarie & areas to the north prior to the opening of the Dennis Bridge in 1961. This resulted in a major change to the Pacific Highway route impacting people in Port. With travellers no longer having to use the ferry to cross the river, the ferry was closed & Port was officially by passed. As well as the bridge the project included a 10 km deviation of the Pacific Highway & a 3km connecting road from the old highway to the new ( Hastings River Drive). There were often mishaps on ferry crossings & I have included an old historic photo which shows a car from Sydney that ended up in the river after bumping open the gate!!

The Aboriginal name for Blackmans Point is “Goolawahl”. It is alleged that a massacre took place here between European colonists & combined members of the Biripi, Dhungutti & Gumbaynggir peoples. There is a plaque & three rocks at the Point acknowledging the traditional custodians of the land. I have included a photo of this plaque complete with inscription. I could not locate an English translation for Goolawahl but further north is Goolawah National Park, a narrow strip of mainly beachfront land which runs from the outskirts of Crescent Head to Racecourse Headland where it links up with Goolawah regional Park. Goolawah means ‘yesterday’. I do not know if it is connected with the Blackmans Point ‘Goolawahl’.

We continued our paddle in perfect conditions which was great for Bill V who was giving his new Time Traveller its first long run. We had a great run in tide, calm water & a light breeze. It was interesting to paddle a different section of the river which in this area consists largely of farmland & treelined banks & the odd old shack here & there. It was quiet & peaceful as we had the river to ourselves. We paddled into the small creek which is the only one between the lagoon at the top of The Hatch & the Anabranches at Hacks Ferry. It started with a lovely small bay from which the mangrove lined creek ran off & while it was secluded & pleasant, once again after a cursory look around, voracious mozzies drove us back out into the main river. As we exited the other group were coming towards us. Not long after the light drizzle got a bit heavier & we paddled up to Hacks with an increasingly overcast sky & the rain casting a veil of water vapour over the river ahead; a bit of a mysterious look & another mood of the river. Although not heavy rain, it was enough over the distance to wet us all thoroughly & as it was still drizzling when we got back we had to abandon our planned picnic by the river. A shame as it is a great spot with a big long table. (As Murphy’s Law would have it, the rain stopped & the sun came out about 30 minutes later!!) Not much information is available online about Hacks Ferry except that it was named after the Hack family who owned land on the east bank of the Maria River. The ferry, which linked the east & west banks of the river, was probably built in the late 1800’s. I am still hoping to find some old photos of the ferry…maybe in the local history section of the library.
Thanks Greg for doing the car shuffle for the longer paddle & for leading his group.

Hope you enjoyed the outing.

Cheers
Caroline

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Blog

Tom Dick’s Hole


No Comments

Hi everyone,

A beautiful blue sky, fluffy clumps of white clouds & lovely calm, high water greeted us at Tom Dick’s Hole last Sunday. Both groups enjoyed glasslike conditions, a great run in tide & a cool breeze in this pristine environment. After gliding around the various bays the top lake ( aka Shallow Bay ) stretched out before us, wide, open & inviting with barely a ripple on the surface. It was visually serene & silent except for the rhythmic splash of our paddles breaking the surface & a distant chorus of cicadas, muffled by the vegetation. We entered the creek, simultaneously entering a totally different landscape with bushy river mangroves spilling across the water, their grey mangrove relatives standing tall behind them. Tall timber towered overhead, birds flitted between the branches & elk ferns decorated many tree trunks. Here & there the thick forest like vegetation was broken up by open salt grass meadows & shafts of sunlight slicing through the treetops highlighted the soft greenery below the canopy. We paddled in & out of the shade being pushed along at a good pace by the run in tide. While there were few obstacles, the moving water made for some tight, quick turns. From open areas to winding sections & magical tunnel like sections, this paddle has it all, culminating in the remote beauty & solitude of Saltwater Lake at its extremity. After drifting around on the lake for awhile, we paddled back to the old scout camp ( which is sporting a few new additions ) for a relaxing lunch. The return paddle was pleasant & a nice breeze pushed us across the lake.
Just a little bit of history about Limeburners for those who are interested.
Limeburners was declared a Nature Reserve in 1971…the first on the north coast of NSW. It was re categorised to National Park status in 2010. One major reason for this was to protect a butterfly found only in this area, the Tisiphone Abeona Joanna. It also contains two distinct scientific areas: 1. The area encompassing Saltwater Lake : 2. The estuarine communities & islands at the south end of Limeburners Creek. Furthermore, an area of 8360ha within the national park has been declared wilderness. Most of the park is an extensive wetland with 70% identified as coastal wetland. Eight distinct wetlands have been identified within the park. Limeburners contains a range of vegetation communities & 12 plant species were identified as either listed in the threatened species conservation act at the geographical limit of their range , or have restricted distribution on the north coast of NSW. The park contains a number of threatened animals & important Aboriginal sites. The known period of occupation is 5-6000 years.
Limeburners National Park extends from Port Macquarie to Crescent Head. During the Pleistocene period, Point Plomer, Big Hill & Queens Head were islands separated from the mainland by higher sea levels. They are now joined to the mainland as a result of the deposition of sand. Limeburners acquired its name  as a result of Europeans burning enormous quantities of oyster shells to produce building mortar. This denuded the area of oysters for many years. The next major activity was gold mining & the area around Limeburners Creek was proclaimed part of the Orara Gold Field in 1881. In the 1970’s the coastal sands immediately to the south of Point Plomer were mined for rutile, zircon & other minerals. Barries Bay was once the site of a whaling station. Big Hill also has its share of stories. During the Great Depression a small number of men lived isolated lives in this area. One was Kevin Hill ( allegedly a large man ) after whom Big Hill was named. He lived on the NW slope of the hill beside the creek where some of his hut’s foundations are still in existence. Another man lived on the southern slope while a third lived in a hut on the edge of Limeburners Creek. Apparently this hut still remains. (Information courtesy of the Limeburners National Park Plan of Management).
Hope you enjoyed your paddle in this truly beautiful & environmentally special area.
Cheers
Caroline

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Blog

Little Rawdon Island


No Comments

Hi everyone,
Last Sunday another early start to beat the heat saw eight of us on the water at 8am for our paddle from Blackmans Point around Little Rawdon Island. Our old faithful Bulldog friend came to see us off from the ramp, disappointed it was too early for a snack!
The water was like glass & we slipped effortlessly past rolling farming land with cattle grazing contentedly in the cool of the morning. The slightly hazy looking hills of the Comboyne & Bago provided a lovely vista ahead of us.
At the second bridge we practised wash riding in a formation of two groups with a rear spotter for each to keep the line true & the pace suitable. This practice is invaluable…insurance for a day when the conditions could be the exact opposite to what we were enjoying.
We veered right into Munns Channel & enjoyed the sense of freedom & space that comes with paddling on big, wide stretches of water in calm conditions. We headed up towards the sweeping bend, past Hughes Inlet before veering left into Casswell Channel which runs between Quetta Isl. on the right & Little Rawdon Isl. on the left. It was quiet up here & we had the water to ourselves. We veered left into Rawdon Channel & went under the Little Rawdon Isl. bridge where a lone fisherman was enjoying the solitude of this lovely part of the world.
We decided not to stop at the old ferry ramp as it was very muddy but kept going, re-entering Munns Channel & then back into the main Hastings with the two bridges ahead of us. A nice steady breeze was up which kept things cool as the day was starting to warm up & we felt it as soon as we were back on land. The grass underfoot was crackly & the crunching of fallen leaves & bark added to the summer sensations of heat & lack of rain. Waiting for us at the water’s edge were Ray & Richard & Maria who had brought their new German Shepherd puppy Florence along to meet the crew. She is a beauty but would need her own kayak when she grows into her paws!!
After washing kayaks & loading up we adjourned to nearby Ricardoes for morning tea which was indulgent & delicious!
Thanks to those who joined us. We hope you enjoyed the early paddle.
Cheers
Caroline

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Blog

Connection Creek


No Comments

Hi everyone,
Just running behind with our trip report for Sunday 30 December which was Connection Creek.
This beautiful paddle gets you in right from the start with a stunning reflection right across the water from where we launch.
The Maria River Rd. was in good condition & the Christmas Bells were still flowering, although many had been harvested.
Given the heat, we were on the water early at 8am & enjoyed paddling up on the shady side while taking in the scenery & reflections on the sunny side of the creek. I never get tired of this paddle with its mesmerising reflections & graceful overhanging branches & fallen timber which are like strategically placed sculptures along the way.
Connection Creek runs parallel to the Maria River Rd., petering out into dense rushes before Crescent Head Rd. It is flanked by beautiful tall trees, including melaleucas, casuarinas & eucalypts all stretching towards the sky, competing for their place in the sun. Look into the understory & there are wonderful outcrops of elk ferns scaling the trunks & branches of their host trees, some draped down like a ballerina’s skirt. Vines & creepers cascade down from above, some resting gently on the surface of the water or moving gently in the breeze. White flowering swamp lillies, feather duster topped rushes & vivid green grasses line the banks & there were some pretty outcrops of blue waterlilies opening up. There are some magnificent old trees with thick, nobbly white trunks & here & there, the sunlight highlighting them amongst the greenery. In the shade were patches of delicate, flowering ground cover violets. Birds & insects added background sound effects & paddling in the early morning was very peaceful & comfortable.
The old timber bridge is still hanging in there as well as a couple of private wharves.
Bill went to explore the Upper Maria to check on blockages & when he caught up to us reported that there were more then previously & were not able to be surmounted. Such a shame as this is also a beautiful paddle. Maybe the next flood will clear some of the debris away & open it up once again.
Back at the clearing we washed & loaded our kayaks & sat down to enjoy lunch beside the creek. You could tell it was the tourist season as normally no-one else comes here but us, but upon arrival one tinnie was launching & just as we were finishing lunch another arrived!! Roll on February!!
Thanks to those who joined us; we hope you enjoyed the paddle.
Cheers
Caroline

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.