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Rocks Ferry Wauchope & Queens Lake


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Hi everyone & welcome back!!

As Greg has already reported, last Sunday we had 30 paddlers split between four groups out enjoying the last beautiful day of Autumn on the water.
Three groups paddled from Rocks Ferry up at Wauchope while another group paddled on Queens Lake. Thank you to our leaders.

As I was amongst the groups launching from Rocks Ferry, my report & pictures are from up that way.

When we arrived a ghostly, low lying mist hung over the river & a trio of pelicans was practising social distancing just near the  bridge. As the sun broke through the mist lifted & the lush green farmland was soon bathed in light. Cows grazed quietly, pelicans glided gracefully & we set off in our small groups at staggered intervals, keeping our distance & enjoying being out on the water again as a club. Most groups went down to King Creek while a smaller group went up to Bain Bridge & a bit beyond.

Just a bit of background history on Rocks Ferry & Bain Bridge which includes an ‘Indignation’ Meeting & a ‘Smoke Ceremony’.

A ferry operated at Rocks Ferry from 1910 to 1983 when the Rocks Bridge was opened (Stoney Creek Rd.). Prior to the development of the present foreshore recreation reserve, sand & gravel reclamation work took place here. The ferry crossing was originally at ENNIS ( which is no longer in existence). Early settlers & travellers from Port Macquarie used a route by way of HAYTOWN (Sancrox), crossed the Hastings River at Rawdon Island & then crossed the river again at Narrow Gut near ENNIS which, in the 1880’s was a significant village. A wharf was built there to service a ferry which crossed the river near Narrow Gut carrying mail. There was much local conflict over the choice of the ferry location – the wharf at Ennis or at the Rocks. In 1902 an ‘Indignation’ Meeting was held to protest the decision by the Minister for Works to relocate the punt from Ennis at the Rocks, near the Butter Factory. It appears cost considerations weighed in heavily & the Minister had reversed his earlier decision to keep it at Ennis. Over time Ennis reverted to farmland & many of its buildings were removed to Wauchope & elsewhere. The ferry was relocated to Rocks & operated until the bridge opened.

Bain Bridge was named in memory of Duncan Bain, son of Alexander Bain, one of the earliest settlers in the Wauchope District. Locals nicknamed it the ‘Bridge of Sighs’ as it took 15 years of agitation, accidents & drownings before what was the first above water crossing of the Hastings was built.
Following the drowning in 1887 of Bain’s 13 year old son John at Camerons Falls crossing/ford ( then the major crossing point between Beechwood & Port Macquarie) a public meeting was held to discuss the proposal for the construction of a flood free bridge. After several years of talks & discussion on the condition of the ford, it was suggested that the ford be built up as an ‘experiment’. In 1891 the Beechwood Progress Committee used bullock teams & wagons to haul loads of sandstone blocks to the ford to shore it up (these blocks had previously been used as ballast by sailing ships then dumped up & down the banks of the Hastings). This ‘experiment’ only lasted until the next flood & another attempt, using saplings to indicate where it was safe to cross, also failed. Finally, in 1902 Bain & another delegate met with the Minister for Works in Sydney to lobby for a bridge. Upon their return a “Smoke Concert’ was held at Beechwood where the outcome of their meeting was discussed. (A smoke concert was a live performance, usually of music before an audience of men only!! They were very popular during the Victorian era. At these functions men could smoke & speak of politics while listening to live music). The Minister agreed to build the bridge ( the first over the Hastings River) as soon as funds became available ( nothing has changed has it!!). The bridge was officially opened on August 15, 1907. Sadly, Bain had died in June 1906 & did not get to see it completed. The ribbon was cut by a local woman from Koree Island who had nearly drowned while making the crossing at the old ford some years earlier. The bridge is 500m downstream of the old Camerons Falls Crossing A touch of notoriety came in 2001 when body parts in six plastic bags were discovered along the river between Bain Bridge & Rocks Ferry. They belonged to a convicted drug dealer who had been kidnapped by men posing as police officers while he was working on day release.

King Creek was named Kings River by John Oxley in 1818. It was named after his surveyor, a Mr. King. In 1836 Captain Robert Andrew Wauch ( he had been a Wauchope but dropped the ‘ope’ due to a family dispute) purchased 760 acres on King Creek. He named his property ‘Wauchope’ & it was on this property that the town developed.

Anyway, I hope you found that little bit of history interesting. Information courtesy of the  Hastings Municipal Library, ‘A Short History of Wauchope’ & ‘A Bridge called Bain And Other Stories’.

Hope everyone had a good day.

Cheers
Caroline

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The Anabranches: Lake Cathie


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Hi everyone,

Welcome back to some normality with the easing of restrictions on some outdoor activities/gatherings.

We had our first ‘regular’ weekend club paddle for some time last Sunday & it was great to catch up with members.

Greg led nine of us through the Anabranches while Leon led seven around Lake Cathie which is still full.

This is my first trip report for some months.

It was a lovely clear morning up at Hacks Ferry & the water was calm & high. We launched from the usual place & I could not help but notice the name on the moored sailing boat..’.Gulls & Buoys’ !! The last creative name I came across was at Hibbard…..’Passing Wind’!!!

Greg elected to start our paddle with the second anabranch which runs between Torrens & Fenton Islands, the one we usually return by. This turned out to be a good choice as when we got to the junction of the two & he did a quick reccy into the first anabranch, a tree had come down blocking the route. We then headed up to the Maria, turned left & paddled back out at its junction with the Wilson River. It was pleasant to paddle this wide, tree lined section again, particularly as it is a lovely contrast to the closed in, creek like atmosphere of the anabranches; best of both worlds. The reflections in the anabranch were beautiful, highlighted perfectly by the early morning sun hitting the trees & vegetation at just the right angles. This is such a beautiful paddle & there were few if any mozzies to distract us from the lovely environs. If you have not done this paddle, put it on your bucket list: quiet, secluded, calm & stunning.

The breeze had picked up a bit by the time we re entered the main river so we headed straight across & paddled back in the lee. We spotted the two Bills across the other side; they had done a longer paddle up the Maria.

Bearing in mind that we were on private property & that social distancing still applies, we loaded up & had a late morning tea up at Log Wharf Reserve at Telegraph Point which was a welcome change.

Thanks Greg & Leon for leading these paddles & we hope those who participated enjoyed them.

Cheers
Caroline

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Camden Haven River at Kendall


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Hi everyone,

It was great to see a roll up of 15 last Sunday for our paddle on the Camden Haven River at Kendall.

The glorious weather & the landscape from the ‘Poet’s Village’ up to Logans Crossing presented us with many metaphors such as water like glass & mirror image reflections.

It was simply a beautiful day to be out on the water enjoying the scenery.
We paddle here quite frequently so I thought I would share some of the area’s, &  Henry Kendall’s history.

Firstly, it is Birpai country. When European settlement commenced, Kendall was originally named Camden Heads & is one of seven villages that make up the Camden Haven District. It was re named Kendall in 1891 after the Australian poet Henry Kendall who lived in the area from 1875 until 1881 when he was the first Forest Inspector for New South Wales.

At the entrance to the village, just before the bridge, you are greeted by the Leaves of Kendall, a sculpture of three giant coloured gum leaves designed & constructed by Kendall resident Girikami Weissman. They depict a symbolic story of Kendall’s unique identity & association with timber. Each leaf is three & half metres high.

Henry Kendall ( 1839 – 1882 ) is described as an author & bush poet…the first Australian poet to draw his inspiration from the life, scenery & traditions of the country. He had a sad life as outlined in his entries in the Australian Dictionary of Biography (Vol.5, 1974 MUP), the Encyclopedia Britannica, Wikipedia & Aussie Towns.com.au.

Thomas Henry Kendall was born in 1839 at Yatte Yattah near Milton on the south coast of NSW. His father, who was a missionary & linguist, died when he was two years old. At 17 he went to sea for two years  & upon his return took up several jobs to try to help  support his mother, twin brother & two sisters. He was often in debt to friends & money lenders due to their extravagances & after marrying moved to Melbourne for a period of time where he tried journalism for a living & published ‘Leaves from an Australian Forest’. After becoming unemployed he became impoverished, had issues with alcohol & spent a period of  time in the Gladesville Hospital for the Insane. He suffered many personal hardships throughout his life, including the death of his first born child. In 1875 the Fagan family, who had befriended him in Gosford,  provided him with work in their timber business in the Camden Haven.  His health improved & in 1876 his wife & family re- joined him. In 1880 he published ‘Songs from the Mountains’ which was an outstanding success. In 1881 Henry Parkes ( ‘Father of Federation’) had him appointed Inspector of Forests in NSW, for which he was well suited given his understanding of native timbers. However, his health was such that he could not cope with the long rides in all weathers to inspect the timber reserves & he died from Phthisis ( pulmonary TB) in 1882. Several books of poems were published during his life & the Central Coast Poets Inc established the biennial Henry Kendall Poetry Award which is nationally recognised.
“Kendall was once regarded as the finest poet Australia had ever produced & he remains a true poet whose clarity & sweetness have not been excelled in the narrow lyrical field he made his own”. (Australian Dictionary of Biography) For anyone interested in reading about Kendall in more depth there is an excellent write up in  poetrylibrary.edu.au under the heading ‘The Poems of Henry Kendall’.

After our paddle we had lunch at the little park just over the bridge, & the photo I took of our group having lunch shows the tall timber that must have covered much of the area in Kendall’s time.

Thanks Leon for leading this paddle.

Cheers
Caroline

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Farewell To A Local Legend


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Sixty one kayakers & forty five onlookers gathered at Settlement Point Reserve last Thursday morning to farewell local ‘legend’ Roger Price.

Roger passed away on December 28 aged 81. Born in Wales, he arrived in Australia when he was 16. Many locals will remember seeing him cycling around town, bushy beard flying in the breeze.

At 7am, as the sun broke through the smoke haze, the cicadas were singing up a storm, the surf was pounding in the distance & bubbles glinted on the water. From all directions, members of the Port Macquarie Hastings Canoe Club (PMHCC), family & friends assembled to participate in, & be a part of, a moving water tribute to Roger. Friends from across Roger’s past & recent areas of activity gathered on the water, or lined the shore, to witness the raised paddle salute & observe a minute’s silence in his honour.

Roger (& his partner Barbara) were foundation members of the PMHCC & Roger was vice president in 2010. The couple has also been involved & well respected in several paddling disciplines including white water, ocean & flat water.

Roger & Barbara moved from Balmain to Port Macquarie in 1993. They have been familiar figures around Port on their tandem bicycle which has taken them on some epic cycling adventures around the world covering many thousands of kms.

Roger’s solo adventures, & those he undertook with Barbara, read like something from an adventure book. They are something many of us at some point or another have dreamed of doing.

After the water ceremony, flowers were scattered & the colourful flotilla then paddled around Pelican Island, a paddle Roger had undertaken many times. At the conclusion of the paddle everyone gathered at Pipeworks  Café to share stories & memories of Roger & listen to anecdotes of his adventures & instances of his kindness & generosity of spirit.

Roger lived life to its fullest & touched many with his kindness, knowledge, warmth & friendship. He will be greatly missed by all who had the privilege of knowing him.

VALE ROGER PRICE

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Pipers Creek at Kundabung


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Nineteen of us turned out on January 5 for our scheduled paddle on Pipers Creek at Kundabung.

Rather than having the little reserve by the creek to ourselves ( as we are used to), we were greeted by a ramshackle ‘pop up ‘ shanty town clustered around the ramp!!

Our 19 kayaks added temporarily  to the congestion (although the colours did brighten the scene up a bit!!), but it did not take long for us to get on the water & start enjoying the peacefulness of the creek.

Once again, as on some previous paddles, the effects of the ongoing drought could be seen. Everything seemed a bit faded & drought weary, & where normally thick green vegetation abounded under the canopy, large areas were somewhat sparse & littered with fallen limbs & leaf litter. Even the usually tough lomandras are suffering & the only vivid green plants were the crina/swamp lilies which have the advantage of having their feet wet! The banks had a thick layer of fallen, dead leaves blanketing them & the vegetation had thinned out leaving large gaps. Despite this, Pipers Creek has not lost its mojo. A light haze, like delicate muslin, hung over the water lending a very atmospheric feel to the paddle. Fallen branches in the water provided picturesque landscaping features & the sunlight, when it broke through, shed a golden glow on the vegetation it illuminated. Best of all, the water was calm & beautiful.
We were able to paddle right to the furthermost accessible reaches of the creek this time, dodging the rocks lurking below in the more shallow sections. Likewise Smiths Creek where we went beyond the railway bridge until two giant fallen trees stopped us. Five of us paddled a few kms further down the main creek before heading back to the reserve.

After loading up we decided to have lunch in the grounds of the Kundabung Hall as things were too congested & noisy near the creek. We gathered in the shade & relaxed, noticing the lack of any grass/greenery, but at least we had some space!

Thanks everyone for coming & we hope you enjoyed this lovely paddle.

Cheers
Caroline

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