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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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Pelican Point Littoral Rainforest Reserve


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Twelve of us took part in our short paddle & stroll through the Pelican Point Littoral Rainforest Reserve.

It was just a short paddle across the Hastings from Settlement Point to the North Shore where we went past Coal Wharf Reserve before pulling up On the little sandy beach opposite Pelican Island.

The North Shore Progress Association has tidied up this area, built a shelter, erected seating & constructed a lovely fire pit ( for winter…if we ever have one!!). It is A lovely spot, much quieter & less crowded than Settlement Point Reserve.

While Bill guarded the kayaks, the rest of us set off on a lovely stroll through the rainforest area. Earlier in the week Bill had been over & checked out the condition of the track & left little markers along the way as parts of it are a bit overgrown. It is a pleasant walk, parts of it adjacent to the river & the canopy affords constant shade. There are some lovely trees in here & beautiful views of the river through the foliage. We walked right through to North Wall Rd. near the beach & view Gwen O’Dea’s memorial cairn tucked away in the bush out of the way of potential vandals. Gwen was awarded an OAM for her environmental work & her plaque states that she loved, protected, weeded & tended the little rainforest pocket. It was erected by her family & the Mid North Coast branch of the National Parks & Wildlife Association.

**Postscript: After Gwen died, Bill decided to at least carry on removing weeds etc from the little rainforest. Thankfully, Thor Asso, who at the time was senior environmental officer with the PMH Council, provided all the necessary gear. In recent years Landcare has taken over responsibility for the work.
Under our present climate conditions, if a fire was to destroy this little pocket of rainforest, it would never recover.

Littoral rainforests are generally closed foresst (70% covered), the structure & composition of which is strongly influenced by their proximity to the ocean (generally within 2 kms). Plant species, predominately rainforest & vines, maybe a major component of the canopy. They occur only along the coast  in small stands & comprise less than 1% of the total rainforest area of NSW. The sign at the North Wall Rd. entrance states that there are six pockets of this plant community along the Hastings coastline. Within it are 74 plant species including rainforest fruits which are an important source of food for seasonally migratory birds such as the white headed pigeon.

Back at the reserve we had a light snack while enjoying the river vista across to Settlement Point & Pelican Island. Our paddle back was not as laid back as a gusty wind had sprung up making conditions a bit challenging. We had planned to paddle around Pelican Island but as the gusts buffeted us around, most of us opted to cut through the mangroves into the back channel & calmer waters.
After loading boats etc most of us adjourned to The Point for coffee.
Thanks to those who participated. We hope you enjoyed it.

Caroline & Bill

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PMHCC donates $1000 to local rural fire brigade


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On the 24th of December, 2019, the following story was published by Port Macquarie News. Click HERE to see the original article.

“Tis the season to be jolly”, but for our local Rural Fire Service (RFS) fire fighters the summer months stretching out before us will be nothing to laugh about.

Crews around New South Wales & other states have had an explosive start to the ‘bushfire season’. While many Australians are gearing up for Christmas & New Year parties & holidays, our ‘firies’ don’t have festivities front & centre on their minds. Instead of Santa suits, board shorts & thongs they will be donning fire fighting gear & remaining both alert & on call.

After months of fires & choking smoke blanketing the skies in & around Port Macquarie, the Port Macquarie Hastings Canoe Club (PMHCC) decided at its recent annual general meeting to make its 2019 charity donation to the North Shore Rural Fire Service. Some of the club’s most picturesque & popular paddles are within the ambit of this brigade’s territory & it is therefore akin to being the club’s ‘local’ or ‘home’ brigade.

On Monday December 16, PMHCC President Greg Donaldson & committee member Caroline Swan-Webber, presented Brigade Captain Kingsley Searle with a cheque for $1000 to assist with the purchase of vital equipment. Kingsley said items such as thermal imaging devices, 5 watt truck radios, Kestrel wind meters &blowers etc were all expensive items & the club’s donation would help the brigade with future purchases to enhance their firefighting capabilities.

The North Shore RFS station was built in 1993 mid way between the two settlements of North Shore & Riverside. The two settlements were linked by a bridge over Limeburners Creek in the 1980’s. The brigade’s area of responsibility ranges from the Hastings River to the Point Plomer Caravan Park, across to Riverside & includes Limeburners National Park which alone covers 9123 hectares. Kingsley, who has been with the brigade for 34 years, described the brigade’s territory as being “quite unique” & presenting many challenges for firefighting. He highlighted the area’s relative isolation, problems associated with  ferries during fires, including them being out of order for periods of time, the large tracts of coastal heath which were both challenging for access & volatile with a lot of tea tree vegetation.

The North Shore RFS has 50 members, 25 of whom are active fire fighters. It has three trucks & Kingsley said they have always managed to provide crews when needed. Kingsley likes to see the brigade within the context of a “community organisation” & said there are many ways people can help other than fighting fires. These include washing & cleaning the trucks after use, thereby giving tired’ firies’ a chance to have a break, general upkeep around the premises & the all important fund raising. He said that while the RFS provided the trucks, their running gear & maintenance, one uniform per fire fighter & other items, the rest was up to the local brigades, including food for those involved in fighting fires.

Speaking from a background of firefighting experiences garnered over three decades, Kingsley commented that the fire season has changed. He said it used to start late September, but was now starting closer to winter with fires around July. He observed that the nature of the fires had “escalated to another level” & that this year they were “re writing history”. He said it is so dry & that stressed trees were dropping masses of leaves creating a great amount of highly combustible leaf litter on the ground. Kingsley believes climate change is a reality. He said the 1960’s & 1970’s provided warning signals but that in 2020 it will be” here now, in our faces”.

The PMHCC is a not for profit sporting club engaged in recreational kayaking in the Hastings & surrounding districts. It holds monthly member charity raffles, the accumulated proceeds of which are matched by the club & donated to charities/community groups within the local area. For further information view the club’s website at www.portcanoeclub.com.au

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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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