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Kundabung: Pipers Creek


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Hi everyone,

You can’t help but fall in love ( all over again if you have paddled it before ) with Pipers Creek on a clear, sunny morning.

Nestled down amongst some magnificent trees, this perfect little paddle never disappoints & remains one of my personal favourites.

No matter the conditions, it is always picturesque & atmospheric & there is always a reflection ( or two or three or four ) which takes your breath away.
This gorgeous creek is very secluded & located at the end of a tree lined dirt road in the sleepy hamlet of Kundabung ( which translates to ‘Black Apple Tree’ ).

Unfortunately there were quite a few campers set up there when we arrived…all 23 of us plus kayaks…so it was a not as ‘secluded’ as usual!! However, once out on the water we had the creek all to ourselves.

To comply with social distancing we divided into three groups with one electing to paddle down to the Maria River & the other two paddling up north…the pretty end of this creek.

I could rave on about the beauty of the natural landscape along Pipers Creek, but I will let the photos speak for themselves. Instead, some history as it has a fascinating back story.

Believed to be names after one Captain Piper who was involved in survey work, it was on an exploratory & survey expedition in 1831 that Surveyor Ralfe discovered a stratum of limestone of a very superior quality about six miles from the head of navigation of Pipers Creek. The Police Magistrate at Port Macquarie provided 20 convicts to make a road from the Wilson River to construct a kiln for the burning of limestone. Cells were built for the convicts to sleep in at night. Some kilns still remain ( I have included two photos ). The limestone was burned up on site & conveyed to the loading wharf at Kundabung ( where we launch  ) on low wagons with wooden wheels hauled by a team of convicts. Lime from these kilns was used in the construction of many of the convict-built buildings in Port. Once the lime was loaded onto barges at the wharf, convicts were again used to row those boats all the way down Pipers Creek, into the Maria River, then into the Wilson & finally into the Hastings & into Port Macquarie!!! So if you think you do a few long paddles, spare a thought for these poor convicts!!!
Pipers Creek rises within the Ballengarra State Forest & flows east by south then south before reaching its confluence with the Maria River. It descends 177 m over its 32 km course.

The first European settlers in the Kundabung district were engaged in the timber industry. Logs were brought out of the bush on skids & then hauled by horses to the wharves on either side where Smiths Creek enters Pipers Creek. They were then transported via a log punt to Hibbards Mill in Port Macquarie. The early settlement was referred to as Smiths Creek; the name change came as the settlement got bigger.

After enjoying our paddle, which was cut short by a fallen tree which we could not negotiate as the tide was turning, we headed up to Kundabung where we had our picnic lunch in the grounds near the community hall. Sorry we could not enjoy our usual campfire, but the reserve was too crowded. Hopefully next time, once the ‘tourists’ move on.

Hope everyone enjoyed their paddle. Thanks Barry for organising the paddle.

Cheers
Caroline

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Balyngara & Stony Creek


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Hi everyone,

Further to Leon’s report on the Balyngara & Stony Creek paddle, here are some photos & extra information. Sorry I am running late!!

Twelve of us put in at the old ramp on the private property on Little Rawdon Island. This paddle is like a package deal as it comes with a pleasant Sunday drive through the green farming land of Rawdon Island with its sprawling properties, sleek cattle & peaceful vistas.

Rawdon Island was named after Francis Rawdon Hastings, the 1st Marquis of Hastings. The locale is made up of two islands…Rawdon & Little Rawdon Islands. The communities once boasted 27 dairy farms, two churches, a school, community hall & a footy team! The beautiful buildings of the old school are now a heritage function house. We are always grateful to the Galloways for allowing us to use their property to access the river up here as a starting point for our paddle.

After launching we paddled to the right under Little Rawdon Island bridge which always makes me think of Huckleberry Finn with people sitting fishing, their legs dangling over the edge of this narrow, one way bridge. We then veered right into Munns Channel with Quetta Island on our left. At the end we crossed over the main river & into Balyngara Creek, a wide creek flanked by farming land & lovely trees, before veering left into Stony Creek. It was perfect weather & calm water with nice reflections. We have not done this paddle for quite sometime & it was great to become reacquainted.

When a small group of us got back to the junction with Balyngara, four of us decided to paddle down to the end of this creek exploring. The remainder elected to wait for the others to catch up & then head back, & this is where Leon’s story starts.

We paddled right down Balyngara & into Loggy Creek but were pulled up in our tracks quick smart by a fallen tree. Back on Balyngara we paddled down to the Pembroke Rd. bridge. The spot where we used to have a cuppa now has a ‘pop up’ bush camp ( a bit ‘deliverance’ looking ) which I don’t think is quite legal as this area is Cairncross  State Forest. Our paddle back was uneventful & we enjoyed the peace & quiet & feeling of remoteness in this part of the river.
After making contact with the rest of the group by phone when we got back, we enjoyed a quiet lunch before helping the ‘wanderers’ back up with their kayaks.

Cheers
Caroline

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Korogoro Creek at Hat Head


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Our mid week paddle on Korogoro Creek at Hat Head had all the elements you could wish for:-

      • A relaxing, picturesque paddle on a sheltered creek
      • Great company
      • Sunny skies & calm water ( you could have walked across the ocean )
      • Picnic lunch overlooking the ocean
      • Whale & dolphin exhibitions
      • Bush walk with coastal views

Five of us enjoyed a lovely day out & it was great to catch up with John Rennes on the water again.

Hat Head & Korogoro Creek are in Dhanggati Country & there are three Aboriginal cultural sites in the immediate vicinity of the estuary.

Although considered part of the Macleay River catchment area, flood mitigation works carried out in the mid 1960’s & large floodgates separate the creek upstream from a large wetland known as ‘Swan Pool’ . The creek entrance is permanently open to the ocean & is drop dead beautiful with tree covered hills rising up  & some interesting rocky outcrops.The estuary has several endangered ecological communities & supports several threatened species including loggerhead turtles & Osprey.

As we set off from the ramp right at the ocean entrance, pelicans & sea gulls were resting happily on the exposed sandbanks. After we passed  under the pretty wooden footbridge we saw a huge grey kangaroo watching us from the bank . Following a leisurely paddle up to the floodgate wall area, John, Bruce, Jane, Bill, myself & ‘Billie’ ( on a training run ) enjoyed a picnic lunch up at The Gap overlooking the ocean. Here we were treated to whales breaching quite close in & a pod of surfing dolphins. There are several picturesque walking tracks up here in the Hat Head National park & Bruce, Jane & John undertook one after lunch.

All in all a great day. Great mid week as it is relatively quiet.

Cheers
Caroline

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IN THEIR 80TH YEAR AND STILL HAVING A GO!! 


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IN THEIR 80TH YEAR AND STILL HAVING A GO!!

Last Thursday, June 4, Bill V & Bill W marked their 8oth year on planet Earth by doing what they love best – a physical challenge which took the form of a biathlon of kayaking & cycling.

The duo completed successfully a 34 km paddle in 3 hours 12 minutes followed by a 60 kms bike ride which they completed in 2 hours 45 minutes; a total of 94 kms in 5 hours & 57 minutes.

Both men have not only survived but thrived after major surgeries, and maintain a great level of fitness by participating in regular, consistent exercise.
COVID-19 thwarted Bill V’s plans of a trip back to Malta to mark his landmark birthday while Bill W’s plans were put on hold as he recuperated from spinal surgery. So this was their chance to ‘celebrate’…together.

The two Bills departed Riverside (opposite Blackmans Point) at 7.05am. The air was cool, the sky overcast & the water choppy, but the tide was running in to assist & a tail wind gave about 50% support. As the conditions had been forecast to be a bit rough, Bill V elected to borrow Graham Keena’s Elliott ‘Extreme’ ( many thanks Graham) for a bit more stability. Bill W paddled his Time Traveller 575. There were no mishaps on the paddle which concluded, at 10.17am, at our launching point on Connection Creek on the Maria River Rd. After a quick cup of coffee & change of clothes & equipment, they headed off at 10.53am on their second leg….a cycle to South West Rocks. This took them along Maria River Rd. & down to Crescent Head, from there to Gladstone then alongside the Macleay River past Smithtown, Kinchela & Jerseyville to South West Rocks. They arrived safely at the surf club at 1.45pm.

After dismantling the bikes & a quick change, we enjoyed a good coffee & fish ‘n chips overlooking Horseshoe Bay.

In 1940, the year in which they were both born, Bill V in Malta & Bill W in Australia, the World was in a state of upheaval. World War II was underway & in the summer of that year France fell to Nazi Germany. On the home front, Australia was in danger of invasion from Japan. Fast forward 80 years & the world is once again in a state of upheaval as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Robert Menzies was Prime Minister & his counterpart in the UK was Winston Churchill. On a lighter note, ‘Old Rowley’ won the Melbourne Cup & Brisbane’s Story Bridge was opened.

The two Bills would like to thank Peter Levy & Greg Donaldson for their offers to help with turnarounds etc and Caroline who was road crew/sag wagon!!

Cheers
Caroline

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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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