It was great that we had 15 people on our paddle up at Gumma, despite the windy & stormy weather conditions that were hanging around. Most had not been here before which made it even better. As it turned out, Sunday morning brought perfect conditions to showcase this beautiful area, in this instance the section from Gumma up Warrell Creek to Scotts Head. We also had five visitors….Ken B on his motorcycle & Richard & Maria with their dog Florence ( who did the meet, greet & splash at Scotts Head ) & Ray & Bev their dog Holly.
We have camped & paddled on many occasions up at Gumma, the camping ground on the banks of Warrell Creek at Macksville, and the timeless beauty of the area never fails to impress.
Gumma, ( aka Boultons Crossing ) is part of the Gaagal Wanggaan/South Beach National Park & is jointly managed by the NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service & Aboriginal Traditional Owners. The area holds tremendous significance for the Gumbaynggirr people as sites within the park demonstrate continuous use for thousands of years. The area was used as a source of food & for ritual practices & it is still in use today.
Warrell Creek has a tidal limit of approx.. 30kms upstream to near the village of Upper Warrell Creek ( I have included a photo I took some years ago from a lookout at Nambucca looking up the creek from its mouth where the creek meets the Nambucca River at the ocean ). The creek has 32.22ha of mangroves which accounts for 22.6% of the total mangroves in Nambucca. Three kinds of mangroves grow in the Warrell Creek environs; grey, river &milky, the sap of the latter being poisonous & able to cause temporary blindness if it comes in contact with the eyes. The Aboriginal people used mangrove wood to make shields. The creek has 31.47ha of saltmarsh which accounts for 24.68% of the total saltmarsh in Nambucca. Saltmarshes are habitats for herbs, reeds, sedges & shrubs which can tolerate high soil salinity & occasional saltwater inundation.
The paddle up to Scotts Head is one of the most beautiful paddles you could do. Clear water, little bays, sand dunes, views towards Yarahappini & lovely tree lined banks of banksia, blackbutt, scribbly gum & a rich & varied undergrowth of shrubs & grasses & cabbage palms. Bird life is abundant & we saw waders & a white bellied sea eagle. There is a protected nesting area closer to the mouth for the little terns. When we reached Scotts Head our day visitors welcomed us, especially Florence, who leapt over kayaks meeting & greeting & enjoying splashing about in the shallows.
On the road towards Gumma is the Mary Boulton Pioneer Cottage. The late Miss Mary Boulton lived & worked in the area all her life. Her grandfather had the first hotel in the area, near where the cottage is located. She decided to develop a replica pioneer cottage after seeing a similar concept in the US. It opened in 1970 & is constructed from century old recycled timber slabs. In 1999 she donated the whole complex to the Nambucca Valley Council. She died in 2003. Information from an Aboriginal Elder, Tiger Buchanan, indicates that the word’ Gumma’ derives from the Aboriginal word’ Gumming’ meaning ‘red clay’. Local historians have indicated that Red Hill, where members of the Boulton family still reside, consisted of red volcanic clay & was where indigenous people crossed to make their way to a bora ring on Bald Hill. ( Bora rings are ceremonial grounds, generally a raised platform of dirt arranged in a circle ).
There are many paddles ( most of which we have explored over the years ) you can do up here, not only on Warrell Creek but on the two arms of the Nambucca River. The highway upgrade has made it a drive of just over an hour to Macksville so we may schedule more paddles in this beautiful part of the world in the future.
Hope everyone enjoyed their paddle & thanks for joining us.
Caroline & Bill