Eight of us enjoyed a beautiful paddle on Deep Creek at Valla last Sunday. As a club we have not paddled up here since 2012 when the late Brian Scholz introduced us to it. Deep Creek is a hidden gem with a stunning estuarine entrance flanked by healthy mangroves & other trees and graced by a lovely old timber footbridge which crosses over the estuary linking Valla Reserve (where we launched) with South Valla Beach. While doing my research I came across references to two other creeks in the vicinity – Oyster Creek & McGrath Creek – which we will have to check out in the future. Our paddle was approx. 14 kms return…& we did not reach the end of the creek. There are several little “sandy beaches” along the course of the creek which is wide and lined with soaring stands of timber. At one point there was a group of substantial pine trees, a couple leaning precariously across the creek. We spotted a couple of other launch sites along the way and when we checked out one on our way home we came across a group of local kayakers getting ready for a paddle!! This is just under Deep Creek Bridge. Launching here would shorten the paddle while enabling us to reach the end of the navigable water.
Deep Creek is tidal and fringed partly by forested, steeply descending banks, mangroves, fringed redgum woodland floodplain or mangrove mudflats. The red cedar in the area was the original attraction for Europeans and in 1863 the first whites to take up a selection of land were two brothers from Dublin, Nathanial and Andrew Buchanan. Their first home was constructed of slab and bark and stood on the banks of Deep Creek. The name Valla is said to have been chosen to match that of the British residence of 19th century diplomat Andrew Buchanan. A post office was opened at Deep Creek in 1905; it was renamed Valla in 1906.
Valla is the traditional country of the GUMBAINGIRR people. Valla Beach has many sites that are of high cultural significance & importance to these traditional custodians. One such is Pickett Hill (Nurguu Mirrai), a men’s only site which has been identified and approved as a protected area.
..”For thousands of years the Valla- Nambucca area has been part of the domain of the Gumbaingirr – a vast Aboriginal group whose territory extended along the NSW Mid North Coast from the Clarence River in the north, to Macksville in the south and west as far as Glen Innes. Within this broad area covering around 6000 square kms, the Gumbaingirr were organised into a number of subgroups or clans, generally described as extended or interlinked family groups sharing a common dialect…neighbouring Aboriginal groups included the Bundjalung to the north; Nganyaywana to the west; and the Ngaka clans groups of the Dainggatti to the south”. (“Aboriginal & European Cultural Assessment Report, Valla Urban Growth Area, Valla NSW by Mary Dallas Consulting Archaeologists).
The same report states that from the early 1880’s a total of 16 Aboriginal Reserves were established…between the Macleay & Bellinger Rivers. In February 1894, 40 acres were gazetted for such purpose at Cow Creek near Valla in the Parish of Valley Valley. It was listed for use by an Aboriginal man, Fred Buchanan and his family. It was degazetted in 1952. The area is of high significance to the local Aboriginal community as Aboriginal people are known to have been buried there in the historic period the Reserve.
As we paddled there were lovely views through the trees and across farming land to conical shaped hills in the hinterland. Mt. England and its associated ridgelines lie to the immediate west and northwest & Gordons Know to the west ( & southwest). It was lovely to see kangaroos grazing quietly along the banks and the scenery was pleasant. There was a bit of a breeze blowing on the way up but it assisted us, along with a run out tide on the return trip. As we emerged back into the estuary there were lovely views through to the rocky outcrop on Valla Beach as well as the old footbridge. We enjoyed a picnic lunch in the shade overlooking the water at Valla Reserve.
Thanks to those who joined us; we hope it was worth the trip.
Caroline & Bill