killick creek


Killick Creek (estuary) at Crescent Head

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After the morning fog lifted (I was on the highway at Cooperabung before the sun broke through!), ten of us got to enjoy a gorgeous paddle on a picture perfect Killick Creek (estuary) at Crescent Head.

After being indoors so often due to rain ( which is falling again as I write)it was great to get outdoors. We had a good high tide, which is essential on this paddle, and had no problems ( or portages) at the usual shallow areas. This is such a beautiful little (approx.. 9 kms) paddle, right behind the sand dunes of Crescent Head beach in traditional Dunghutti country.

The often eye catching trees and other vegetation muffle the sound of the nearby surf and the occasional osprey and white bellied sea eagle glide across the creek hunting for prey.

The main feature of the creek to my mind are the fantastic old melaleuca (paperbark) trees. As well as younger trees in their prime, there are some magnificent old trunks, gnarled and twisted with age and exposure to the elements that just ooze character. With their stark white trunks contrasted against the tannin coloured water, even dead trees retain a poignant beauty in death and become features within the landscape of the creek. There are a few that I look for every time we do this paddle and always photograph.

The creek starts off at a bit of a small lagoon with a pretty side creek just to the left full of Mother Nature’s landscaping features. Although it is only short, it is rewarding. The main part of the creek is quite wide and the banks on either side are lined with banksias, casuarinas, melaleucas and assorted smaller trees and shrubs in the understory. As the water was high we explored all the little side inlets which, although choked with fallen tree limbs and branches, are interesting and visually amazing. The last deviation was down the main arm of the creek which goes under the Loftus Rd bridge and ends at a flood/drainage control barrier. 

Killick Creek is described as a small estuary connected to the ocean adjacent to Crescent Head. It is the principal natural waterway through the town. NSW has over 130 estuaries. Collectively they are very important from an ecological, social and economic perspective. They contain diverse ecosystems that form the foundation of the coastal food chain. They are important habitats for marine and land plants and animals.

The way Killick Creek functions is primarily as a result of wave energy. It is classed as a strand plain. This means the estuary would have low sediment trapping efficiency, naturally low turbidity and low risk of habitat loss due to sedimentation (Info from Assessment Framework for Non-Pristine Estuaries – estuary 81 Killick Creek).

Killick Creek serves a major role in the Macleay River Flood Mitigation Scheme. When the floodplains of the Upper Belmore River are inundated, floodwaters discharge into Killick Creek in order to mitigate flood risks and minimize inundation of pasture lands. Flood mitigation works in the 1950’s resulted in the Killick Drain Cutting ( connecting the Upper Belmore and Upper Maria Rivers), a rock training works at the entrance to the estuary along with general widening and deepening of the estuary in some of its upper reaches.

Crescent Head became a favoured surfing spot from the early 1960’s. It became the first stop for surfers travelling along the NSW north coast on their journey north in search of the perfect wave. In June 2008 Crescent Head was declared a National Surfing Reserve, the fourth site in Australia to be thus recognised for its special significance to surfing.

Thanks to those who came along to enjoy this lovely paddle. If you missed it this time, try to pencil it in to your ‘to do/paddle’ list next time it is scheduled.