mid north coast

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Queens Lake Nature Reserve into Waterloo & Bobs Creeks


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Hi everyone,

Last Sunday, despite wind predictions, our paddle went ahead & 18 of us enjoyed a short but picturesque paddle from Queens Lake Nature Reserve into Waterloo & Bobs Creeks on the northern side of Queens Lake. Bill & I paddled a bit further up to Limeburners Creek which we feel deserves a separate paddle in the future.

The road into the picnic area/reserve was a bit bumpy & dusty, but it is always worth it as the views across the lake are glorious making it one of the best picnic spots around. Had a bit of a tight squeeze at one point with a Winnebago type camper coming out, but otherwise no dramas. We launched our kayaks at the little dirt ramp access into Waterloo Creek which is very pretty but short due to fallen timber making navigation impossible.

This is such a scenic area with expansive lake vistas & sweeping views across to Dooragan & Mooragan, aka North & Middle Brother mountains. The third ‘brother’, Booragan, is further south near Moorbank. Described as “off the beaten track” & a “lakeside haven for koalas & wildlife”, the Queens Lake Nature Reserve & State Conservation Area covers 2449ha & lies within the traditional country of the Birpai peoples. The surrounding forests are home to over 200 species of animals, lush vegetation, dense rainforest & some magnificent stands of old growth gums ( which you drive under on the way in ).
The parks comprising the State Conservation Area ( including Queens Lake Nature Reserve ) are underlain by a range of rock formations ( the little headlands on this side of the lake are quite rocky ) of sedimentary, igneous & metamorphic origin ( reminds of geography lessons at school !! ), some up to 350 million years old. They are substantially different from the relatively recent sand  environments protected by most other coastal parks in the region.. The southern end of the Nature Reserve drains into Waterloo, Bobs & Herons Creeks into Queens Lake which is part of the Camden Haven estuary. The northern end drains into Cowarra Creek which in turn flows into Lake Cathie. The Nature reserve’s minor creeks drain directly east of the Jolly Nose Escarpment & flow into the ephemeral coastal wetland system to Duchess Gully which reaches the ocean at Rainbow Beach. ( Information courtesy of the Queens Lake State Conservation Area Plan of Management ).

After a quick peek into Waterloo Creek we paddled around the edge of the lake & into Bobs Creek where we enjoyed a leisurely paddle, navigating the amazing underwater tree graveyard before being stopped again by fallen timber. The trees in the ‘graveyard’ lie just below the surface & have a soft yellow/green glow under the sun’s filtered rays. They lie menacingly & deceptively just underneath the surface at every imaginable angle, a potential trap for paddlers if you don’t get the water height in the creek just right!! Back out on the lake the main group kept paddling around the perimeter for awhile while Bill & I turned back & headed across to Limeburners Creek ( which can also be accessed from Stingray Creek if there is enough water ). This is a much wider creek with far less debris & worth checking out properly as another paddle. The views across to North Brother as you exit this creek are lovely.

After a relaxing, secluded lunch overlooking the lake, we all headed back out to the world of bitumen, highways & the saturation coverage about Trump & anything & everything to do with the US elections & COVID, both of  which are not ready to let us out of their clutches any time soon!!

Once again I say how lucky we are to live in this beautiful region & to be able to enjoy quiet, secluded interludes like this.

Thanks Peter for leading & to everyone who came along. We hope you enjoyed it.

Cheers
Caroline 

                                       

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Khappinghat Creek at Wallabi Point near Old Bar


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Hi everyone,

Seven of us ignored the overcast sky last Sunday & did our scheduled paddle on Khappinghat Creek at Wallabi Point near Old Bar.
We have had to call this paddle off a couple of times due to weather conditions etc so it was great to paddle this beautiful estuarine creek again.

However, the scenery has changed dramatically since the last time we were here. In early November last year, as our summer fire season from hell was underway, a ‘raging inferno’ came within a few metres of wiping out both Old Bar & Wallabi Point. There were reports of trees lining the outer roads being engulfed in a 70 foot high wall of fire. Water bombing helicopters & RFS personnel stopped the blaze & homes were saved, but you can see the aftermath of the devastation the fires caused in the trees & vegetation all along Khappinghat Creek. However, Mother Nature is fighting back & the blackened trunks & limbs are sprouting fuzzy green regrowth & the grasses are making a recovery in all their verdant glory. I never thought I would say this, but the bright swathes of yellow flowers you can see in the photos are not wildflowers, but fireweed, & they looked quite stunning on the overcast day combined with a backdrop of blackened trees!!

Khappinghat Creek rises 17.7 m upstream near Rainbow Flat & runs through the Khappinghat Nature Reserve & into Saltwater National Park & into the ocean at Wallabi Point. The name derives from the Kattang language & refers to ” having honey”. The Biripi & Worimi people have been assembling at the creek for possibly in excess of 20,000 years; some anthropologists say up to 60,000 years. The estuary is one of the few naturally opening & closing estuarine systems along the mid north coast of NSW. It is presently closed with a good level of water.

The diversity of the landscapes & associated plant & animal communities have provided for the spiritual, cultural & physical sustenance of the Aboriginal people in perpetuity. Saltwater in particular continues today as a place of cultural & spiritual significance as a coastal camping & ceremonial site. Part of the park is used as a seasonal camping area for traditional owners & their families & friends under a Memorandum of Understanding entered into with the Saltwater Tribal Council. Approx. 13 ha of the Saltwater National Park, including Wallabi Point, was formally declared an Aboriginal Place in 1986 under the National Parks & Wildlife Act. It was thus dedicated in recognition of its ongoing significance to the Aboriginal community & its associated significant sacred sites including artefact scatters, scarred trees, fish traps, middens & a burial site. There are some lovely old fig trees in the reserve also.

Despite intermittent showers, the paddle was lovely & the water calm. It was sobering to look at the damage wreaked by the bushfires on this ancient area, but positive to see the regrowth. I have always felt & described it as a dreamtime paddle, the peace & broken only by the rhythmic pounding of the surf in the background. When we paddled into the pretty side creek near the top end we were surprised to see a sunken tinny just below the surface. It looked like an orange creature just under the water. There were a few other people out paddling, but the rain saw them turn tail without exploring very much upstream; a pity as it is beautiful up there with little islands dotted here & there & other nooks & crannies. There was no sign of the little bush hut where we used to get out; perhaps a victim of the fires as this part of the creek looked particularly scorched.

We had a picnic lunch back at the reserve as by this time the rain had stopped & the sun had made an appearance.

Thanks to those who joined us & we hope you enjoyed it,  particularly those who had not paddled here before.

Cheers
Caroline                                         

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Little Rawdon Island


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Hi everyone,

What a lovely morning it was last Sunday on Little Rawdon Island. After enjoying the rural vistas on the drive across Rawdon Island, we crossed over the narrow bridge to Little Rawdon Island ( which always reminds me of something out of Huckleberry Finn!!) to be greeted by water like glass down below. It is always so tranquil up here; a step back into quieter days.

We split into two groups with Greg leading his 13 paddlers on a 10.3km trip down to Rawdon Creek, up to Junction Rd. & return around the island. They were fortunate to spot a sea eagle on their paddle.

Bill, Stephen & I circumnavigated Rawdon Island which was approx. 15 kms. We had the tide against us to start with, then with us after we crossed through Narrow Gut into the main river & then against us on the final run back up to Little Rawdon Island. This is not a part of the river we paddle often & on a morning like we had it was a great feeling to be on a wide section in perfect conditions with views up to the hills. We had the water to ourselves most of the time ( we came across one other lone paddler who had put in at Rocks Ferry) & enjoyed the reflections of trees on the opposite bank. The sunlight illuminated the wattle flowers & new leaves. The only sounds up here were the birds & the rhythmic splash of our paddles on the water. In conditions like these, you feel like you are gliding across the surface of the water. As we did not want to damage our hulls, we elected to get out & walk our kayaks through Narrow Gut which was just that bit too shallow to negotiate. Once back in the main river we enjoyed we enjoyed the assistance of the run out tide down to the Rawdon Island bridge. After negotiating the rocks under the bridge we were met head on by a brisk North Easterly wind which was in our faces until we completed the long strait down towards the new highway bridge. As we veered left the hills in the distance were shrouded in a light ( smoke ) haze & looked quite mysterious.

We paddled back up the last stretch & arrived back just as the last boat from the other group was being carried up. Thanks Mal for giving us a hand with ours.

After loading up we adjourned to Sancrox Reserve for a picnic lunch.

Hope everyone enjoyed their paddle.
Thanks to our leaders, Greg & Bill.

Cheers
Caroline     

                   

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Saltwater Creek at South West Rocks


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Hi everyone,
Well, although last Sunday’s paddle was probably the shortest paddle we have done, ( courtesy of a fallen tree which could not be navigated around ) It certainly rates up there with the most picturesque.

Saltwater Creek at South West Rocks meanders behind the sand dunes & up into a beautiful lagoon full of birdlife. Sadly we did not make it up to the lagoon being stopped just shy of it by a fallen tree. Despite this, & the shallow areas, this is a beautiful little paddle & well worth the effort.

The creek takes off from the beach below the surf club & is flanked by fabulous melaleucas, the shapes of which further upstream are amazing ( see photo of the one in front of German bridge ) . As we negotiated the shallows there was plenty of time to look at the vegetation & listen to the whispering of the tall grasses alongside the creek, a sound akin to the swishing of silk or taffeta. There were lovely glimpses up the creek to a hill in the foreground in Arakoon NP, & a pristine white heron posed atop a casuarina for us.

South West Rocks, traditional country of the Dunghutti people, is best known for Trial Bay Jail, the heritage listed former public works prison. Construction of the prison, which overlooks Trail Bay, commenced in 1886 when prisoners were brought to the area to construct a breakwall to make Trial Bay a safe harbour half way between Sydney & Brisbane. Work began on the breakwall in 1889, but progress on its construction was constantly hampered over many years by being washed away during storms etc. Due to a range of issues, the breakwall was never completed & the project was abandoned in 1903. However,  the jail’s  history had only just begun.

During World War 1 the jail was used as an internment camp for local German residents who were suspected of conspiring with the enemy. These were said to be Germans of ‘social standing’, professionals, German naval officers & other ‘elite’ German residents. It was the only internment camp to house internees from overseas as germans from British Commonwealth countries in the Pacific & South East Asia were also interned at Trail Bay Jail. Quite a community sprang up in the jail which seems to have had had an active social/artistic scene including a gourmet restaurant ( the Duck Coup ) & a more bohemian ‘hang out’ on the beach referred to as The Artists Den.

The bay immediately below the jail became known as Trial Bay after the brig “Trial” which was wrecked there in 1816. The brig had been hijacked by convicts in Port Jackson who, in a bid for freedom, forced the crew to sail north.

Thanks Leon for organising this paddle which attracted 18 members.

Even though it was short & sweet, the beautiful surroundings made me appreciate how lucky we are during this pandemic to be able to escape to areas like this so close to home.

Cheers
Caroline

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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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