mid north coast


The Anabranches: Lake Cathie

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Hi everyone,

Welcome back to some normality with the easing of restrictions on some outdoor activities/gatherings.

We had our first ‘regular’ weekend club paddle for some time last Sunday & it was great to catch up with members.

Greg led nine of us through the Anabranches while Leon led seven around Lake Cathie which is still full.

This is my first trip report for some months.

It was a lovely clear morning up at Hacks Ferry & the water was calm & high. We launched from the usual place & I could not help but notice the name on the moored sailing boat..’.Gulls & Buoys’ !! The last creative name I came across was at Hibbard…..’Passing Wind’!!!

Greg elected to start our paddle with the second anabranch which runs between Torrens & Fenton Islands, the one we usually return by. This turned out to be a good choice as when we got to the junction of the two & he did a quick reccy into the first anabranch, a tree had come down blocking the route. We then headed up to the Maria, turned left & paddled back out at its junction with the Wilson River. It was pleasant to paddle this wide, tree lined section again, particularly as it is a lovely contrast to the closed in, creek like atmosphere of the anabranches; best of both worlds. The reflections in the anabranch were beautiful, highlighted perfectly by the early morning sun hitting the trees & vegetation at just the right angles. This is such a beautiful paddle & there were few if any mozzies to distract us from the lovely environs. If you have not done this paddle, put it on your bucket list: quiet, secluded, calm & stunning.

The breeze had picked up a bit by the time we re entered the main river so we headed straight across & paddled back in the lee. We spotted the two Bills across the other side; they had done a longer paddle up the Maria.

Bearing in mind that we were on private property & that social distancing still applies, we loaded up & had a late morning tea up at Log Wharf Reserve at Telegraph Point which was a welcome change.

Thanks Greg & Leon for leading these paddles & we hope those who participated enjoyed them.


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Camden Haven River at Kendall

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Hi everyone,

It was great to see a roll up of 15 last Sunday for our paddle on the Camden Haven River at Kendall.

The glorious weather & the landscape from the ‘Poet’s Village’ up to Logans Crossing presented us with many metaphors such as water like glass & mirror image reflections.

It was simply a beautiful day to be out on the water enjoying the scenery.
We paddle here quite frequently so I thought I would share some of the area’s, &  Henry Kendall’s history.

Firstly, it is Birpai country. When European settlement commenced, Kendall was originally named Camden Heads & is one of seven villages that make up the Camden Haven District. It was re named Kendall in 1891 after the Australian poet Henry Kendall who lived in the area from 1875 until 1881 when he was the first Forest Inspector for New South Wales.

At the entrance to the village, just before the bridge, you are greeted by the Leaves of Kendall, a sculpture of three giant coloured gum leaves designed & constructed by Kendall resident Girikami Weissman. They depict a symbolic story of Kendall’s unique identity & association with timber. Each leaf is three & half metres high.

Henry Kendall ( 1839 – 1882 ) is described as an author & bush poet…the first Australian poet to draw his inspiration from the life, scenery & traditions of the country. He had a sad life as outlined in his entries in the Australian Dictionary of Biography (Vol.5, 1974 MUP), the Encyclopedia Britannica, Wikipedia & Aussie Towns.com.au.

Thomas Henry Kendall was born in 1839 at Yatte Yattah near Milton on the south coast of NSW. His father, who was a missionary & linguist, died when he was two years old. At 17 he went to sea for two years  & upon his return took up several jobs to try to help  support his mother, twin brother & two sisters. He was often in debt to friends & money lenders due to their extravagances & after marrying moved to Melbourne for a period of time where he tried journalism for a living & published ‘Leaves from an Australian Forest’. After becoming unemployed he became impoverished, had issues with alcohol & spent a period of  time in the Gladesville Hospital for the Insane. He suffered many personal hardships throughout his life, including the death of his first born child. In 1875 the Fagan family, who had befriended him in Gosford,  provided him with work in their timber business in the Camden Haven.  His health improved & in 1876 his wife & family re- joined him. In 1880 he published ‘Songs from the Mountains’ which was an outstanding success. In 1881 Henry Parkes ( ‘Father of Federation’) had him appointed Inspector of Forests in NSW, for which he was well suited given his understanding of native timbers. However, his health was such that he could not cope with the long rides in all weathers to inspect the timber reserves & he died from Phthisis ( pulmonary TB) in 1882. Several books of poems were published during his life & the Central Coast Poets Inc established the biennial Henry Kendall Poetry Award which is nationally recognised.
“Kendall was once regarded as the finest poet Australia had ever produced & he remains a true poet whose clarity & sweetness have not been excelled in the narrow lyrical field he made his own”. (Australian Dictionary of Biography) For anyone interested in reading about Kendall in more depth there is an excellent write up in  poetrylibrary.edu.au under the heading ‘The Poems of Henry Kendall’.

After our paddle we had lunch at the little park just over the bridge, & the photo I took of our group having lunch shows the tall timber that must have covered much of the area in Kendall’s time.

Thanks Leon for leading this paddle.


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Pipers Creek at Kundabung

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Nineteen of us turned out on January 5 for our scheduled paddle on Pipers Creek at Kundabung.

Rather than having the little reserve by the creek to ourselves ( as we are used to), we were greeted by a ramshackle ‘pop up ‘ shanty town clustered around the ramp!!

Our 19 kayaks added temporarily  to the congestion (although the colours did brighten the scene up a bit!!), but it did not take long for us to get on the water & start enjoying the peacefulness of the creek.

Once again, as on some previous paddles, the effects of the ongoing drought could be seen. Everything seemed a bit faded & drought weary, & where normally thick green vegetation abounded under the canopy, large areas were somewhat sparse & littered with fallen limbs & leaf litter. Even the usually tough lomandras are suffering & the only vivid green plants were the crina/swamp lilies which have the advantage of having their feet wet! The banks had a thick layer of fallen, dead leaves blanketing them & the vegetation had thinned out leaving large gaps. Despite this, Pipers Creek has not lost its mojo. A light haze, like delicate muslin, hung over the water lending a very atmospheric feel to the paddle. Fallen branches in the water provided picturesque landscaping features & the sunlight, when it broke through, shed a golden glow on the vegetation it illuminated. Best of all, the water was calm & beautiful.
We were able to paddle right to the furthermost accessible reaches of the creek this time, dodging the rocks lurking below in the more shallow sections. Likewise Smiths Creek where we went beyond the railway bridge until two giant fallen trees stopped us. Five of us paddled a few kms further down the main creek before heading back to the reserve.

After loading up we decided to have lunch in the grounds of the Kundabung Hall as things were too congested & noisy near the creek. We gathered in the shade & relaxed, noticing the lack of any grass/greenery, but at least we had some space!

Thanks everyone for coming & we hope you enjoyed this lovely paddle.


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Pelican Point Littoral Rainforest Reserve

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Twelve of us took part in our short paddle & stroll through the Pelican Point Littoral Rainforest Reserve.

It was just a short paddle across the Hastings from Settlement Point to the North Shore where we went past Coal Wharf Reserve before pulling up On the little sandy beach opposite Pelican Island.

The North Shore Progress Association has tidied up this area, built a shelter, erected seating & constructed a lovely fire pit ( for winter…if we ever have one!!). It is A lovely spot, much quieter & less crowded than Settlement Point Reserve.

While Bill guarded the kayaks, the rest of us set off on a lovely stroll through the rainforest area. Earlier in the week Bill had been over & checked out the condition of the track & left little markers along the way as parts of it are a bit overgrown. It is a pleasant walk, parts of it adjacent to the river & the canopy affords constant shade. There are some lovely trees in here & beautiful views of the river through the foliage. We walked right through to North Wall Rd. near the beach & view Gwen O’Dea’s memorial cairn tucked away in the bush out of the way of potential vandals. Gwen was awarded an OAM for her environmental work & her plaque states that she loved, protected, weeded & tended the little rainforest pocket. It was erected by her family & the Mid North Coast branch of the National Parks & Wildlife Association.

**Postscript: After Gwen died, Bill decided to at least carry on removing weeds etc from the little rainforest. Thankfully, Thor Asso, who at the time was senior environmental officer with the PMH Council, provided all the necessary gear. In recent years Landcare has taken over responsibility for the work.
Under our present climate conditions, if a fire was to destroy this little pocket of rainforest, it would never recover.

Littoral rainforests are generally closed foresst (70% covered), the structure & composition of which is strongly influenced by their proximity to the ocean (generally within 2 kms). Plant species, predominately rainforest & vines, maybe a major component of the canopy. They occur only along the coast  in small stands & comprise less than 1% of the total rainforest area of NSW. The sign at the North Wall Rd. entrance states that there are six pockets of this plant community along the Hastings coastline. Within it are 74 plant species including rainforest fruits which are an important source of food for seasonally migratory birds such as the white headed pigeon.

Back at the reserve we had a light snack while enjoying the river vista across to Settlement Point & Pelican Island. Our paddle back was not as laid back as a gusty wind had sprung up making conditions a bit challenging. We had planned to paddle around Pelican Island but as the gusts buffeted us around, most of us opted to cut through the mangroves into the back channel & calmer waters.
After loading boats etc most of us adjourned to The Point for coffee.
Thanks to those who participated. We hope you enjoyed it.

Caroline & Bill

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‘Mariaville’, Upper Maria River

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Before Christmas, Bill & I did a ‘reccy’ paddle up to the head of navigation on the Upper Maria River.

While many of us have, in the past, paddled up to the lovely deck where we enjoyed a cuppa & a stroll amongst the elk ferns, or a bit further up to ‘John Brown Flat’ ( named for when John Rennes  encountered a Brown snake on this piece of Flat land!!!), not many have paddled right to the end, including me.

It is remote & untamed up here, simultaneously beautiful, impenetrable & relatively inaccessible  as only wild areas are. However, the prolonged drought has left its mark on this pristine area, most noticeably  amongst the wonderful elk ferns, many of which are faded, wilted or dying in the tree tops. Even the normally luxuriant grasses along the river’s edge seem to be browning off.
The whole return paddle from Connection Creek ( approx.. 30 kms) took us about 4 hours with a break at John Brown Flat. When we reached the fork at the top we took the left hand side (the right was choked with fallen timber) which, many years ago, was the site of ‘Mariaville’, & the head of navigation for the early European settlers travelling to Kempsey & the Macleay region. These settlers travelled by way of water transport from Port Macquarie via the Hastings, Wilson & Maria Rivers to this spot. From here they continued on their journey by wagon along Rifle Rd. & Settlers Way ( which are still within the Maria River NP) into Kempsey. While ‘Mariaville’ was surveyed in 1872, no substantial township was ever constructed. Remains of what was believed to be a dwelling were found & recorded in the 1970’s.

A little bit of history for those interested.

The Maria River National Park ( through which the upper reaches of the river meanders) was created in January 1999 & covers 2385ha. It lies within the Hastings/Macleay Important Bird Area; most of the area was formerly part of the Maria River State Forest.

The Maria River rises on the eastern slopes located in the Kumbatine NP near Kundabung. It descends 132m over its 62km course. It was previously known as Maria River South Branch Scribbly Creek (NSW Government Geographical Names Board).

A detailed assessment of the upper one third of the Maria River was carried out to determine if it qualified for ‘wild river’ status. This status requires the river to remain in substantially unmodified geomorphic & hydrological condition & therefore of high conservation value. Sadly, despite meeting many of the required criteria  for such classification it was not recommended because this part of the river occurs in 5 different tenures. However, it still looks & feels like a ‘wild’ river up here.

The Maria River NP contains 11 significant vegetation species & 9 threatened animal species. Its natural value includes stands of red bloodwoods, tall grass trees & scribbly gums.

If anyone is interested in undertaking this paddle, please contact Bill to discuss tide requirements as water height is a critical factor due to several obstacles.

(Information from the Maria River NP Plan of Management)

Cheers Caroline

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