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Rocks Ferry Wauchope & Queens Lake


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Hi everyone & welcome back!!

As Greg has already reported, last Sunday we had 30 paddlers split between four groups out enjoying the last beautiful day of Autumn on the water.
Three groups paddled from Rocks Ferry up at Wauchope while another group paddled on Queens Lake. Thank you to our leaders.

As I was amongst the groups launching from Rocks Ferry, my report & pictures are from up that way.

When we arrived a ghostly, low lying mist hung over the river & a trio of pelicans was practising social distancing just near the  bridge. As the sun broke through the mist lifted & the lush green farmland was soon bathed in light. Cows grazed quietly, pelicans glided gracefully & we set off in our small groups at staggered intervals, keeping our distance & enjoying being out on the water again as a club. Most groups went down to King Creek while a smaller group went up to Bain Bridge & a bit beyond.

Just a bit of background history on Rocks Ferry & Bain Bridge which includes an ‘Indignation’ Meeting & a ‘Smoke Ceremony’.

A ferry operated at Rocks Ferry from 1910 to 1983 when the Rocks Bridge was opened (Stoney Creek Rd.). Prior to the development of the present foreshore recreation reserve, sand & gravel reclamation work took place here. The ferry crossing was originally at ENNIS ( which is no longer in existence). Early settlers & travellers from Port Macquarie used a route by way of HAYTOWN (Sancrox), crossed the Hastings River at Rawdon Island & then crossed the river again at Narrow Gut near ENNIS which, in the 1880’s was a significant village. A wharf was built there to service a ferry which crossed the river near Narrow Gut carrying mail. There was much local conflict over the choice of the ferry location – the wharf at Ennis or at the Rocks. In 1902 an ‘Indignation’ Meeting was held to protest the decision by the Minister for Works to relocate the punt from Ennis at the Rocks, near the Butter Factory. It appears cost considerations weighed in heavily & the Minister had reversed his earlier decision to keep it at Ennis. Over time Ennis reverted to farmland & many of its buildings were removed to Wauchope & elsewhere. The ferry was relocated to Rocks & operated until the bridge opened.

Bain Bridge was named in memory of Duncan Bain, son of Alexander Bain, one of the earliest settlers in the Wauchope District. Locals nicknamed it the ‘Bridge of Sighs’ as it took 15 years of agitation, accidents & drownings before what was the first above water crossing of the Hastings was built.
Following the drowning in 1887 of Bain’s 13 year old son John at Camerons Falls crossing/ford ( then the major crossing point between Beechwood & Port Macquarie) a public meeting was held to discuss the proposal for the construction of a flood free bridge. After several years of talks & discussion on the condition of the ford, it was suggested that the ford be built up as an ‘experiment’. In 1891 the Beechwood Progress Committee used bullock teams & wagons to haul loads of sandstone blocks to the ford to shore it up (these blocks had previously been used as ballast by sailing ships then dumped up & down the banks of the Hastings). This ‘experiment’ only lasted until the next flood & another attempt, using saplings to indicate where it was safe to cross, also failed. Finally, in 1902 Bain & another delegate met with the Minister for Works in Sydney to lobby for a bridge. Upon their return a “Smoke Concert’ was held at Beechwood where the outcome of their meeting was discussed. (A smoke concert was a live performance, usually of music before an audience of men only!! They were very popular during the Victorian era. At these functions men could smoke & speak of politics while listening to live music). The Minister agreed to build the bridge ( the first over the Hastings River) as soon as funds became available ( nothing has changed has it!!). The bridge was officially opened on August 15, 1907. Sadly, Bain had died in June 1906 & did not get to see it completed. The ribbon was cut by a local woman from Koree Island who had nearly drowned while making the crossing at the old ford some years earlier. The bridge is 500m downstream of the old Camerons Falls Crossing A touch of notoriety came in 2001 when body parts in six plastic bags were discovered along the river between Bain Bridge & Rocks Ferry. They belonged to a convicted drug dealer who had been kidnapped by men posing as police officers while he was working on day release.

King Creek was named Kings River by John Oxley in 1818. It was named after his surveyor, a Mr. King. In 1836 Captain Robert Andrew Wauch ( he had been a Wauchope but dropped the ‘ope’ due to a family dispute) purchased 760 acres on King Creek. He named his property ‘Wauchope’ & it was on this property that the town developed.

Anyway, I hope you found that little bit of history interesting. Information courtesy of the  Hastings Municipal Library, ‘A Short History of Wauchope’ & ‘A Bridge called Bain And Other Stories’.

Hope everyone had a good day.

Cheers
Caroline

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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.

Cheers
Caroline

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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.

Cheers
Caroline

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Camden Haven River, Kendall


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After all the recent smoke, heat & winds, Sunday was a perfect day to be out paddling on the beautiful Camden Haven River at Kendall.

With everything still so parched, it was a pleasure to paddle the calm waters bathed in a light sprinkling of rain. The droplets looked lovely as they landed gently on the water. As we headed downstream it was hazy in the distance & views towards North Brother were smudged somewhat mysteriously against the sky. In the absence of the smell of smoke, this haziness was quite atmospheric.

This is always a calming & relaxing stretch of river, meandering as it does down towards the highway bridge, & everyone ( nine of us ) enjoyed the scenery & the pleasant conditions. (Another four paddled across Watson Taylor Lake from Dunbogan & caught up with us at the bridge).

I saw five Azure Kingfishers streaking along the banks, narrowly avoiding collisions with branches,  a swamp fowl preening at its own reflection & two fearsome looking ‘watch’ geese. As we hugged the right hand bank going down the strait towards Rossglen I spotted a grove of grassplants/trees just below the railway line. You have to be right alongside the bank to see them. They are amazing, growing straight out of the rocks on a slope!!

Back at Kendall we washed our boats & settled down under the verandah of the shed for lunch.

Thanks Stephen for leading the paddle & Bill for the longer one.

Cheers
Caroline

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Limeburners Creek to Saltwater Lake


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Hi everyone,

I am running a bit behind with trip reports, but will start with Limeburners Creek to Saltwater Lake which we paddled the day before Father’s Day. Hope all you dads had a pleasant Sunday.

Bill V, Stephen, Bill & myself enjoyed a great paddle which threw us a bit of a curved ball on the way back!!

While it is a long paddle, it is unique & I often wonder how  many ( or few ) Port Macquarie residents have enjoyed the experience of paddling through this beautiful & historical environment. In 1971 it was declared a nature reserve, the first on the NSW north coast. It was upgraded to national park status in 2010. It contains a number of threatened animals & important Aboriginal sites. The known period of occupation is 5 – 6000 years. Oyster farming in the early days was tough. Information revealed that sandstone rocks, which arrived in Port as ballast on sailing ships before they took on cargo & returned to Sydney, were placed on Ti-tree platforms at low tide to catch oyster spawn. When fully grown they were culled off ( 3 years ), placed in bags & shipped to Sydney.

We met at Tom Dick’s Hole on North Shore. Thomas Dick ( 1877 – 1927 ) was an oyster culturalist & amateur photographer. He was interested in nature & the history & culture of the local Biripi people. He produced a magnificent visual record of Aboriginal life in the Hastings. Collections of his glass plates & lantern slides are housed in Australian & British museums. Between 1910 & 1923 Dick took photos of re enacted scenes/staged projections depicting Aboriginal life. He had developed a close relationship with members of the local indigenous community & gained their confidence. He wanted to record their way of life before it was lost. Dick also wrote & published a paper on Aboriginal Shield manufacture in the Proceedings of the Royal Society of NSW. Sadly, his relationship with the local indigenous peoples was frowned upon by many in the local European community. The photographic legacy he left is well worth looking up.

We paddled across Shallow Bay & headed into the creek which at the start features shrubby mangroves on one side & saltgrass meadows on the other. With a baby blue sky stretched out above us we enjoyed  myriad shades of green vegetation including grasses & rushes, grey & river mangroves, casuarinas, melaleucas, eucalypts & clusters of elk & stag ferns. We paddled in & out of sunlight & shade listening to the chitter of birdsong & treated to the occasional flash of colour. From open stretches to narrow, tunnel like sections, landscaping features & fallen trees, the creek constantly changes. The closer to Saltwater Lake you get the more the trees thin out. We had a brief paddle onto the lake before returning to the old scout camp which, sadly, has been dismantled. All that remains is a stack of firewood, some stumps & the fish cleaning table. It was a sad sight as the only people who used it were canoeists like us & nature lovers. It was a welcome rest stop & we have many great memories ( & photos ) of the spot. Sometimes things don’t change for the better!

Conscious of the relationship between time & tide on this paddle, we had lunch & headed back, knowing we had to get over one solid tree trunk lurking not far below the surface. It had been a close encounter on the way down, but we were not so lucky on the return trip as there it was, totally out of the water in all its glory waiting for us!! The two Bill’s got around/over it in their plastic boats, but Stephen’s & my boats were another story! So, casting dignity aside, wishing I was more flexible & had better balance, I pulled up parallel to said trunk, dragged myself up onto it, crawled along it on hands & knees, turned myself around & crawled back into my relocated boat ( thanks Bill, Bill & Stephen) on the other side of the log. I was glad I was still in possession of the camera as the comments about what I had drunk at lunch were inevitable & photographic evidence of my log encounter would not have helped my case!! Stephen then scaled the same obstacle with much more finesse & we set off again with bits of bark etc hanging off us & the kayaks. Certainly livened up our day & added a bit of adventure to proceedings!! We re crossed Shallow Bay, which by this time was living up to its name, & paddled back to the start dodging the shallows. Bill & I got out at Tom Dick’s while Bill V & Stephen paddled back across to Settlement Point.

Thanks Bill & Stephen for sharing the day with us.
Cheers
Caroline

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