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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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Hacks Ferry


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Hi everyone,

Last Sunday 15 of us enjoyed a lovely paddle from Hacks Ferry.
With the Torrens Anabranch blocked by fallen timber, our paddle took us up the Maria River & back via the Maria Anabranch which runs between Torrens & Fenton Islands. Five of us enjoyed a pleasant deviation into Cooperabung Creek which is a little gem…very picturesque with beautiful tall trees towering over the relatively narrow creek. We were treated with a beautiful bracket of pencil orchids hanging down just before the railway bridge.

This part of the Maria River is winding & meditative, flanked by tall timber & apart from us, no boats to be seen. We rejoined the remainder of the group at ‘hillbilly corner’ for the return paddle down the Maria Anabranch which was also beautiful paddling. We were also fortunate to spot two majestic white bellied sea eagles along the way & several azure kingfishers, always a spectacular sight.

A bit of history:
Abraham Fenton arrived in NSW with the 48th regiment in 1818 on the convict ship MINERVA. He was employed as assistant surgeon under the command of Captain Francis Allman. In 1820 he was appointed assistant surgeon at the penal settlement at Newcastle. While there, Fenton treated the dying indigenous chief Burragong ( alias King Jack ) who had been stabbed by a prisoner. Fenton treated him with great care in his own quarters until Burragong requested to return to his own people. Not long after, Burragong died & a John Kirby was found guilty of wilful murder.

Fenton stayed in Port Macquarie until about 1824 & died at Trichinopoly ( India, to the best of my knowledge ) on 20 May 1825. He attributed his own poor health, & that of the military personnel in the settlement to a lack of fresh provisions. Fenton Island & Fenton Passage ( Maria Anabranch ) are named after him.

The main paddle was 10.6 kms. Those of us who ventured up Cooperabung Creek did an extra 4kms approx. while Bill, who paddled up from Riverside & met us at Hacks did 15 kms.

After the paddle we enjoyed lunch in the sunshine at Hacks Ferry Reserve at Telegraph Point.

Thank you to Catherine for making her Elliott 480 kayak available for new & potential members to try out & to everyone who assisted people in & out of their kayaks on what was a slippery ramp.

Thanks Greg for organising the paddle.

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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Balyngara & Stony Creek


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Hi everyone,

Further to Leon’s report on the Balyngara & Stony Creek paddle, here are some photos & extra information. Sorry I am running late!!

Twelve of us put in at the old ramp on the private property on Little Rawdon Island. This paddle is like a package deal as it comes with a pleasant Sunday drive through the green farming land of Rawdon Island with its sprawling properties, sleek cattle & peaceful vistas.

Rawdon Island was named after Francis Rawdon Hastings, the 1st Marquis of Hastings. The locale is made up of two islands…Rawdon & Little Rawdon Islands. The communities once boasted 27 dairy farms, two churches, a school, community hall & a footy team! The beautiful buildings of the old school are now a heritage function house. We are always grateful to the Galloways for allowing us to use their property to access the river up here as a starting point for our paddle.

After launching we paddled to the right under Little Rawdon Island bridge which always makes me think of Huckleberry Finn with people sitting fishing, their legs dangling over the edge of this narrow, one way bridge. We then veered right into Munns Channel with Quetta Island on our left. At the end we crossed over the main river & into Balyngara Creek, a wide creek flanked by farming land & lovely trees, before veering left into Stony Creek. It was perfect weather & calm water with nice reflections. We have not done this paddle for quite sometime & it was great to become reacquainted.

When a small group of us got back to the junction with Balyngara, four of us decided to paddle down to the end of this creek exploring. The remainder elected to wait for the others to catch up & then head back, & this is where Leon’s story starts.

We paddled right down Balyngara & into Loggy Creek but were pulled up in our tracks quick smart by a fallen tree. Back on Balyngara we paddled down to the Pembroke Rd. bridge. The spot where we used to have a cuppa now has a ‘pop up’ bush camp ( a bit ‘deliverance’ looking ) which I don’t think is quite legal as this area is Cairncross  State Forest. Our paddle back was uneventful & we enjoyed the peace & quiet & feeling of remoteness in this part of the river.
After making contact with the rest of the group by phone when we got back, we enjoyed a quiet lunch before helping the ‘wanderers’ back up with their kayaks.

Cheers
Caroline

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