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Little Rawdon Island


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Hi everyone,
Attached are some photos from Leon’s paddle around Little Rawdon Island on January 30.
We had perfect conditions after what was a foggy outlook up the Hastings from our place at Riverside; a real pea soup feel to it!!
The ramp at McMillan Drive is so much easier to navigate now & we ( 15 of us ) set off heading up river with some lovely views across the wide expanse of water to the distant hills. The highlight of the day for me from the photographic point of view were some of the cloud reflections further up closer to Little Rawdon Island. 
Along the way there were some pleasant rural scenes with a farmhouse on a gentle slope overlooking the river, a rustic lean to and a more ‘shabby chic’ riverside shack, all with views just perfect for quiet contemplation. One thing I enjoy about paddling up this section of the river is the comparative lack of motorised vessels.
A few elected to have a quick leg stretch at the old ramp on Galloway’s property on Little Rawdon Island before heading back to Blackmans Point.
It was a lovely paddle; thanks Leon for leading.
Cheers
Caroline

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Yarrahappinni Wetlands


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Twelve of us enjoyed perfect conditions for our paddle last Sunday in the Yarrahapinni Wetlands which are a part of what is collectively known as the Clybucca Historic Site. In October 2015 a group of eight of us joined over 50 paddlers connected with the Save Our Macleay River organisation on a guided tour by the National Parks & Wildlife of these rehabilitated wetlands. I noticed some real changes on Sunday, particularly with the growth and spread of mangroves and the presence of birdlife.


In an attempt to secure good grazing land, this beautiful, timeless area had was drained in the 1970’s. Instead of good land, acid sulphate soils and ‘black water’ poisoned the land and waters downstream (hence the graveyard of trees). After a long process of negotiation by the Yarrahapini Wetlands Reserve Trust, and later the National Parks & Wildlife Service, tidal re-inundation began in 2008 with the creation of an opening in the levee. The tidal flow of saltwater resulted in an immediate reduction in the acid sulphate soils.


***As many of you are aware, Lake Innes suffered from human intervention also. This lake was originally a separate freshwater system, the largest in NSW. In 1933 a drain was excavated to connect the lake with Cathie Creek. This drain subsequently widened and deepened under flood and tidal flows, causing the lake to convert to an estuarine system. The introduction of saline water and tidal variations resulted in extensive biological changes to the biology of the lake, including loss of most of the fresh water habitat. It is now an established estuarine system (Port Macquarie Hastings Council fact sheet).


The Clybucca Historic Site comprises three separate areas totalling 459 hectares. Adjacent to the wetlands is the Golden Hole, a site of national significance registered on the National Estate. It is also referred to as The Clybucca-Stuarts Point midden complex. (Middens basically consist of domestic refuse such as bone and shells etc). It is the largest estuarine midden in the temperate area of Australia and runs almost continuously for 14 kms. The site was an important meeting and sharing place for the GUMBAYNGGIR and DUNGHUTTI nations, a rich source of food and part of a mythological and spiritual landscape with strong cultural significance to the present day Aboriginal people of the mid north coast (NPWS Plan of Management (Clybucca Historic Site). The natural heritage values of the Clybucca Historic Site include littoral rainforest communities, coastal wetlands and estuarine environments. These are estimated to support 135 species of plants and provide habitat for a diversity of fauna species.
Archaeologists have dated Aboriginal occupation of this site at approx.. 4000 years. Research into sea level changes suggest that at the time the midden was occupied, the entire Macleay floodplain was under water and the sea level was 2m higher. The subsequent fall in sea level created the existing coastline and estuaries.


At least 75% of the midden complex still remains and well over 50%, including most of the largest and best preserved mounds, are within the historic site. These middens were generally not used for limekilns, road base or landfill as were many in Limeburners Creek and the Port Macquarie area. The disturbing of some middens by earthworks, well sinking, road cutting and other damaging actions prompted the NPWS to request an archaeological report which concluded that the site was of archaeological significance; this led to its subsequent reservation. (NPWS Plan of Management).


Stephen led us through the opening in the levee, guarded by a group of pelicans. Care needs to be taken as oyster shell encrusted rocks lie dangerously close to the surface as you go through the levee into the ‘Broad-water’ which is the main area where the regeneration of mangroves and fish habitats is most obvious. The wide bay area is flanked by large trees on the side closest to the Golden Hole and there are lovely views to the distant hills. The most striking features are still the outcrops of dead trees that line the banks and form clusters along the way. It was encouraging to see the growth of the mangroves and I spotted three stag ferns, their green leaves standing out against the dull grey of the dead tree trunks. We saw pelicans, osprey, sea eagles, a brahminy kite, ibis, egrets, white faced heron, ducks and a few species I could not identify. The wetlands were full of life: osprey were ferrying large sticks to refurbish their nest ( see photo with the resident keeping an eye on us), birds were fishing and pelicans were preening. It was so uplifiting to see this beautiful area coming back to life and to share it with club members.


Thanks Greg for leading this trip and Stephen for putting up markers so we did not get lost (which can easily happen in here!!). We meandered around happily for nearly 2 hours being careful to stick together and avoiding dead stumps just below the surface  Bill and Colin enjoyed their longer paddle around Cockle Island and arrived back the same time we did.


Caroline                                   

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Sancrox to Sarahs & King Creek


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 Hi everyone,


Well we had a full contingent for last Sunday’s paddle from Sancrox upriver to Sarahs & King Creek. It was a lovely morning weather wise & thanks to Di’s friends Keith & Liz Charles for allowing us to launch from their property. It is a beautiful spot just before the Rawdon Island Bridge ( coming from Port ) which they had kindly slashed for us. We welcomed Bruce & Lynne back to Sunday paddles & new members Grant, Steve & Kevin ( & Kevin’s daughter Natasha who was visiting).


Due to the numbers, we split into two groups with Stephen & Greg as leaders. At various times when I was taking pictures along the way, the kayaks looked like an Armada advancing up the river. As the tide was low, we got  excellent close ups of where the treacherous rocks are situated under the bridge & up near Narrow Gut. It was pleasant paddling up around the islands before linking up with the main river again, but we did not get far up Sarahs Creek  due to a fallen tree. A few of us paddled on to King Creek & had better luck but did not paddle all the way up. We crossed paths with the second group on the return trip & all made our way back down to Sancrox. Lunch was back at the launch point overlooking the delightful little ‘Monet’ lilypond.


Sancrox is approximately 12 kms west of Port Macquarie. Records from the Mid North Coast Library revealed that surveys of land around Port started in the 1830’s with a view towards opening up land for free settlers.
The survey here commenced in this area in 1831 & the starting point was the south west corner of the township named Hay ( named after Colonial Under-Secretary Robert William Hay ). It was known as Portion 1. There was a plan for a town but it never eventuated & for generations the area was referred to as Haytown or Haytown Reserve. By the end of the 1800’s there was a timber mill, a wharf & a punt across the river to Rawdon Island. The river at the time was impassable past this point for shipping due to a reef of rocks ( the remnants of which you see at low tide ). The area was, in the beginning, variously called St. Croix, St. Rocks & San Roch ( the latter meaning ‘saint on a sunken rock’) & was the site of a government farm run by a Frenchman. The name Sancrox survived all others, possibly as a misuse of the word San Roch, & was gazetted as such when timber mill workers cottages stood thereabouts. Eventually, the rocks were blasted through, the river dredged & from 1835 onwards ships were able to travel up as far as where Bain Bridge now spans the river.


Sarahs Creek flows from Cowarra Forest & is named after Sarah Allman ( wife of Captain Francis Allman, Commandant & Magistrate of Port Macquarie ) & her first child. Sarahs Creek Bridge was built in 1886 & is purportedly named after one Sarah Suters, wife of local farmer James Suters. 


Thanks to everyone who turned out to support this paddle & to Stephen & Greg for leading.


Hope everyone enjoyed their morning on the water

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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