port macquarie


Farewell To A Local Legend

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Sixty one kayakers & forty five onlookers gathered at Settlement Point Reserve last Thursday morning to farewell local ‘legend’ Roger Price.

Roger passed away on December 28 aged 81. Born in Wales, he arrived in Australia when he was 16. Many locals will remember seeing him cycling around town, bushy beard flying in the breeze.

At 7am, as the sun broke through the smoke haze, the cicadas were singing up a storm, the surf was pounding in the distance & bubbles glinted on the water. From all directions, members of the Port Macquarie Hastings Canoe Club (PMHCC), family & friends assembled to participate in, & be a part of, a moving water tribute to Roger. Friends from across Roger’s past & recent areas of activity gathered on the water, or lined the shore, to witness the raised paddle salute & observe a minute’s silence in his honour.

Roger (& his partner Barbara) were foundation members of the PMHCC & Roger was vice president in 2010. The couple has also been involved & well respected in several paddling disciplines including white water, ocean & flat water.

Roger & Barbara moved from Balmain to Port Macquarie in 1993. They have been familiar figures around Port on their tandem bicycle which has taken them on some epic cycling adventures around the world covering many thousands of kms.

Roger’s solo adventures, & those he undertook with Barbara, read like something from an adventure book. They are something many of us at some point or another have dreamed of doing.

After the water ceremony, flowers were scattered & the colourful flotilla then paddled around Pelican Island, a paddle Roger had undertaken many times. At the conclusion of the paddle everyone gathered at Pipeworks  Café to share stories & memories of Roger & listen to anecdotes of his adventures & instances of his kindness & generosity of spirit.

Roger lived life to its fullest & touched many with his kindness, knowledge, warmth & friendship. He will be greatly missed by all who had the privilege of knowing him.


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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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PMHCC donates $1000 to local rural fire brigade

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On the 24th of December, 2019, the following story was published by Port Macquarie News. Click HERE to see the original article.

“Tis the season to be jolly”, but for our local Rural Fire Service (RFS) fire fighters the summer months stretching out before us will be nothing to laugh about.

Crews around New South Wales & other states have had an explosive start to the ‘bushfire season’. While many Australians are gearing up for Christmas & New Year parties & holidays, our ‘firies’ don’t have festivities front & centre on their minds. Instead of Santa suits, board shorts & thongs they will be donning fire fighting gear & remaining both alert & on call.

After months of fires & choking smoke blanketing the skies in & around Port Macquarie, the Port Macquarie Hastings Canoe Club (PMHCC) decided at its recent annual general meeting to make its 2019 charity donation to the North Shore Rural Fire Service. Some of the club’s most picturesque & popular paddles are within the ambit of this brigade’s territory & it is therefore akin to being the club’s ‘local’ or ‘home’ brigade.

On Monday December 16, PMHCC President Greg Donaldson & committee member Caroline Swan-Webber, presented Brigade Captain Kingsley Searle with a cheque for $1000 to assist with the purchase of vital equipment. Kingsley said items such as thermal imaging devices, 5 watt truck radios, Kestrel wind meters &blowers etc were all expensive items & the club’s donation would help the brigade with future purchases to enhance their firefighting capabilities.

The North Shore RFS station was built in 1993 mid way between the two settlements of North Shore & Riverside. The two settlements were linked by a bridge over Limeburners Creek in the 1980’s. The brigade’s area of responsibility ranges from the Hastings River to the Point Plomer Caravan Park, across to Riverside & includes Limeburners National Park which alone covers 9123 hectares. Kingsley, who has been with the brigade for 34 years, described the brigade’s territory as being “quite unique” & presenting many challenges for firefighting. He highlighted the area’s relative isolation, problems associated with  ferries during fires, including them being out of order for periods of time, the large tracts of coastal heath which were both challenging for access & volatile with a lot of tea tree vegetation.

The North Shore RFS has 50 members, 25 of whom are active fire fighters. It has three trucks & Kingsley said they have always managed to provide crews when needed. Kingsley likes to see the brigade within the context of a “community organisation” & said there are many ways people can help other than fighting fires. These include washing & cleaning the trucks after use, thereby giving tired’ firies’ a chance to have a break, general upkeep around the premises & the all important fund raising. He said that while the RFS provided the trucks, their running gear & maintenance, one uniform per fire fighter & other items, the rest was up to the local brigades, including food for those involved in fighting fires.

Speaking from a background of firefighting experiences garnered over three decades, Kingsley commented that the fire season has changed. He said it used to start late September, but was now starting closer to winter with fires around July. He observed that the nature of the fires had “escalated to another level” & that this year they were “re writing history”. He said it is so dry & that stressed trees were dropping masses of leaves creating a great amount of highly combustible leaf litter on the ground. Kingsley believes climate change is a reality. He said the 1960’s & 1970’s provided warning signals but that in 2020 it will be” here now, in our faces”.

The PMHCC is a not for profit sporting club engaged in recreational kayaking in the Hastings & surrounding districts. It holds monthly member charity raffles, the accumulated proceeds of which are matched by the club & donated to charities/community groups within the local area. For further information view the club’s website at www.portcanoeclub.com.au