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Herons Creek off Queens Lake


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Hi everyone,


Well my computer is back on deck after some ‘long service leave’, but has handed in its notice re imminent retirement!!


I am running behind with trip results, but will catch up asap.


We had another lovely paddle on Sunday March 7 on Herons Creek, off Queens Lake. We changed the scheduled paddle from Limeburners & Bobs Creeks due to the poor condition of the road into the Queens Lake Nature Reserve. Herons Creek never disappoints & this day was no exception. With 18 of us, we split into two groups. The first group, led by Bill W included Queensland travellers/visitors Mike, Christine & their paddling pooch Laddie, who hunkered down in the rear hatch of their double. This group paddled to the end of the creek –  16 kms return. The second group, led by Leon, paddled for about an hour or so across the lake and into Herons Creek before retracing their journey to the sailing club & adjourning to North Haven for lunch.


Queens Lake was calm for both crossings and Herons Creek was quiet & picturesque with that lovely sense of remoteness. Flanked on either side by towering trees, we caught glimpses of farms and houses, the vineyard and a few cleared stopping spots that looked fairly recent. It is a relaxing paddle with varied vegetation, rocky outcrops, vines, ferns, eye catching white tree trunks, reflections and vistas.


This area is the traditional land of the Birpai people. By 1822 the first Europeans in the Camden Haven area were soldiers guarding the southern entrance to Port Macquarie. By 1827 the area had been surveyed as part of a grant to the Australian Agricultural Company and by 1856 cedar was being exported through Camden Haven. Laurieton was originally known as the Village of Camden Haven. In 1872 Joseph Laurie and his two brothers moved to the area from Taree. He owned the rights to timber in the area and a timber mill ( near where the Fish Co-Op stands today ). In 1875 he became the first post master. By 1914 a new post office was built in Laurie Street and was called Laurieton by the Post Master General. In 1946 the official name change from the Village of Camden Haven to Laurieton was formalized. 


Other points of interest include  film producer Baz Luhrmann who was raised in Herons Creek township and attended school in Port Macquarie. In 1944 American entertainer Bob Hope was forced to land in the Camden Haven Inlet when his seaplane ( a Catalina Flying Boat ) experienced difficulties when returning from Guam. He and other entertainers had been touring the Pacific entertaining US troops serving in WW2. Hope and members of the group put on a show for the locals who had helped to dig the plane out of the sand spit The area is presided over by beautiful DOORAGAN (North Brother Mountain) and on a clear day the view over the Camden Haven district and its waterways is spectacular.


Thanks Leon and Bill for leading.


Cheers
Caroline         

                  

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Queens Lake Nature Reserve into Waterloo & Bobs Creeks


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Hi everyone,

Last Sunday, despite wind predictions, our paddle went ahead & 18 of us enjoyed a short but picturesque paddle from Queens Lake Nature Reserve into Waterloo & Bobs Creeks on the northern side of Queens Lake. Bill & I paddled a bit further up to Limeburners Creek which we feel deserves a separate paddle in the future.

The road into the picnic area/reserve was a bit bumpy & dusty, but it is always worth it as the views across the lake are glorious making it one of the best picnic spots around. Had a bit of a tight squeeze at one point with a Winnebago type camper coming out, but otherwise no dramas. We launched our kayaks at the little dirt ramp access into Waterloo Creek which is very pretty but short due to fallen timber making navigation impossible.

This is such a scenic area with expansive lake vistas & sweeping views across to Dooragan & Mooragan, aka North & Middle Brother mountains. The third ‘brother’, Booragan, is further south near Moorbank. Described as “off the beaten track” & a “lakeside haven for koalas & wildlife”, the Queens Lake Nature Reserve & State Conservation Area covers 2449ha & lies within the traditional country of the Birpai peoples. The surrounding forests are home to over 200 species of animals, lush vegetation, dense rainforest & some magnificent stands of old growth gums ( which you drive under on the way in ).
The parks comprising the State Conservation Area ( including Queens Lake Nature Reserve ) are underlain by a range of rock formations ( the little headlands on this side of the lake are quite rocky ) of sedimentary, igneous & metamorphic origin ( reminds of geography lessons at school !! ), some up to 350 million years old. They are substantially different from the relatively recent sand  environments protected by most other coastal parks in the region.. The southern end of the Nature Reserve drains into Waterloo, Bobs & Herons Creeks into Queens Lake which is part of the Camden Haven estuary. The northern end drains into Cowarra Creek which in turn flows into Lake Cathie. The Nature reserve’s minor creeks drain directly east of the Jolly Nose Escarpment & flow into the ephemeral coastal wetland system to Duchess Gully which reaches the ocean at Rainbow Beach. ( Information courtesy of the Queens Lake State Conservation Area Plan of Management ).

After a quick peek into Waterloo Creek we paddled around the edge of the lake & into Bobs Creek where we enjoyed a leisurely paddle, navigating the amazing underwater tree graveyard before being stopped again by fallen timber. The trees in the ‘graveyard’ lie just below the surface & have a soft yellow/green glow under the sun’s filtered rays. They lie menacingly & deceptively just underneath the surface at every imaginable angle, a potential trap for paddlers if you don’t get the water height in the creek just right!! Back out on the lake the main group kept paddling around the perimeter for awhile while Bill & I turned back & headed across to Limeburners Creek ( which can also be accessed from Stingray Creek if there is enough water ). This is a much wider creek with far less debris & worth checking out properly as another paddle. The views across to North Brother as you exit this creek are lovely.

After a relaxing, secluded lunch overlooking the lake, we all headed back out to the world of bitumen, highways & the saturation coverage about Trump & anything & everything to do with the US elections & COVID, both of  which are not ready to let us out of their clutches any time soon!!

Once again I say how lucky we are to live in this beautiful region & to be able to enjoy quiet, secluded interludes like this.

Thanks Peter for leading & to everyone who came along. We hope you enjoyed it.

Cheers
Caroline 

                                       

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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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