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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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‘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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Queens Lake Nature Reserve & State Conservation Area


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Last Sunday twelve of us paddled Bob’s Creek from the Queens Lake picnic area in the reserve adjacent to little Wellington Creek.

In what seems to be the new ‘norm’, our paddles are scheduled with the proviso…’smoke & bushfires permitting’!!.

Being on the water can give a false sense of reality of prevailing conditions, & this paddle was an example of this. While paddling up the creek was pleasant & seemingly benign, the whole area is tinderbox dry & the atmosphere has a highly combustible feel to it. The vegetation is parched & fragile looking with trees having shed foliage to survive. Fallen branches & crispy leaves crunch underfoot & the slopes down to the lake & the creek are covered in leaf litter. Many trees bear the black scars of previous burns.

Despite these observations, Bob’s creek was relaxing & scenic as it meandered along. Although the creekside ( & lakeside ) vegetation is dry, the vistas are lovely with towering trees & graceful natural landscaping. The light, as a result of the continuing smoke haze, had a faded & washed out feel to it, the colours not as vivid as on previous paddles. As you looked up into the canopy, many of the trees had large clusters of dead/dying leaves waiting to fall, while down below in the understorey the grasses & other plants were far from vibrant. Towards the end of the navigable section of the creek a large tree right across the creek brought this paddle to a halt. Also in this area, just below the surface & lying haphazardly, limbs akimbo, are huge fallen trees , reminiscent of giants felled in some ancient battle. It was like perusing a disturbed graveyard.

This area has an interesting back story.

The parks comprising the Queens Lake Nature Reserve & the Queens Lake State Conservation Area are relatively long & narrow, stretching approx. 12 kms from north to south & covering approx.. 2449 hectares. Official dedication of the Nature Reserve occurred in stages commencing in January 1999; the State Conservation Area was reserved in July 2003. Most of the parks within it were previously part of Queens Lake & the Burrawan & Cowarra State Forests. The parks lie within the traditional Country of the Birpai People The parks are underlain by a range of rock formations of sedimentary, igneous & metamorphic origin, some up to 350 million years old. The parks protect stands of several threatened ecological communities & the habitat of approx.. 170 species of native animals, including 19 threatened species.

Based on written accounts from the first half of the 19th century, the parks once supported a strong population of Aboriginal people, particularly in & around the shores of Queens Lake. Four Aboriginal sites are currently recorded in the parks & there are believed to be many more within the general area.
In the 1820’s lime was extracted from the area to support the construction of the penal colony in Port Macquarie. The parks also supported a timber industry for 170 years.

In 1818 John Oxley camped for a night somewhere near the current picnic area near the mouth of Waterloo Creek ( where we launch). The boat ramp at the creek’s outlet is one of the few remaining sites where the heritage of the early timber industry can still be seen. Oxley traversed the northern & western shores of the lake & described the construction & use of canoes & bark huts by the local Aboriginal people. He described hunting in bark canoes, one of which he stated was large enough to hold 9 men & resembled a boat. In 1844, botanist/explorer Clement Hodgkinson commented that Aboriginal people living in this part of the east coast had plenty of food, claiming ..”a few minutes fishing would provide enough food for the whole tribe” . No detailed descriptions of local indigenous peoples around the lake were published after Hodgkinson’s 1845 report. It is thought likely that the traditional lifestyles around the lake & adjoining forests were completely disrupted around 1870 when intensification of both settlement & the timber industry occurred. The lime burning industry also modified the landscape & it is believed likely that this contributed to the displacement of the Aboriginal community from culturally important & resource- rich sites.

Management of the parks today is undertaken in conjunction with the Bunyah & Birpai local Aboriginal land councils (Information derived from the Queens Lake Nature Reserve & State Conservation Area Draft Plan of Management) Hope the above information is of interest. I hope bushfires do not ravage this beautiful area over the next few dangerous months.

Thanks Peter for leading the 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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