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Paddling South in the Sutherland Shire

June 29, 2011

PHOT0032 Last week on Wednesday I motivated myself to get down to the Lane Cover River and found myself reaching for a personal best in the distance stakes. I paddled out from my usual location (The Athletics Park on Mowbray Rd) and followed the 12km course that the LCRK’s paddle every Wednesday night. Instead of turning around at the Burns Bay Rd Bridge though – I kept paddling up past Hunters Hill and round the point of Woolwich to Clarkes Point Reserve – then turned and paddled back. It was an interesting paddle – I had 4 seasons in one day, and the whole way back I was going against the tide and had a pretty fierce wind around every corner. At least I dressed appropriately and can vouch for the waterproofing of my new paddle jacket  🙂

29-06-2011 1-41-48 PM

I reached the dock after 4 hours in the boat – of which 3hrs 40 minutes was constant paddling – and according to the Android I had completed 27km !!  The missing 20 minutes was me playing around with my new waterproof camera which I picked up on Ebay. I felt pretty tired and sore that afternoon and it got me thinking that this was exactly one quarter of the HCC. I still have 4 months of preparation and training – so I think I am well on my way to developing the stamina for this race in October – and that felt good !!

The following day was a rest day and then on Friday – I met up with Gray Thorn and he introduced me to the waterways he frequents in the Sutherland Shire.


Gray Thorn - sounds like an action hero movie star right?

It was a gorgeous sunny day and we took off at about 1pm from Audley in the national park. What a fabulous place to paddle the water was crystal clear and positively alive with fish !! Got me thinking I’d have to come back one day with a rod and a couple of beers. There was a rich luscious bush setting all around us and zero wind. The stillness of our surroundings left us feeling isolated. Perfect for an afternoon paddle.


You can see the long rocky reef lurking just beneath the surface...

We followed Hacking River all the way up to Gray’s Point (no relation) and as the water opened up, the horizon became  speckled with houses and we were reminded of the surrounding civilization.


Before we popped out at the end into Gymea Bay – there was a small river which broke off to the right and Gray said this was well worth the detour – particularly since it was high tide as normally its inaccessible when low. So we took the detour and again I was struck in awe with this narrow winding river. The water was teeming with baby fish in shoals of varying sizes. The embankments were heavily decorated with all manner of roots and burrows, reeds & river-stone, and the occasional petrified twisted tree branch off-set a typical lush Australian bush setting. Out the corner of my eye I was convinced I caught a platypus dart under my kayak and disappear into a mangrove system… it looked like a ball of feathers with 2 webbed feet kicking out from behind….it certainly wasn’t a fish or Cormorant.

We followed this for about 2 kilometers and reached the end which was a layered rocky terrace with a running waterfall. Absolutely stunning.


Gee - my new PFD looks a little bulky from the side 😉


We parked the kayaks and set about climbing the terrace and following the waterfall right up to the top.


It's a good thing I'm nimble and sure-footed like a cat 🙂

After about 30 minutes of scrambling around like Tarzan we head back to our boats – snapped a few final pictures and navigated back to the river mouth.


Gray - teaching me how to pose for photos...

Gray is a bit of an outdoors-man and constantly burning energy – so when he suggested we paddle around to the South West Arm Creek – I didn’t really appreciate what I was getting into. Let’s just say that it’s a decent distance and we also followed that all the way to the end, and of course, found another waterfall.


I love the colours set off by the sun here....

It was just after 3.30pm and I was thinking we had about an hour and half to get back before the sun disappeared and we were finding our way in the dark.


We set off back at a steady pace and it was a good workout !!  We didn’t stop this time and we estimated the entire trip was about 25km. So it was a nice way to back up from Wednesday’s paddle. It meant I got the recreational aspect and the training aspect nailed at the same time  🙂  I love multi-tasking !!

We loaded the boats at dusk and by the time we drove out of the national park – I needed headlights to stay on the road.


It was a great day paddling and I am looking forward to returning to this magnificent waterway.

Thanks Gray !!

One Comment leave one →
  1. June 29, 2011 5:53 am

    Top work Mick.

    Photos look sensational. Look forward to the video.

    Great way to spend a day

    Your suggestion about bringing the Fat Paddler crew paddling up to Winifred Falls for a sausage and fish breakfast is a brilliant idea & i’d be overjoyed to show off the Royal National Park & the SHIRE to more soon to be impressed converts.

    Imported Hobbit & Bold & the Beautiful Action man,
    Grayt Horn. 🙂

    P.S. remember the leg drive.

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