Skip to content

Kayaking the South Coast – Part 1.

July 9, 2011

The South Coast was calling me again….

Go back to Thursday 30th June, and I had less than 2 weeks left until I started my new job and the school holidays had just began. Perfect timing to grab the kids and drive down to that tranquil waterway called Sussex Inlet.

It was here at Easter some 10 weeks ago that I had decided to embrace kayaking more enthusiastically – and committed to doing the Hawkesbury Classic. Since that time – my kayaking has evolved considerably – not just in my range of experiences, but also in my power & endurance. We arrived late on a Thursday night, pottered around on the Friday and I was blessed with a gorgeous sunny day on the Saturday. There was very little to no wind and a crispy sun.

Day One

I took off from my usual location – which is about a 2 minute walk from our house.

01 Jetty

This is the Jetty where I always launch from...

Once I cleared the weeds – I turned right to head down the Inlet towards the infamous sandbar where the Inlet meets the sea. If I had turned left – I am only a few minutes from the mouth of the St George’s Basin. I wanted to measure the distance and take some photos on the first leg. I also hadn’t paddled for a whole week and felt a bit stiff.

For the first 15 minutes I just soaked up my surroundings….

02 up the inlet

More of this weather please….

….then I thought about what I would do for the week I was here. If this weather holds out a few days (and the forecast said it would) then I planned on squeezing in a variety of kayak related activities. I had brought my fishing gear and was determined to find some early morning solitude on the water wetting a line. I had my video camera with me also – thought I’d rig that up so when I get a hook-up I could show my kids that I can in fact catch fish – not just buy them at the shop…*grin* I also figured we could spend a day picnicking by the side of the river – and I could get Eily to video tape me attempting to roll, and performing a self-rescue. Throw in a few training paddles of good distance and this would be a very productive week away !!

As I paddled up past the boat hire shed and RSL club, I found myself looking across the water to that imposing homestead that always captured my imagination. It was one of the first homes to be built on the Inlet and today I think it’s a fancy bed & breakfast. It really is a wonderful looking place out here amongst the trees….

03 Homestead

If I win lotto - I’ll retire into something like this…. 🙂

There was a fishing competition on this weekend. The Bream Classic or some such event. Surprisingly there weren’t as many boats in the Inlet as I expected. Seems they all went either outside or up in the Basin. I reckon the biggest bream will be lurking in the Quays. Deep cool channels of water with all the “expensive” houses backing onto them – plenty of food and shelter. Might try that out when I go fishing….and teach the pro’s a thing or two 😉

04 up the inlet 2

Just one fishing boat in the distance and plenty of water to push through…

05 sand slide

The sand hill the kids and I have slid down in Summer

055 shallows

Further up the Inlet, another caravan park comes into view and you can see how the water goes from shallow to deep and back to shallow again. I love gliding over the water in a kayak down here – because I can sneak up on all the fish. I am constantly distracted by all the darting and scattering of fish as I glide overhead – and sometimes a monster will tease me with a flash of silver before flicking his tail and instantly disappearing.

06 sandbank

I paddled right up to the mouth that feeds the Inlet from the ocean. This is a notorious sandbank which has claimed a few fishing boats over the years. The sand constantly shifts with the tides and while there is generally always a channel to navigate through – it’s rarely in the same place and depending on how rough the water is outside, will determine how tricky the exit and re-entry will be.

 

It was in this lovely rich aqua coloured water, freshly flowing in from the sea, that Mother Nature blessed me with a special visit by the largest stingray I have ever seen. I have often spotted the distinctive shape of a stingray against a sandy floor – but this guy blew me away. He was a giant!!  Unfortunate, none of my photos do his size any justice.

07 stingray a

I tried to include the paddle to provide some scale – but the depth of water here gave it away.

09 stingray b

I remembered my camera was waterproof so I stuck my hand down and snapped away blindly.

08 stingray c

He was a few meters away here and in deeper water – but you can get a sense of his size.

I floated over him in fairly shallow water and his circumference was so large that I could see a generous portion of his wings on either side of my kayak – he was at least as wide as my paddle shaft was long and his tail trailed at about half the length of my boat. I tried to take his photo but he started moving faster once he figured out I was following him. I also couldn’t turn as quickly as he could, because I had to drop my paddle every time I aimed the camera. We kept each other intrigued for a good 15 mins and then I thought it best to leave him in peace – less he whip his tail up through the floor of yak and spear me in my butt !!

 

I put the camera away and decided I need to burn some calories on the way home and as I was about to power into it – on a small raised sandbar – I was treated to another special visit. Sussex Inlet is well-known for its Pelican population – but here I was treated to a congregation of 6 huge pelicans all huddled together basking in the sun. I couldn’t help myself and paddled over to say hi.

10 pelican a

Look this way, stand still & smile for the camera !!

11 pelican b

OK – maybe not – see ya next time…

I paddled hard the distance home – all 6 km (it’s a 12km round trip) and it felt good. The wind did pick up on the Wednesday & Thursday – as you might recall the winds were ferocious across the State. I managed to squeeze in two more 12 km training paddles before that happened, so was pretty pleased with that effort.

12 basin

The mouth to the St Georges Basin.

As I arrived back at my launching spot – I detoured up to the mouth of the Basin to sneak a quick peek at that magnificent expanse of water and snap a quick picture.

The rest of the trip was very eventful – I took a paddle up the scenic Berrara River, had my wife video tape me attempting to roll and snuck in a morning of stealth fishing from my yak. I’ll write part 2 of my Blog this weekend and get it up asap. There are some good pictures and a video or two which I’m sure you will enjoy !!

Advertisements
One Comment leave one →
  1. July 9, 2011 5:30 am

    Look stunning Mikey, what a great place to spend a week away at. Cheers – FP

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: