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Congo Camping Weekend

After a week of temperatures in the high 30s it was no wonder that we were joined by a steady stream of traffic down the Clyde on Friday afternoon. Our 5 o’clock departure meant that there were the usual number of idiots on the road, breaking their necks to get to the Bay in under 2 hours. Safely arrived at sea level it was a relief to smell the salt air again and and feel the sea breeze.

Over the next few trips we are going to paddle some of the lesser known waterways of the  south coast. This weekend our destination is Congo Creek, a small waterway accessed via South Head Road south of Moruya Heads. We camped at the very popular National Parks campground, and were lucky to get the last site on the foreshore.

The paddle up the creek from the beach takes about 50 minutes, with a few stops to look at the wide variety of bird-life. 36 species were counted for the weekend, with the highlight being a Lewin’s Honeyeater and a Spotted Pardalote, birds that I have not encountered in this area before. As well as a Lyrebird scuttling off the Kings Highway at the top of the Clyde on Sunday afternoon.

In February 2013 Congo Creek was the site of a large fish kill http://www.naroomanewsonline.com.au/story/1345208/fish-kill-at-congo-creek-due-to-low-oxygen-gallery/  The creek is on the way to recovering, with a few lucky fishermen (not us) bagging a nice flathead and bream.

On Saturday afternoon we were joined by a delightful couple from the UK driving a Bocklet Expedition Camper. They had driven overland through Europe to Asia via Pakestan and down through Indonesia via Timor Leste to Darwin. There was a gathering of campervan nuts like me queueing for a peek inside and to hear their stories.

The Bocklet was a late arrival and had to park at the boat ramp on Congo Creek.
Congo Creek Mouth

Fairy Terns on the beach at the mouth of the creek
Mr P trying his luck with lures

Australia Day Long Weekend Road Trip

Australia Day marks the end of the Christmas holiday season on the South Coast of NSW. This now means that all our favourite weekend haunts are not so busy. After an afternoon fish at Preddys Wharf at Moruya we drove down to Potato Point and parked at our favourite picnic area and toilet block. We didn’t want to attempt the road in the the National Park during the storm and in the dark. Dusty does not have great  undercarriage clearance, the low hanging water tank takes a bit of a pizzling on dirt tracks. After a top up with water and and a dash to the loo we set off to find the spot Mr P had located a few weeks earlier. This area is a maze of tracks and after a couple of wrong turns we found the spot in time for breakfast on the lake and what a view.

Saturday morning paddle to Borang Lake

I had hoped to photograph the 2 Little Eagles that I had spotted last weekend, so loaded the camera and tripod and set off after breakfast. Given the windy conditions, this was going to be a challenge. Midway down the creek past Horse Island the wind picked up from the south, I made good time with the tide in my favour reaching Borang in 1 hour and fifteen minutes. The paddle back was fine until I was  back in the open lake. My little boat had taken in quite a bit of water by the time I reached camp on the southern side of the lake. Round trip time 4.5 hours of paddling, I was shagged and no Little Eagles.

Sunday Morning and the north easterly was up early again, so we decided  to drive over to Coopers Island and explore that part of the river system. We have often given these bucolic dairy farming areas a wide berth because of the flies, but with the breeze today they weren’t too bad. It was a beautiful paddle downstream in to Trunkatebella Lake and upstream towards Tuross.
We decided to explore the camping possibilities along the river near the bridge on the drive south to Bodalla. Given that it was Australia Day proper, there were lots of Aussies, water skiing, jet skiing and sitting in plastic wading pools eating sausage sangers  so we opted for a quiet spot down stream of the bridge. We had the area to ourselves, probably because this part of the river does not have deep water access. A great spot for some more fishing and exploring of the river.

Fishing and birding

The windy conditions didn’t help, but we managed to eat fish each day with a nice bream to bring home. On the birding front I spotted 45 species, with this one seen on the shore of the lake closer to the beach, I think it’s a Black Fronted Dotterall and other suggestions?

Tuross River kayak trip

My hectic work schedule and the thermometer hitting 40 for the last 3 days, had me feling rattey and  in much need of an escape to the coast. Mr P had discovered some excellent kayaking spots along the Tuross River on his last 2 solo trips and was keen to show off the fishing and bird life in the area.

We arrived in the early Thursday afternoon, I was still not sparking on all cylinders and decided to veg out and tackle a longer paddle around Horse Iisland after a good nights sleep. This is such a pristine waterway.

Friday morning and I set off in a thick fog for a paddle around Horse Island, I always feel a bit nervous paddling with my camera gear, even in dry bags. My lenses are great only if you get up reasonably close to the subject. This Willy Wagtail was very obliging and didn’t seem to mind me hanging around it’s nest trying to get a good shot.
The paddle around Horse Island (named, we think because it is shaped like a horse) takes around 1 hour not counting stops for birding, I managed it in about 2 hours. I was battling the tide and a strong north easterly breeze on my way back to the camp site.
Sunday morning we were both on the water by 7am, Mr P off to his fishing spot and I went further down river to Borang Island. I never knew that this lake existed, lots of birds in this quiet backwater surrounded by now defunct dairy farms. The trip  took around 2 and a half hours, in that time the fisherman had been busy, wcatching this stud 70cm flathead. 

Christmas Roadtrip

Our early departure from Canberra on Friday meant we missed the majority of the traffic, exiting for the coast. After a shortstop at Surf Beach to drop the Christmas goodies into the family’s freezer for safe keeping we headed down to Tuross. The plan being 2 nights camping before taking up a holiday house at Tomakin with friends and some of the kids.

After a sleepless night I decided to ride over the the chemist for some pain killers, this was going to be the only way I would be able to get back in the kayak any time soon. The holiday making hoardes are yet to arrive and we have had he place pretty much to ourselves, no paddling for the next few days. On to Narooma and as the fish are not biting I walked over to the great little fish shop at the bridge for the makings of the seafood paella.
Sunday morning and back up to Broulee to collect the house key, this is the second visit to this beach house for Christmas. It is a great spot, right on the beach with amazing views down the coast. No road trips this week as Dusty has been converted into an extra bedroom. The days quickly meld into one another, swimming, eating, paddling, walking, cycling and drinking. Not necessarily in that order. 
While we have been idling away in a quiet little backwater, the south coast’s population has quadrupled. We have headed back down the coast to Corunna Lake and Bermagui for the last few days, of our holiday. Last night we went to sleep watching the prawner’s lamps twinkling around the edge of the lake. It was a full house this morning with 7 campervans lined up along the foreshore.

Days end – Mystery Bay

Red Necks at Tuross

That was the sales pitch used by real estate agents in the 60’s and Tuross Heads is still a gem of a spot and our destination for the 2nd road trip of Summer. A later start from Canberra saw us at the Rustic Pizza again for our pickup at 6:50pm.

There are camps that are just too good to share, some of you may be able to guess the location of this one.

Great overnight camp

 

The reason why we were up so early.

 

Perfect paddling conditions

Tuross Lake is the breeding site of several endangered bird species. Before the king tides and heavy swells of the last 2 days there were 70  Fairy Terns and Little Terns nests on the  sand spit at the lake entrance. By Sunday morning these were reduced significantly. Hopefully it is still early enough in the season for these birds to lay more eggs.

Another endangered species Sooty Oystercatcher

Both Sooty and Pied Oystercatchers were observed either with chicks or sitting on eggs.

These Red Necked Stints breed in the Arctic and make the long distance flight to Tuross to escape the Northern Winter. Another species at risk.
These Hooded Plovers put on a great decoy display, that involved Mrs Plover running around pretending to have a broken leg. Thankfully she finally settled down and went back to nest sitting all under Mr Plover’s watchful eye.
Frank (20months) and his dad out collecting drift oysters, love the raft!
This is a popular spot for kayaking, the locals have cleverly dredged a channel from the beach the deeper part of the lake, all under the guise of digging for oysters.

Our first roadtrip for Summer

Destination Preddys Wharf.

An early start meant that I was able to get away from work by 3pm. The Friday afternoon traffic down the Clyde was orderly, probably the increased police presence helped. A wet road, down a mountain needs  a bit of respect.  At least 3 drivers were having a bad start to their weekend.

A stop in Moruya, for bait and a wood fired pizza, at a new place I had spotted on a previous trip. We opted for the Moruya River, great choice, just the right amount of anchovies. It was raining by the time we arrived at Preddys Wharf. So beer and pizza and wait for the rain to stop, in my case in bed early with my book.

Fish for lunch and diner, was the challenge and Mr P came up trumps. Shovel nose shark fillets and a nice pan size bream. Saturday morning and not a breath of wind, perfect  glassy conditions for my paddle up the Moruya River to the heads. Of note was a flock of 30 Little Terns, perched on the rocks.
After a trip to the Moruya markets and a stop in Broulee for the SMH, we headed to Tomakin, by now the sun was shining and we launched the kayaks and paddled up the Tomakin River. Mr P dropped a very nice bream, bigger than the earlier catch. I obligingly paddled back and collected the landing net from Dusty.
We decided to camp the night at Windsock Beach and try the beach for some salmon. No visible gutters along the beach and a large school of dolphins meant that the beach was not going to be fishing today. Fortunately there is always birding.

 

Noisy Friar Birds

Capital Weekend

It was decided to have a weekend close to home, so no long road trip, just a couple of outings in between cleaning up my patch in the garden and catching up with friends.

On my drive to work, I often pass birders setting off for an early morning walk through Callum Brae Nature Reserve. The lucky buggers!  So, Saturday morning and I was up at sparrows. There were already a couple of cars parked, at the gate on Mugga Lane when I arrived at 6:00. The circuit of the reserve took about 90 minutes. This is definitely the best time of day, and no snakes.

Birds of note were, Black faced cuckoo-shrike, Wedge Tail Eagle, Straited Thorn-bills nesting, Rufous Whistler and Buff Rumped Thorn-bill. 17 species all up, that I could confidently identify. 
Sunday morning, we finished off the last of the cleanup of spent annuals in the front garden. Time to pack a picnic lunch, load the kayaks onto the trailer and head the 20 minutes down the road south to Tharwa Village on the edge of the Namadgi National Park.

 We are so lucky to have this great area on our doorstep, our destination today was the Tharwa Sandwash and the Gigerline Nature Reserve. We have walked this area a few times, but this was our first paddle in the Murrumbidgee River.

The Sandwash parking area has nice shade trees, with picnic tables. There is easy carry to the river for the kayaks via a  rock stairway. A group had been camping overnight in swags. Fishing is not permitted, I didn’t see any No Camping signs.

We headed up stream towards Angle Crossing. There were plenty of birds visible along the banks, of special note was a Black fronted Dotterel, all on its lonesome and 2 Little Corellas.

Mr P hoisted his sail, and copped some heckling from the campers. He  made good time up stream with the wind. This is still very much a work in progress, so no photos yet. We decided that we needed to adapt a fly proof eating area, before our trip in May. Another use for my large roll of camouflage netting.  
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