Christmas holidays day 1

After a mind numbingly busy year that finished with managing 7 seven major events in four weeks, my long awaited holiday has finally began with a stay at my brother in laws’ shack near Narooma. I woke before dawn eager to get the day started. Sleeping in, sitting still and being idle is great, but I have to ease myself into it.

Today started with my favourite walk, from the shack to Brices Wharf via the Scenic Drive, about 3 kilometres one way, Paul left early to fish at the warf and I arrived intime for a lift home for breakfast.                                                               The light rain overnight left the bush smelling fragrant, its a shame that we aren’t able to record smells to share online. After breakfast we drove to Horse Island on the Tuross River for an a paddle.

I love to follow this little creek into the hidden inner lake, it’s s so narrow and shallow, its great that power boats aren’t able to navigate their way in.

I had been intrigued by this sign on previous paddles, wondering about who had naked it in the treee and what it once said.  I had assumed that the message had long gone. It was only when I enlarged the photo I realised that it was an epitaph to a cherished mate. There is definitely a story waiting to be told.

The birding on this section of the Tuross is alway good I managed to tick 24 species.

Welcome Swallow chicks

Sunshine and a Beach Stone – Curlew

Winter break and a chance to get some new ticks.

The challenge on this trip is to set aside an hour or two each day to catch up on work emails and keep the wheels of my part of the industry turning. It’s early days but I have say that it seems to be working quite well.

Today was probably the best day birding that I have had, if not all time then in my most recent memory.   I put the kayak in at Theodalite Creek just north of Woodgate, Queensland at around midday on an outgoing tide. It was a perfect day, for a paddle, no wind, about 23 degrees and sunny. I paddled to the northern side of the estuary and could hear quite a bit of activity coming from lantana scrub. Birds of note were, Red backed fairy wren, spangled drongo, rufous whistler, double barred finch. Then on my way back to the shore I noticed these two Bush Stone-curlew. A first for me.
Not my actual bird.. photo courtesy of Bryon Bay Birds


Time to get back on the road

I am writing this after my last morning paddle up the river at Sandon, we have been here now for 14 days and tomorrow we need to point the Dusty Campervan south to be home by next weekend.

Paddling, is like a narcotic, calming, sleep inducing and addictive. I have paddled up river for several klms every morning with the tide and against it. I am sure come tomorrow I will have withdrawal symptoms. 
My bird list for our stay has notched 68 species, with hours spent in the mangroves  trying to decide if the honeyeaters were white cheeked or white throated or both. Every bend of the river is dotted with whistling kite and sea eagle nests. There is also a large nest in the Norfolk Island Pine above our van and this has been our pre dawn alarm clock, a sound that will always remind me of our holiday here.

Shacks, the old beach shacks at Sandon have a charm all of their own. Their owners fought with the National Parks to retain possession and won the case. Although, they now must remain within the title holders family or relinquished. 
In the photo below I am returning from my daily ride to the rubbish bins.

Mr P is always on the look out for someone to have a chat with, here he is with Sandon local identity Bobby. 

Tomorrow we will drive south calling into Red Rock and Mylestrom on our way to Crowdy Bay NP. We have eaten fish every day for 2 weeks, I am thinking a pizza might be on tomorrow night’s menu.

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  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.