Rock and Roll kayak convention at Currarong Jervis Bay

Currarong Beach, practicing using bright red night flares.

The morning was cloudy with a 15 to 18 knot wind and a 1 to 1.5m swell. I had butterflies and I was a little anxious and excited.  I hadn’t paddled in my single boat with a big group for a long time. I needed to look brave and self assured so the trip leaders wouldn’t guess my anxiety.

Bindijine Beach launch preparation. Kayaks on the sand at high tide.

Bindijine Beach launch preparation.  Kayaks on the sand at high tide.

Rock and Roll is our NSW Sea Kayak’s annual club meeting.  This year it was at Currarong, Jervis Bay, which is a pretty coastal seaside resort village. The RnR committee members work hard to create an interesting itinerary with different trips and training to suit all skill levels. We are grade two paddlers but Roy has more skills than I do.  He can do an Eskimo roll but I can only do the first half.

Bindijine Beach kayak launch preparation. Second group of paddlers.

Bindijine Beach kayak launch preparation.  Second group of paddlers.

The weather off the coast didn’t look too promising so we chose one of the less demanding trips.  The trip was from Honeymoon Bay to Boat Harbour and return approximately 15 km. Honeymoon Bay is a 7 km drive from our campsite and inside the Defence Force live firing range.

We launched at Brindijine Beach just north of Honeymoon Bay at 11:00am and a group of 11 paddlers started into the 15 knot wind.

Oh the exhilaration of paddling on the ocean again after a few weeks of flat water kayaking. The wind and spray in our faces and swell to bump over is so good.

It took me a little while to get my bow pointed into the wind and then I was off.  Over the waves and what freedom it is.

We had crystal clear sea, a cloudy sky and the splash, splash of our paddles.

Kayaks paddling south in Jervis Bay towards Longnose Point

Kayaks paddling south in Jervis Bay towards Longnose Point

We rounded Dart Point and the wind from the Tasman Sea was directly in our faces. Our leader made the decision to turn around as some of the paddlers were uncomfortable with the conditions.  Spin around and downwind we fly.

The whistle blew!  Someone had capsized in the rough conditions. This meant a rescue which the leaders did while we all stood off.

We are on our way again and flying downwind. Another capsize, rescue and back on our way.

We turned back into the quiet water for a snack and to catch our breath. It was too early to go back to shore so the group decided to fly downwind for a couple more kilometres.

We ran down waves with the wind behind, birds flying above us and the shore rushing past.

There are not any words to describe the exhilaration and enjoyment I feel when paddling my single kayak totally blind. I have to be aware of every paddle stroke, the feel of the boat, the rise and fall of the swell and listen to the directions my husband gives.

At 1:00pm we turn homeward and the wind slammed into our faces and tried to push the kayaks backwards. Stroke, stroke, use my back muscles not my smaller arm ones, push off with my feet and twist from the pelvis. It feels like I’m paddling up hill.

Oh no, I have to slow down because everyone else is over 100m behind me! I go as slow as I possibly can but even my husband cannot catch up and I cannot go any slower.  When I paddle slowly my boat weaves but when I paddle powerfully the skeg holds it on course.

When I stop for him to catch up the wind spins my kayak around broadside. Then I have to paddle wide sweeping strokes to turn back into the wind. I’m on track again and we are almost home.

Oh what a marvellous most rewarding experience paddling is.

I used to paddle a double with my husband but my skills didn’t increase from simple forward paddle strokes. When I paddle a single I have to do it myself.  Use my body and boat together as one.

We landed about 2:45pm after one of the most enjoyable days.

 

Sunday 22 March Sunday’s forecast was similar to Saturday’s. We chose to go from Honeymoon Bay to Point Perpendicular.

Bindijine Beach kayak launch preparation.  Our group of paddlers.

Bindijine Beach kayak launch preparation. Our group of paddlers.

We launched from Brindijine Beach about 10:45am. There was no wind at all and very low swell.  Perfect conditions and we had a big group of 16.

Paddling out was just beautiful. There was one little tricky place with a few waves forming and breaking over rocks and we went through the gap one at a time. When I was given the command to go I paddled hard.  I felt the wave pick me up and I kept paddling so I wouldn’t capcize.

The rest of the trip to Point Perpendicular was uneventful but so good to be on the ocean with the swell, sea air and clouds racing overhead.

When we arrived at Point Perpendicular Our group split into two with 10 going further to explore sea caves and the remainder returning via Boat Harbour.

Bronwyn in kayak off Point Perpendicular Light House.

Bronwyn in kayak off Point Perpendicular Light House.

I’m not skilled enough to go inside sea caves yet so I stayed with the smaller group.

We caught some great waves on the way back where my little kayak speeding down them and that’s what we like best of all.  The waves picked up my kayak and shot it forward so fast.

We passed a few sea caves and came to a tunnel.  The group members with helmets went in but I stayed out as the cave is a bit tricky at only 1.2 m wide and has waves entering side holes.

Kayakers resting at

Kayakers resting at “Inner Tubes”. This is a protected little bay south east of Boat Harbour.

After a quick snack break at Inner Tubes we launched again and paddled towards Honeymoon Bay.

Dolphins ahead! We paddled towards them.  There were about 8 dolphins playing in the bay and we paddled about 5m away from them.

I heard them spouting but only one or two made enough noise when swimming for me to hear them.  They were thoroughly enjoying themselves and surfacing but not leaping completely out of the water.

What a glorious day!

 

23 march Callala Bay to Green Point return.

Chinamans Beach just north east of Green Point. Can you see the Eskimo Roll on the back right?

Chinaman’s Beach just north east of Green Point.  Can you see the Eskimo Roll on the back right?

The last day of our holiday and Rock n Roll.  Monday had a wind speed of 15 to 25 knots.

We chose to go from Callala Bay straight to Green Point and then back around the protected beaches through the mangroves.

From Callala Bay to Green Point was 4 km directly into the wind.  Conditions were a bit rough but a great paddle.  If I kept to a constant speed I can keep a straight line.

We had a brief stop at Green Point and then back into the boats for more head wind paddling.

Chinamans Beach mangroves. Bronwyn is not impressed.

Chinaman’s Beach mangroves.  Bronwyn is not impressed.

When we reached Chinaman’s Creek we wove our way through the mangroves.  Some love this sort of paddling but it’s not my thing.  May be it’s pretty but to my mind it’s slow and tedious.

I was happy to be back into the sea with the wind and waves.

Beautiful clear water at Hare Point outside Carama Creek in the top of Jervis Bay.

Beautiful clear water at Hare Point outside Carama Creek in the top of Jervis Bay.

Homeward bound with the wind behind us and we were flying.

Hare Bay going towards Callala Bay.  Again in pristine water.

Hare Bay going towards Callala Bay. Again in pristine water.

When the wind is behind and my boat is flying down the swell a little correction using a stern rudder on the left side makes her jump instantly. We all landed safely and said our goodbyes and packed up the kayaks after washing them down.

Back at Callala Bay boat ramp.

Back at Callala Bay boat ramp.

A wonderful three days of Rock n Roll and the end of the most enjoyable holiday I’ve ever had.

Thank you again Guide Dogs NSW/ACT for the opportunity for me to have this break and the opportunity to write the blog.

I am tired but very happy.

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Central Tilba

Central Tilba.

Central Tilba.

At Central Tilba we visited the local cheese factory.

We strolled down the main street browsing in the restored 100 year old weather board shops.

Mt Dromedary is behind the village and is known for its lush rain forests and sacred Aboriginal sites.

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Kayak Metung to Lakes Entrance

Metung boat ramp.

Metung boat ramp.

We woke to a calm, cloudy morning.  A day made for kayaking.

After launching our kayaks at Shavings Point, Metung we paddled towards Lakes Entrance.

On the way past Chinaman’s Creek we saw black swans floating ahead of us.  We paddled quietly trying to creep up.  They knew we were behind them and kept ahead of us until we increased our speed. I listened as they took off with a flap of wings flipping a shower of sea water over us.

All along the lakeside are sandy beaches to land if we needed a rest or just to sit.

There were several Little Terns circling above.  All of a sudden one would dive beak first directly into the lake.  He has missed the fish and up to the sky he had to fly to spot another fish.

Lakes Entrance from lookout.

Lakes Entrance from lookout.

Roy had planned a 20km trip so we kept going.  Also we wanted to travel with the outward tide and back with the inward tide.

The only tricky part of the journey was The Narrows.  This is where the tide is rushing fast through a channel.

Dredge at Lakes Entrance.

Dredge at Lakes Entrance.

We thought we’d paddle to the bridge that crosses over to Main Beach, the surf beach that faces Bass Straight.

It added a couple of kilometres against the tide to our trip.  Our reward was going to be an ice-cream after our lunch.

We were half way through our picnic lunch and the kiosk closed.  Oh! No treat.

Launching after lunch we were with the tide for a short distance away from the town of Lakes Entrance.  Then we had to carefully and swiftly cut across the fast flowing outgoing tide as we went past the entrance to the sea.

Panorama of lakes Entrance.

Panorama of lakes Entrance.

The remainder of the trip past the islands of Rigby, Fraser and Flannagan was tiring as we worked against the tide.

Pulling over to Baxter (Pelican) Island, where the swans nest, we snacked on a nectarine and grapes.

The next little section past Baxter Island was very shallow and the rocks must have been the swan’s toilet.  Wow did it smell.

On the trip there was virtually no wind nor waves but the paddle had to be the hardest I’d done.  Not the most exhilarating or exciting just long but very peaceful as the kayaks glided slowly home.

Map of Lakes Entrance.

Map of Lakes Entrance.

I felt in my bones that we had paddled much more than 20 km but Roy assured me it was 20 km.  I had paddled 20 km many times and my body did not hurt this much.  Everything was aching.

When we finally landed at 6:30pm and retrieved the GPS out of its dry bag we had actually paddled 32 km.

Landing on the shore was a relief and felt so good to get out of the boat.  I walked up the hill carrying my half of the kayaks like a very old lady.

After a lovely hot shower and a meal in the van I was like brand new.

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Lilydale to Warburton Rail Trail

Main street Warburton.

Main street Warburton.

When I started this adventure I wanted to ride all the rail trails in Victoria. In 2008 Roy and I rode the Murray to Mountains Rail trail over 200 km.   The trip included Myrtleford to Beechworth, Beechworth to Wangaratta and return to Myrtleford and on to Bright and return to Myrtleford. The next Rail Trail we did that trip was Orbost to Bairnsdale return approximately 200 km.  We wanted to do the Warburton to Lilydale trail but at that stage it was only suitable for mountain bikes. The Warburton to Lilydale rail line was built in 1901 to transport timber.  Due to the popularity of motor vehicles the rail line closed in mid 1965.  This line was converted to a recreational rail trail and opened in 1997.

Bronwyn with murals at Warburton Station.

Bronwyn with murals at Warburton Station.

The Warburton railway station has historic murals of well-known buildings painted by local artist Peter van Breugel.  The community and various businesses sponsored the paintings.

Roy with murals at Warburton Station.

Roy with murals at Warburton Station.

We started our ride at the old station.  The afternoon was hot as we rode downhill.  Cockatoos were shrieking and swooping with the fun of watching two on a bike.

Old Warburton Hospital, now closed.  The gardens are well maintained.

Old Warburton Hospital, now closed. The gardens are well maintained.

The first few kilometres are asphalt but it’s bumpy from tree roots and repairs. Most of the section from Warburton to Woori Yallock is downhill but the gradient is gradual at approximately one in fifty.

Woori Yallock to Warburton Rail Trail.

Woori Yallock to Warburton Rail Trail.

The multiple road crossings sneak up on riders and sometimes Roy had to apply the brakes quickly.  I found the road crossings annoying because there were so many of them. By the time we came back the sun was setting, the birds were preparing for their nests and a slight breeze was blowing to cool us down.  Crickets had started chirping, bellbirds chiming and several flocks of raucous galahs scratching for seeds in the dry grass. That section was 46 km. The next morning we rode the Woori Yallock to Lilydale section.

Lilydale to Woori Yallock Rail Trail.

Lilydale to Woori Yallock Rail Trail.

Just after leaving Woori Yallock there is a 300m, teeth rattling bridge.  On this bridge we had to peddle so we couldn’t lift our tender rumps off the seats. Even though the bridges were mostly bone jarring I love crossing them and thinking of the legacy that the engineers who built them left us. They were built during the mid to late 1800s and have been restored. The trail wove through lush farming land, vineyards and many small towns like Yarra Junction and Seville with a restored train café. Shortly after the bridge is a long climb to Mount Evelyn township.   The town is the highest point on the trail. Downhill from there the trail goes through a 154 m long, corrugated tunnel. After the tunnel we were flying downhill at 37 km an hour and had to slam on the brakes for yet another road crossing. The bird songs are with us all the way.  The smaller ones chattering high in the trees, the black crow “arking”, bellbirds chiming, kookaburras laughing at us and flocks of cockatoos screeching. The Warburton to Lilydale trail is popular with walkers, cyclists, groups of scouts and horse riders.  It was the most used trail of all the ones we had ridden. The rail trail weaves through fragrant pine forests linking their arms overhead.  There are  ferns and tall eucalypt trees to shade riders from the hot sun. The Woori Yallock to Lilydale trail was our last ride for the holiday.  That day’s  ride was 38 km. http://www.yarraranges.vic.gov.au/Lists/Parks-Facilities/Lilydale-to-Warburton-Rail-Trail My favourite trail so far is still the Murray to Mountains which has very few road crossings and apart from the steady climb to Beechworth is nearly flat. It’s been a few years since I did that trail and maybe time has erased my memory of the uphill climbs. https://www.railtrails.org.au/trail?view=trail&id=50

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Great Victorian Rail Trail Yea to Cathkin

At the start of the rail trail from Yea to Cathkin there is an almost life size mural.  From behind the wall you put your head through a hole.  From the front view your head goes under the front half of a real cycle helmet and sits on the shoulders of a cyclist in a yellow jersey or shirt.  The yellow indicates that the rider is leading the race.  The cyclist is riding on the back of a yellow (or more tan) jersey cow.  Hence the banner held reads "I rode into Yea with the yellow jersey".

At the start of the rail trail from Yea to Cathkin there is an almost life size mural. From behind the wall you put your head through a hole. From the front view your head goes under the front half of a real cycle helmet and sits on the shoulders of a cyclist in a yellow jersey or shirt. The yellow indicates that the rider is leading the race. The cyclist is riding on the back of a yellow (or more tan) jersey cow. Hence the banner held reads “I rode into Yea with the yellow jersey”.

We drove to Yea after kayaking on Lake Eildon which was glorious.

From Yea to Cathkin return was 42 km.

This trail started at a long bridge with a cut out of a big yellow jersey cow near the bridge.

Then the 8 km of uphill started.  Half way up the hill there was a cutting that led to the tunnel.  It was all cut out by hand using picks and shovels.

The climb was gradual but constant.  At the top we were rewarded with the joy of riding through the historic Cheviot Railway Tunnel.

The magnificent 200m long, brick lined tunnel was built over two years and opened in 1889.

After riding through the tunnel there is 9 km of winding down hill with spectacular views. We rode past more cows and small farm houses and then over the Goulburn river bridge.

These rail trails are amazing and a credit to the Victorian tourist industry.  I absolutely love riding them with wind in my face and clean mountain air.  NSW is very slow at handing over rail corridors for rail trails.

There are many birds squawking overhead and some water birds on the banks of the Goulburn River.

Once we arrived at Cathkin we had a quick snack and turned around for the return journey which included 9 km of uphill.

We were really looking forward to going through the Cheviot Tunnel again and the 8 km of downhill.

Once we were through the tunnel the wind rose and tried to push us back into the tunnel.  So instead of cruising downhill we had to peddle strongly against the wind.

Back at Yea we had photos with the cow and congratulated each other on another 40 km ride completed.

http://www.railtrails.org.au/trail?view=trail&id=90

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Kayak Lake Eildon from Jerusalem Creek

Bronwyn kayaking away from Jerusalem Creek boat ramp, Lake Eildon.

Bronwyn kayaking away from Jerusalem Creek boat ramp, Lake Eildon.

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Bronwyn holding both kayaks between a drowned tree and a big stump at the water's edge, Lake Eildon.

Bronwyn holding both kayaks between a drowned tree and a big stump at the water’s edge, Lake Eildon.

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A peaceful view of the kayak bows with the shore and green and blue hills in the distance.

A peaceful view of the kayak bows with the shore and green and blue hills in the distance.

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Roy in his Valley Gemini ST.

Roy in his Valley Gemini ST.

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