St. Kilda weekender with overnight stay in Community Hall — Sat 9-10 September 2023

St Kilda Weekend History

Another great weekender out to St. Kilda was conducted on Saturday 9th and Sunday 10th September. Weather, wind and tidal conditions were perfect for the ten club members who participated.

The St. Kilda weekender has been a feature of the ACC calendar for over ten years now. It is an easy trip requiring paddlers to carry minimal equipment. We stay in the St. Kilda Community Hall overnight and go to the pub for dinner and drinks.

It’s All About the Tides

The devil is in the detail of planning however and the critical elements lie in getting the tides just right. The trip takes in most of the Port River estuary which is highly tidal. On the wrong day the currents can be severe and in places the water just disappears at low tide.

I have used the tide in a couple of ways for this trip over the years. This time around I used the dodge tide to minimise the impact of tidal currents and extremely low water levels. A dodge tide is a phenomenon almost unique to Gulf St. Vincent and Spencer Gulf. It also occurs in the Persian Gulf and the Gulf Of Mexico. A dodge tide is where the water levels change minimally over a 24 to 48 hour period; it is if the tides miss a day! Last weekend we had a 15 hr tide on Sunday resulting in negligible current and change in water levels. The water level did not go below 1.2m during daylight hours which is most important when planning to explore the mangrove creeks of the Barker Inlet and the Section Bank at Outer Harbor.

I have also used spring tides (nothing to do with the seasons!) to create a fun “ride the tide” experience. On this type of tide we begin at Largs Bay and travel into the Outer Harbor Channel where the rapid inflow of water to the Port River due to the rising tide is quite amazing! With just an easy paddling effort you can achieve 10 or more kilometres per hour.

Departure from UniSA Kayak Shed

Departure from Uni SA Kayak Sheds

Thus trip’s group including Mark L, Abelardo, Terry, Greg, Anthony, Bella, Charlie, Marina, Giresh and myself. We assembled at the UniSA kayak shed near Adelaide Marina on the main arm of the Port River to launch for the 16Km paddle out to St. Kilda. This is the first time we launched from here and it was most convenient as we could leave our vehicles locked up securely in the compound. We planned to finish the trip here as well. Big thanks to club member Dr. Scott Polley, who is a senior lecturer at UniSA for granting access.

North Arm and Ships Graveyard

Paddling Amoungst Ship’s Graveyard (2)

The journey out to St. Kilda was via The North Arm and Barker Inlet which is such a stunning and little known part of Adelaide. Travelling up the North Arm we observed the maritime relics left abandoned in the “Ships Graveyard”  early last century. The remains of vessels such as the Glaucus, Garthneil and Seminole give an insight into early shipping in South Australia. You may find more information about this unique section of the River. 

Barker Inlet and Swan Alley

Even more captivating was the exploration of the mangrove creeks of the Barker Inlet. When paddling through the maze of creeks flowing off the “mainland” you get the feeling that you’re far from civilization. It’s a stunning, waterlogged forest. Exploring comes with a warning! You have to know the impact of the tides. Get it wrong and you can encounter fast flowing water that can wash you under low tree branches resulting in capsize and a heap of real issues. At the other end of the spectrum you can run out of water…the creeks go dry at low tide heights. The creeks are best paddled on a dodge tide with a water level of at least 1m which is what we had!

Exiting Swan Alley

Our journey entered the system via Swan Alley. We then took the Embankment Channel which is artificial and links  Burrows Creek, Post Creek and Garnets Creek. Due to the tide height there wasn’t much dry land for lunch. We exited Burrows Creek to find a small sand island to haul out on before returning to the mangroves and continuing down the channel.

Arrival at St Kilda and Community Hall

On exiting the mangroves the next target was the St Kilda Channel and down to the St. Kilda Boat Club to store kayaks overnight and walk to the Community Hall. The pub meal was a little disappointing for some…. squid snitty not up to the usual standard!

Return via Bird Island and Outer Harbor

Sunday began with even better weather for our journey out to Bird Island and the Outer Harbor breakwater. Bird Island is a sand spit that has been increasing in size since I have been visiting the area. I first remember it some 20 years ago as a couple of hundred metre strip of sand running northward from the breakwater without much vegetation but plenty of bird life. It is now a couple of kilometres long and well covered with vegetation and trees. It is an important bird breeding area and one of the few location in Adelaide that Pelicans raise their young. The sand flats to the NW of the breakwater are stunning. It is easy to imagine you’re in the Bahamas!

There were also plenty of long nosed fur seals on the breakwater. Several young ones swam some distance with us and may have never seen a kayaker before.

St Kilda Dusk

The group had a slight incoming tidal current to push us the final few kilometres back to the shed. On the way we got to see one of the Naval ships under construction and were warned by Mark to stay out of the “Restricted Zone”; no saboteurs allowed!

When back to the shed it was a quick clean up of gear on the nice lawned area of the UniSA compound. A great weekend had by all!


Overall statistics (Links point to GPX track files)


Morning in Chowilla

Four days exploring the creeks in the Chowilla reserve, in the Riverland — 19-22 Aug 2023

From Plan A to Plan B

Enjoying the calmness of ChowillaThe original trip was planned to traverse the Lindsay River. But the high river levels put paid to that, as the whole Lindsay Island was closed to the public. Making the best of a bad situation, we changed the trip to the Chowilla area, where high water levels open up a lot of normally dry creeks.

We launched at midday on Saturday and crossed the Murray to find the entrance to Suders creek, which is the entrance to backwater area. This is normally a challenge, with the entrance to the creek being narrow and fast flowing, but this time the levels were high and the current very manageable, and we were soon through to Hypurna creek, which we followed up for a few kilometers before setting up a base camp where we would stay for the next three nights.

Setting camp for the trip

After setting up camp and relaxing for a bit, we went off for an afternoon paddle to check out if the short-cut through to Salt Creek was open, as we planned to take that route the next day. Luckily the normally dry creek was easily navigable so we didn’t have to change our plans. We then retired back to camp to start dinner and sit around the campfire solving important world issues.

Day 2

Next day was an early start as we didn’t have pack up the camp. We were soon paddling through wide creeks and flooded trees through to Salt Creek.  We followed it upstream for about 8km to a horseshoe lagoon which we normally bypass. Encouraged by the high water levels we decided to explore it. We were rewarded with yet another new creek which took us back to Salt Creek, cutting 4kms off our trip.

After a few hundred meters on Salt Creek we found an unmarked creek which was flowing in the right direction. We decided to throw caution to the wind and set off down it into the unknown. Flowing water is always a good sign as it has to go somewhere. We were pleasantly surprised to find ourselves ending up in Hypurna Creek, which is where we were planning on going. After a gentle 5km paddle downstream we ended up back at camp. We were soon relaxing around the campfire discussing the next day’s paddle.

Day 3

Lunch break before paddling the MurrayNext morning, after a quick breakfast, we set off back up Hypurna Creek to do another circular loop in a different area. We passed the entrance to a shortcut to Wilperna Creek which had been planning on using, only to find that the water level was not quite high enough to make it passable. Disappointed, we carried on up to Salt Creek to have a mid-morning break and talk about our options. After a bit of discussion we decided to continue to the Murray, and follow that around to the entrance to Wilperna Creek.

Normally we try to avoid the main channel of the Murray, too big and too busy. But this time we found the river pretty much deserted. A relaxed paddle had us going down the river at 10 km/h. There was a lot of water in the river! At that pace we were soon through Higgins Cutting and did the 8kms to Wilpurna Creek with no trouble at all.

Wilpurna Creek is one of my favourite creeks, narrow and winding, with not too many obstacles. But it can be hard to find, as the entrance is small and is just downstream from the NSW border. Unfortunately the sign for the border is about ½ a kilometre away from the actual border, on the wrong side of the creek. Luckily my trusty GPS had the entrance marked with a waypoint. We practically floated down Wilperna Creek, around fallen trees, escorted by curious emus and seeing the occasionally kangaroo, and were soon back at camp again.

Chris had bought his yabbie nets along (I don’t know how he fits it all in his kayak), and had got lucky while we had been away. That night he treated all of us to some fresh yabbie meat snacks.

Day 4

Salt creek navigationOvernight our luck changed, and we had a bit of rain. Nothing heavy, but just enough to turn the ground into sticky mud, 10 steps were enough to add a few kilograms of the stuff to your shoes. After breakfast the camp was packed up quickly and carefully, trying to avoid most of the mud, and stopping occasionally to scrape the worst of off your shoes. Most of the gear went into the kayak reasonably cleanly, but the kayak cockpits ended up decidedly brown.

We paddled back down Hypurna Creek, aided by the current, paddling through trees which normally line the side of the creek. Some paddlers decided to do the portage back the Murray, while the rest decided to try paddling back up Suders. The portage point is well signposted, but we couldn’t find any of the signs, can only think that they must have been underwater. Kayaks were soon carried across to the Murray. The rest of the paddlers set of to try our luck going up Suders Creek. This proved to be an anti-climax, as it was an easy paddle back to the Murray and the cars.

We quickly threw  all the gear back in the cars, loaded the kayaks on the roof and put on some presentable clothes.  We then headed back to Renmark and the nearest bakery to indulge in a cup of hot coffee and some unhealthy treats before heading back to Adelaide, and a lot of washing of kayaks and gear.

Overall statistics (Links point to GPX track files)

Saturday 19 August – Customs House to Campground, recce in the arvo – 11.95Km

Sunday 20 August – Salt Creek, Horseshoe Lagoon, Hypurna Creek – 24.1Km

Monday 21 August – Salt Creek, Wilpurna Creek, Murray River – 26.0Km

Tuesday 22 August – Campground, up Suders creek back to Customs House – 7.45Km

A weekend paddling Finniss River and Currency Creek — 10-11 June 2023

Day One

On Day 1, the paddlers packed their kayaks at Wally’s and were on the water by 9 am. They paddled 14 km to Clayton Bay where they stopped for lunch at 11:45 am. The winds were light from the north around 5 knots in the morning. After lunch, they skirted Hindmarsh Island before diving back northwest up Currency Creek. It wasn’t long before the old flour mill became their marker and point of interest. Once they made it to the flour mill, it was a quick paddle across to their campsite.

Tents were erected quickly to make time for the optional sunset paddle up Currency Creek to the main road bridge. The paddle up the creek is narrow only a few meters across, surrounded on both sides by tall reeds. They came across a portable cool room which had been washed down last winter.

Arriving back at camp, they were greeted by a fire prepared by Peter. With ample wood, the fire kept them warm while they told stories of camping sites past.


Day Two

On Day 2, there was not a breath of wind on the water. A slow start on the water by 9:30 am as it was hard to leave the fire and get into wet paddling gear. The paddle was easy as the predicted 8-knot crosswinds came late. There were no detours on the way back to the Finniss Channel. Once in the channel, they took the opportunity to explore some backwaters before finishing the trip.

Overall Statistics:

Day 1 35.2km

Day 2 21km

Total 56km

Cave near Stansbury

Plan B Paddle – Port Vincent to Edithburgh and then Troubridge Island — 27 – 29 May 2023

Early Arrival at Port Vincent

The original Plan A was to paddle out to Wardang Island and spend a couple of nights camped on Goose Island but the weather failed to cooperate, so Phil as Trip Leader suggested a Plan B, paddling on the eastern side of Yorke Peninsula from Port Vincent to Stansbury and then Edithburgh while car camping at caravan parks and visiting the local pubs for dinner. Then on Monday a return trip to Troubridge Island if conditions were suitable.

Winds were forecast W to WNW over weekend, generally below 15Kn so the east coast of Yorkes offered more protection by paddling close inshore. We ended up with 5 members booked from the original 11: Phil, Simon, Abelardo, Giresh and Mark opted to explore the coastline we hadn’t paddled previously.

It was good to form our own opinions of this section of the coast after hearing varied opinions.

Phil and I drove down on Friday and checked into Port Vincent Caravan Park, a well setup park with unpowered sites protected from westerly winds.

Squid Snitzel at Pt Vincent

Squid Schnitzel at Pt Vincent

Once settled in we took the opportunity to catch up with local Adelaide Canoe Club members Carol and Robert.  We discussed possible Club involvement in the Salt Water Classic event planned for April next year, when a flotilla of wooden boats and kayaks will be sailing, rowing, motoring, and paddling from Stansbury to Port Vincent, taking advantage of the flood tide on the day. Robert took the opportunity to show us his wooden boat collection which was very impressive (as you can see in the pictures).

Carol and Robert offered to help with the car shuttle when we arrived at Stansbury and also recommended the Dalrymple Hotel there, but emphasised that we had to make a reservation –  nothing like local knowledge!

An easy walk to the Ventnor Hotel on Friday night – excellent squid schnitzel, comparable to our visits to the St Kilda Hotel when paddling Barker Inlet.

Day 1: Port Vincent to Stansbury 

Paddlers before launching in Pt Vincent

Paddlers before launching in Pt Vincent

The rest of our group arrived at the Port Vincent Yacht Club about 10:30am on Saturday, a nice easy location to launch just adjacent to the Port Vincent Kiosk – very handy for coffee and a range of seafood – and noted for future trips.

Robert and Carol soon joined us and after introductions and a couple of pictures we were all on water about 11.40am. They had arrived in their 16´ ‘Double Ender’ wooden boat, lovingly built by Robert from plans by Doug Hyland of Maine, USA which were styled after the lobster boats used in the area about 100 years ago. The day was a bit overcast and wind around 10kn W so best option was to hug the coast as we paddled south.

Robert and Carol easily kept up with the kayaks and looked great on water, reinforcing the attraction of the concept for the Salt Water Classic paddle with a range of boats and kayaks. With sunshine breaking through the cloud cover, we spotted a stingray then a pod of dolphins, so the omens promised a good paddle!

Rob and Carol joining the start of paddle at Pt Vincent

Rob and Carol joining the start of paddle at Pt Vincent

Around 1pm we said farewell then worked our way into the cliffs, admiring the stunning formations which only improved as we paddled south. Erosion over the millennia has formed a beautiful landscape along this section of the coast.

We encountered several overhanging rocks and selected one that looked stable and took the opportunity for a group photo.

Paddling close inshore we had to remain alert for limestone outcrops that just popped up unexpectedly – reminded me of our recent trip to Parnka Point on the Coorong.

The first stage of the paddle was turning out to be above expectations and we made several stops along the way to admire the cliff formations, we even spotted a beach that might be suitable for an overnight stop with the right tide.

We knew we were close to Stansbury when we spotted the jetty and shortly after there was Robert on the boat ramp breakwater taking photos as we approached. After being entertained by the numerous seals resting on the breakwater we continued along the township coastline of Stansbury, arriving about 3.30pm to a very kayak-friendly caravan park with a nice sandy beach, perfect for landing and launching kayaks just in front of the unpowered campsites.

Arriving to Stansbury

Arriving to Stansbury

Wasn’t long before we had checked in and met by Robert with his kind offer to ferry drivers back to Port Vincent to collect our vehicles. Phil booked us into the caravan park while waiting for our return with the cars and camping gear.

We quickly set up camp overlooking the beach, before heading off in search of the Dalrymple Hotel, we couldn’t muck around as we had a table booked for 5.45pm – yes, the restaurant is popular!

Once again, squid schnitzel was on the menu. Strolled back along the beach to the camp kitchen for a chat with supper and discuss the day’s adventure and plans for the next day and then into our waiting tents for a well-deserved rest.

Day 2: Stansbury to Edithburgh

A bit of wind and rain overnight but tents still standing in the morning, although Phil decided to take his tarp down overnight before it blew away. After a quick breakfast our first task was to ferry all the cars to Edithburgh with Abelardo driving us back to the launch site.

Headed inshore after clearing the sandbar, more wind at start of paddle but good protection inshore, the stunning scenery continued.

The Accolade II, from Adelaide Brighton Cement

The Accolade II, from Adelaide Brighton Cement

Wasn’t long before we spotted a ship in the distance at Klein Point, moored close inshore. It turned out to be the Accolade II, the Adelaide Brighton Cement (ABC) ship that transports limestone to Birkenhead at Port Adelaide about 4 times per week. We later heard that Simon’s Dad used to be an Officer on the Accolade I and II as well as the Troubridge. Simon has fond memories of attending Christmas parties at ABC as a “little tacker”, so this trip ended up being a very significant paddle down memory lane for Simon.

As we progressed south the coastal formations changed noticeably, with much more of a limestone appearance and not the coloured sedimentary layers.

The next coastal feature was the Lime Kiln Ruin at Wool Bay, looking almost like a small temple when we approached. It is the only one remaining of the six (6) built to produce quicklime by heating limestone, an important ingredient in mortar and brick making in the late 19th Century. The Kiln operated until the 1950’s.

Limestone near Stansbury

Limestone near Stansbury

The next significant structure we encountered was the Port Giles Jetty – 340m in length and Phil said sharks loitered around the end (might be an old surfer’s myth!) so we took the shortcut close inshore. The Jetty and adjacent storage silos are used to store and ship grain from the Lower Yorke Peninsula.

Our next challenge was a crossing of 4 to 5km across Coobowie Bay, in what looked like a 15kn westerly wind, possibly gusting higher occasionally. No more protection from the stunning cliffs so time to put some effort into our paddling. Coobowie Bay is home to the local oyster industry and according to Carol also serves great meals at the local pub – perhaps next trip! We opted for a short stop at a boat launch site prior to tackling the crossing.

Back on water we set course for a prominent group of pine trees in the vicinity of Edithburgh. As expected, the crossing was just a head down slog but we soon made out the brightly coloured Edithburgh Tidal Pool as we approached the shore and the wind eased.

Lime Kiln Ruin at Wool Bay

Lime Kiln Ruin at Wool Bay

We paddled past the Jetty then Boat Harbour and on to Sultana Point Jetty and a small beach we had previously selected as a landing point. After checking in we had a short portage up to a nice grassy unpowered campsite well sheltered from any southerly wind.

Too far to walk to the pub so Abelardo with the tidiest car provided a taxi service. We dined at the Edithburgh Hotel on Edith Street, again a very popular hotel and three (3) of us can recommend the slow cooked lamb shanks.

A stunning evening, couldn’t hear any wind or rain overnight until a light shower just before 7am.

Day 3: Troubridge Island Return

Sail up on our way to Troubridge Island

Sail up on our way to Troubridge Island

Hardly any wind overnight and only light rain before we poked our heads from the tents, very excited about paddling to Troubridge Island for morning tea and coffee, and the conditions looked great with only a light westerly breeze, probably below 6Kn for the 8Km crossing.

The island was named by Captain Flinders in 1802 after the Commander of the Fleet at the Battle of the Nile, Sir Thomas Troubridge.

We rushed through breakfast, loaded the kayaks and moved to the Boat Ramp for our departure. No mucking around, we were keen to be on water to take advantage of the conditions. Things only got better as we approached the Island and wasn’t long before we were paddling in tropical-looking turquoise waters in full sun. The real extent of the shoal was visible about 1.5Km out, tide was approaching high water mark with at least 1m of water as we approached the Lighthouse – perfect!

Troubridge Island

Sail up on our way to Troubridge Island

We were amazed at how extensive the shoal spreads around the Island, very apparent how vessels came to grief in the past.  According to Google there were 33 wrecks and groundings until the Lighthouse was constructed in 1856.

Even managed to try out Phil’s 1m² Pacific Action sail with the light breeze, a lot more relaxing than my 1.5m² but the larger sail would have been perfect with the 6Kn westerly.

The noise of numerous birds greeted us as we approached, we could see a mass of them nesting on the sandbar on the SW end of the Island.

The bright red freshly painted lighthouse stood out, contrasting the turquoise waters and white sands of the shoal.

We set up on the table in front of the Keepers Cottage with an amazing view and the constant sound of the birdlife. I will let the pictures tell the story! How lucky we were with the weather and our visit has inspired us to investigate the possibily of arranging a couple of days’ overnight stay for a future visit.

Coffee and cake at Troubridge Island

Coffee and cake at Troubridge Island

After coffee, cake and a few pictures to capture the moment we were back on water for the return paddle, but not without a circumnavigation to appreciate the size of the bird population.

Wind had picked up on the return as forecast so we settled in for a heads down paddle with the Water Tower as reference point until we got in closer and spotted the boat ramp.

We made good time and were soon back in the safety of the harbour, Abelardo leading the way (having decided to use the last stage for a bit of pace training).

Back in harbour about 2.30pm, Giresh and Phil decided to show off with a couple of celebratory rolls – judging by their reactions the water was cold!  We landed at the boat ramp and soon had the kayaks loaded before heading back to Adelaide.

Giresh left for the west coast of Yorkes for another 2 days of paddling while Abelardo, Phil and Mark set off for the return drive to Adelaide.

Our last day’s paddle completed a perfect trip exploring a section of the coast that we hadn’t paddled before, but a trip we will definitely repeat. Lots of stunning scenery and great to visit the towns of Port Vincent, Stansbury and Edithburgh and compare the squid schnitzels along the Peninsula.

It was great to catch up with club members Carol and Robert and we appreciated the assistance in shuttling cars as well as local advice. Both are involved in preparing for the Salt Water Classic in 2024 for Wooden Boats and Kayaks intending to catch the tide from Stansbury to Port Vincent. Rest assured we would love to be involved and the weekend of 13/14th April 2024 is now in the Club calendar, so consider the date for your long term planning.

Overall Statistics


A fantastic trip so very close to Adelaide CBD with lots of options available, including staying on Troubridge Island. A great future alternative back-up for Wardang Island’s trips or just to add to our paddling calendar.

A great Plan B Phil, well done!

Click on the maps below to download the GPX files

GPS Port Vincent to Stansbury

GPS Port Vincent to Stansbury

Stansbury to Edithburgh

Stansbury – Edithburgh

Parnka Point Car Camping – 6-7 May 2023

Arrival at Parnka Point – Pelican Campground

It’s been a while since Adelaide Canoe Club (ACC) has car-camped at Parnka Point, so I was keen to visit the area to experience the high water levels (after last visiting here with Matt Eldred in Oct 2021 when we sailed from Parnka Point to Goolwa). This location was a favourite of Eddie Andriessen so I was keen resurrect the Car Camping tradition.

With fingers crossed for some good Autumn weather, I had earlier booked Campsite No 1 at Pelican Campground, providing room for 14 campsites and semi-sheltered protection should the forecast wind and rain arrive. We had a good take-up with Peter McLeod, Mark Loram, Charlie and Marina Walker, Abelardo Pardo, Berny Lohmann and Terry Holder booking for the weekend. I was pretty excited about this trip, as National Parks had advised that there was plenty of water and prolific birdlife in the area, particularly pelicans and ducks.

We all arrived at various times during Friday afternoon and set up camp, keen to get settled before rain arrived. Hopefully not much following the downpour on the drive from Adelaide. Berny saved the day by bringing along his recently purchased gazebo – this made our stay nice and cosy. During our stay we checked out other campsites and agreed 5 and 7 also have potential, particularly when no wind is forecast and with easy access to the water.

Rain overnight which along with the sound of surf made for authentic autumn camping on the Coorong.  The forecast 17Kn SW had not appeared on Friday and we were presented with very calm conditions in the morning although an overcast day.

Paddling South Lagoon to Long Island

Bit of a slow start after casual breakfast, on water about 9.30am to meet Peter at the Boat Ramp in his plywood Sabre dinghy, Boat No 1461. Slight breeze from the SW had built up, enough for Peter to make headway and practice his tacking. It wasn’t long before the sea kayaks were leading the way down the south lagoon towards Long Island with Peter following.

The aim was to paddle south and explore the cutting at Hack Point and hopefully circumnavigate Cow and Long Island. Sunshine was occasionally breaking through so all looked promising.

We had a short stop at the derelict Coorong Wilderness Lodge. It is still in pretty good condition but could use a refurbishment. Stunning views of the South Lagoon.

We continued paddling south, trying our best to avoid the limestone “bommies” that seemed to pop up when least expected.

Peter under tow

It was not possible for Peter to stay with the kayaks so we agreed to meet up around Hack Point. The cutting just south was easily navigable so we continued further south along the eastern side of Cow Island. Too cold for a beach stop so we had the occasional on-water snack and refresh. Nice sandy beaches on the eastern side of both Cow and Long Islands:  perhaps next trip?

The small channel between Cow and Long Islands also looked navigable, but we continued further south around Long Island, leaving Round and Swan Islands for the future.

Back from Long Island

After rounding Long Island we made our way back towards Hack Point and hopefully Peter and his dinghy. It wasn’t long before Abelardo spotted Peter in one of the small bays opposite Bull Island – apparently becalmed. Abelardo and Charlie went in to investigate and soon had Peter under tow. Once they had re-joined the group Berny also helped out with the tow.

Safely returned to the boat ramp we left Peter to get his dingy loaded up and head back to the campsite.

Still plenty of daylight remaining, so Charlie and Peter decided to explore Bluff Island in the north lagoon while others relaxed at the campsite.  I explored the Sandy Beach walk from campsite No 5, further north towards Avocet Campground – birds everywhere!

Lovely evening cooking our meals under the Luci lights from the protection of Berny’s Gazebo. The plan for Sunday was to explore the north lagoon, weather permitting, but probably not The Needles as a 14Kn SW was forecast about 3.30pm.

We must have had a good day’s paddling as most of the group turned in by 8pm.

Paddling North Lagoon to Rabbit Island

Sunday Departure – still Perfect

More rain overnight but not as heavy – less water in my tent! On water around 9.30am, having agreed on a more realistic departure time, Peter opting to paddle his kayak this time. We had agreed to explore Bluff and Rabbit Islands following Charlie and Peter’s successful circumnavigation on Saturday. As you can see from the departure picture, the Coorong was like glass with no sign of wind. Winds were forecast to pick up mid-afternoon, so the planned return paddle to The Needles was assigned for another trip.

With the constant sound of breaking waves each night, we were keen to check out the beach, using the Cockle Fishers track just south of Hells Gate. An easy paddle back past the boat ramp to a small beach used to unload vehicles and equipment, and perfect for landing our kayaks.

The first interesting encounter we had was the Cockler’s car graveyard adjacent to the track, with only a few that appeared to be in working order. We were soon at the beach with the track only about 500m across the well used dunes. Plenty of cockle signs, either from an old coastline or aboriginal middens. We could see breaking waves almost at horizon level, showing how dangerous the Coorong coastline can be to kayakers attempting circumnavigation.

Back on the water

Pelican Squadron

Too chilly standing on the beach, so we were soon back on water and making our way to the eastern side of Bluff Island. We still had the sun breaking through the clouds, only interrupted by several flocks of pelicans flying in formation – stunning, they seemed to go on forever. I have never seen so many pelicans on previous trips and this hopefully sets the trend for future trips.

The pelicans must have attracted the rain, as the clouds released on our kayaks, leaving a nice pattern on the still waters. Not very heavy and it wasn’t long before the sun broke through again.

We could see clear water on the eastern side of Rabbit Island. The sound of cars from the Princess Highway were now audible as we hugged the east side of the Coorong waters. We found our way out of the little bay (thanks to Charlie and Google Maps) on the south of Rabbit Island. We eventually found the shallow channel leading us around the northern end of the island. Plenty of shallow areas with jagged limestone outcrops.

Snake and Needle Islands were now so close and very tempting but not for this trip. The wind had started to pick up. We lifted the pace and sought protection from the south westerly from the lee side of Bluff Island for a short rest before heading back to camp. Timing was perfect as we were about 100m away from shore when the full front arrived.

Return Trip

We had already packed up tents and loaded non-paddling gear so didn’t take long to wash and load kayaks. Then, on our way by 2pm and heading for Meningie Bakery for a hot coffee and debrief.

May not have been perfect weather, but much better than forecast and some very pleasant time on water. We ended up paddling 17Km exploring the south lagoon on Saturday and then 16Km for Sunday’s paddle. Not a bad effort and will definitely repeat this trip.

The Coorong is looking great with a very obvious increase in the bird population. We returned with the promise of some great trips in the next 12 months.

Mark Loram

Click in the maps at the bottom of the page to download the corresponding GPX files.

Long Island Paddle Sat 6 May 2023


The Pages Expedition – KI South Coast – 21 – 26 April 2023

Day 1 and 2  – Victor Harbor to Pink Bay via The Pages

Karl Meyer, Ben Weigl, and Tresh Pearce met up at Pink Bay. Ben had earlier paddled solo from Cape Jervis, arranging to camp overnight along with the Adelaide Canoe Club (ACC) crew including Karl and Tresh. He had set up camp there before the weary ‘Pages’ paddlers landed late on Saturday 22nd April.  They had completed an epic ACC paddle from Victor Harbor to Ballaparudda Beach, camping overnight then on to Pink Bay at Kangaroo Island via the ‘Pages’ group of islets in Backstairs Passage. The trip was recently well-documented by Greg Adams from the Club.

Day 3 – Bay of Pinks to Pennington Bay

Breaking wind-against-tide clapotis around Cape Willoughby

The next day saw the trio set off for a further westward adventure around Cape Willoughby and along the South coast of the Island, aiming for Vivonne Bay. The remains of the ‘Pages’ expedition enjoyed a relaxing day before they headed to Antechamber Bay in the afternoon.

After launching and farewelling our comrades and the homely Bay of Pinks, we set our sails in the strengthening but still moderate easterly toward the nearby Cape with the awesome sight of its presiding lighthouse coming shortly into view. We knew we had missed the slack tide conditions and expected the wind-against-tide factor to come into play in rounding the Cape, causing rough sea conditions. This would be on top of the ever-present clapotis from the ocean swells in deep water meeting the sheer boulder cliffs under the lighthouse.

As we approached under full sail, the comments of James Fishers came to mind when he said during his and Dayna’s rounding of the Cape in 2022: that “it was the most hectic sea conditions he had ever paddled in”.  . . . . .  Well, that is pretty much what we experienced too. It was so concentrated and boiling with big breaking slop making for hectic and scary discomfort. I had been around the Cape a couple of times previously, but the conditions were nowhere near as severe then. The sails were good for providing the steady power to make headway through the clapotis paddock, as it seemed as though our paddles weren’t having much effect!  As well as going through the motions of forward stroking, they were being employed in bracing and keeping us upright.

Pennington Bay

Apparently, some or all of the ACC crew were walking to the lighthouse and saw us go through that. Greg Adams later said that seeing us set our sails for Cape Hart once we were through, was an inspiring sight. I’d say that for those of us on the water, once it had all sorted itself out after a km or two, it was more of a relief and then a deep pleasure to find ourselves with a steady breeze behind us, and we were away!

After an extremely pleasant sail around Cape Hart with its magnificent surf rolling onto the reefs, we rounded Black Point then eventually False Cape and were into the big indent of coast of Pennington Bay. The sea was often lumpy, the coastline magnificent.  After False Cape (and Black Point earlier), there are many beaches. So the clapotis disappears for a while and one can mosey along quite close behind the break. They were all breaking very close to the steep sandy shores. – evidence of extremely high-energy beaches. There may have been places to land but we didn’t see them.

Approaching Pennington it was getting on in the afternoon and we briefly looked for a small cove immediately west of the main beach, but couldn’t find it. Sometimes beaches disappear after wild weather, taking time to re-appear as the sand slowly redeposits. We chose the western end and landed through the moderate surf there onto an idyllic setting, sheltered and with the last of the sun disappearing behind the cliffs. It wasn’t cold at all and we were in high spirits at our good fortune in making it safely and very happily during our first leg.

Day 4 – Pennington Bay to Unknown Cove (A real Gem)

Camp in the D’Estrees Unnamed Cove

Shortly after leaving Pennington Bay my rudder became ineffective, a cable issue somewhere. Karl fixed it into a neutral position and I managed to sail and paddle using the stern rudder to keep on course in the steady easterly / northeasterly breeze. I could also keep my hands way off-centre of my paddle to lengthen the stroke on one side if necessary, but we mostly sailed. Upon landing it proved to be easily fixed with a minimum of tools.

Outside of this great little bay there were some awe-inspiring-looking breaks on the protecting reefs which we could get up close to and have a good look at. We waited around for Karl to do some surfing on the shoulders of them – so perfect were they. Alas, although we waited a good while, the sets didn’t return and perhaps we’d drifted from the best spot, so Karl has to wait for another opportunity!

Although none of us had direct experience of this cove, or knew anyone who had landed there (it just looked terrific from satellite maps), our bay turned out to be a real gem. We settled on the southern end of it, and made a delightful camp amid warm balmy conditions. At last we were in pristine country only occasionally visited by walking humans.

Day 5 – Unknown Cove near to bay near ‘Pogaroo’ Bay

That day was to be the pivotal day where we left all land-based accessibility along the Cape Gantheaume Conservation Park wilderness area. It really is heading out into the wild. We still had the most amazing conditions anyone could ever pray for: moderate swell and helpful breezes, not too strong, not too weak!

The little Bay just East of Cape Gantheaume

Not far from the Cape we landed in a little cove for an explore and a break. Now, theoretically there are no reliable unprohibited landing spots for sea kayakers before Seal Bay, meaning that Vivonne Bay should be the next landing. However Phil and Gordon had mentioned this little cove as a possibility (not sure if either of them had visited previously, but both said it was worth a look). It was very good to receive counsel from both of these very experienced expedition sea kayakers at different times before we set off along this Coast, I’m grateful that the accumulated pool of knowledge is so readily shared. We had also referred to the satellite images and seen the possibility, so gave it a go and it was perfect.  Good for camping too….. .. really, I’m talking perfect here. I think it has a large measure of protection from swell, however it would be scarcely visible from the usual half to a one kilometre offshore that most sea kayaking expeditions have to travel due to having to ‘get’ to Vivonne without dilly-dallying (our specialty) and the clapotis.  We had to share the bay with the resident sea lion population though!  We snacked there, and wandered around the breathtaking, but gentle cove, with a tiny hinterland of open shrubland.

Out to sea once more and we soon came to Cape Gantheaume. It is surrounded by many reefs but we paddled around them as the sea was calm. Although not a huge swell, there were many well-formed breaks all around the place.  The swell itself had a long interval and some were definitely 4 metres.  There were areas of reef that we were only 50 m from, a semicircle of Niagara Falls shape.  That is literally what it was like being near them from behind, it was not so much like waves breaking, but more like a waterfall going from high and falling into much lower ‘suck out’.  The continual roar even on this quiet day was ever-present and astounding, a constant reminder that nature is not to be underestimated, ever.

Eventually we come to our chosen landing and camp destination, a bay immediately before ‘Pogaroo’ Bay, which in turn is one bay before the better known Bales Beach. Our bay is the smallest by far of the three, and is protected to some degree. When we approached there were some significant swells rolling through. We spent some time happily watching it all to get the gist of how it works there. I say happily, because to watch is the safe part.  Yes, it had some big surf going on, frightening at times when the sets came. Karl opted to go in first, he threaded his way through, finding the beach exhaust flow in the middle left of the bay where even the big waves didn’t break. (Though we couldn’t see that from where we sat behind the breaks). He promptly set himself up on a high hill with paddle to sign for us go or not go. Very soon after, Ben and I waited for a lull, but the decent sized waves kept coming. Karl, high on the sand hill gestured most assertively with the paddle not to come as he could see what was happening behind us. We didn’t need to be told, we weren’t going anywhere for the time being.  One wave in particular was huge, Karl said later (he’s a longtime surfer) he was guessing at about 10 foot or 3m. Then there was a lull, and I could see the broken water outward with beach exhaust and rip centre left in the tight bay and thought “It had better be a decent lull or I’m cooked!”. It turned out to be what we needed and eventually on the same lull Ben set off inward. No waves broke at all along that line, which does a little dogleg halfway. The swell size seemed to diminish noticeably from that point on. We were all very stoked to have landed so successfully, with no mishap. After recceing the beach and surrounds we re-entered our kayaks to relocate into the very sheltered western corner of the bay a hundred metres away and set up another idyllic camp. The unnamed bay itself is extraordinary in its perfect half-moon shape with a narrow opening to the sea – very beautiful to behold. Being a gloriously warm afternoon helps no end too!!

We were now in the Cape Gantheaume Conservation Park some kilometres from the nearest road, but more recently a walking trail has been established nearby connecting with the D’Estrees end of the Park. From this site it was only approx 20 kms to paddle to Vivonne Bay on the following day, but there was still a lot of exploring to do in the morning even before Seal Bay.

Day 6 – Unknown Cove (near ‘Pogaroo’ Bay) to Vivonne Bay.

In the morning we set off to a much-diminished swell, cruising out of the centre of the bay without so much as a splash, the one to two foot reformed little shore-break near our camp was more splashy than the rip through. Passing the neighbouring larger bay directly adjacent to ours was also beautiful from our route a hundred metres off from its entrance. I was full of emotion as we passed Bales Beach:  so many swims there, and it continues to be a sacred part of my and others’ lives. In 10 days or so I will likely be there once again, and it seemed a bit weird with two completely differing contexts happening to overlap at that place.  The fresh north easterly breeze filled our sails and moved us along nicely toward Vivonne Bay.

With the wind coming in blustery from the NNE (before swinging more NE a bit later) we cleared Bales and the steep rocky cliffy shore once again resumed, though this time relatively protected by reefs a bit offshore.  A couple of micro coves presented themselves for inspection and possible landing. The first immediately after Bales proved a bit too unprotected, where there were dumpy breaks closing out its opening. I have visited there before on foot through the shallows on an exceptionally calm day and it is truly beautiful, and also accessible (just) by land. Has a very interesting honeycombed small stack that can be climbed around in to peep out of various windows!!  Not for today though. Karl and Ben went over to a potentially easier-to-explore area a bit further west, which was a cracker!  I won’t say much more about it, but this was definitely one of the trip’s highlights. Situated just outside the Seal Bay Exclusion Zone, It had a great many resident sea lions of all ages, including a bull. We had lunch and I can’t thank B & K enough for their decision to land there. (Even though in the forefront of my mind was the possible NW strong wind coming in before our scheduled close of play in Vivonne Bay around lunchtime).  This turned out to be a dire headwind, the NE intensified and came in early and made for a raging tailwind for the last hour.

After an interval with the seals and cubs and mammas and all sorts in the water and on the beach, we launched. At the point of launch intention, a mamma seal from the beach decided that she either wanted to inspect our boats a lot closer, or wanted to prevent them from entering the water, and blocked our path!  She was very intent on something, we waited until she drew away a bit. There is a pic of Karl entering the water and she is still a distance away by then but watching very intently. We did everything slowly, quietly and calmly.

Then off around the headland where we went inside the reef breaks threading our way, avoiding the locations where the bigger waves were breaking. There is always some tension at these times, the questioning…  “Have we got this right, or are we paddling into a disastrous trap?”  As we travel we check things out ahead for some distance, making mental notes, sometimes consulting maps for the locations of the reefs etc. And in the end, you either back your intuition using the evidence and visual based info, or be in undecided-land, waiting for a lull or trying to seek more evidence confirmation (sometimes this is the most appropriate) or even make the long back-track for a possible couple of kilometres.

Passing by Seal Bay beach we saw the paying tourists viewing the few seals on display there, whereas just around the corner there were lots (for no cost!) where we had just lunched among them.

Ben Blue Water Sailing, near Seal Bay

The Nobby, (an enormous detached piece of Headland alongside a wide protected channel) loomed up, and I went ahead to position myself where I could get a good pic of Ben and Karl coming through the gap to show the whole massive stack, while having them clearly visible in the gap. It was my one intentional set-up photo. Trouble was, I only casually briefed them as I paddled off. . . .well I waited and waited as they stuck together moseying along doing their exploring and seal watching and filming, while I’m blown further and further away from the desired shot. I back paddle against the wind, they hug the shore at snail’s pace, completely indiscernible, camouflaged against the texture of the Nobby, and the whole of the towering stack no longer in frame with water on each side.  I find myself way behind them and with only rubbish pics to show for it.  I put the phone away, and declare ‘ *@%@$* photography !’ and paddle strongly to catch up.  From there it was only a few kilometres of easy sailing out from the cliffs to a point where we start to work out where we think Vivonne might actually be in the 10 km distance, amid the land on the horizon. Amongst us there were some differences of opinion concerning that, so time to consult the map!

During the last hour we found that heading for the jetty was hectic and exhilarating, but also scary for me as I felt I was going too fast at times. The conditions didn’t allow me to comfortably sheath one of my sails (requiring two hands off the paddle for twenty seconds or so) or just let it flap. I was ahead of Karl and Ben who found the pace perfect, paddling away as well as the effortless sailing. It was the first time I had truly deserted them, I let as much wind out of the sails as I dared, and looked back often and figured there were two of them together to help each in case of mishap, and I’m ahead of them, so that if something happens to me I can sort myself out, or they will see me and assist. When I arrived at the jetty it proved to be inappropriate for our landing needs, so I desailed and waited in the now raging wind for the others.  We beat our way a couple of hundred metres to the boat ramp, which proved ideal in every way.

Return to the Mainland

Three very Happy Paddlers at Vivonne Bay

Our trusted beach greeter Tristan – resident of Vivonne Bay, and later to be ferryman in his car to Penneshaw – was there to welcome us. None of us had ever met Tristan, but through a mutual contact he had kindly agreed to take on the ferryman task. I had been updating him throughout the previous week to firm up a time of arrival.

On the mainland we transferred the boats went to Ben’s ute, and were off into the falling night. Driving through the treed paddocks of Karls’ neighbour as a short cut to his spectacular place on top of the range was a highlight.  Threading through the trees was just like threading through the breaking reefs of earlier in the day ……. a million miles ago it seemed.

Tresh Pearce

Through Chowilla

Four day downstream meander in the creeks of the Riverland, 7- 10 Apr 2023

The River is Green

Five kayakers headed up to the Riverland to inspect the aftermath of the recent floods by paddling all the backwaters from the Chowilla Reserve back to just before Renmark, a distance of 68kms. Happily we can report that the river levels are back to normal, most businesses are open, and the whole area is looking magnificent: I have never seen it so green with so much bird life. If you can, get up there to have a look, the floods have done wonders for the countryside.

Good Friday

Charlie in the MurrayWe started our trip on Friday lunchtime from the launch spot near the Customs House Houseboats, crossed the river to get into Suders creek and off the Murray as soon as possible. Suders creek was its normal fast-flowing self, but now (thanks to the floods) with a new tree stuck right in the middle of the channel at the fastest spot, with associated eddies. This resulted in one capsize and a few near misses, not a good start to the trip! After getting organised again, we continued down the creek, avoiding the many snags to set up camp on Chowilla creek.

Leisure Saturday

A leisurely start next morning saw us paddling slowly down Chowilla creek, assisted by the current while we watched the scenery. A pair of wedge tailed eagles was spotted, along with many straw-necked ibis and the more common sacred ibis. We were also fortunate to see a lot of Black-tailed native hens, which we have never seen before. Apparently they are nomadic and take advantage of temporary wetlands, so the conditions after the floods must be ideal for them.

At the end of Chowilla creek we reached the Murray and turned left for a few kilometres to look for the next creek which would take us into Hunchee, and then RalRal creek. We stopped at the Chowilla Woolshed for lunch, where the full extent of the flooding became apparent; we were sitting on the bank at least 2 meters above the river, and could see the flood marks another 1 meter up on a building. Trying to estimate how wide the river would have been at the level was truly scary, I’m sure it must have been difficult to even find the main channel of the Murray at that level.

A Short Shower on Sunday

The third day dawned cool and overcast as the others had, but this time we were treated a short shower of rain, luckily we were all in our kayaks with wet weather gear on so we didn’t get much wetter than we already were. After turning off into RalRal creek we had a short detour to have a look at Lake Woolpolool, but the water levels were already too low to get over the regulator and into the lake itself. Maybe next time.

Portage in ChowillaJust after that there was a bit of excitement where the creek narrowed into almost a small rapid under a low bridge, with a tree waiting in the river downstream. With memories of Suders creek still fresh in our minds, some of us opted to do a short portage to avoid the obstacle, while the rest of the group took it in turns to carefully paddle through. Luckily it wasn’t as bad as it looked and no-one else went swimming.

After a leisurely paddle down the RalRal Wide Waters (which is actually a lake wider than the Murray itself), we found the entrance to Nelbuck creek and set up camp for the night. Peter put out his yabbie net and managed to supplement dinner with 2 nice size yabbies, although cooking them in a small hiking stove was a bit of a challenge.

Wrap up Monday

Next morning we continued down the creek back into the Murray and had a brief stop at the old Woolenook Internment Camp from World War II. Nothing much is left of it now except for a few plaques, but worth a look.

Another kilometre or so down the Murray and we found the imaginatively name Inlet creek, which we followed into Horseshoe Lagoon, and from there navigated our way through the creeks and lagoons back to Canoe-The-Riverland, where Ruth and Jim had kindly let us leave one of our cars for the shuttle back to our launch spot.

If you feel like a paddle in the area, be sure to contact them. They do organised tours and kayak hire, and have the best maps of the area:

Departing from Cape Jervis

Crossing Backstairs Passage – Cape Jervis to Antechamber Bay and Return — 18/19th March 2023

The adrenaline has finally stopped racing through my veins to allow me to tackle the promised trip report of our crossing of Backstairs Passage to Antechamber Bay and return on the weekend of 18/19th Mar 2023. What a paddle, with a SE gusting to 20Kn and seas over 2m at some stages. All paddlers did extremely well without any incidents, but special recognition should go to our two crossing first-timers: Abelardo Pardo and Simon Delaine.  Talk about jumping into the deep end!  Conditions in Antechamber Bay didn’t look too bad at departure, but steadily escalated during the return crossing.


It was a great turn-out with twelve (12) paddlers participating. The trip was led by Phil Doddridge with Charlie Walker, Matt Eldred, Mark Loram, Mike Dunn, Peter Vincent, Anthony Aardenburg and Bella, Tresh Pearce, Abelardo Pardo, Simon Delaine and recent member Karl Meyer following Phil’s lead. Similar to our crossing in March 2022, the trip was aimed at demonstrating the splitting of the tide to achieve the most efficient crossing.

Four of the group (Mark, Simon, Abelardo and Phil) drove down on Friday Night and camped at the Cape Jervis Caravan Park ready for an early morning start. We used this site when training for our Bass Strait crossing and had fond memories of relaxing amongst the pines at the rear of the Park overlooking Backstairs Passage.

A lovely evening soaking up the view and not a ripple seen looking over to Penneshaw. In the evening the highlight was looking up towards the sky and counting the satellites passing overhead – I have never seen so many, there seemed to be a continuous stream passing just below the Southern Cross. A strong wind came up overnight which eased in the morning, but which probably should have been a warning of an approaching front.

Day 1 — The easy one

Enjoying the crossingUp and about around 6am and met the remainder of the group at Cape Jervis Boat Ramp in time for an 8.30am on-water start.

After loading kayaks (I overdid the equipment list again!) and after the safety briefing from Phil we set off at about 8.45am, following the coast east to Lands End to avoid the ferry’s path. We then set our bearing for Cape Coutts and headed out on our adventure, with a few whitecaps between us and the safety of Antechamber Bay; just east of Cape Coutts we were on our way.

A pleasant paddle across but no wind advantage which disappointed those with sails in the group, just a solid slog for 5 hours before we made Antechamber Bay, even explored a bit of the sandy beach to eventually reach Chapman River. Just checking that the mouth hadn’t moved!

Many hands made light work of the portage across the beach and we were soon paddling up the picturesque Chapman River, admiring the paper bark trees and new bridge as we approached campsite no 12 that Mike had kindly booked.

Setting Camp

After setting up camp most of us relaxed, enjoying the location while others went paddling to explore the upper reach of the Chapman River.

Once again the campground was pretty busy so we made an early appearance at the camp kitchen, admiring the stunning views. We had a very pleasant evening there – night solar lights might be handy, a note for future trips! The kitchen is very well set up and we spent the evening discussing kayaking adventures while being entertained by Tresh’s attempts to get his cooker operational.

Soon after we turned in and slept well, being serenaded by several Boobook Owls during the night. In the morning some fairy wrens visited, very elusive but I did manage to get a couple of pics as they checked out my tent.

Day 2 — The not so easy one

On our way to Antechamber BayNo rush in the morning with the plan to be on-water in Chapman River by 10am, bit of drizzle overnight and the additional time was put to good use sponging the tents and gear and getting packed up.  We said our farewells as we paddled under the KI version of Sydney Harbour Bridge and down to the mouth for another portage. The waters in the bay looked calm but the forecast for the crossing was increasing winds 15 to 20Kn SW. The sky towards Deep Creek threatened to bring squalls during our crossing.

The briefing was a bit somber and Phil gave the group the option of returning via the Penneshaw ferry instead of attempting a borderline crossing – we all mulled it over but the mutual decision was to paddle the return as the group was fired up to complete the crossing. These sort of situations are always difficult with experienced kayakers, particularly with several having done crossings in similar conditions.

We split into sail-assisted kayaks and those just going with the swell, although on the starboard beam. We headed off together before separating into two groups, with those sailing heading directly across the passage towards Deep Creek before following the coast back to Cape Jervis while our group of five (5) made a beeline for Cape Jervis. There was no time to relax on the four (4) hour return paddle, it certainly required continuous attention.  Phew, all back in the safety of Cape Jervis boat ramp by 3pm.


Together in the bakerySunday’s return crossing was by far the most challenging that I have done and I breathed a sigh of relief when we all arrived back at Cape Jervis safely, with the sailors having arrived about 15 minutes prior to the non-sail group.

Looking back, the return paddle was probably borderline, but to achieve the crossing without incident is a credit to the experience within the Adelaide Canoe Club. This is due to regular sea kayak training provided to Club members over several years particularly from Phil Doddridge, Bernard Goble and Peter Carter. All of the group are also regular paddlers, both at Club events and privately, regularly working on improving their skills. The paddlers conducted themselves in a very professional manner exhibiting a good appreciation of group dynamics to ensure we all remained safe.

All of us wanted to celebrate and swap stories, so we adjourned to the Yankalilla Bakery to debrief. And yes, the adrenaline was flowing strongly for quite a while afterwards!

Eildon white water, 9-13 January 2023

Many ACC paddlers will associate the annual Eildon White Water trip with Wayne and Libby. Wayne has been involved in instructing on the trips since 1985 and Libby joined in 1990. Wayne says this year’s trip was their last, so we take this opportunity on behalf of all those paddlers that have learnt and enjoyed white water paddling because of their instruction to say a big THANK YOU.

First Day

The river level this year was lower than usual, which exposed previously covered rock features and gave us many options of eddies and waves to play in. Scott started us all doing some warm up exercises in small eddies above the main area, perfecting our edging, strokes and body position before coming down to the main area to spread out and play. Wayne broke his usual rule and tackled The Sump rapid on the first day, successfully. The floods earlier in the year rearranged The Sump rocks so once again the wave was different. Monday and Tuesday saw us all enjoy and hone our skills in the rapids alongside the caravan park.


On Wednesday we travelled up to Big River. The level there was higher than our usual. It was 0.6m, so we didn’t hit as many rocks on the way down. The narrow river made negotiating some rapids quite technical, which was fun. Unfortunately, flooding left too much debris in the Slalom Rapid to make it feasible for us to paddle it so we portaged around and then played in the wave below the rapid before continuing on to the pull out point near the road bridge. The scenery around Big River makes for a very enjoyable day’s paddling.


Thursday morning we took the boats up to the dam wall and had an enjoyable paddle down, through the S Bend rapid and back to the caravan park. Our last afternoon was filled with playing around the top features then Wayne, Scott, Simon, Steve and Charlie progressed down to enjoy The Sump. There were a few capsizes, some rolls and only a couple of rescues.

This was a great week paddling white water. Thanks to our instructors, Scott and Wayne, we improved our skills and had lots of fun. Think about joining us next year to experience the exhilaration of white water paddling.

Kayaks in the beach in Coffin Bay

Coffin Bay — 7-11 November 2022

Head wind

The weather forecast for the week at Coffin Bay National Park was looking great as Bernard, Francis, Charlie, Marina and Anne set off from Coffin Bay township on Monday 7th November. With a 10-15 knot north easterly wind we paddled along the cliff edge on the northern side of the Bay We gained some advantage from the easterly component and sheltered from the northerly aspect until we crossed Mount Dutton Bay. The wind hit us again as we crossed above The Brothers Islands and made our way along the coast to Black Springs campsite. It wasn’t long

Seal behind a 2 person kayak with two sails up

Seal playing with the kayak at Coffin Bay

before we had set up camp and were relaxing.

Trying to get to Point Longnose

The plan for Tuesday was to paddle around Point Longnose and make our way to Morgans Landing camp. However, the forecast calm wind turned into at least 15 knots from the north and the swell was predicted to be about 2m. We battled into the head wind through the oyster farm to Point Longnose and beached the kayaks on the more sheltered side. Francis and Marina looked after the boats while Bernard, Charlie and Anne went to check conditions on the exposed side. The wind was very strong and it was whipping up waves which would have been breaking side-on to us along Seven Mile beach.

Back top Black Springs to see the eclipse

To continue would have given us about 12 km of very difficult paddling so we decided to retreat back to Black Springs. While we were checking conditions around Point Longnose a large wave and strong gust launched Charlie’s kayak back into the sea and quickly took it out of reach. Marina jumped into her kayak and managed to grab it but without a tow line to return it to the sandbar. She was stuck in waist deep water with a deep trench between her and the sandbar. We needed to work out how to reunite Charlie and his kayak. Bernard and Frances managed to ‘deck carry’ Charlie out to Marina and then it was easy to get everyone back into kayaks.

Moon eclipse in Coffin Bay

Moon eclipse in Coffin Bay

The strong northerly wind made sailing back a great option for those with sails. Anne and Marina decided to go around the coast while Bernard, Francis and Charlie planned to sail directly back. Luckily we did a radio check before we split the group and we had not gone far when we had radio contact that Charlie’s rudder wasn’t working and we collected together on the beach for repairs. That sorted we returned to camp, more or less as a group with some sailing nearer camp. In the evening as we walked along the beach we noticed the moon rising, but it didn’t look right. We checked Google and discovered we were seeing a total eclipse of the moon in progress.

Heading back

Wednesday’s winds were predicted to be even stronger and we woke up to rough seas and about 27 knot winds so we opted for a bushwalking day and visited the lookout to Black Rocks in Avoid Bay. We walked a little further along the cliffs and found an enormous Osprey nest perched on a rocky island, with the resident bird standing on top of it.

The wind forecast for Thursday was a westerly (tail wind returning to Coffin Bay) and Friday was back to easterly (head wind returning to Coffin Bay) so it didn’t take much discussion to pick Thursday as our last day. With a good tail wind we made our way along the coast then across to The Brothers Islands to check on the birds and seals there. There was one seal that swam around our kayaks checking us out as we photographed it.