The following article was submitted by SOMR to the Macleay Argus and with some editing was published in the print edition on Tuesday 6 October.
People came from near and far to experience the beauty of the Macleay River, enjoy the exercise and learn about the issues affecting the estuary. For the third consecutive year, the community group Save Our Macleay River (SOMR) has organised The Paddle on the Macleay.
In brilliant sunshine and with favourable tide and tail winds, 50 paddlers, young and old, set out from Fishermans Reach near Stuarts Point, arriving at the Golden Hole and the entrance to the restored Yarrahapinni Wetlands ahead of schedule.
Eight members of the Port Macquarie Hastings Canoe Club joined in their sleek and fast boats. Club Secretary Caroline Webber said, we take every opportunity to explore the rivers on the Mid North Coast and we are particularly interested in the Macleay. Several members of our club participated in the last year’s Paddle on the Macleay. This is an excellent opportunity to be guided into the wetlands.”
Family groups chose to paddle three seater Canadians. Amongst them, Jeremy Buckingham,
Greens Member of Parliament, with his wife Sarah and son James from Bellingen and the
Robinsons from Kempsey.
The Tilmouths from Collombatti had beautiful handcrafted ply-wood kayaks.
The youngest and furthest travelled visitor was 10 year old Darcy Penfold from Queensland, accompanied by his grandmother Louise Turner of Aldavilla. He impresssd everybody with his enthusiasm and stamina, especially into strong winds on the return trip.
Before the boats entered the wetlands through a gap in the levee, National Parks Ranger Penny Kendall gave an introduction to the land the visitors were standing on. One relevant feature is a very large midden, mounds of shells and artefacts stretching for kilometres, testifying to the use of the area by Dhanggati and Gumbaynggir nations over thousands of years.
Penny also described how the area was drained in the 1970’s, which did not result in the good grazing land hoped for.
Instead acid sulphate soils and ‘black water’ poisoned the land and waters downstream.
After a lengthy process of negotiation by the Yarrahapinni Wetland Reserve Trust and later National Parks and Wildlife Service, tidal re-inundation effectively began in 2008. The tidal flow of saltwater resulted in an immediate reduction in acid sulphate soils. The speed and extent of the recovery was surprising. Click here to read The Yarrahapinni Wetlands Story
Once inside the wetlands, the participants could see firsthand how beneficial the re-inundation has been for fish and bird habitats. Besides many other bird species, three black necked storks, Jabirus, were spotted. Many paddlers even made a lasting contribution after Penny suggested they collect mangrove seeds along the banks of the open water and scatter them in the wetland’s broadwater. “I made sure I dropped them where they’d easily find a foothold to grow”, said Zalie Davison of Greenhill.
Rupert Milne Home, event organiser and ex-Chair of the Yarrahapinni Wetland ReserveTrust, described the Paddle on the Macleay 2015 and the restoration of the wetlands as wonderful successes. “Now we need to address the restoration of other wetlands such as the Clybucca,” he said.
Click on pictures to see large images
Click to read a report written for the members of the Port Macquarie Hastings Canoe Club Paddle on the Macleay 2015 by Caroline Webber
Paddlers from Port Macquarie