Gunnamatta Bay to Wattamola and Return [10]

By Trevor Farrell

Ken Harvey and I arrived at Cronulla boat ramp at 8:45am to find Norm Bull and David Saxton busy loading their boats. Shortly afterwards Ken McDonald arrived.

We took off at 9:20am for a full days paddle. Heading up Gunnamatta Bay against a southerly we made our way out past Cronulla and Bundeena. Norm set the pace for the day and by staying behind him we all stayed together for the duration of the paddle.

Turning south at the entrance to Port Hacking we headed out between the bombora and the cliffs of Jibbon Headland. The two metre swell, as well as the southerly blowing added some thrills. My stomach was telling me to concentrate wholly on the paddling to overcome the feelings of sea sickness. Ken was constantly keeping a check on all paddlers ensuring our safety and enjoyment.

It took us over two hours to reach Little Marley where we looked forward to having lunch. Ken called us together just outside the surf zone so as to explain the correct way to beach the canoes. At first it looked impossible as we had two swells to contend with, one was coming into Big Marley and the other into Little Marley. Timing was the critical factor with judging the right time between swells to paddle into the beach. We all made it to the beach to enjoy our lunch break and met some people from the Illawarra Canoe Club. They were part of a protest walk through the Royal National Park to highlight the need to repair the coastal walking track.

After lunch we made our way down to the entrance of Wattamolla and began our journey home. By this time the southerly had died right down. So all we had to contend with was a large swell behind us. Over the whole day we did not see another boat, maybe they had more sense or we were just more adventurous.

We arrived back at Cronulla at 3:30pm and farewelled Ken as he headed off to Audley which was another 1.5 hours paddle upstream. A great day was had by all. We gained lots of experience and many thanks to Ken for organising the trip. He proved to be a very competent and experienced leader.