Montague Island/Mystery Bay [16]

Weekend 27 & 28 Feb 1993

By David Winkworth

A couple of weeks before the Montague Island weekend, an informative typed sheet arrived in the mail from Arunas Pilka giving all sorts of details on the proposed Sea Kayak Club weekend at Mystery Bay.

Having mucked around in this area for several years, the Winkworth family decided that this was not an outing to miss…. besides, circumnavigation of Montague Island was something I had not yet done.

And so we arrived at Mystery Bay on Friday afternoon in fine weather. Mystery Bay is a pleasant little village just south of Narooma. It is so named because some explorers did the vanishing act here many years ago.

A shallow semi-protected bay with an ocean boat ramp is the focus for the village that looks NE to Montague Island some 10 kms off the coast.

The camping area, well shaded by spotted gums sits right on the bay and most of the paddlers were in camp for Friday night. Saturday morning saw the group assemble on the beach – late as usual – in a refreshing NW wind. Pittaraks, Puffin, Voyager, Greenlander, Seafarer, Klepper, Folbot double and Pittarak double were present – sorry if I missed anyone’s craft.

We headed NE for the island over dirty green seas with a stern quartering wind and sea. About halfway to the island we crossed a current line and coincidentally the wind abated making for very pleasant paddling conditions to the island.

We were denied permission to land (Montague is a Nature Reserve) but it mattered little. In a small cove on the western side of the island intrepid paddlers produced all types of luncheon fare from deep within their craft as they drifted on the clear water.

We then paddled north around the island into a sizeable swell. Rebound made it difficult to get close to the seal colony on the northern tip of the island – there were only about a dozen seals and I’ve always thought that if I was a White Pointer this is where I’d make my home!

Our group spread out down the east side as we generally headed for home – funny how you pick up speed towards the end of the trip!

Off the southern tip of the island Jacqui Shrimptons healthy respect for sharks was proven as she thrust both arms and paddle skywards….  “Sharks!!! There are sharks here!”

“Are you sure Jacqui?”, I ventured?

“Yes, I am”, came the affirmative.

I paddled back and sure enough Jacqui had a dozen or so grey escorts underneath her boat. They soon departed and we enjoyed a pleasant return trip to Mystery Bay. Estimated distance was 25kms for the day.

Back at the bay Frank christened his Pittarak double and Sue became a Sea Kayak devotee after a trip in the bow seat. “That was fantastic” she beamed.

Pancakes were on the menu for Sunday breakfast, thanks to Arunas and what a mighty repast it was. Good value.

The weather & sea had improved for the Sunday – a glorious summers’ day. After a short exploration paddle along the rocks to a small beach it was time for some surfing practice. The water was warm, the waves well formed and although I didn’t see it, I’m told that Franks double tried to cut his single in half on a wave. That incident may make it into kayaking folklore!

Some boat swapping, a leisurely lunch and plenty of chat completed the weekend. Who knows maybe a major expedition was taken through its embryonic stage this weekend. Stay tuned.

Mystery Bay: well worth a return visit by the Sea Kayak Club – pleasant camping, good scenery, interesting paddling and generally good fishing too although the fish were safe on this trip.