Myall Lakes Paddle [23]

An ‘Intro To Touring’ Sojourn

By Alex Preema

Once again, the Myall Lakes sojourn for club members who haven’t tried distance paddling and living out of a kayak was blessed with fantastic weather – tailwinds and sunshine heading north and idyllic fusion between heaven and earth touring about. It did change on the afternoon of the last day but dark clouds and wind are an effective antidote to post expedition blues. The port around the evening candle (and fire on the second night) was hardly necessary as we were already intoxicated by the Myall sunsets. Scarcely a mosquito was blatted and our possum guests were as charming as ever, unlike their Tasmanian cousins. And the company of paddlers produced a mixture as colourful and eccentric as youre likely to meet. I will never forget, for instance, the duel of the Trangias during our lunch break on Stag Island nor the tales around the campfire of life in a tree house in the Daintree rainforest. There was, however, a sour note to marr the weekend – we were plagued by people. Perhaps fifty or sixty over the three days! Ah, don’t let me describe the event through my biased and slightly tired eyes but, rather, read the impressions of two club ‘Myall Lakes first-timers’.

The Myall Lakes are a wonderful place to explore by paddle. There are a multitude of hidden inlets and vast expanses of lakes. The bird life in the area is extensive and there are plenty of good places to camp. On the weekend we were there, during the cooler months, there were relatively few other people around. It is a great place to clock up a few miles and share a relaxing weekend with other paddlers.

Kevin Bones

Having started paddling in early 1994 with a Sea Proficiency Award completed and the ability to roll under controlled conditions, it was time for a touring trip. With vivid memories of ‘Don’t Mine Myall Lakes’ stickers from the 70s and a sense of shame in having passed the area so many times on trips to destinations further north, my time of reckoning had arrived. Time to lay my dormant curiousity at rest, a curiosity that stemmed from an almost romantic fascination with this, for me, unexplored destination as well as an opportunity to experience ‘living’ out of a boat for a few days.

Looking forward to a break from work and not wishing to rough it too much, I decided that packing an over-abundant food supply and other creature comforts would not only ensure that I was both comfortable and well fed but that I could also experience paddling a relatively heavily kayak. Arriving at Nerong on Saturday morning I met Alex Preema, our trip leader, Kevin and ‘Gages’, all of us forming a complement of four, diverse individuals who had met for the first time. Subsequent to a round of introductions we were soon on the water and bound for Myall Lake to the north. The incredible vastness of the lake system became apparent very quickly.

Various exploratory diversions were taken en-route before completing the days paddling assisted by a very strong tail wind, which, on occasions enabled surfing the choppy lake swell. Gages and I decided that a pre-dinner drink was in order as a magnificent sunset was slowly taken in acrosss the lake. Eventually it was time for dinner. Whilst Kevin and Alex were well under way with meal preparations, Gages, a vegetarian, discovered that his fresh vegetables were still in the car. I was pleased to be able to share with him, from my over-abundant supply of provisons, a complete range of this favourite vegies, steamed in the billy, of course. We were joined by many curious possums, one of which insisted on hanging from a tree branch above my Trangia stove like and intending kamekazi for the duration of the cooking.

The second day was spend exploring Myall Lake, its foreshores and some of its islands. The group was getting along very well together and I found Alex’s and Gage’s knowlege of the flora and fauna we encountered very informative. On the third day we returned to Nerong taking time to cross Bombah Broadwater to Mungo Brush, where a short bushwalk afforded a view of Broughton Island.

The most immediate reassurance I gained from our return to Nerong was the discovery of my thongs so far into the extremities of my forward compartment that it was no wonder I couldn’t find them during the trip.

Patrick Carmody

Itinerary: Nerong — Bombah Broadwater — Boolambayte Lake — Myall Lake and return
Base Camp: Shelly Beach
Kayaks: Rosco, Puffin, Mirage and Pittarak
Distance Paddled: 75km
Most Popular Stove: Trangia

Editor’s (and Author’s) Note: There is an eight day Myall Lakes journey described in detail within the book ‘Canoe Touring In Australia’. The tour begins at Bulahdelah, takes in all the lakes and ends at Tea Gardens. For the research of this tour I paddled a folding Pouch Eureka 2 sea kayak.