Aargh! The pressure is getting to me.
The ‘Hall of Shame” is always there like the Sword of Damocles! After the Editor’s latest fax I needed a drink….so I reached over at my desk, grabbed a bottle and slugged it all down in one gulp, It was ink, but it was all I had. I sat there blotting my teeth.
Well ,where to start? Down here on the far South Coast, river catchments are small and many coastal lakes would only be open to the sea say once every 2-3 years…that is if local councils would leave them alone. Sadly this is not the case. If your retaining wall or vegie patch at mean high water is going under, call the council and they’ll pull the plug on the lake for you no risk.
Recently, the Bega Valley Council opened Wallagoot Lake to the sea. This lake sits right in the middle of Bournda National Park and there are signs everywhere extolling the virtues of a pristinenatural environment. Not really bulldozer tracks are visible in the sand and commercial fishermen net it for 6 months of the year whether it is open or closed to the sea. During the prawning season, hundreds of amateur prawners trample the wetlands and seagrasses, carve new tracks through the bush and light fires in the sand all along the channel. What a mess! How are your local lakes fairing?
Still warm enough for a quick dip down here but only just! Water temperature last week was 18.5C and on the way down. The swell has returned to the south east for the winter and the south westerlies are picking up a bit. Still, we can look on the bright side! It’s only a few weeks until the winter solstice (shortest day) and the westerlies mean generally lower surf for practice. So get out while you can and practise those high braces!
Speaking of surf, Ron Mudie and I had a paddle recently together and we paddled along the beach right in the break zone which was something we used to do years ago for practice and it is good practice. You are guaranteed plenty of bracing experiences.
If you attended the recent Skills Weekend Surf Sessions, why not keep up on the skills you learned there. Give it a go at your favourite beach. Don’t forget to move out for the rocky obstacles!
I was browsing through some old Sea Kayaker Magazine (U.S. version) copies recently, and I came across the forerunners of today’s kayak tests which were actually done in the tank and not on a computer. This was in the pre-computer days of 1986! Anyway, the testers had a brief chance in a highly expensive tank to create waves and measure paddling resistance in waves as opposed to calm conditions. Guess what – at 3 knots, paddling resistance in waves from directly ahead of about 8″- 12″” height is virtually double the resistance encountered in calm conditions. Now you know why you are so tired after 20 kms of punching into a 15 knot nor easter!
Andrew Lewis called in recently after a lO day trip along the far South Coast. He said he and his group encountered lots of sea life, the most notable being a pod of Southern Right Whales and 2 decent sharks quite close to their boats. I believe paddling action for the group after the shark visits was brisk and high! Also sighted were penguins (Fairy or Little Penguins – same species) and numerous seals. The whales are on their way north to breed and will return in October and November if you’re interested in paddling with them.
Recently, I called in to the National Parks Office in Merimbula to have a chat with Lyn Evans. Lyn is the Ranger-in-Charge for Nadgee Nature Reserve. This reserve, together with the southern section of Ben Boyd National Park extends from Eden to the Vic. border. The section from Disaster Bay to the border is one of only three areas of coastline in NSW which is undeveloped for more than 10 kms. Understandably, it is a desirable paddling destination for sea kayakers. Lyn has encountered quite a number of sea kayakers in the Reserve, both club members and others. I went to see her with a view to finding out if NPWS are yet formulating any “official” policy on sea kayakers in this area.
I am pleased to say that official eyes have not yet turned onto sea kayakers. However, it could happen in the future.
Those members who have paddled in the area will know that it is a fairly exposed coast and that good camping sites are few. As such, kayakers and hikers have tended to use the same sites which of course puts extra pressure on small areas. Lyn is concerned that these sites will become degraded if not monitored closely. For this reason she has photographed, mapped and transected all popular camping sites to gauge vegetation and general condition over a period. I have seen her work folders for Nadgee campsites and she has certainly put some time and effort in to it.
Well, where does that leave us?
There is a moral and legal dimension to us paddling and camping in the Nadgee area…. as I see it….
Legally, NPWS are charged with the management of the Reserve. just a quick aside on nature reserves generally. They are usually harder to get to than National Parks and are quite often more sensitive to “people pressure” too. Thus they are managed more conservatively than National Parks.
NPWS Merimbula (now the Far South Coast Base Office) do this by restricting hikers etc to a max. of 20 at any one time. Walker registration is required at a charge of $2.00 per night. l’m told that this money goes towards rubbish removal and general management although it’s obvious that it wouldn’t even go close to covering costs. This $2.00/night chase applies to sea kayakers too ~ I’ll come to this in a moment.
So, that’s the legal position – what about the moral side? I suppose I should firstly declare my stance here…after having seen what Ranger Lyn Evans is trying to do in Nadgee, I intend to support her by registering each time I go down there and providing feedback where I can in the way of photos, sketches and notes, f would like to see the area preserved without it ending up like the popular spots in Kosciusko. I, lake most sea kayakers I know, have in the past just gone down to Nadgee whenever I wanted without NPWS notification. So, the moral position, as I see it, is to co-operate with the NPWS registration regime plain and simple.
Now, there are a few other little problems related to this “moral” position. Suppose you register or attempt to, and are told that on your upcoming-already organised and planned trip that there are no vacancies for your sea kayaking party of 4. What do you do? Well. that’s up to you.
Naturally you may also quite rightly argue that sea kayaking by definition means that the only pressure your group is going to place on the Reserve is at the campsites and the beaches! Walkers on the other hand place far greater strain on fragile areas.
Also, should sea kayakers have to pay the same registration fees as walkers when (1) we only use campsites and not the trails and (2) we have far greater carrying capacity in our boats for the removal of our own rubbish?
Another problem for sea kayakers is that we often do not know where we are going to camp or for how long, On this exposed coast we are at the mercy of the weather. These little gems, I leave with club members. Perhaps this topic would be a good one for campfire chats on club paddles. I, for one would like to know member’s feelings. Why not write a letter to the magazine editor?
The NPWS address and phone number at Merimbula is P.O. Box 656 Merimbula 2548. Ph. (064) 954130 Fax (064) 954137.
One more thing – whatever you do when you go to Nadgee, have a look for alternate campsites to take the pressure off the existing ones. Norm Sanders found a good one recently. Ply him with a glass of fine port and he might tell you where it is!