Friday, April 13, 2018

Currarong To Bendalong By Sea Kayak

It was perhaps unsurprising that Rae suggested paddling home from the annual NSW Rock and Roll sea kayaking weekend. After all, Currarong to Ulladulla is only 70 km, an easy day out for Rae. In deference, however, to the weaker members of the party, we agreed to pack for a two to four day trip and for each person to choose how far they would paddle. In the end, there was a staggered series of drop-outs, starting with Jenny and Stephen, who dropped out before they even started, followed closely by Doug and I, who pulled out at Bendalong. Rae finished up at South Durras, which left only Greg to continue on to Batemans Bay.

Rae opened the bidding for an ambitious early morning departure from Currarong at 6 am, which, over beers and barbeque the night before somehow stretched out to 7 am; a time still early enough to cause Greg considerable consternation and some confusion as to how he could manage his two mandatory and leisurely cups of coffee before departure. Doug and I simply got up early, around 5 am, and scarfed back our usual half litre plastic jug of black gold while making breakfast.

In the end, it was 7.15 am when, waved off by Stephen and Jenny on the beach, we paddled hopefully down Currarong Creek and out into Crookhaven Bight. The circuit around Beecroft Peninsula, finishing up Carrama Creek, is one of best long day trips in NSW, and, at least one party had enjoyed an epic day out, ending with multiple capsizes in the surf off Warrain Beach at dusk during this year's Rock and Roll.

We weren't looking for any epics, just a good few days paddling a scenic part of the NSW coast, and, the Beecroft Peninsula which is riddled with caves, clefts, gauntlets and grottos is about as scenic as it gets.

Although there was little wind, a reasonably large swell was running which made for bumpy conditions along the sea cliffs, and more looking into caves than paddling into caves. Still, it was a spectacular paddle along the 80 metre high sea cliffs. Highlights were the seals resting at Drum and Drumsticks, the gorgeous Cathedral, and the steep, clean cliffs of Windjammer Wall.

From Point Perpendicular, we crossed south to Murray Island, and had a comfortable lunch stop at Murrays Beach before continuing south down the slightly lower, but no less spectacular cliffs that lead south to St Georges Head. We were getting more tired as the day wore on and the incessant rebound from the cliffs became somewhat trying. Steamers Beach, offers a possible landing spot but the swell was messy and landing looked difficult so we continued round St Georges Head into more sheltered waters to find a small landing site and camp spot.

After the sea cliffs, caves, seals and bouncy rebound, paddling southwest to Bendalong seemed somewhat tame. We had a late enough departure to allow Greg his requisite two coffees, and headed mostly west to Cudmirrah where a huge swell was breaking on a couple of off-shore reefs. Then it was a downwind run, for those of us with sails, to Washerwomans Beach at Bendalong.

Neil kindly drove up from Ulladulla to take Doug back to Currarong to pick up our car, while Rae and Greg, after a leisurely lunch headed south towards Ulladulla. That journey was uneventful apart from a capsize and successful roll off Narrawalle Bar. That episode was enough to convince both Rae and Greg that paddling an extra 8 km to Ulladulla was worth the sheltered landing. This had the added advantage of a night in a real bed, a hot shower, and a good meal, before Rae and Greg headed south again the next day.

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