Question. Where does one go for several days mid winter to enjoy the companionship of old and new friends, the sounds of the sea, mountain forests, riparian zones, heath, wetlands, eucalypt forests, wallum scrub, coastal plains and still feel you have ‘gone bush’?
Answer. BAFFLE AND DEEPWATER CREEKS WITH WPSQ UPPER DAWSON BRANCH 19-22 JULY.
Friends from Moura, Theodore and Taroom gathered in Cracow to travel east to the old copper mining town of Mt. Perry, a small town with a proud heritage and treasured museum. Of much interest was the working three pole stamper with a rotating shaft catching under tappets, which in turn allow the stampers to rise and fall crushing the rock fed into the mortar box below. Further east we stopped at the Boolboonda Tunnel constructed as part of the railway line in 1883-4 to carry copper from Mt. Perry to Bundaberg. At 192 metres in length it remains the Southern Hemisphere’s longest, hand-cut, unsupported tunnel. Under the nearby grand old sprawling ficus tree the young-at-heart climbed and the hungry lunched.
Stopping by the Fred Haigh Dam on the Kolan River red-backed wrens, Eurasian coot and a fan-tailed cuckoo were spotted – then it was on past macadamia orchards, over the Essendean Bridge on Baffle Creek and out to Broadwater Haven north of Rules Beach.
Equipped with two-way radios and led by our generous guide next morning we waded into wallum scrub dominated by banksia, grevillea and attendant honeyeaters. From wallum to wetlands and melaleuca along Deepwater Creek the grey fantail, rufous whistler and black-faced cuckoo-shrike were seen while an exploring couple quietly navigated the river in their silent electric canoe. Into Deepwater National Park and onto Wreck Point we learned of the medicinal morning glory and sampled bush tucker while the scrub turkey sampled our tucker, overseen by a scarlet honeyeater.
While many of us knew little about Baffle Creek, by the afternoon and following morning we came to know this major river system with pristine status. With a tidal reach of 35km there are no weirs or dams to hold back flow or mitigate migration and breeding of many marine and aquatic organisms. The Baffle supports a diverse and abundant species of fish including barramundi, mangrove jack, flathead, bream, mud crabs and prawns. There are numerous sea grass beds at the mouth of the Baffle that support sea turtles, dugong and dolphins. Following the colossal, damaging floods earlier this year Nature’s recuperative powers have been remarkably swift.
After exploring the Baffle headwaters in the Gwynne Range and the Bush Tucker Garden in Miriam Vale we returned to Broadwater via 1770, Agnes Waters and along the sandy track through Deepwater. While looking forlornly out to sea in hope of spotting a dolphin or humpback a green tree snake only narrowly avoided being trodden on!
Before the ‘last supper’ we gathered for our WPSQ meeting, tales by the campfire under a full moon and the fellowship of far flung friends who came together for this interesting non-camping campout. The return to the Dawson Valley next day offered many of us the chance to take interesting roads less travelled along the Kolan River and on through Monto.