The 40km paddle to a fancy dinner
Updated: Sep 15, 2022
We all love a one way paddle and on the odd occasion, the logistically savvy paddler can set themselves up for an amazing day out with no backtracking, this was one of those days. From home near St George's Basin to Mollymook on that elusive one way route, the carrot for the paddler and more importantly pick up driver: dinner at one of the regions most highly rated restaurants.
The paddle directly south across the Basin is bang on 5km from the boat ramp and a very relaxing, glassy water affair. Just me and all of the regularly seen sea birds as well as a breeding pair of sea eagles overseeing this first section. Into Sussex Inlet next which contains the township on one side and forms the western border of Booderee National Park (NP) on the other. Within Booderee NP resides Christians Minde (above) which was the south coast's first guest house. The Ellmoos family settled here and became fishing, farming and guest house pioneers in the area of which all would soon become huge industries. For more information or to stay at this historic site: https://www.christians-minde.com/history
The Sussex Inlet is about a 6km paddle, depending how much wiggling around you do. It's leisurely if you go with the tide and stay close to the main channel to avoid the many sneaky shallow bars. The water colour becomes much prettier the closer you get to the mouth and is a great spot to break and explore. This far end of Bherwherre beach receives little traffic due to it's remoteness which is the heart of it's beauty.
Beautiful paddling conditions out the inlet entrance and I'm delighted to see a Caspian tern which in my experience is relatively rare in the Jervis Bay area. Larger than their more common cousins and with a very specific red beak. Journeying from Sussex to Berrara is about 9km, following the expansive Cudmirrah beach and leading to the days highlight package.
Berrara beach is a must visit and especially turned it on for me this day. I was lead into town by a mother and juvenile dolphin and found the tide was just low enough for a lunch break at this little beauty (right). The rock here at Berrara is packed with marine fossils, more than any other place I've seen along our coastline: examples in the slides below.
For a sleepy holiday town, Berrara packs a punch for nature enthusiasts with awesome snorkelling, fossil hunts, a good chance to see dolphins and seals (tiny dolphin below) and the mermaids pool a 2km return beach walk. A small population of critically endangered hooded plovers can usually be spotted on Berrara beach, today I count 3.
The paddling past surfing mecca Bendalong is beautiful with a myriad of picture perfect beaches, surf breaks and very few people. The most famous beach here for non-surfers is Boat Harbour Beach near the boat ramp where up to 15 stingrays reside year round. It's a super cool place to get up close to these beautiful creatures, even have them glide over your feet and bump into your legs! The sad fact is that they have adapted to people feeding them foods outside of their normal diet and becoming reliant on the easy food source at busy times. So please don't feed them! 6 very energetic seals are the only swimmers in the water today, due to the low swell and I feel rejuvenated after their pleasant greeting at Bendalong Point.
Kilometre number 28 lands me on the narrow isthmus of Green Island at Manyana and I'm starting to get pretty tired now. I've found where the surfers are today, lined up on a perfect left hander west of the island. It looks amazing today and not too busy, but I have a dinner to get to. And also 12km more to gobble up.
I've had a brilliant day but the explorer in me is had it by now and I skip along Conjola, Buckley and Narrawallee Beaches with as much haste as my weary body can bear. A notable spot for further exploration when I'm refreshed is up Narrawallee Creek which looks just beautiful today and on previous visits.
Here you can see a happy chap, mission completed and refreshed after a swim, beach shower and fresh clothing for my hot date!
Dinner at Cupitts Estate Winery is unreal as always, the 1000 reviews at an average of 4.7/5 don't lie! A wonderful meal with a wonderful lady wraps up a day that easily fits into my top 5 of all time. Contented by physical challenge and amazed by our incredible local landscape of which I've seen so much today, I wrap up a truely breathtaking day of everything a sea kayaker could ask for.