Sunday 27 April 2014

Pancake Creek 2014 - Trip Report

Nev, Phil, Jono and myself found ourselves free for a paddle in the week post Easter so we took off for Pancake Creek for four days of paddling.  We spent the four days exploring this stretch of coast so ended up with 90 kms of paddling and 10 kms of walking (for some of us).

Its a 28-29 km paddle into Pancake Creek from Turkey Beach which seemed to be the best option given half the trip would be down wind and half the trip would be with a head wind and we could use tides to assist.  Paddling from 1770 is around the same distance but wouldn't have been as interesting paddle given the rock gardening opportunities around Rodds Peninsular.

Day 1 - The plan was to use an outgoing tide to cruise out of Rodds Bay and then up to the top of Rodds Peninsular where we would catch the incoming tide down to Pancake Creek.

We checked the charts and the tides and we were on the water just after day break and without much effort were paddling over 9 kms an hour out of the bay thanks to the tidal assistance - this was the last hour of the outgoing tide. We got our first introduction to the midges which chased us out of the bay - they disappeared as the wind picked up.  Note you need to be prepared for the midges and mosquitoes when camping in this area.

Our timing seemed to be good and even though we had a slight headwind as we crested the top of Rodds Peninsular, we thought the incoming tide would offset this.  We had a break just after Flora Point to await the change of tide - a great spot for Oysters and for a walk if you enjoy interesting geology.  There is a fresh water creek tucked into the back of the ocean side of this beach.

I stuffed the tide movement around this headland as the ocean side of Rodds Peninsular faces North so you are paddling East as you come down the coast (meaning an incoming tide is against you...oops!).  We had some tired paddlers setting up camp at Pancake Creek that afternoon.

We camped at the first official campsite which meant we avoided the boaties campsite and picked up more wind from the South-Easterlies which helped a bit with the midges and mosquitoes.  Not enough for my liking and a winter visit may be in order next time.

There are a number of potential campsites along Rodds Peninsular.  They are more exposed and have a long flat beach at low tide, but you could have surf at your doorstep, fresh water close by, rock gardens and no boaties polluting your campsite with their crap.

Day 2 - Started early for me with a morning walk up Clews Point to the light station and on for views over Aircraft Beach and Bustard Head.  By the time I had returned our two elder statesmen had decided that a non-paddling day was in order.

Jono and myself decided to paddle down to try and find the entrance to Chinamans creek, which links Pancake Creek to Jenny Lind Creek. We ended up missing the small creek (I do mean small as it was less than a meter wide at the entrance) as we decided it was too small so we paddled to the end of current creek into crocodile country (yes there have been sightings of crocodiles) until we ran out of creek where I ploughed through some mud and went for a walk on a salt plain to see if there were any obvious  links to Jenny Lind Creek.

We decided we had enough playing in the mangroves and headed out to the Pancake Creek Bar for a surf.  The bar takes off from Pancake Point and runs parallel to Clews Point.  It makes a natural sand point spit that works in a south easterly swell.  The sand spit runs for a few hundred meters allowing for perfect sea kayaking waves.  We had avoided spring and neap tides so we had breaking waves continually for the few days we were there.

Once we exhausted ourselves on the bar, we paddled up to the top of Clews Point where the swell had been pushed up in the afternoon and was breaking on the rock platform outside the headland, and then pushing through the top bay which breaks across a sand bottom.  Very similar to Tea Tree Bay at Noosa.

Day 3 - Today we had a loose plan to paddle around Clews Point, then Aircraft Beach, then Bustard Head and if possible, into Jenny Lind Creek if we went that far.

We convinced the whole pod to join us and that they could select out at any point along the way.  It was a great paddle up to Bustard Head and where two of the pod turned around at Inner Rocks heading back with the wind to chill at the campsite.  Jono and myself paddled around Bustard head in the rebound coming off the cliffs until we saw our way to where the entrance of Jenny Lind Creek should be. There was heavy surf crashing onto the beach so it wasn't obvious as to where the creek entrance was so we sat off shore for a while before retracing our steps back to Clews Point.

At Clews Point we played in the surf until we needed a break on the beach in the first cove.  The waves were small and perfectly shaped and we fine tuned our surfing in this gentle surf pushed in by a meter of SErly swell.

Jono and I had a late afternoon walk up to Bustard Head where the caretakers took us on a tour of the lighthouse to watch the sun go down.  We took our lights for an evening hike back to camp (around 8 km round trip).

Day 4 - We had a leisurely pack and took off around 9:00 am.  We had a slight diversion of a quick surf on the Pancake Creek bar before catching runners generated by 10-15 knots of SErly breeze on the way to the top of Rodds peninsular where we stopped for a lunch break and waited for the tide to turn.

We were at the top of the peninsular far too quickly as we knew we would need to turn into the headwind and slog across Rodds Bay on the way back to Turkey Beach.  It is a six hour drive back to Brisbane so we made the choice to paddle back early in the tide cycle rather than wait for the full support of the 2-3 knots run in tide.  By the time we had packed up, we were off around 3:30 pm and back in Brisbane around 9:30 pm.

I couldn't miss out the following shot of Phil holding station.  He did get up 5 hours before take off so he could get on the water first and practice this...

So to Jono, Nev and Phil; thanks for the laughs and joining me on exploration of Pancake Creek and surrounds.

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