Two day kayaking camping trip to North Stradbroke Island
Victoria Point We met about 10 members from the Sandgate Canoe Club, who just returned from a day trip to Blakeleys Anchorage, but had turned back, as it was getting a little rough with the tide going out and the 15 knot NWestrly blowing against it and creating about a 0.9M chop. Trip to Blakeley Anchorage Having wanted to do this trip for quite a while, finally the day arrived. After attending the Dawn Service in Brisbane City, which had meant an early 3.30am wake-up, we had some brekkie and left for Victoria Point, about an hour’s drive. Victoria Point has a small beach just south of the car ferry terminal , an ideal launching point for the trip. You can conveniently off load your kayaks and gear close to this beach and park your car in the car park nearby or park in a $10/night carpark, just around the corner. The weather was sunny and a 15knot NW was blowing across the bay. We managed to get loaded and get on the water by 9am, which was a bit later than planned, as high tide was at 9.17am and we were hoping to paddle south with a bit assistance from the tide. Our first stop was going to be Karragarra Island, approx . 7.5km SE of Victoria Point, about 1.5 to 2hours easy paddle. Our kayaks were a Eco Behzig, which could hold tons of gear and a brand new hire kayak Wilderness Tsunami 165, which with my 193cm frame and 108kg weight, fitted very snugly, a bit to snugly at times. The plan was to go between Garden Island and Macleay Island, but instead we finished up on the west side of Garden Island but managed to cut half way along through a passage back to Macleay Island . The beach landing place at Karragarra Island could be clearly seen now and gave renewed energy to paddle the last few kilometres. The beach at Karragarra Island has toilets, BBQs etc and shaded picnic tables. We decided after a cuppa and a few health bars to brave the chop, rather than camping on Karragarra, even though camping is not allowed;-). We decided to go through Logan’s Passage, which is between Macleay and Lamb Islands and is the shortest route. However, beware, as this passage will dry up on low tide. Once we came out of the lee of Macleay we copped the chop, which wasn’t too bad. We took a bit of water over the bow and occasionally from the side, but after about a two hour paddle we landed at 2pm at Blakeleys, being very pleased with ourselves, but a bit sore in the shoulder region. Low tide was to be at 3.40pm and there are lots of sand banks about and considering we took a straight line to Blakesleys we passed over most of them and at times our paddles were hitting the sand; any later and we might have had to drag our kayaks to deeper water, therefore, it will be worthwhile to keep a close eye on the tides when paddling in this area.
Blakesley is nearly half a circle of beach about 3/4km long and the shallows go out quite a long way. There is plenty of camping just off the beach. There are garbage bins, but no toilets (so bring your little shovel along) nor is there any water. We had about 12 litres of water with us, plenty for a two night stay, when used only for the essentials. This was also supplemented with a 3 litre cask of red wine in case of “emergency”?. The weather was great and the Soldier crabs are quite remarkable when feeding at low tide, when there are thousands of the little critters marching about. The Kookaburras are also very friendly and will try to beat you to the goodies if they get a chance, even to the extent of grabbing a sandwich from your hand. Dark came quickly at about 5.30pm and a couple of camp fires lit up along the shore. The signs says no camp fires. But judging by the number of old fires, not much notice seems to be taken of it, maybe because the signs are facing inwards ;-). After “cooking” a meal, prepared by my friend John’s lovely wife, a few reds and a cup of coffee, we retired to our tents about 7.30pm for a well deserved rest. We were woken up by the raucous laughter of our friends the Kookaburras. It was our intention to paddle north to Dunwich for the day and back, about an 18km round trip from Blakesleys, but the wind was from the North at about 20knots, which created quite a lot of white caps on the Bay. In lieu we scouted our surroundings, read, slept, ate and generally relaxed, which in this day and age we don’t do often enough. We basically had the whole anchorage to ourselves, with the occasional motor boat pulling in for a short break. After an early dinner, when we finished of most of our provisions as we couldn’t see the need to carry anything edible back?, after which we retired to our tents for the night. The night sky is absolutely fabulous, showing the Milky Way in all its glory and the trusty Southern Cross looking benignly down up on us.
The next morning we had our breakfast, having to make sure the Kookaburras wouldn’t beat us to it. We broke camp and managed to get everything back in the kayaks, which was quite a feat on its own. Seeing there was very little wind we decided to set off at 8am for the northerly tip of Macleay Island, about a 5km paddle. High tide was to be at 10.45am, but as there was hardly any wind the tide didn’t seem to set us much south. We reached our destination at about 9am and stopped on the beach and boiled the billy for a cuppa. The area has picnic tables and toilets and a nice war memorial facing the sea. At about 10am we set up for Victoria Point, keeping a watch out for the various ferries and car ferries on route to the various islands. The paddle from Macleay to Victoria Point is about 4 and a bit km and we landed safely on the beach of our departure by 11am. The route we took is about 25km in total, with the first day taking the bulk of about 15km. I understand the trip is rated at Level 2, but I’m not sure exactly what that means. We returned the Tsunami 165 to Rosco Canoes &Kayaks on Lutwyche Rd, Windsor, QLD 4030. I can wholeheartedly recommend them, as both Christian and Marjan are very helpful and friendly and full of sound advice. It was a trip I really enjoyed, but it would be too much for a day trip, unless you are an experienced paddler and don’t mind paddling the 25km+ in one day. As I mentioned before, the Tsunami 165, even though having good secondary stability would be more suited to someone, max. 90kg and less than 6 feet. The foredeck at the cockpit is pretty low and if one of your feet slips of the rudder pedals, which happen to me twice, there is not enough room to find them back with your feet, other than to take off the spray skirt, which in some of the very sloppy conditions we encountered is not the safest thing to do. Our cooking stove was a MSR run on Shellite, which is a great little stove and extremely light and compact. All by all a great weekend.Points to remember:
1. Keep an eye on the tides; an incoming tide gives a southerly set, whilst the outgoing tide is northerly. Therefore, try to time it such that paddling to Karragarra is on an incoming tide and from Karragarra to Blakeleys on an out going tide, as it will make paddling so much easier.
2. Watch the sand banks, especially at low tide they can be clearly seen.
3. Take sufficient water, as there is no water at Blakesleys
4. Take a small spade to bury any waste.
5. There is mobile phone reception on Blakesleys, but switch your phones off and relax.
6. I also recommend the use Google Earth to make you familiar with the area and if you use the Ruler gadget you can also measure all the distances, refer to photo of Google Earth in this article.
7. And above all try to relax? Also shown are a couple of photos of Blakesley in a northerly and southerly direction and some of our camp..