Bendeela to Fossickers Flat
16-18 December 2022
By JOHN WARD
We are very lucky to have some wonderful paddling locations in New South Wales. Just two hours from the Club is the idyllic location of Kangaroo Valley in the Southern Highlands, where fourteen Club members escaped the pre-Christmas shopping rush for a relaxed bush camping weekend on Lake Yarrunga.
Seven of us started from the Bendeela camping and picnic area on Friday, 16 December. The weather was perfect, and we paddled the short eleven kilometres to our first camping spot for lunch. Once set up, we all explored the area to Beehive Point including the Sunken Forest, where we meandered through trees drowned decades ago when the river valley was permanently flooded in the 1970s. On returning to the campground, we enjoyed a relaxed evening looking out across the lake from Acacia Flat.
On Saturday morning our group was, fed, packed and on the water by 8:15am. We headed out past Beehive Point and through the low gorge to Tallowa Dam where we were greeted by another seven members. The bush campgrounds are occupied on a first come, first served basis and so four paddlers headed off ahead of the main group to stake our claim at the Wirritin campground.
The main group followed behind into the main Shoalhaven Gorge, a relatively narrow waterway enclosed by steep cliffs of 300-400 metres in height. Arguably the most spectacular point is at Monarch, about five kilometres from the dam, where the river turns sharply to the right giving the impression of being closed in on three sides by 400 metre high cliffs.
Our advanced group of four radioed back to advise that our preferred campground was already taken so we stopped at Throne Flat, our second choice. After setting up camp and having lunch we headed upstream and played in the moving water at Fossickers Flat. A couple of our experienced paddlers portaged the Grade 2 rapid and then ran it downstream. It was also a good opportunity for others to play in fast flowing water.
On Sunday, four of the original paddlers made an 8am start for a return trip to Bendeela, arriving at 1:40pm. The main group had a more relaxed start and exploration of the Shoalhaven Gorge to finish at the dam. As always this was successful due to the fantastic community of paddlers we have in the Club.
For those that were unable to join this trip there is an intention to run another weekend in the early Autumn. This will be a camping trip based at Bendeela, avoiding the need to have lightweight camping gear and a fully loaded kayak. This will include a day paddle from the dam into Shoalhaven Gorge.