Koong Burry Bay is the hub of an adventure which explores two secluded creeks, circumnavigates two amazing islands, takes in a World War II installation, visits an inspirational “Place of Healing”, and even offers the possibility of a paranormal experience with a couple of ghosts.
|WATERWAY||Koong Burry Bay, Mullet Creek, Hooka Creek, Lake Illawarra|
|DISTANCE||Up to 15 kilometres|
|TIME||Up to 3 hours|
|START||William Beach Memorial Park, Prince Edward Drive, Brownsville|
|GPS||DMS: 34° 28′ 45.3″ S, 150° 48′ 35.8″ E
DD: -34.479250, 150.809944
|FINISH||Return to start|
|PARKING||Small parking area|
|CONDITIONS||Open areas, tidal, light traffic, shallow areas|
|FISHING||Blackfish, bream, flathead, luderick, mullet|
There are many excellent spots to get into the water near Koong Burry Bay, most notably the boat ramp on Wollamai Crescent in Berkeley, the boat ramp on Kanahooka Road in Kanahooka, and William Beach Memorial Park on Prince Edward Drive in Brownsville. The trip described here starts from William Beach Memorial Park where the best place to launch is at the bottom of the grassy slope near the children’s playground.
The waterways of this trip are tidal and often very shallow. The best experiences are had when the water level is high. There are no published tide times for Koong Burry Bay but the WillyWeather website has them for Lake Illawarra – Bridge. Aim to start paddling when it is high tide there.
To the left of the launch site, Mullet Creek goes upstream for around 750 metres before passing under an old disused bridge and coming to a timeworn causeway. This cannot be passed without a portage. It is undeniable that historical moments can reach out to you from relics like this but if you start hearing whispers then it might be something much spookier than that. It could be the ghosts from the haunted bridge in Brownsville reaching out to you from beyond the grave.
The majority of this trip takes place downstream from William Beach Memorial Park. The waterway passes under the M1 Motorway and then eventually splits in two. The path to the right is the continuation of Mullet Creek. The path to the left is part of a man-made “tank trap” which was created during World War II to prevent the Japanese from using tanks to attack the Port Kembla steelworks from the south. Go to the left to follow the tank trap out to Koong Burry Bay.
When you reach the bay, you will see the entrance to Hooka Creek on your left. Hooka Creek is very shallow and rocky in some places but it leads to a site of spiritual significance that is definitely worth visiting. The Place of Healing in Hooka Park was created in 2003 and 2004 for children living with leukaemia and the people who care for them. Works of art created by the project that can be seen from the water include footbridge handrails, a water pavilion, and a jetty linking the two. All have been decorated with poignant carvings and mosaics.
When you get back to Koong Burry Bay, look for Hooka Island and Gooseberry Island out in the lake and make a beeline for them. These islands are part of a Budgong sandstone ridge which was formed when this area was under the sea 250 million years ago. They are now home to a rare remnant of endangered Illawarra Subtropical Rainforest. White-bellied sea eagles breed on Hooka Island and they are just one of over eighty species of birds that have been seen here. For these reasons and more, Hooka Island and Gooseberry Island are protected by the Berkeley Nature Reserve and you cannot land without prior permission.
Instead of returning the way you came, paddle to the southern tip of Hooka Island and then head due south to Currungoba Point. The mouth of Mullet Creek is on the right just beyond that. All you need to do then is turn into the creek and follow it all the way back to where you started.
“The essence of the beautiful is unity in variety.” Felix Mendelssohn
|EAT||Alexander’s Café, 102 Princes Highway, Dapto, (02) 4260 9489|
|DRINK||Dandaloo Hotel, 336 Kanahooka Rd, Brownsville, (02) 4261 1122|
|SLEEP||Surfrider C’van Pk, 50 Junction Rd, Barrack Point, (02) 4295 1941|