The Conjola experience is so much more than just a paddle around a lake. This trip takes you up Conjola Creek to Fishermans Paradise and those who find the call of the ocean irresistible can even paddle out to catch a few waves.
|START||Boat ramp, Lake Conjola Entrance Road, Lake Conjola|
|GPS||DMS: 35° 16′ 10.5″ S, 150° 30′ 3.8″ E
DD: -35.269583, 150.501056
|FINISH||Return to start|
|PARKING||Large car park|
|TOILET||Near start and at Fishermans Paradise|
|CONDITIONS||Open areas, tidal, some heavy traffic, shallow areas|
|FISHING||Bream, flathead, jewfish, tailor, whiting|
They love their Conjola here. Lake Conjola the town is on Lake Conjola the lake which is fed by Conjola Creek inside Conjola National Park and sits right next to Conjola Beach. Confused? I went in search of the reason for this local obsession and discovered that Conjola is most likely a derivation of “kongoola”, the indigenous name of a fish found in local freshwater creeks. It must be incredibly charismatic, or incredibly tasty, to have attracted so much attention.
Lake Conjola is on the NSW south coast just north of Milton and about 50 kilometres south of Nowra. This trip starts at the boat ramp at the end of Lake Conjola Entrance Road. To get to it you need to pass all the way through the Lake Conjola Entrance Tourist Park.
If you fancy your kayak surfing ability, it is worth noting that the ocean is just to the right of the ramp and it is possible to paddle right into it. Although to make sure you have enough fuel for the trip I suggest suppressing your inner Ky Hurst, at least for the moment. Interestingly it is only since 1999 that steps have been taken to keep the entrance to the lake permanently open. Before that it had sometimes been closed for years at a time.
The lake is to the left. There are lots of shallow sandy areas between the start and Roberts Point (see map). It’s the perfect setting for stingrays, and you may see a few, but it can be tricky for boating so it’s important to follow the channel markers. Also, the tidal effect here is very strong and can be extremely difficult to paddle against. This is important to remember when timing the start of your trip.
Once clear of the last markers, head northeast to Station Point, then in a northerly direction to Kidgee Point on the opposite side of the lake. Before crossing over, you pass Adder Bay and Mella Mella Bay and round Horse Point on the right. There are plenty of places to chill out and admire the surrounding eucalypt forest. The first is a little beach in Adder Bay. This looks lovely but the name of the bay doesn’t really help in the relaxation department. You might prefer to use one of the many spots north of Horse Point.
The amazingly dark green waters of the lake are mostly deep but the area around Kidgee Point is a notable exception. The best way to avoid running aground is to follow the series of yellow marker buoys. Conveniently, they also lead the way into Conjola Creek.
There is a significantly calmer and quieter atmosphere in the creek that puts you subconsciously into cruise control. After about 1 kilometre there is a boat ramp on the left flanked by stone walls. This is in the enticingly named village of Fishermans Paradise where I suggest you turn around and start thinking about the wave or two you might catch when you get back to the coast.
One thing you need to be aware of is that Lake Conjola has a caulerpa taxifolia infestation. Caulerpa taxifolia is a popular aquarium plant that’s no threat to humans but outside the fish tank it’s a threat to biodiversity as it overruns native species. It can spread between different waterways by attaching itself to your gear so it is essential to wash everything after you get off the water.
““I would rather think of life as a good book. The further you get into it, the more it begins to come together and make sense.” Harold Kushner
|EAT||Pilgrims Café, Princes Highway, Milton, (02) 4455 3421|
|DRINK||Commercial Hotel, 74 Princes Highway, Milton, (02) 4455 5555|
|SLEEP||Lake Conjola Entrance Tourist Park, Lake Conjola, 1300 133 395|