Lake Tabourie is a lovely coastal lagoon just south of Ulladulla. Glimpses of it from the Princes Highway are enough to tempt you in but glassy reflections of Pigeon House Mountain and the hidden treasures of its five creeks are what will keep you coming back for more.
|WATERWAY||Lake Tabourie and tributaries|
|REGION||South Coast, NSW|
|DISTANCE||Up to 20 kilometres|
|TIME||Up to 4 hours|
|START||Boat ramp, Caravan Park Entrance Rd, Lake Tabourie|
|GPS||DMS: 35° 26’ 18.1” S, 150° 24’ 22.0” E
DD: -35.438361, 150.406111
|FINISH||Return to start|
|CONDITIONS||Open areas, tidal, light traffic, shallow areas|
|FISHING||Bream, flathead, tailor|
If you want to unlock the secrets of Lake Tabourie then it is important to launch when the water level is high. The main body is very shallow and some parts are not navigable at low tide. There are no published tide times for Lake Tabourie but the WillyWeather website does have times for Crampton Island just offshore from the entrance to Tabourie Creek which connects the lake with the ocean.
A further complication in determining whether there will be enough water for a paddle is the fact that the ocean entrance to Tabourie Creek is not always open. When closed there is no tidal effect and the level can only be determined by sight or by reference to the Manly Hydraulics Laboratory website page for Lake Tabourie. It is worth noting that to prevent flooding the entrance is mechanically opened when the water level reaches 1.17 metres.
The best place to start is the Lake Tabourie Boat Launching Ramp which has the added convenience of toilets and barbecues. The ramp can be found on the imaginatively named Caravan Park Entrance Road which heads east off the Princes Highway just north of the lake. It is also possible to put in from waterfront reserves on Portland Way and Centre Street as well as at the end of a dirt road that leads down to the lake from the highway but none of these have any facilities.
The boat ramp leads into Tabourie Creek almost directly opposite the mouth of Saltwater Creek. The ocean is a short distance to the left of the ramp and the main body of the lake is to the right. The best approach is to head towards the lake first and then check out the other two options when you get back.
The early part of the trip is flanked by the waterfront homes of the village of Lake Tabourie on the left and a gorgeous bangalay sand forest on the right. Rope swings hanging over the water provide hours of summer entertainment for local kids.
After paddling under the Princes Highway Bridge you are completely surrounded by the Meroo National Park. Brandaree Creek disappears to the left almost immediately. This offers a look at the other side of the village but once again you might like to leave that for the return journey.
The first of several good reasons you should make a beeline for the lake is the stunning collection of reflections that can be seen on its open waters. A particular highlight is the distinctive shape of Pigeon House Mountain in the distance. It is a popular bushwalking destination with more than 8,000 people climbing to its peak every year.
Munno Creek on the western side of the lake is another must-see highlight. Its entrance is well camouflaged so most people who paddle here never find it but those that do are rewarded with a magical tour on a secluded narrow winding path protected by casuarina and eucalypt forests.
The final feather in the Tabourie cap is Lucy Kings Creek at the northern end of the lake. This is another forest fringed exploration that should be regarded as essential. If you have the time and the energy, make sure to poke your nose into Brandaree Creek and Saltwater Creek on the way back to the ramp.
“If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.” Yogi Berra
|EAT||The Treehouse Café, 4 Boree Street, Ulladulla, (02) 4455 3991|
|DRINK||Marlin Hotel, 110 Princes Highway, Ulladulla, (02) 4455 1999|
|SLEEP||Lake Tabourie Tourist Pk, Princes Hwy, Lk Tabourie, 1300 559 966|