The Minnamurra River is a degustation menu of delectable delights that should be sampled and savoured slowly. Speed is not of the essence if you want to experience, understand, and appreciate everything this remarkable place has to offer.
|START||Boat ramp, Charles Avenue, Minnamurra|
|GPS||DMS: 34° 37’ 43.49” S, 150° 51’ 29.01” E
DD: -34.628747, 150.858058
|FINISH||Return to start|
|PARKING||Large car park|
|TOILET||Near start and in Trevethan Reserve|
|CONDITIONS||Open areas, tidal, light traffic, shallow areas|
|FISHING||Bass, blackfish, bream, flathead, whiting|
It is true that paddling is great for your physical wellbeing and if you work hard enough you might end up with great guns and a rippling six-pack, but it isn’t always about fitness. Sometimes the best thing about paddling is the way it can give you experiences that others can only hope to imagine. The Minnamurra River features a basalt island, lush mangrove forests, thriving saltmarshes, a legendary surf break, and the loveliest coastal reserve in the Illawarra. When tasty morsels like these are served on your plate, it’s downright rude not to take your time and make the most of every mouthful.
The main road into town takes you through the tree-lined fairways of the scenic 18-hole Kiama Golf Club, setting the recreational vibe nicely and putting you in the perfect mood for what is to follow. A couple of turns later you are gazing out across the sandy entrance to the Minnamurra River at the distinctive shape of the basalt stack that rises out of the ocean nearby. It’s a stunning panorama that came in at number 43 on Australian Traveller Magazine’s 2012 list of the “100 Best Views In Australia & How To See Them For Yourself”. The island has two names – Stack and Rangoon. The first relates to its volcanic origins, and the second comes from a barque that was shipwrecked near the island in 1870.
Minnamurra is an Aboriginal word that means “many fish” and you’ll undoubtedly see people dangling lines from the banks. If you’re up for a spot of kayak fishing, look for whiting near the mouth, flathead on the sandbars, bream near the pylons of the bridges upriver, and Australian Bass further on where the salt water starts to mingle with fresh. Blackfish, mullet, and mulloway are also caught here.
There are extensive shallow areas in the Minnamurra River, but there is a channel through that you can find by following the red path on the map. Start by paddling towards the ocean for a short distance, and then turn left just this side of the sand spit to follow the far shore upstream.
The river runs parallel to the coast for the first 1.5 kilometres of the trip, with just a narrow strip of strikingly natural Killalea Regional Park bushland and Minnamurra Beach separating the two. The park features a staggering array of ecosystems including grassland, heath, shrubland, rainforest, mangroves and salt marsh. It’s easy to land for a closer look. There’s even a trail that is used by twitchers to see the huge variety of birds that live in this environment; and surfers to reach the world famous “Mystics” surf break at the northern end of Minnamurra Beach.
The river then does a left hand U-turn under the South Coast railway and Riverside Drive bridges and heads back south for a time before winding its way inland. The waterside vegetation is mainly mangroves, although saltmarshes sometimes come all the way to the river’s edge, and rare littoral rainforest also makes an appearance later in the trip.
The Princes Highway passes overhead 8 kilometres from the start. The tidal limit is still another 1.5 kilometres away, but if you’re anything like me you’ll probably be feeling that this is just about the right time to be taking a second look at the Minnamurra menu.
“When we travel in roadrunner mode, we miss the small details that make each place thrilling and unique. We lose the joy of the journey.” Carl Honore
|EAT||Kiama Golf Club, Oxley Ave, Kiama Downs, (02) 4237 7300|
|DRINK||Jamberoo Pub, 12 Allowrie Street, Jamberoo, (02) 4236 0270|
|SLEEP||Kendalls on the Beach Hol Pk, Bonaira St, Kiama, (02) 4232 1790|