Stony Creek collects clean fresh rainwater that falls south of Ulladulla and trickles it into the back of Burrill Lake. The lake is familiar to most who have explored the NSW south coast but the creek is still a delightful hidden secret.
|WATERWAY||Burrill Lake, Stony Creek|
|REGION||South Coast, NSW|
|START||Kings Point Reserve, James Crescent, Kings Point|
|GPS||DMS: 35° 22’ 2.95” S, 150° 26’ 4.14” E
DD: -35.367486, 150.434483
|FINISH||Return to start|
|CONDITIONS||Open areas, tidal, light traffic, shallow areas|
|FISHING||Bass, bream, estuary perch, flathead, garfish, whiting|
People in the know will tell you that the best way to get into Burrill Lake’s secluded northern basin is to use the boat ramp in Kings Point Reserve. This is also the best place to start a paddle into the lake’s only tributary, Stony Creek. To get there, turn west off the Princes Highway onto Kings Point Drive just south of Ulladulla and follow it all the way to the end. This sounds simple but the road takes some unexpected twists and turns and it changes its name to James Crescent just before the end, so you need to stay on your toes.
The first and last parts of this paddle are on the open water of Burrill Lake. Try to start first thing in the morning to avoid sea breezes and take advantage of glassy conditions. This might also mean that you don’t have to share the water with the Ulladulla Water Ski Club. It is based in the bay east of Kings Point but luckily its members don’t seem inclined to get up with the birds.
After launching, head east to the first point immediately to your right and then turn north. Cross the bay before rejoining the thickly forested shoreline and following it all the way to Stony Creek.
There is a peak in the west that stands tall like a sentinel keeping watch over this area of New South Wales. Captain Cook called it Pigeon House Mountain because of its distinctive shape, but he was not the first to see something in its appearance. The indigenous people of this area called it Didhol, meaning woman’s breast. You may see either, neither, or both.
The area on the left hand side of the entrance to the creek is surprisingly home to a freshwater wetland. This seems odd given that it is on a coastal lake usually open to the sea, but it survives using occasional floods of fresh water flowing down the creek. Thankfully the state government has taken the responsibility of ensuring that they are kept safe from development.
To the right, long rows of grape vines are visible in the distance. These belong to Cupitt’s Wines which opened in 2007 as the first winery in Ulladulla. If you are partial to the occasional drop, this is a local attraction you might like to add to your after paddle schedule.
The rest of the outward trip is flanked on both sides by agricultural land but the waterside vegetation is still intact in many places so it feels quite natural. In those areas where the pasture meets the river bank be sure to acknowledge the cows that have strategically positioned themselves to watch you glide by.
In addition to the cows, your company will be the occasional magnificent wedge-tailed eagle and a host of jumping fish. There probably won’t be any people, although you probably won’t consider that to be an issue.
The creek continues on past the top of my map, but it is generally not possible to paddle any further. The waterway lives up to its name by becoming very “stony” and the water is nothing more than a playful trickle bouncing through the cracks. It is a very pretty scene. If you are comfortable with getting out of your boat on a rocky surface, this is also a great spot to relax for a while before heading back to the lake.
“There is only one success — to be able to spend your life in your own way.” Christopher Morley
|EAT||The Treehouse Café, 4 Boree Street, Ulladulla, (02) 4455 3991|
|DRINK||Marlin Hotel, 110 Princes Highway, Ulladulla, (02) 4455 1999|
|SLEEP||Bungalow Park, 123 Princes Highway, Burrill Lake, (02) 4455 1621|