Sussex Inlet is a lovely winding waterway that connects St Georges Basin with Wreck Bay on the coast. On this paddle, you trace its path and follow canals into Sussex Inlet the town for an inside look at the daily lives of locals.
|START||Boat ramp, Lakehaven Drive, Sussex Inlet|
|GPS||DMS: 35° 10’ 18.98” S, 150° 35’ 25.60” E
DD: -35.171939, 150.590444
|FINISH||Return to start|
|PARKING||Large parking area|
|CONDITIONS||Open areas, tidal, light traffic, shallow areas|
|FISHING||Blackfish, bream, flathead, kingfish, whiting|
There’s something fishy about Sussex Inlet. The national park on its eastern side is called Booderee, and the National Parks and Wildlife website says that is an Aboriginal word from the Dhurga language which means “bay of plenty”. The first Europeans to settle the area did so because of “plentiful fish stocks”. There is a fishing carnival that has been taking place annually for over 50 years. Not convinced? Take a look at all the waterfront homes on the man-made canals that have piers enhanced with facilities for preparing the daily catch.
If dangling a line from the side of your kayak is your idea of heaven, then this is the place for you. Come primed to land bream, luderick, flathead, snapper, tailor, morwong, trevally, whiting, leather jacket, and salmon.
Sussex Inlet isn’t hard to find. The exit from the Princes Highway 35 kilometres south of Nowra is marked with a stone monument, not just a sign. This is Sussex Inlet Road and it takes you the remaining 13 kilometres into town.
There are 5 public boat ramps in Sussex Inlet, and I reckon the best is at the end of Lakehaven Drive. This leads directly into the Sussex Inlet waterway itself. It’s also close to the coast. If you look right you can see the sand dunes of Bherwerre Beach, where the inlet meets Wreck Bay and the Tasman Sea.
When launching, take extra care on the boat ramp as it is really slippery. Locals say that they have seen many people go “A over T”. I suspect that watching this spectacle may even be a local pastime. Hopefully, you will make it onto the water in one piece. When you do, cross the well-marked channel and head left, away from Wreck Bay.
The first half of the trip winds in a generally northerly direction for around 5.5 kilometres, tracing the edge of the Booderee National Park, which used to be known as the Jervis Bay National Park. The new name was given to it by the Wreck Bay Aboriginal Community when it was returned to them in 1995. After about a kilometre, a yellow sand dune rises steeply out of the aqua waters, providing an almost irresistible opportunity for kids of all ages to climb up and get a bird’s eye view of the area before rolling back down again.
Another 3 kilometres further on the inlet sweeps west temporarily. On the outside of this bend is the location where the first Europeans set up camp. The Ellmoos family came here from Prussia in the late 1800s and even ran a guest house on the water called Christian’s Minde. It still stands today, providing an interesting historical snapshot.
Keep following the right-hand shore until it meets up with the wide expanse of St Georges Basin. There’s plenty more paddling to had out there but that’s for another day. Take advantage of the beach on the right if you feel like some time out of the boat.
On the return journey, take a trip through the man-made canals that have turned a large part of the town of Sussex Inlet into an island. To do this, take the first turn right, and then go left after passing under a bridge. My map shows the most direct route. After paddling under the third bridge, you will reach the Sussex Inlet waterway again. Turn right and make your way back to where the adventure began.
“The best way to prepare for life is to begin to live.” Elbert Hubbard
|EAT||Scott’s Place Café, 170 Jacobs Drive, Sussex Inlet, (02) 4441 1811|
|DRINK||Sussex Inlet RSL, 200 Jacobs Drive, Sussex Inlet, (02) 4441 2076|
|SLEEP||Riviera Caravan Park, 158 River Road, Sussex Inlet, (02) 4441 2112|