Picket Hill Creek
Picket Hill Creek is a picturesque tributary of the Kalang River on the western side of Urunga. Beautiful eucalypts, casuarinas, melaleucas, and mangroves provide magnificent shelter which ensures that the water is invariably glassy and the trees’ reflections are completely perfect.
Kalang River, Picket Hill Creek, Hogans Creek
10 kilometres / 2.5 hours
Unsealed ramp, South Arm Road, Urunga
GPS: 30°30’03.8″S 152°57’07.0″E / -30.501056, 152.951944
Creekbank, Corner Martells Road and Buckmans Road, Newry State Forest
Small unsealed parking area or on street
Open areas, tidal, light traffic, shallow areas
The seaside waterways of the Coffs Coast are amazing but sometimes, when the wind would blow a dog off a chain or you are so full of togetherness that you couldn’t take another wafer, it is definitely time to escape to a peaceful protected place where there is no one else around. Picket Hill Creek is one of those places.
Picket Hill Creek is easier to access than it seems to anyone who hasn’t physically been here. The three possible start/finish points are not obvious in Google Earth and no map consulted in the research for this guide betrayed their existence. This lack of information is really quite remarkable. Picket Hill Creek is either a closely guarded secret or the beauty of this very special place has simply managed to escape the attention of visitors to nearby Bellingen, Urunga, and Valla.
The main start/finish point for this paddle trail is an unsealed ramp on the northern side of the Kalang River just west of the entrance to Picket Hill Creek. For those who prefer slightly longer trips, there is another ramp on the same side of the river further to the east (GPS: 30°30’23.0″S 152°58’19.9″E – ‘Alt S/F 1’ on map). The third access point is a small clearing at the corner of Martells Road and Buckmans Forest Road in Newry State Forest (GPS: 30°31’18.0″S 152°57’56.2″E – ‘Alt S/F 2’ on map). This may be more convenient for paddlers coming from the south but it should be noted that roads in the forest are generally unsealed.
Assuming you launch from the main start/finish point, head east (left) along the Kalang River and then turn south (right) into the mouth of Picket Hill Creek. There is an island here and it is possible to go either side at high tide but the deeper water is on the left.
There are no published tide times for Picket Hill Creek. The closest are for Kalang River – West Newry Island on the WillyWeather website. This is around 3.5 kilometres downstream. Tide times at Picket Hill Creek will be around 45 minutes later than at West Newry Island.
The geographical feature after which the creek is named is located to the south of where this paddle takes place but it isn’t visible from the water. It is a site of significance to the indigenous Gumbaynggirr people who call it Nunguu Mirral. It is a men-only “kangaroo increase site” where ceremonies were conducted to lift the number of grey kangaroos living in the tribal area for hunting purposes.
The navigable part of Picket Hill Creek runs through the Newry State Forest. For much of the time, this is what gives the venue its leafy tranquility. However, there is a definite change in atmosphere for a few days a year when the forest is a venue for the Australian leg of the World Rally Championship.
The entrance to Hogans Creek is on the right around 500 metres from the Kalang River as the whiting swims. This is a lovely little avenue to explore.
Another 2 kilometres upstream, Picket Hill Creek splits in two. Both arms feature breathtaking mirror images of the surrounding forest and its inhabitants and each is worthy of exploration before you leave the water at the end of the day.
Bream, flathead, mangrove jack, trevally, whiting
Ocean View Hotel, 15 Morgo Street, Urunga, (02) 6655 6221
Reflections Holiday Parks Urunga, 2 Morgo Street, Urunga, (02) 6655 6355
Everybody should be quiet near a little stream and listen.Ruth Krauss