We are gathered here today to celebrate the union of two rivers; Wilson and Maria. There is something romantic about the place where this pair comes together. A secret world of hidden passages lit up by blushing flowers and enlivened by fluttering wings.
Wilson River, Maria River
17 kilometres / 4.5 hours
Boat ramp, Log Wharf Reserve, Mooney Street, Telegraph Point
GPS: 31°19’36.6″S 152°47’45.9″E / -31.326833, 152.796083
Large car park
Open areas, tidal, some heavy traffic
The Wilson and Maria Rivers meet to the east of the village of Telegraph Point near Port Macquarie. Their magical rendezvous is out of sight of prying eyes, but the location of the village and its Wilson River boat ramp are not classified information. The Pacific Highway and the North Coast railway line both pass through here and Telegraph Point even had a train station between 1917 and 1983.
Head right after launching and paddle under the Pacific Highway to go downstream on the Wilson River. If you come on a weekend or during school holidays, you may need to stick close to the edge because Telegraph Point is a favourite of the water skiing community. It’s so popular that a sign has been erected near the boat ramp to show the anti-clockwise path they have to follow. There’s also a custom made water sports complex billed as “the ultimate skiers and boarders paradise” in Stoney Park on the southern side of the river.
Telegraph Point is known to local paddlers as the starting point of the annual 25 kilometre “3 Rivers Mini Marathon” which follows the Wilson, Maria, and Hastings Rivers into Port Macquarie. You stick to the same path as them initially, but after 3.5 kilometres you leave the march towards civilisation and turn left into tranquillity.
Scores of lilies adorn the water’s edge and crowd into sheltered inlets. The leaves of two types can be seen floating on the water. The large round leaves with serrated edges belong to the giant water lily. This stunning plant has eye-catching blue-white flowers that can be up to 25 centimetres in diameter. The water snowflake has much smaller leaves and charming little white flowers that are almost fluffy in appearance. There’s also a third type that only dangles its toes in the river. The spider lily sits on the banks and can be recognised by long fleshy leaves and delicate white flowers. Late spring and summer is the time to see the floral display at its best.
Much of the land adjacent to the river has been cleared for agriculture but you wouldn’t know it from the water. Thick mangroves, tall casuarinas, and impressive eucalypts combine to make you, the darters, and the egrets feel totally at ease and a million miles from care.
There’s a fork in the waterway at around the 7 kilometre mark. The Maria River continues on to the left and it is possible to paddle all the way to Crescent Head in that direction. Feel free to go that way and see as much as you can, but remember this junction because the other path leads to the wonderfully narrow and secluded Torrens and Maria Anabranches (see map). These are alternative routes back to the start and icing on the cake for anyone with an adventurous spirit. Ducking and weaving through overhanging branches with the kingfishers to reconnect with the Maria River further downstream is a fantastically different way to make your way back to Telegraph Point.
Bass, bream, flathead, mud crabs
Riverview Tavern, Rollands Plains Road, Telegraph Point, (02) 6585 0212
Riverlodge Park, Blackmans Point Road, Blackmans Point, (02) 6585 0264
Just living is not enough. One must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower.Hans Christian Andersen