The first time you draw back the casuarina curtain to gaze upon the pure white sands and aqua blue waters of Theodolite Creek, you might feel like picking up a tall glass with a little umbrella on top more than you feel like picking up a paddle. Don’t worry. That feeling never lasts too long.
8 kilometres plus / 2 hours plus
Beach, Theodolite Creek Drive, Woodgate
GPS: 25°04’33.5″S 152°32’41.8″E / -25.075972, 152.544944
Creekbank, Theodolite Creek day-use area, Theodolite Creek Track, Burrum Coast National Park
Large car park
Open areas, tidal, light traffic, shallow areas
You are an intelligent person with an inquisitive mind. Therefore, you are no doubt wondering how this creek got its name. Theodolite isn’t a rare mineral only found in this part of Australia, nor is it the brand name of a two-part epoxy adhesive. A theodolite is an instrument that measures angles between visible points in both horizontal and vertical planes. It is used for land surveying, building, tracking weather balloons, and even rocket launching. So, what does it have to do with this exquisite waterway?
Captain James Cook was an expert user of the theodolite. It is well-known that the town of Seventeen Seventy to the north got its name because Cook landed there when he came to this part of Australia in 1770. A less publicised footnote is that he also visited the mouth of this creek. While he was here, his theodolite disappeared without a trace. Did it fall overboard? Was it pushed? Was it stolen? Is this story a figment of someone’s imagination? No matter what really happened, this pretty place subsequently became known as Theodolite Creek.
This is a return paddle on tidal waters. The tidal flows can be strong and there are a lot of shallow areas. To optimise conditions, work out how far you want to paddle upstream and aim to arrive there at high tide. The most useful published tide times are those for Theodolite Creek – Woodgate on WillyWeather.
The facilities at the main access point to Theodolite Creek in Woodgate are excellent. A boat ramp, a large car park, toilets, picnic facilities, a drinking fountain, and an outdoor shower have all been provided. However, the quality of the facilities at a place is invariably directly proportional to its popularity and this is no exception. However, quiet times can still be found on weekdays outside of school holidays.
Theodolite Creek day-use area in Burrum Coast National Park (GPS: 25°04’21.9″S 152°31’42.2″E) offers an alternative place to put into the water. The facilities aren’t as comprehensive but a high clearance four wheel drive vehicle is required to get there so you are much more likely to have it all to yourself.
From the Woodgate Beach trailhead, paddle to the left to go upstream. If the tide is high, you paddle pretty much anywhere you want. At other times, you may need to pick a path through the sandbars.
House Creek and Lagoon Creek are tributaries on the southern side of Theodolite Creek that you may feel like exploring. Red mangroves have colonised several sandbars and transformed them into islands. There are two small islands outside the entrance to Lagoon Creek and then a larger one near the Theodolite Creek day-use area (see map). There are several more beyond that as well. It is easy to become disorientated so make sure to keep track of where you are.
The far end of the furthest island is just under 4 kilometres from the trailhead. There are some jetties and buildings on the southern bank at this point as well. This is a good place to turn around if the call of the tall glass with the little umbrella on top has become too strong to resist. Otherwise, you can continue to the Grassy Bank Road clearing another 2.5 kilometres upstream (see map) or even further beyond.
Black bream, estuary cod, flathead, mangrove jack, tarpon, whiting
Woodgate Beach Hotel, 195 Esplanade, Woodgate, (07) 4126 8988
Woodgate Beach Holiday Park, 88 Esplanade, Woodgate, (07) 4126 8802
Action expresses priorities.Mahatma Gandhi