Kayaking in Coffs Creek

Soaking wet and sitting in a puddle was how I spent the first few hours of my day today as we’d decided to have a go at kayaking on Coffs Creek. I’ve been sea kayaking before in Kos with my sister Tish before so I was quite excited to have another go, even in the rain and Codie really wanted to do it. I’m really glad we did it as even though it was a bit challenging at times, it was great fun and I’d love to do it again!

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Waking up to the sound of the twins leaving and the sound of rain splattering down on to the ground outside, I rolled over, wrapped myself in the sheet and tried desperately to go back to sleep. I’d actually had a pretty decent night last night but just couldn’t seem to face the disappointment of it raining all day when there was so much that we wanted to do. A knock on the door and the high pitched call of “housekeeping” disrupted my snuggly thoughts and I just couldn’t get settled enough to drop off again. Of course that could have been due to the hoovering of the room and the man who just seemed to appear and start going on about some burgers he’d made but who can be sure. It’s a complete mystery. To be fair, even though I was a bit annoyed that he’d just let himself into our room,  the burgers did sound very nice and I think Codie, the biggest burger fan ever, was a bit jealous since we’d only had crisps and pasta! We were asked whether we wanted to join the free kayak tour down the creek towards the botanic gardens but we much prefer exploring things ourselves and politely declined. It’s not an adventure unless there’s some proper exploring and bobbing up and down in a line just didn’t seem as appealing as going alone. Of course if it was walking in the outback we’d have to go in a group to minimise the risk of death but in a creek running alongside the road, we decided we’d be just fine.

Suddenly invigorated by this new sense of adventure, as soon as the housekeeper had left the room we hopped out of bed, got dressed and went off to find some breakfast. We were now the only two people left in the 6 bed dorm and so were quite curious as to who would be joining us later on. I hoped it would be somebody nice as it was lovely talking to everybody last night and it would have been nice to continue it. Of course it would have been just our luck to end up with the least talkative people in the friendliest hostel in Australia but I remained optimistic and kept my fingers crossed. Two slices of toast were the food foundations of the day and after demolishing them in record time, we went to book out a kayak. Obviously the tour had already left and so we were a bit concerned that there wouldn’t be any left but luckily for us there was one. Codie had initially tried to get us one each but after various holiday accidents in Austria I was a bit nervous and wanted to share one, at least to begin with. In hindsight I’m sure it would’ve been fine but I just wanted to be on the safe side; he’s been kayaking a lot more so I could rely on him in case anything went wrong. So after signing it out, we went to get our waterproofs to protect ourselves from the lashing rain outside then followed the woman out to the shed to collect our boat for the morning.

DCIM102GOPROThe kayak was a lot heavier than I thought it would be which meant that the walk down the the creek was quite painful. I just couldn’t seem to find a good way to hold the slippy plastic and we ended up having to stop and start all the way. It was quite a walk there especially when the rain was making it even hard to hold on to but we got there in the end and slid the kayak into the water. Plop. I really wasn’t too sure about how to get into it to begin with; it looked like the moment I stepped into it it would float away leaving me in an awkward leg splitting position. Hmmmm. Carefully placing my foot inside and balancing the best I could, I successfully made it in without falling overboard and after holding it steady so Codie could get in too, we pushed off and set off. The river was a lot murkier and muddier than I thought it was so initially all I could think of was what was swimming about underneath us without us realising. I know that the driver had informed us last night that when the water is quite clear you can often see stingrays swimming about but I was quite concerned there was something more sinister drifting around too. In my shark book, I read that swimmers should always avoid murky water especially near estuaries as bull sharks often use the areas to breed and the young can remain there for up to 5 years. This species of shark is also known to bump people off kayaks and I really, really did not want that to happen!

Left, right, left, right, left right; I was getting the hang of paddling along the creek and was enjoying it only sometimes getting a bit worried that we were turning into the trees and bushes at the sides. When I was little I went canoeing with my friend Kate in a Lancaster canal and we ended up getting wedged in weeds and reeds so I was a little bit worried that that would happen again. To be honest if I had thought about the possibility of lurking sharks I’d have been fine but I really didn’t want to end up being munched on! We headed up stream towards the botanic gardens as on the map we’d be given, I saw that you could do a lap of them and come back down the river. It sounded like a good idea as there are also apparently koalas living in the trees so we thought it would be a fun way to try and spot them. The current was really fighting us but whilst it was hard to begin with, we soon overcame it and paddled as hard as we could. I could feel the tops of my arms burning and I hoped that months of carrying my 24kg bag around and months at the gym beforehand would’ve improved my strength enough for me to last the trip. On a few occasions I did let Codie take over while I had a rest as I couldn’t believe how hard it was. It definitely didn’t seem as hard as that when we were in Kos!

After a little while we passed the guided kayak tour who were on their way back to the hostel. It had started to rain again at this point after a lovely little break so everyone was looking quite angry and soggy as they drifted past. Two people in particular, who I recognised from last night as the girls who’d been coughing on everyone’s food in the kitchen (grrr), seemed to have given up completely and were just letting the current take them back. I was definitely looking forward to and easier ride when we were on our way back but I wanted to see how fast we could go, not just drift about. If we were managing to go fairly fast on the way up, imagine how much speed we could gather on the way back. I was really looking forward to that! Continuing up the river, after about 20 minutes of scanning the trees for birds and koalas, we came across a fork in the water. There was no current in the right side so we opted for that one and began what we thought was a circuit of the botanic gardens. As soon as we turned off from the “main” river, it suddenly got a lot more interesting. Low branches overhang and as the water narrowed, the plant and bird life intensified creating the impression that we were sailing through a magical entrance. It was really, really pretty. I was enjoying this part of the trip, looking around for wildlife and trying to spot the elusive koala bears until we noticed a bridge ahead of us. It looked quite low but rather than turn around and give up, Codie decided that we should lie down and try to get underneath it. I was happy to have a go at that and had just led down when he mentioned all the spiderwebs hanging down and said that a spider could drop down. That was it then. In the UK, a spider isn’t really a big deal but I definitely did not want an Australian spider to fall on me! We ended up abandoning that idea, admitting defeat and turning back downstream to begin our journey back.

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As we’d expected, kayaking back was much easier than on the way up and we managed to pick up  quite a bit of speed. It was really nice and relaxing, apart from the fact that I was sitting in a puddle due to the murky river water splashing through the drainage holes, and I decided I would really like to do it again sometime. At one point we sped past a couple of cormorants bobbing on the surface and a couple who were sat on branches drying their wings in the sun which had decided to pop out for a bit. I loved being able to get quite close to them and see all the little details of their faces without having to see them stuffed in a museum. I mean, I love museums, but nothing can ever compare the seeing the living version. Rather than flying off, they just watched us as we went past, seemingly starting us down and looking just as curiously at us as we were at them. It was great. Further down and closer to the jetty, we also came across some ducks on a log and paddled over to have a look at them. Whilst they were initially a little bit more nervous than the cormorants, they stayed perched on their branches and allowed us to have a proper look at them with all their beautiful colours and patterns. I’m going to miss all the interesting birds in Australia. I know in the UK we have lots of fascinating species but you can’t just look up and see black cockatoos swooping overhead or hear lorikeets in the trees. Still, at least there are still lovely ducks at home!

Parking up at the jetty, dripping wet from the seat puddle and the rain which was now bucketing it down again, I clambered out and then helped Codie to drag it out of the water. Hmmm. My arms were now aching from the paddling so if the walk there had seemed quite painful, I dreaded to think how it would go on the way back. Luckily it didn’t feel quite as far and after only a few stops, we made it back, rinsed out the river water and put it back in the garage. All of this was achieved in the pouring rain so by the time we were completely finished, I was in dire need of a shower. I would have liked to have spent more time kayaking about but I think with it raining so hard, we wouldn’t have enjoyed it quite as much. Hopefully we’ll get to go back out tomorrow before the downpours return; it seems a shame not to really take advantage of the free hire! Stepping inside the shelter of the hostel we decided to go and ask when the next shuttle bus ran to Coles as we really didn’t want to go wandering about outside again. Annoyingly we were told that it was at least an hour and a half wait. Grrrr. We didn’t really have much to eat and after all the paddling were both starving but decided to hang around and wait anyway. There was no point having a shower to go out and get soaked again after all and I was desperate to go and heat up under the warm water. I don’t think I could have spent the next few hours dripping wet in the dirty water and getting more drenched by the rain so waiting for the bus seemed like a good enough option. Don’t get me wrong, I love walking in the rain and the smell of it when it’s so hot outside is one of my favourite smells but today I just wanted to be snug. I’m sure they’ll be another rainy day to enjoy properly soon!

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After a lovely steaming hot shower and a change into some clean, dry clothes we were both feeling much better and went to sit in the dining room section. We didn’t have to long to wait by then and so we grabbed a can of coke each for some much needed energy and then sat down to have a look at the news and sort out our blogs. The twins were still around as they’re bus was only at 11pm and so we spoke to them for a while as well and it wasn’t long until it was time for us to get our things together to leave. At about 3:20, we shoved our laptops back in the room and went back to the reception to catch the bus only to discover that in the 2 minutes we’d been away, it had already left. This was really annoying as it was only meant to leave at 3:30 but had gone early, leaving us behind despite them knowing we were waiting. I was absolutely fuming. It hasn’t been the first time we’ve been left behind when it hasn’t been our fault , Mission Beach was the first, and now we were faced with a long walk in the rain. Grrrrrr. They said there’d be another bus in an hour but I wasn’t so sure that I trusted that and at this stage, we were too hungry to just wait around some more. So, feeling quite cross, we embarked on what we’d been told was a long walk to Coles; uphill, over puddles and through swarms of school children and parents who were crowding the pavement. Things didn’t improve much when Codie accidentally flicked a soggy twig into my face and I ended up stood in quite a deep puddle but, we carried on, and soon the bright lights of Coles appeared ahead. Hooray! We’d made it! I have to say, the “long walk” that had been described to us was actually really quite short and I think that if it hadn’t been so rainy, it really would’ve been quite pleasant. I wasn’t sure how much fun it’d be with all our shopping on the way back but as long as we were able to get some decent food, I wasn’t too bothered. We’d been living on noodles and pasta for too long!

IMG_5637Rushing around Coles, I managed to find potatoes and green beans to satisfy our vitamin cravings and picked up some yummy looking corned beef and chicken too. Codie managed to find us some nice snacks  while I was doing that and after about 25 minutes we were finally done. We’d managed to buy some proper nutritious food that wasn’t pasta and noodles and it was time for us to attempt to lovely but wet walk back. Ah well. I was sure it wouldn’t be too bad as at least we had something nice to look forward to but as we were paying, we saw one of the guys who worked at the hostel walking past. Presuming that it meant that the shuttle bus was about to pick people up outside, we rushed out and Codie went off to find him as in the short time we waited for a receipt, we’d lost him. When he came back he told me that the bus wasn’t coming but the guy said he’d give us a lift back. Great! No more soggy walking and though it was the shortest drive ever, I appreciated every minute of it.

Pulling up outside the hostel, we grabbed our bags, hopped out and made our way inside, successfully navigating our way around number of rather large puddles which had appeared during the day. We walked down the corridor, clutching our prized food possessions and desperate for another sit down but upon opening the door to our previously deserted room we came face to face with four new people ,Sam, Nick, Zoe and Josh, all from the UK. It was quite strange to be in a room just full of British people and as much as it’s been good talking to people from all over the world, it was nice to just talk about things we were all familiar with like scones and things like that. Couldn’t have been more stereotypical but it was nice! At one point Sam asked if we were doing the $5 Dominoes pizza thing in the hostel and although we originally thought “no, we’ve bought food” we ended up getting one each anyway. Well, it’s not everyday you get a 10 inch pizza from Dominoes for £2.50! There was a couple of hours before the pizza was being ordered so we all carried on talking for a little while until we decided to go and make a small portion of corned beef hash to keep us going for the time being. We’d only had toast and beans all day so by this stage, my stomach felt like it was fighting to get out and that needed to be sorted ASAP. It felt like I was being punched inside so determined to put an end to it, I toddled off to the kitchen and began to cook. Codie was in charge of making the fried eggs to go on top (you can’t have corned beef hash without one!) and it was soon plated up ready to be munched. Yum.  This particular meal is one that always reminds me of winter at home so it was nice to be reminded of that and have something warm and tasty after the rainy day. It was also nice to not have some sort of pasta concoction! It wasn’t long before it had all gone and we found ourselves back in the room, sleepy and now quite full.IMG_5639

At few hours later, at 8:30 the pizzas arrived but we were facing quite a problem. We were still full. I seemed to have made a lot more corned beef than I thought I had, despite using half measures, so I now had to attempt to demolish a rather large second tea. Oh dear. We’d been too busy talking to people in the room again and so were the last ones out but I think we were both a bit reluctant to go and stuff our faces again quite so soon. Nevertheless, we had a good go and both managed to force down half each whilst watching Peep Show in the corner of the room and talking to Sam and Nick. They hadn’t eaten anything all day so inhaled theirs; I think we should’ve passed on the corned beef! Still, we combined our leftovers to make a full pizza then put it in the fridge for tomorrow. Ha, ha! We might have seemed like greedy pigs before but at least we now have a nice lunchtime snack sorted for tomorrow.  We left everyone playing/watching some sort of pool drinking game and sneaked back to the room to get ready for bed. I’d have liked to have watched for a bit but I was reaching the stage of not being able to keep my eyes open. It’d been a very, very long day.

I’ve just returned from my lovely hot shower and I’m now sat on the bed ready to go to sleep. I’m absolutely shattered. Everybody else is back to and are still talking to each other but I just don’t have the energy anymore. I suppose that’s one drawback to having nice people in the same room as you, they want to talk all the time and be friendly! Of course that’s not a bad thing at all, I just don’t know how much longer I’ll last tonight and don’t want to come across as miserable!  Tomorrow is meant to be another terrible day but we really want to go canoeing so fingers crossed the rain will hold off for a bit. Yep, despite just reading articles about bull sharks attacking people in the creek, I want to go back in. It’s just too fun not too and we just have to make the most of all the free things!

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