We will base ourselves in Wisemans Ferry and Explore Webbs creek and then the MacDonald River over consecutive days. These are great waterways with round trip being approx 20kms on each river.
Wisemans Ferry is an area with rich convict and colonial heritage. Named after Solomon Wiseman, a former convict (1778–1838), who received a land grant in the area from Governor Macquarie in 1817. Wiseman established a ferry service on the Hawkesbury River in 1827 for the transport of produce and provisions to the convicts building the Great North Road and was known to many as King of the Hawkesbury. (ref: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wisemans_Ferry,_New_South_Wales)
Wisemans Ferry Inn Hotel (http://www.wisemansinnhotel.com.au/)
(Single and double kayaks available to hire from Wisemans Ferry.from the pick up point, give them a call to check availability. Get outside, get active and enjoy the great outdoors. Remember to bring sunscreen, water and a hat.
Portland Head Park – if coming from Sydney take the Old Northern Road to Wisemans Ferry and turn left into park which is just a few hundred metres before the car ferry. You can launch your kayak from the sandy beach nearby.
Webbs Creek Kayak
Webbs creek is a picturesque creek coming off the hawkesbury river near Wisemans Ferry. This is a nice relaxing paddle best to do on a high tide to maximise the distance you can paddle up the creek. You can choose your own distance to paddle as you can just turn around at any time and head back to the starting point. The river eventually becomes too shallow to continue. There is a low level bridge at the hawkesbury junction that stops most of the power boats from going up the river as they can not get under the bridge in the lower part of the tide cycle along with a low speed limit. As a result the creek banks are intact and covered with native vegetation with only one or two spots where cattle graze on the river banks. You can paddle up the river about 10km-12kms to the tidal limit.
Optionally after about 6kms and just before you reach a higher white (private) bridge Doyles Creek enters Webbs Creek from the left (west). It is recommend paddling up Doyles creek as it meanders through a Melaleuca Forest but there is not public access along the river.
The Macdonald River rises on the eastern slopes of the Mellong Range and descends 481 metres over its 150-kilometre course. It was discovered in June 1789 by Governor Arthur Phillip on his third exploratory voyage to Broken Bay and the Hawkesbury, he named it “The First Branch” presumably because that is what it was. He spent two days investigating the lower regions and was excited at the prospect of good farming areas promising the colony a reliable source of farm produce.
By the time the river flats were surveyed in 1833 the “First Branch” had been renamed the Macdonald after John Macdonald of Pitt Town, an early bushman, explorer and settler of some repute. The area was originally populated by the Dharug and Barkinung people who called the river Deerubbin. The natives treated the newcomers as welcome guests, teaching bush skills and assisting in the planting of crops, they did not realize that the whites intended to stay and claim ownership of the land. Property ownership was completely alien to the Aboriginal; one cared for the land, but did not own it any more than one could own the sky overhead or the air one breathed.
Conflicts soon developed as the Aborigines were denied access to many of their traditional areas, with Yam beds destroyed as wheat and corn were planted on the river flats and the banks denied to them for fishing, their traditional foods. There are recorded cases of Aborigines providing labor on farms in exchange for a share of the crop and then massacred rather than given their share. They, in turn retaliated by setting fire to the crops just as harvesting was due. Regulations were introduced prohibiting Aborigines entry to established farm areas again denying them their food supply.
Since 1796 Troops had been stationed in the Hawkesbury area to “disperse” the natives.
Following any acts of Aboriginal aggression “hunting” parties went out killing large numbers of natives. The killing was indiscriminate and no care was taken to catch the real offenders, who sometimes were not black. No form of protection was given to the natives, many, even children were cold-bloodily murdered, but rarely were charges laid against the white aggressors, and none were punished. Aborigines were not even permitted to give evidence in a Court of Law.
Anyway as you Paddle along the calm and quiet waters of the MacDonald River take time to reflect on its past and enjoy the surrounds and sounds of the MacDonald Valley.
Choose your own distance to paddle as you can just turn around at any time and head back to the starting point. The river eventually becomes narrow and too shallow to continue. St Albans would make an ideal turning point but shallow river and 20km distance one way puts it out of most peoples reach.
Old Great North Road MTB Ride
There is a 44 km loop you can cycle (Mtb only) which takes on a section of the Old Great North Road. Although most sections are suitable for mountain bikes, there are a number of places where the bicycle must be walked, either to conserve the road surface, or because it is badly eroded.