The silver river

Deerubbin – the Hawkesbury proper- doesn’t normally look like this: not when I’m there, anyway.  I’m used to the view out our back window: the valley full of fog, the hilltops islands in a foamy sea.

Hazy foggy view from deck

Mist over Sam’s Creek

You know the fog will be spilling across the highway as you swoop down from the ridgeline before dawn.  But when you reach the freeway bridge that stretches half a mile across the  Hawkesbury, the wind picks up and the mist is gone.

But not this Sunday.  The cloud was down and the river was silver.

Pixillated tinnie in distance

Fisherman in the mist

I’ve wrestled with this mist before.

I can say with confidence it’s not freezing fog, hail fog or upslope fog.  For all the salt in the air, it’s not coastal fog – moisture condensing over cool water – not with sea temps a balmy 24 degrees.  And is it valley fog? Damp cool air might slide down the hills in the night… but Sunday’s haze followed midnight downpours not clear skies.

Having thought about it rationally and analytically, I can only conclude that this was magical fog, sent to stop me paddling all way to the secret heart of this part of the Hawkesbury, Marramarra Creek.

Mist over over mangrove saplings for horizontal shorter

Big Bay

I’ve nearly made it there before, as far as Big Bay, with its great lagoon full of mangroves and the riverbed chocabloc with critters. No houses on the ridgelines, no way in except by water.  In the 1830s a surveyor’s wife didn’t think much of it: “these dreary solitudes might serve for the abode of a misanthrope so utterly are they secluded from all approach and so entirely destitute of all comfort”.  But I’m longing to paddle all the way to the source of the creek, through country with an indigenous past even I can read.

But this time it wasn’t just the fog and the march of time that stopped me.  The birds were in on it too, perching photogenically on the wayside oyster poles, feathery sirens luring me away from my upriver odyssey.

So I’ll have to come back to Marramarra.  Maybe next time I’ll bring our full flotilla of mismatched craft and camping gear and stay overnight halfway up the creek in the old orange orchard.  The noisy kids should to  scare away the temptations of the sirens… and, of course, the silvery silence.   So perhaps I’ll follow Odysseus and bring some ear plugs too!

Related posts – other paddles on the Hawkesbury from Deerubbin Reserve

Two sad islands, three whistling kites: a paddle from Deerubbin to Bar Island

Of gods and mapreaders: a trip up Kimmerikong Creek in Muogamarra National Park

A bridge fetishist paddles to Brooklyn: paddles up Mullet Creek and around Dangar Island

Broken Bay at low ebb: a short jaunt around the oyster beds near Spectacle Island at the end of Mooney Mooney Creek.

4 thoughts on “The silver river

  1. Magic, what a great blog post! Superb images. Getting to the source of Marramarra Creek sounds like a wonderful plan, something to think about when life gets hectic – a journey I’m hoping we get to read about in detail sometime down the track. Cheers and thanks.

    • Thanks Robert! The weather certainly conspired to make it an atmospheric trip for a little morning jaunt. Big Bay truly is an amazing place – very hard to believe it’s an hour by car from Sydney CBD to the put in point! Definitely will update with more photos when I finally make it all the way…

  2. Stunning shots! Beautiful post. I love these silver views. It’s amazing how a change in weather can make such a difference to the atmosphere. It looks so isolated from the world, yet as you say it’s not really that far from civilisation. My brother has recently purchased two kayaks and plans to take me with. I was wondering if you have handy hints for keeping a camera dry or what equipment you use. Best wishes.

    • Thanks for your kind words a always Jane. I love it when the cloud’s down. So atmospheric. I love Hawkesbury sandstone but it can look a bit blah from the distance in the middle of a sunny day. Marramarra is something special – really feels wilderness like, though of course there is evidence of indigenous use of the landscape everywhere. Some of the middens on the Hawkesbury, to my untutored eye, seem to avalanche down slopes as if they are metres tall.

      Kayaking with your brother sounds great! Mind is a ride in rather than a ride on canoe which makes it easier to keep things dry. I have a rather ad hoc set up for the camera. I did buy a special waterproof camera case but found it very unwieldy, as my camera has quite a long zoom lens and is DSLR shaped (though not a DSLR). I have a dry bag (about $10 on the net) and then I put the camera in a strong ziplock bag inside it with some stuff to clean the lens if it gets splashed – a lens cleaner is good if you are in salty water, plus wiping stuff. I also bring a couple of facewashers so I can try to dry my hands before using the camera if necessary. All that is in a wetpack bag I found in an op shop – not really waterproof. Mostly I leave the camera in the bags with the mouths open so the lens doesn’t fog up. And my camera isn’t that valuable – I’ve just accepted that one day it will go in the drink!! So far, hasn’t happened though. Good luck! I can imagine you would get some amazing shots with your artistic eye.

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