Tweet Manookatoo Adventures: Meandering around the Myall

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Meandering around the Myall

The beautiful Myall Lakes
The captain and I have many wonderful memories of the Port Stephens area, captured while staying at the first mate's parents'  holiday apartment over several summers. With speedboat in tow we would make the annual pilgrimage up the Pacific Highway almost every summer, making the most of the generous accommodation for as much of the school holidays as we could. And each year we would pack the boat with as much camping gear as we could manage and take the journey up the Myall River and into the Myall Lakes for at least one night on the water, enjoying the solitude and serenity of the area. So, having our floating "home" with us, we were keen to relive, and expand on, this experience.
The shallow Myall River!
On Saturday, after our delicious prawn lunch at Jimmy's beach, we cruised up past Nelson Bay and Soldiers Point to pick up a courtesy mooring at Fame Cove (another favourite place). Then, next morning, the captain had us on the move early, to make the most of favourable tides to navigate the Myall River. We stopped at Hawks Nest for a few supplies, then headed upstream. Many parts of this meandering river are quite shallow, and even though we knew we could make it all the way, there were a few tricky parts where Manookatoo nudged the bottom. We were traveling on a rising tide so there was never too much to worry about, but it can be quite unnerving to see little or no depth on the chart, and we were pleased to reach Tamboi and enter the Broadwater, cruising across to Myall Shores for lunch. The ferry across Bombah Point is closed for its four year service, which made navigating the narrow stretch quite easy. Later that afternoon we continued cruising up through all the lake systems to Kattaway Bay, where we pulled up a courtesy mooring for a night on our own - just us and  wildlife.
Manookatoo from Johnsons beach
Monday was forecast to be wet and windy, but it started out fine and sunny so we made the most of the morning to do our exercises and take a short trip in the dinghy to shore, recalling where we had pitched our tent, strung the hammock and had the fire for cooking in years gone by. Returning to Manookatoo we cruised into Neranie Bay and back across Myall Lake in the rain, choosing a courtesy mooring out of the wind at Violet Hill. After lunch we took the dinghy ashore and walked from Violet Hill campground to Bungarie Bay. Later that evening, we saw fisherman stringing a net across the channel - they checked we weren't planning to move before they would remove it next morning - they were hoping to catch silver bream (we don't know if they did or not but they didn't  share with us!).
Sunset at Professors Cove
The sun was back on Tuesday morning as we left the mooring and cruised around the corner to Johnson Bay, another favourite camping place. Taking the dinghy to shore we walked to the top of Johnson Hill and admired the view, marveling at how a family of eight had farmed here last century, the six children rowing across to Violet Hill then riding their horses to the local school each day. Later we continued cruising through Boolambayte Lake and into Professors Cove, where another courtesy mooring took our fancy. In the afternoon we took the dinghy across to Korsmans Landing (another old farm site) and followed the fire trail to Cutlers Cottage and back. The whole area is so beautiful, with a myriad of bird life flying, swimming and singing all around us. As the sun set we enjoyed the swelling chorus of birdsong before the evening chill drove us inside. 
Wednesday was another beautiful morning, with fog rising off the water as the temperature increased. After our morning exercise routine we cruised off again, past Bombah Point and across the Broadwater, heading into the upper Myall River and anchoring just near Rivermouth. We took the dinghy up to Nerong to explore the little township, returning to Manookatoo for lunch in the sunshine. A 4.9km return walk from Rivermouth  campground to the start of the Sugar Point fire trail capped off another lovely day and we enjoyed another glorious sunset before retiring inside as the night closed in.
Fishing shacks at Tamboi
Thursday was another lovely clear morning. We took our time leaving Rivermouth as the captain had calculated which time was best to work the rising tide on our return trip down the Myall River. The best laid plans don't always work in a tricky river system, however, and a couple of times we hit sand and had to wait for the tide to rise enough for us to float off and continue downstream. We were very pleased when Tea Gardens came in sight and we tied up at the public jetty with some relief, enjoying a "well earned drink" before lunch. We explored the area around the jetty after lunch, buying seafood from the local co-op for dinner. An afternoon drink the pub before dinner was also quite enjoyable! 
Checking the depths
Friday dawned wet so we set off soon after breakfast under the "singing bridge" following the Myall downstream and through Corrie Creek - at low tide  it is also quite shallow! - into Nelson Bay. With inclement weather forecast for most of the day and strong winds in the afternoon, we took a berth at D'Alboro Marina, in the heart of Nelson Bay. We look forward to spending some time in the area and the opportunity to see what has changed in the last seven years. 
Farewell Myall River!!


  1. Loving your updates, especially since you are now in an area where we would like to cruise too! We've got a couple of jobs to do prior: Dick's about to go up the mast to replace the wind indicator's wiring (thanks to the cockatoos of Gippsland!)

  2. Thanks Robyn! We are enjoying the Myall and Port Stephens area, will be here for at least another week, maybe you'll catch up to us???