News & Events

Sea Kayaking Gippsland Lakes March Long Weekend

This was the second year that members had decided to spend the weekend camping, on Bunga Arm within the Gippsland Lakes Coastal Park.

Bunga Arm camping is approximately 10 kilometres from Paynesville and is only accessible via the water. This had led to the trip being made in sea kayaks but this year it also included a sail boat.

The trip starts on the foreshore in Paynesville, where in between the on/off automatic lawn sprinklers and the queries of the tourists (as to our plans) the intricate task of packing is undertaken. As with the Snowy trips some people turn up fully organised and others decided on the fly what they need.

This year we had the Sorrentino Family, Rod, his nephew Jonathon, Alison and Bronwyn (the latter in a Laser2 dinghy).

Whilst the Sorrentino’s packed and debated their needs, Alison and Bronwyn rigged their boat, donated all they could to Rod and Jonathon to carry and debated their tactics due to the apparent lack of wind.

The plan was to head to Point Wilson, across to Rotamah Island, then Ocean Grange and on to Bunga Arm campsite.

The wind had picked up greatly so the Laser had a advantage on the first leg and quickly disappeared in to the distance as the kayaks paddled into waves being driven by a cross wind. After a break the dinghy and the two single kayaks headed off whilst the others had a picnic, promising to catch up.

This time the laser had to sail a long way in the direction of Raymond Island before they could start to tack into the channel and towards Ocean Grange. The two kayaks headed directly across to the channel which was not a great idea as it was shallow water and into the wind.

Eventually we closed a point where the dinghy and the kayaks would possibly cross paths and we had a great view as the girl’s tacked regularly so they could get into the channel. One tack nearly ended in a swim but the skill of those on board prevailed.

The single kayaks were first to the Grange. We walked to 90 mile beach and upon returning to our boats noticed that no other members of the trip were in sight.

After a while the Laser came into sight, being towed by the sailors wading in the shallows. Upon asking we were advised that this was due to some gear failure and the fluky winds, but they would be able to sail to camp now that the channel was wider.

There was still no sign of the Sorrentino’s at this stage so we headed for camp. Alison and Bronwyn had a good breeze so they were first to camp and laid claim to the site on top of the hill.

Paul eventually arrived and on being queried as to the whereabouts of Doreen, kept making references to a ‘ lousy sense of direction’ and the possibility that she was on course for Paynesville. Doreen turned up shortly after

The rest of the day was setting up camp and resting, followed by a delicious curry cooked by Bronwyn. The Paul apparently added far to much sand to the fry pan as hey kept wandering over to check for spare food.

The next day was overcast but fine, so after a late breakfast some sailing lessons were held. To many peoples amazement no capsizes occurred, but not for lack of trying..

After lunch a beach cricket match was held on 90 Mile beach. This was a triumph in itself as the sand is too soft to allow a ball to bounce or to allow running. This was followed by a walk down the beach to Ocean grange.

Back at camp there was the need to repair the ‘tiller extension’ so that the trip home in the dinghy would be without the trauma of the first day. What was required to fix it was a drill and some new screws but as they were not readily available a Swiss army knife, leather man tool, fence wire and duct tape proved that you can fix anything if prepared.

Please note that no taxpayer supplied fence was killed in this process.

With Alison and Bronwyn under their tarp mansion in ‘upper camp’ and Rod and Jonathon in a tarp construction in ‘lower camp’, the main discussion was whether it going to rain or not and to whom was the better builder.

The consensus was that it probably would not rain but preparations were made to ensure everything was waterproof.

After everyone had gone to bed their was a short shower made Rod & Jonathon double check everything and they assumed everything was ok. Little did they realise that the sand at Bunga Arm is so full of vegetable matter that even the smallest amount of rain runs along the surface for quite a while before it sinks.

After the second short shower this became quite apparent as water started flowing in the back of their shelter, not the front as they assumed would be the problem.

This meant that Jonathon (who only had a sleeping bag) needed to find a new Home for the night and was taken in by the friendly women on the hill. Rod spent the night on a wet tarp as he was in a bivvy bag.

The Monday was overcast but fine so it was planned to head across to Duck Bay and then back to Paynesville. By the time the single kayaks caught up to the Laser in the general vicinity of the Bay the wind and waves dictated that it was much easier to just head for home.

Some observations for next time:

  1. If you are going to use a tarp instead of a tent make sure it is big enough.
  2. The hired Dagger single Kayak was very sluggish to control, even after all the fresh water was removed for the paddle home. It did however have lots of storage space.
  3. There is talk of a different location for this trip to be different in 2005

Rod Gifford