Cumberland Island Adventure

by Rod

in Sea Kayaking

The Cumberland Island Group

Eric, Col, Dav & Rod ready for an early start

The Cumberland Island group Includes over 70 islands off the Queensland coast, Australia stretching from just east of Mackay with Keswick and St Bees Islands in the south through the Sir James Smith Group, the Lindeman Group, the Whitsunday Islands to Hayman Island in the north. The Cumberland Group was first charted and named by Captain James Cook as he sailed up the Queensland coast in 1770. Captain Cook named the Group after King George 111’s brother Henry Frederick the Duke of Cumberland. After sailing north for a further two days, in his Journal for Monday 4 June he recorded that he named the body of water through which he sailed Whitsunday’s Passage, “as it was discovered on the day the Church commemorates that Festival.”

The earliest visitors were probably the Ngaro Aboriginals. Inhabitants on the islands include the White bellied sea eagle, the smaller Osprey eagle, crows, seagulls, scrub turkeys, flat back and green sea turtles, dolphins. humped back whales also frequent these waters between July and October. Of course there are many other species of animals on these islands. There was a curious marsupial mouse which kept investigating our campsite on Hook Island. Another unique bird which inhabits the islands is the curlew.

An Early Start

Sunrise over Keswick Island

Our Cumberland Island Adventure started on a cool Saturday morning on the 28th July 2012 on the beach at Shoal Point, one of the northern beaches of Mackay. The was a few obvious comments about the early start, but it was necessary so that we would have the assistance of the tide, to help us with our 25km paddle across to Brampton Island. The sun hadn’t even peaked  above the horizon as we made our start from the beach. We were so lucky with the weather for the whole trip, but particularly on the first day. That was a perfect start to our adventure. The winds were predicted to be SSW growing to 20-25km by 9:00am. This meant the wind was almost directly behind us, so with our sails up and the tide assistance we made the crossing in just under 3 hours.

Carlisle Island

Overgrown campsite

Overgrown campsite

After a short rest in our kayaks in the lea of Western Point, Brampton Island we continued the short paddle across the channel to our camping spot on Carlisle Island. The camping grounds on Carlisle is one of the designated National Parks Camping Grounds which has a covered picnic table, water tank and toilet, but it was very run down and didn’t look like it had been maintained for months. Then came task which became a bit of a ritual for the rest of the trip. Because we arrived at out destination on the outgoing tide, we had long repeated walks up the beach carrying the camping gear and then the kayaks. We had to make sure everything was above the high tide mark as the tide were becoming higher each night until the next full moon on the following Thursday night. This was a chore, that none of us were too keen on.

Carlyle Is

Making sure the kayaks are above high tide mark

Because we had reached our destination so early, we had all the afternoon to set up camp, explore the beach and adjusted to our new camping life. We were camped directly across from the now closed, Brampton Island Resort and could have walked across the channel at low tide. The wind was still strong in the afternoon and that night it really whistled through between the islands and around out camp site. After a long day, it was early to bed for a rest, ready for our next day’s adventure.

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