Flat Top & Round Top Islands

by Rod

in Sea Kayaking

A beautiful Sunday morning and a great day for a paddle out to Flat Top and Round Top Islands. As the tide was on it’s way in at the time of our

Hay Point in the distance
Hay Point in the distance

paddle we decided to leave from East Point rather than the River Street Boat Ramp as we usually do. No need to make the trip more difficult than it needs to be. Although we don’t mind the exercise it is more for the enjoyment of getting out in the fresh air. To find East Point, once you come to the main roundabout at the Mackay Harbour precinct turn right and head along the road past the Surf Life Saving Club and continue on the dirt road to the end.

Once we had left the beach, we headed out to Flat Top with a slight south easterly blowing in our face to keep us cool. There were quite a few fisherman out in their tinnies trying to catch a feed. There was also a snorkeling spear fisherman patrolling along the shore of Flat Top Island looking for a fish. We beached the kayaks on the stoney end of Flat Top Island. That is the advantage of  plastic Sea Kayaks. You don’t have to be as careful, worrying about scratching your kayak. Col and I both paddle Salamander, Australis Sea Kayaks.

Flat Top was very important in the early days of settlement of the Mackay District. Mackay has no natural harbour and the Pioneer River has always been too shallow for transportation vessels to moar in the river. All that is left now is a couple of pillons of the jetty where all the  new settlers were off loaded from the old sailing luggers. Then they were brought into the Mackay River Wharf by barge. All the sugar and other produce was man handled onto barges to be taken to the markets down south. This continued until Mackay Harbour was completed in August 1939.

As a warm up we decided to take a walk up to the Lighthouse to check out the view. For a bit of history on the light house you can check out Wikipedia. The track up to the lighthouse is an old washout and overgrown road which was used when the lighthouse was in service. This can be found from the southern end of the island. There is now a fence around the light house so you can only get to within a few meters of it. On the eastern side of the light house is a very steep cliff that give a great veiw out towards Round Top, Hay Point and the surrounding islands.

After we returned to the kayaks we continued with a short paddle over to Round Top Island. Again we landed on a another stoney beach on the south western side of the island out of the breeze which was starting to build up by now. It was time for a cup of tea and a couple of bikkies. Col and I don’t go far without having a cup of tea. After a short break discussing our future trips it was back on the water for our return trip.

The breeze by now had built up to gusts of up to 25knots which meant it was time for a bit of sailing. This made it more exciting especially catching the rolling waves. Because the tide was now on the way out crossing the sand bar between East Point and Flat Top was very interesting. Surfing a couple good waves made the trip back a lot quicker than the paddle out.We finished the day by surprising a couple fisherman as we landed on the beach.

Some points if you are planning to do this trip yourself.

Paddle to Flat Top & Round Top Islands

Paddle to Flat Top & Round Top Islands

  • My tip would be to start 1-2 hours before low tide especially if you leave from The River Street Boat Ramp.
  • Then time your return for 1-2 hours after low tide.
  • Watch for the sand bar which extends from the mouth of the river 3/4 of the way out to Flat Top. The out going tide accross this sand bar can test you.
  • Take your camera for some shots from the top of both islands.
  • If you want to climb Round Top Island the eastern side although steep is probably the easier. There are no tracks that I know of.
  • Map Position of East Point, Lat: 21deg 8’48.07″S  Long: 149deg 13’11.64″E


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