Paddle Cape Hillsborough to Ball Bay

by Rod

in Sea Kayaking

Sea Kayak Around Cape Hillsborough to Ball Bay

Sunday 23rd of June 2013 our plan was to paddle our sea kayaks around Cape Hillsborough to Ball Bay. This would have to be one one the most scenic paddles you can do around Mackay and it is easily accessible to anyone. There are a number of ways to do a trip around this area but I believe the way we planned the trip to be the easiest and takes advantage of tides and wind conditions. First we met at Ball Bay (the finish of the trip) and arranged the car shuffle. The idea of this is to leave at least one car at the end of the trip to carry all the drivers of  the rest of the cars back up to the start. Then we load all the kayaks and gear onto the the cars going to the start of the paddle. The road does come close to the Sandy Bay at one point and if the tide has come in close enough you could launch from there. Last Sunday the tide was still a ways, so starting from there would mean dragging the kayaks through some mangroves and mud.

Cape Hillsborough

Click on the map to enlarge & then hit the back button to return.

The map above shows the original starting point from the road. The alternative and easier start is to drive right into Cape Hillsborough Resort car park and around the back of the buildings.  There is a road which takes you to an area called Hidden Valley. This is a public road and although dirt and fairly rough, it is ok for a normal 2 wheeled drive car. Near the end of the road is a rough fisherman’s boat ramp which the kayaks can be launched from easily. If you are leaving cars there, make sure you leave room for the fisherman to get their boat trailers in and out of the boat ramp.

Dav at Eagle’s Eye

The paddle from the boat ramp starts off fairly sheltered from south – south easterly winds which blow most of the time, but by the time you paddle to the first point you will most likely be hitting a head wind until you get around to Andrews Point. Wedge Island is off Andrews Point and between there and Cape Hillsborough is a beautiful bay where the resort and camping grounds hide behind the trees. There is another small island jutting off Cape Hillsborough which has a cave in the side of it. It is also called Indian Head. From a certain angle if you squint your eyes and use your imagination you will see the shape of an American Indian’s head with a head dress including feathers. Only in a kayak can you paddle between the island and main land at high tide.

Darryl near Andrews Point

Along the cliff face heading towards Ball Bay you will most likely see sea eagles using the air currents to sore above looking for prey or sticks for their nest. There is a small stony beach which we landed on for a smoko break. At the moment this loose stony beach is quite difficult to climb and drag the kayaks out of the water. If we didn’t drag them right up to the top, the kayaks would slide back down to the waves then drift away. From the beach is a small gully which hosts a waterfall about 500 meters from the beach. If you are keen you could climb up to the waterfall which is called Paradise Falls. We were not that enthusiastic so after a short break we back on the water for the final paddle back into Ball Bay. We had parked the car in a public park at the northern end of the beach where there are toilets with external shower, a tap for hosing off kayaks and a bar-b-que area with table and chairs. A good spot to finish.

Dav’s checking on the Sunday shift to make sure their doing their job.

Tips for this trip

  • Pick a time to do the trip close to high tide. If you start an hour or two before high tide, you should be able to finish before the tide goes too far out. Low tide will give you a fair carry back up the beach.
  • The run of the tide is not a factor on this trip especially if you plan it as I have suggested. You will be doing the majority of the paddle in the slack of the high tide.
  • Pick weather condition suitable for your paddling ability. The swells can build up around Andrews Point coming across the bay from Shoal Point.
  • If you want to do some sailing this is a good trip to practise with a 10 – 15 km/hr SE.
  • This is also a good area to spot some large Green Sea Turtles.
  • If a northerly is blowing, the trip is still possible, but I would do it in reverse starting at Ball Bay.
  • The council has changed most of their taps to a 1″ fitting now. It is a great idea to take a hose with you, so that at the end of the trip, the sand and salt can be washed off your kayaks and gear.
  1. You are not dripping salt and sand all over the car.
  2. It is a lot easier at home to pack the gear away.

Is there anything better to do on a Sunday Morning?

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