Kayaking on Cudgen Creek

23 May 2018 2:02 PMLicensee Person

AHHH, the serenity…..


Maybe an overused saying in Australia but so right for our early Sunday morning paddle on Cudgen Creek.


Mr P has everything organised the night before so we can get going early without a hitch. Most importantly he’s checked the app to make sure we are paddling up the creek on the incoming tide and back on the outgoing. Makes sense doesn’t it. Life jackets. Check. Remember, life jackets are legally required in most places and just make sense. It can save your life in a scary situation. Make sure it fits comfortably and allows you to paddle easily or you will regret it. Throw rope. Check. Just in case Mr P needs to tow me back because I have been a bit ambitious. Fortunately, not needed so far even though I have limped home on some days.


Footwear. Sunglasses, Sunscreen and 50+ protection shirt and appropriate hat. We rely on SunProtection Australia based in Byron Bay for all our sun-safe 50+ clothing. Depends on how long we will be on the water as to whether we wear hats with neck protectors or just lather sunscreen. Early in the morning before the sun is totally up we may not gear up as we would do later in the day.  But we have to keep in mind that we live in the Skin Cancer capital of the world so better to be safe.


Dry bags for food or spare clothes. They come in various sizes and roll shut to form a water tight seal and fit easily into storage areas of kayaks. 


Since we are keen photographers on the water, we like to protect our phones in a water proof case attached to a lanyard around our neck to be sure. Check out OverBoard for reasonably priced gear. We would love it if you could attach a lanyard to a Lifeproof case as that would solve all our needs on the water but so far there is no ability to attach a lanyard to a Lifeproof.


I have also experimented with wet suit pants to prevent getting wet but in our sub tropical heat, they act like a sauna so I have ditched them in favour of just getting a bit wet. 


We carry the kayaks the 50 metres to the creek and, do the final checks and onto the water we go.



Cudgen Creek is a small meandering coastal tidal creek on the Tweed Coast in far northern New South Wales. It originates in Cudgen Lake and flows into the sea at Kingscliff about 9 km in total. There are many access points but we are lucky to be able to put the boats in at the back of our house, we are already 2 km up stream from the sea. The tide flows quite strongly, and it is highly recommended that you do not choose to paddle against it. Best to do around high tide as the creek is very shallow at low tide  and the sand on the banks very soft. You could go down to knees. Chose landing spots carefully. 


As we begin to paddle, there is little sign of human habitation along the banks even though there are houses close by. The sun still hasn’t risen above the trees which reflect the stillness of the morning. 


Kayaking is about getting into a rhythm.


This is an area of outstanding natural beauty and as we make the first turn in the creek, Mt Warning comes into view in the distance. It is a sacred indigenous mountain and the first place the sun touches in Australia even though it is 30kms from the coast.


Mangroves, paperbarks and casuarina tree form part of a sub tropical rainforest alone the banks.

Look out for the Osprey nest high atop a telegraph pole on the left bank. It was specially positioned for these birdds and they return year after year. Herons quietly but elegantly dance through the mangroves seeking food in the flooding tide. The silence is broken by a group of black cockatoos screeching at each other on their way to the next tree to strip for food. Kites (hawks) sit high up in dead branches waiting patiently and then dive-bomb into the creek picking up fish that seem far to big for them to carry before heading back to eat in peace.


The high tide water is crystal clear revealing the sandy bottom quite close in places and every now and again it moves and a stingray darts off. The mangroves provide a breeding ground for small fish who provide food for the chain. Crabs abound and locals have their favourite places to set their pots in favourite places on the creek for this tasty delicacy. 


As we arrive at Cudgen Lake the waterway narrows and we decide to turn around and catch the outgoing tide. It’s not long before the breeze comes up and creates some choppy areas to paddle against, but I resist the tow rope.


By now, a few people are joining us on the river. Paddlers, with clearly more energy than me, because they are going against the tide. Others are fishing from kayaks which always seems like a tranquil way to wile away a morning. Locals have come down to check crab post of just take a morning dip in the creek.


We always take our own brand of bottles Futurepace Tech stainless steel insulated to keep water cool on the water. They are available at Amazon USA, Amazon UK or Amazon Australia. Just search for Futurepace Tech to check them out.



Need to hire kayaks or SUPs, check out Guru Water Sports in Kingscliff. For more adventure check out the Mullumbimby to Brunswick annual kayak event in May each year.