Queens Lake is tucked away behind North Haven at the southern end of the Port Macquarie Hastings Region and is the perfect spot for a bit of packrafting exploration. A little off the beaten track and tucked away the pristine lake is ideal for swimming, paddling, fishing and bird watching and runs alongside the Queens Lake Nature Reserve which has a variety of lush vegetation, including stands of magnificent old growth gums and dense rainforest. The surrounding forests are home to over 200 species of animals, making this reserve perfect for wildlife and birdwatching. While looking to the tree-tops, you might even spot a koala dozing in the branches. There are a few points where you can head out from but our pick is the Queens Lake Sailing Club. Here there is a carpark, picnic facilities and toilets. It is only a short drive from Laurieton and North Haven, off Ocean Drive. For rafting there are a few different craft options you can use but we recommend a packraft as these are sturdy, stable and easy to transport. You could use cheaper inflatable alternatives but make sure you test them out before heading out on the lake. Things to be mindful of when pack rafting is placement of gear to ensure stability, having plenty of dry bags, making sure you have a PFD and throw bag, packing clothing options in case of inclement weather, taking a pump, repair kit and communications device, and ensuring you have your raft fully inflated. Lastly, let somebody know where and when you are going.
Ok – assuming you have all the important bases covered we can head out. Paddling west out of the Sailing Club and follow the edge. You will pass an couple of old wharf’s around the 1km mark before reaching Herons Creek at around 2.5km. This is a cool creek to explore and has a few k’s of easy to navigate channel. Herons Creek was an important linkage between the coast and the timber getting areas of the early 19 century – you might still see some evidence on the shore line. Further along the edge you will pass Bob’s Creek (5.7km) and then reach the Queens Lake picnic area beside Waterloo Creek at 7km mark. This is around half way and a good spot for lunch. (You did pack your lunch – right?!)
Nestled amongst towering eucalypts and lush rainforest, this idyllic lakeside spot is a refreshing oasis in the summer months. Situated in Queens Lake Nature Reserve on the Mid North Coast, it's a great day out for families and nature-lovers who enjoy a secluded getaway without the crowds.
Heading east and back on the lake you will skirt the edge of the nature reserve. Keep an eye out for eagles. The next creek to explore is Limeburners Creek at the 10km mark. This is a tight deep winding creek that is worth exploring. There are lots of wildlife to spot.
From Limeburners creek you can paddle the edge of push out to make a straight line to Goat island. Keep an eye on the weather here as deeper into the lake will be choppy compared to close to shore. When you reach goat island you can sneak down a short unnamed creek to access Sting Ray Creek if the tide is right. You are now paddling beside Henry Kendal Reserve and can follow the lake edge back to the Sailing Club. With no creek explorations this paddle is around 14.5km. Paddling at a comfortable 3km per hour you can expect the total paddle time to be around 5hrs.
Remember, any water way is a dynamic environment and subject to change quickly. It is important to check conditions such as weather and tides before going out for a paddle. Whether you are going on a multi-day adventure or just paddling for an afternoon, being aware of current conditions can help you plan a more safe and efficient trip. Other things to remember – key to a good paddle is planning – have a route planned out, don’t paddle alone, carry safety gear, know your craft, practise before heading out and bring a change of clothes for when you are finished. Lastly, have some fun – it’s awesome being outdoors and exploring.