Expedition up Rocky Creek

I wrote an earlier post on a spot at the tidal limit of middle harbour creek called Bungaroo where Governor Phillip and an exploration party camped on April 16th 1788.

It appears John ( who inspired my original post ) is still hard at work trying to uncover old records and get some official recognition for Bungaroo. As part of his research John said he’s now considering that the Bungaroo site of Governor Phillip’s April 16th camp may have been at the tidal limit of Rocky Creek rather than Middle Harbour Creek.

It sounded plausible, and a good excuse to head up Rocky Creek again for a closer look!

To get there I headed north on the trail that follows the west bank of Middle Harbour River.  Upon hitting Rocky Creek the trail heads west to where the creek can be crossed on foot near the tidal limit. When I got there the tide was low, the fresh water was cascading into the salt just below the crossing. At this point I left the trail and kept heading up Rocky Creek. About 100m further upstream the creek deepened to the point where I could not see the bottom, then a little way past this was a lip in the rock ( about 50cm high ) where the fresh water cascaded down. I’ll have to go back to confirm but I reckon this could be the point where fresh water meets salt when the tide is high. With the cascading fresh water meeting the salt at a deep pool this looks like a plausible alternate location of Governor Phillip’s Bungaroo camp.

Looking west on Rocky Creek. Possible location of where fresh water meets salt when the tide is high.
Just above the cascade looking east. The lip of the cascade is barely visible at the bottom of the photo

I found some documents on the Manly Council site relating to Governor Phillips expedition and his April 16th camp.

Survey of Middle Harbour 1788

Finding the Right Track

They report that low tide on April 16th 1788 was at 11:16am, which would make high tide at around 5pm. The same documents recount Surgeon White’s ( one of the expedition members ) notes as saying they reached the tidal limit where fresh meets salt at 4pm, close to high tide.

“About four o’clock in the afternoon we came to a steep valley, where the flowing of the tide ceased, and a fresh-water stream commenced. Here, in the most desert, wild and solitary seclusion that the imagination can form any idea of, we took up our abode for the night; dressed our provisions, washed our shirts and stocking, and turned our inconvenient situation to the best advantage in our power.”

Surgeon White, April 16th, 1788.

So it looks like they did arrive at the spot near to high tide, I will have to return at high tide to observe where fresh water meets salt. Of course not all high tides are equal, and we’re looking back to a time where mean sea levels were around 20cm lower than they are now.

Freshwater pool on Rocky Creek just upstream of the cascade.

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