Illawong Sanctuary Reserve

Thursday 22 July 2021

Photos courtesy of Tom, Gay, Helen, Elizabeth, Meredith and Peter

In the last few weeks, the Batemans Bay Bushwalking Club had suspended its planned walks noting the current Covid health restrictions. However, on 22 July, a small group ventured out on one of the scheduled walks meeting Covid conditions  – complete with QR code check in, social distancing and walkers wearing face masks. That made for a strange sight indeed.  Whilst a face mask is not the friendliest of bushwalking equipment to wear, the 14 walkers (divided into two groups of 7) saw it as a small inconvenience to enjoy a pleasant bush walk on a sunny winter’s morning.

Despite the dawn temperature being zero, the sun came out in a cloudless sky to make the weather perfect for this short 3 km walk through the bush lands of the Bower Retreat and into the Illawong Nature Reserve, west of Broulee.  Thanks go to the Bowers’ owners, Sue and Mark Berry, in allowing access through their land.

The two groups, skilfully guided by Tom and Gay, were directed to the sights on offer. On the right a weathered granite ridge – and for those into geology-  a remnant of neo tectonic movements after the mid-Oligocene era that had diverted the Clyde River, then many kilometres wide, which had then run into the sea at Broulee. In present day, there on what is left of the ridge, were the strategically placed luxury retreats of the Bower offering secluded accommodation for their guests.

Once in the Reserve the track meandered through bush that had well and truly regenerated after the fires. The track passed the impressive, and on this morning almost rainbow-coloured, Illawong Wetlands.   Although no water birds were to be seen, for those with keen eyes, in the treetops, were rosellas and lorikeets and the odd grey fantail finch.  Both groups stopped for a photo opportunity at an ancient spotted gum, whose girth was too wide for even the most enthusiastic tree hugger, before moving on following the fence line back to the start.

Although not a walk to bring up a sweat, it was a pleasant way to spend a sunny winter’s morning. There were many vistas, even if for those of us wearing glasses had to see them at times through misty lenses.


Cullendulla Creek Paddle

Friday 25 June 2021

Photos courtesy of Karen

We chose to paddle Cullendulla Creek on a very high tide, heading upstream on slack water and returning with the tide.  The paddle is predominantly through a thick mangrove forest which was in fruit and starting to send out bud florets.  Although the creek runs very close to housing subdivisions in Long Beach and Surfside, the density of the overhanging mangroves deadens noise and gives the feeling of being a million miles from civilisation.

Apart from the mangrove forest, another feature of the paddle is the remains of the old timber tramway terminus located on an upper creek bank.  This tramway was constructed and operated by Ryan’s Cullendulla Mill located near the present day service station.  The Mill’s sawn timber was transported over the tramway on horsedrawn carts to the creek terminus.  There the timber was loaded onto barges for transit across the Clyde Estuary to Batemans Bay.  The timber was then loaded onto coastal steamers of the Illawarra and South Coast Steam Navigation Company bound for Sydney.  An involved, but necessary process in those days of few passable roads.  (Source:  Timber Tramways of the South Coast by Ian Barnes & Ian Bevege, published in The Forester, June 2013 issue.)

The morning finished with lunch on a sunny sandbank in the lower creek.


North Durras Lake Walk

Thursday 24 June 2021

Photos courtesy of Karen

Bushwalkers walked 14km through a section of Murramarang National Park near North Durras recently burned by the bushfires.  Understorey regrowth has been remarkable, and NSW National Parks have worked hard to keep the tracks open.  The bushfire, followed by several intense rain and wind storms have brought down many huge trees, which have also had to be cleared off the tracks.

The last rain event made a few short sections of the track soggy, but not impassable.  Fortunately Durras Lake is still open to the ocean, so there is no associated flooding.  The swamp on the southern section of the walk is brimming with water.  This is a fairly flat walk, and about half of it follows the lake shore so there were views at every turn.


Broulee Bush and Island

Saturday 19 June 2021

Photos courtesy of Karen and Gay

Thirteen hardy souls braved the forecast gale force winds and rain predicted for the 9km easy/medium walk today.

Fortunately the rain did not eventuate.  But the wind – well let’s just say the forecaster finally got something right!

With the wind howling and everyone dressed in their winter woollies, even beanies, the Walkers headed up to the headland overlooking Bengello Beach.   It was a very quick photo stop and then a retreat out of the wind heading north and down towards Shark Bay.  With the wind behind us it felt sheltered and crossing over to North Broulee beach with the sun shining and no rain in sight gave us a good feeling of being outdoors. Even some surfers were out taking advantage of some big waves at Pink Rocks.

The huge waves looking east from the island were awesome.  But the further we ventured the sea was looking fierce and threatening.  With regret, I decided it was just too risky to traverse the southern side of Broulee Island as there is no protection from the wind and waves with a lot of rock scrambling. Better to return with all walkers than lose a couple on the way!

On our return we were treated to a rare sighting…. A bushwalking surfer!

Just to give everyone a little taste of what they missed on the southern rocks of Broulee Island, we headed back over to Shark Bay and down along Bengello Beach.  For a low tide, the waves were coming in high on the beach and we had to use the dunes to reach the safe haven of the protected bush.  But everyone seemed happy with their free beauty treatment – A Free Facial from sand blasting!

The meander through the Broulee bush was a nice reprieve from the wind.  A stop at the Broulee Canoe Dig tree and a lesson from Glenn on geocaching had us all looking for a ‘treasure’ but no luck today, unfortunately.

The return walk was back through the bush and local streets to avoid the beach and get my trusty followers back to their cars without any more wild weather to contend with.


Flat Rock via Strangled Tree Forest

Wednesday 16 June 2021

Photos courtesy of Donna and Ainslie

What a delight it is to walk through sunlit forests with ocean views and good company.

The walk on June 16th saw Sharon in charge of 22 other walkers setting out from the car park at Murramarang Resort in South Durras heading into Murramarang National Park. This is one of the few parts of our area unaffected by the 2019 bushfires, and it was a pleasure to see.

The route took us through coastal forest of Spotted Gums, many trees gnarled and twisted by the winds that often blow on our coast, but which, on this day, were but gentle zephyrs.  A dark coloured swamp wallaby hopped away as we set off, following a track close to cliff-top, with sparkling ocean views.

During a refreshment break above Dark Beach we spotted our first whale of the day.

We moved on to Flat Rock headland, and found many fallen Casuarinas along the track, making our progress slow. It was worth the effort, as the view from the headland is one of the best, and more whales were seen out to sea.

We returned to our cars  by a slightly different route, well satisfied with our morning out.


Comerang Mountain #2

Sunday 13 June 2021

Photos courtesy of Tom, Amanda and Rob

Five walkers set off to explore the creeks and rock outcrops seen on aerial photos in the Comerang Mountain area.  50mm of rain fell in this area a few days before the walk so the creeks and waterfalls had plenty of water and offered spectacular views.

This area was burnt in the fires of 2020 so gaining access to the creeks through the regrowth was a challenge.

The geology of this area is really interesting with fractured sedimentary rock forcing creeks to make sharp right angle turns and producing resulting cascades, waterfalls and deep pools. A number of the pools are over 2m deep and will make a great place to cool off when the weather is warmer.


Big Rock via Reservoir Road

Thursday 10 June 2021

Photos courtesy of Gay, Amanda and Tom

Seven brave souls took the chance and joined Donna for a 14kms walk in the Bodalla State Forest.  Prior rain and a dismal forecast for the day didn’t ‘dampen’ enthusiasm so a punt was taken and we were rewarded with a good day for walking.

This walk is a new walk so it was a great opportunity to explore some areas of the forest not previously traversed by the club.  We started our walk from Big Rock Road and passed a number of quirky ‘sculptures’ constructed by locals from various materials found on the surrounding ground.  A teepee, crocodile and stickman riding a horse were just a few of the creations that we passed.

We made our way to a big granite rock, no guesses for where the name Big Rock Road came from! and then continued onto Stony Creek where we observed an old log in the creek, a remnant from an old bridge previously used by loggers many years ago.  Who said this walk had no features!!  After a nice morning tea stop, serenaded by a particularly chatty lyrebird, we continued along various bike tracks, ridges and of course the odd incline (aka hill) or two, or maybe three, hmmm well perhaps four.  We made our way down through a lovely fern covered gully and then through a marshy area which fortunately was easily crossed without any boots becoming wet, although a few hitchhiker leech’s were quickly discarded.

Lunch was abruptly cut short due to a short five minute downpour so we donned our rain gear and picked up the pace for the remaining few kilometres.  The weather gods were in our favour as we were able to make it back to the cars just in time to beat a heavy downpour.


Merry Beach, Pretty Beach, Snapper Point

Saturday 5 June 2021

Photos courtesy of Lesley, Ainslie, Gay, Rodney, Mary and Bob

With her usual sunny disposition, Jill soon had the milling crowd moulded from a herd of cats into an organised group of 21 bushwalkers.   After leading us into the wilds from Merry Beach, she introduced us to her many macropod friends, who patiently waited for the intruders to pass by, before resuming their important basking and other social graces.

Around to Pretty Beach for the mandatory morning tea and toilet stop, we had beautiful clear views down the coast to Gulaga, over a lively sea, with a solid swell decorated by surfers.   As the heavy swell made it risky to venture out to O’Hara Islet, we turned east for Snapper Point, where Jill, “The Whale Whisperer” showed off her talents by encouraging a pod of lively Humpbacks to cavort in front of us.

The welcome descent to Merry Beach led us back to the cars for a sumptuous picnic lunch for some, and a dash back to attend to chores for others.   A very pleasant day out for all.



Surfside to bridge walk into the Bay

Wednesday 2 June 2021

Photos courtesy of Joan and Lesley

A perfect sunny day gave 17 bushwalkers a feeling of anticipation at beginning this first walk by the club over the new Batemans Bay bridge.  Before starting the walk the leader gave a brief summary of a few facts about the bridge, namely the length being 307m,  the height allowance for boating of 12m and the budgeted cost of $274m.  In order to arrive at the bridge the walkers were led from the car park to the Surfside roundabout, up and on the footpath around to the caravan park, then followed the directions up to the start of the bridge walk while inquiring from bridge employees as to the reason for a very large hole being excavated – answer was that it will be sediment collection pit.

Once on the bridge all walkers changed into strollers while discovering various sights and work in progress to absorb and photograph.  This was also an excellent opportunity to view the demolition of the old bridge as well.  Once over the bridge the walk was led to the foreshore coffee precinct and then to the walk conclusion at seating on the end of the longest pier out over the water where the ferry to Nelligen was admired making its way under the new bridge.  The return to the Surfside car park was the ending to an enjoyable memorable historic walk by club members.


Pretty Beach Durras Mountain Circuit

Wednesday 2 June 2021

Photos courtesy of Amanda and Brian

On a lovely, fine morning, six walkers set out from Pretty Beach campground on the long, steady climb up the northern slopes of Mt Durras.

Only recently re-opened after the bushfires, this track revealed plenty of evidence of the devastation that occurred here however the path remained clear all the way to the summit where morning tea was enjoyed basking in the sunshine in the clearing where a  farmstead once stood.

The descent to Clear Point was slightly more difficult than it had once been. In areas where the tree canopy had been burnt, sunlight has poured in and onto the forest floor, allowing weeds and vines to take hold and thrive. This will be an ongoing challenge for bushwalkers and for Parks management.

Lunch was taken at Snake Bay and the remaining section of the walk back to Pretty Beach was punctuated by whale sightings and wonderful coastal views all the way down to Gulaga.