Stage 8 - Eurobodalla Coast
          (Tuross Head to Mystery Bay)

Tuross Head to Narooma

After 50 days we could probably be forgiven for feeling a bit jaded with the prospect of another day walking along beaches and headlands. Yet, when the sea mist that had rolled in earlier moved on to eventually close down Sydney airport, revealing a clear blue sky for the first time in four days, we were keen to get on the road again. This may have been partly in anticipation of the novel transport we had organised to cross the entrance at Tuross Lake and start the day's walk. Three months earlier we had checked out the entrance and could wade it at low tide. Unfortunately, this time we were tidally disadvantaged with a high tide, big swell and much wider mouth to the lake than earlier. Luckily, Richard and David from the Tuross Rescue Service kindly agreed to take us over in their new zodiac. As Richard said - he'd rather take us across now than have to come out and rescue us later!

The Tuross Rescue Squadron are a small group of volunteers who ensure the safety of fishermen and swimmers in the lakes and ocean - as we picked our way carefully through the channels and shifting sandbanks of the lake, we learnt a bit about their activities. Volunteers such as these are the backbone of small coastal communities and deserve to be applauded. Thanks, fellows.

Richard and David from the
Tuross Rescue Service

Tuross Lake from the southern sand spit

Channel marker



Bluebottles - with their stinging tentacles,
the one bane of swimming on the South Coast

Once over, we headed down the long sand spit of South Tuross Beach. Thousands of blue bottles lined the sand, having been washed up during the big seas of the previous days - lucky that we hadn't gone in for a swim! We left the beach and walked up through the caravan park at Blackfellows Point, where dozens of red-necked wallabies lazed around or nibbled on the grass of the park.

Red-necked Wallabies have taken over the lawncare franchise from grey kangaroos at Blackfellows Point

Sea squirt colony broken of the rocks and swept on to the beach by the big seas

The archetypal small coastal settlement - north-facing houses on a headland next to a beach at Potato Point

We followed a dirt road from the caravan park to Potato Point, a small village of coast houses. Crossing it, we re-entered the Eurobodalla National Park and climbed over the grass and lomandra covered Jamison's Point. As we reached the southern end of the point, a wide panorama opened up before us, looking down 6.5 km long Brou Beach, with the silhouette of Mount Dromedary dominating the background. This impressive mountain, named by Captain Cook on his voyage of discovery in 1770 without realising that for several thousand years people had been calling it Gulaga, would be our companion for the next few stages.

View over 6.5 km long Brou Beach and Mount Dromedary from Jamison's Point

As we wandered down the beach, the low profile of Montague Island, lying 8 km of the coast near Narooma, slowly grew larger. We passed several large coastal lakes, Tarourga, Brou and Mummaga as we meandered down the beach. These lakes, closed to the sea by wide sand bars, form important wetland habitats for the south coasts resident and migratory waterbirds.

Pied oyster catchers
The pseudo-desert landscape of the Lake Brou sandbar

Regeneration following a bushfire

In between Brou and Mummaga Lakes we moved slightly inland to follow a track along the low clay cliffs. Parts of this area had been recently burnt by a bushfire and the erosion of the clay cliffs was very evident - one of the few scars on the landscape that we had seen on our walk to date.


Erosion of clay cliffs following fire

Entry to Mummaga Lake at Dalmeny

At the end of Brou Beach we passed through the resort town of Dalmeny, spread along a group of headlands before again descending to a 4 km stretch of beautiful beaches separated by uplifted sandstone ribs and platforms jutting into the sea. I have admitted earlier to being a sandstonophile and it was great to be reacquainted with the rugged beauty of these sea-carved slabs of rock. The shape, weathering and angles of each point and platform seemed unique. Crossing Yabbara, Duesbury, Kianga, Carter's and Bar Beach, we eventually arrived at the imposing granite walls of the Narooma Breakwater, guarding Wagonga Inlet and its fleet of fishing and pleasure boats from the ocean.

Sandstone rocks at Duesbury Point

Duesbury Point and the southern end of Yabbara Beach

Heiroglyphic erosion patterns on sandstone

View across Kianga Beach

View across Bar Beach to Narooma

As we crossed over the bar, we were greeted once again by a superb view of Mount Dromedary over the waters of the inlet. Following a boardwalk around the northern shores to cross the bridge and reach our cabin for the night, we were accompanied by a chorus of bellbirds. We had only been in Narooma for ten minutes and already we liked it.

Wagonga Inlet and Mount Dromedary

An army of soldier crabs crossing the mudflats of Wagonga Inlet

Mount Dromedary generating its own cloud (from Brou Beach)

Little pied cormorant
Narooma to Mystery Bay

We had spent two very pleasant days in Narooma. While there, we caught up with Sally and Nigel, friends from Canberra now living at Narooma, and Sally showed us some of her favourite spots in Narooma. Much of our time though was spent sipping coffee on the deck of our cabin as we watched the tide creep in and out across the sandflats of Wagonga Inlet, while listening to the sound of bellbirds drifting across the water. Life moves at a different rhythm on the coast.

Full tide on the Wagonga sandflats

Looking across the inlet to Mount Dromedary

Granite ramparts of the Narooma Breakwater
- the entry to the Inlet is notoriously dangerous in big seas

The big tree - Wagonga Inlet

Locals call this the Australia Rock
- can you tell why?

Jetty on Wagonga Inlet

However, by Friday the horde of Canberrans and Sydneysiders heading to the coast for Easter had started to arrive and it was time for us to move on. It seems that it is never possible to escape completely the work-dominated rhythms of life of the big cities - only too short a time ago we would have been part of this mass exodus.

Under a clear blue sky we headed down the walkway that followed the southern shore of Wagonga Inlet before climbing up to the Narooma golf course, which surely has one of the more spectacular layouts looking out over the Pacific Ocean along a line of cliffs (though if you slice your ball don't bother searching). At the southern end lay the best view of all, across Narooma Beach to the dramatic silhouettes of the Glasshouse Rocks.

We crossed the Beach, climbed up through the cemetery on the headland and descended onto the sands of Glasshouse Rocks Beach. The closer we got to these rocks, the more impressive they became; the folded, uplifted and coloured sandstone of the cliffs contrasted against the black volcanic rocks emerging from the sea just offshore.

Narooma golf course - they say that the local kids can make
good pocket money diving for balls in the sea below certain holes

Narooma Beach and the Glasshouse Rocks

Approaching the black monoliths

Variations on a rocky theme

Rock wall leading to Handkerchief Beach

As we followed the beach around, the route became more and more constricted between sea and cliff. At the southern end, Nello found a narrow passage along the jagged rocks of the lower cliff face. Passing our backpacks across as the surf crashed on the rocks below, we emerged onto the long open stretch of Handkerchief Beach, grateful not to have had to backtrack over a kilometre and climb back up to the alternative route over the headland.

A cabin and van park lies adjacent to Handkerchief Beach, and we strolled passed groups of Easter holidaymakers swimming, sunbaking and surf fishing. The perfect sunny still day ensured that everyone was in high spirits.


In need of a rest

At the end of the beach, a sign pointed up to Barunga Point; another fragment of Eurobodalla National Park. We climbed up this track on a heath covered cliff edge separated by a barbed wire fence from the open paddocks of Jindamar South farm. Suddenly, a gap in the fence appeared and we found ourselves in the paddock - the National Parks authorities had negotiated a right of passage with the property owners along the next series of cliffs. This was great to see, as too often private ownership of cliff top land has been a potential barrier to this coastal walk.

Rural bliss - Jindamar South homestead

The path undulated through the thick kikuyu in the paddocks, following the spectacular cliffs and crossing isolated coves and beaches. Inland, the silhouette of Mount Dromedary dominated the horizon across the green grass of paddocks. Seaward lay the lighthouse-capped profile of Montague Island. These two landmarks were our constant companions for the day.

View north towards Barunga Point

Cliffs south of Barunga Point

Rural interface with the bush

Unnamed Beach on Jindamar South

Overlooking Fuller's Beach from Bogola Head

On Fuller's Beach

Leaving the farm, we crossed another small fragment of the National Park at Bogola Head, leading to a sweeping vista down the 3 km length of Foster's Beach. At the end of another meditational walk down the isolated beach, we reached the sandbar at the entrance of Corunna Lake and the jagged black offshore rocks of Corunna Point, witnesses to the volcanic origins of much of this landscape.

Rocks of Corunna Point

The path from Corunna Point led us up to the cliff top and through the lemon-flowers of a banksia forest, finally emerging amongst the tall eucalypts of the Mystery Bay Campground. Mystery Bay, named for the strange unsolved disappearance of five men in the late 19th century, is a secluded bay protected from the large sea swells by a cluster of off-shore rocks; a quiet, magical setting.

The protected waters of Mystery Bay

From the bay, we turned inland. Our destination was the home of Liz, an old school friend of Nello, and her husband, Tony, set in rolling green countryside near Central Tilba. We wandered up the dusty country road past Tilba Tilba Lake and through the green paddocks, the songs of birds providing a welcome replacement to the sound of the surf. A pleasant 3 kilometres on, we reached Liz and Tony's house, with its wonderful views towards Mount Dromedary. For the next few days of Easter, we would enjoy their hospitality and company, and the serenity of this idyllic rural setting.

Heading up Sunnyside Road

A couple of local residents

Dam overlooking Lake Tilba Tilba