Among a riot of spring flowers and frantic birds, Yuraygir Walking Experiences met up in early September with two adventurous single women from Brisbane and Sydney, and a close knit crew of walking friends from Brisbane. Unfortunately at the last minute the key person who had organised the latter group was unable to make it, while one of their party arrived with advanced symptoms of the dreaded winter flu. So while a little diminished, the walkers rallied their spirits over pre-dinner snacks with a slide show designed to prepare them to take on the coast walk the next day.
All (minus our flu casualty) assembled early on Monday for the minibus journey north to the beautiful village of Angourie, where the walk commences. Gina and Adrian provided insights along the way about various aspects of the landscapes, ecology and history of the hinterland, coast range and flood plain areas. After packing lunchboxes, dressing for uncertain weather, and posing for walk start photos taken by cheerful driver Phil, the group set off in good spirits.
A wide range of native wildflowers were on show and the group enjoyed many new sights, sounds and smells. The diverse path along forested tracks, heathland, beaches and headlands, with a wide range of vegetation types and bird song, made for an interesting and easy morning walk, punctuated by a morning tea break at the gorgeous shady Shelley Headland camping area.
Continuing on, the walkers experienced some interesting patches of littoral rainforest and swamp forests in the hind dunes to the south, and before very long it seemed, packs were again dropped onto the grassy picnic lunch area beside beautiful Lake Arragan for a feed and a rest. The afternoon walking into Brooms Head against the wind was a solid work out. But a hot cup of tea at the end of the beach, listening to Aboriginal Yaegl elder Uncle Ron Heron talk about local connections to this landscape helped to put the big day of walking into new perspective.
On Day 2, under a wide blue sky, the group worked its way past the pebbly beach that had provided generations of stone axe heads, and down the magnificent beach between Brooms Head and Sandon River estuary. Right on schedule, Cath arrived in her tinny to provide a ferry service in several batches across this extremely pretty river mouth. From there the group elected to take the longer forested back track rather than more of the open beach, eventually emerging after lunch about 2 kilometres north of Minnie Water. The now weary walkers had to put in some extra effort to get all the way back to their comfy houses for well-earned showers, cups of tea, coffee and snacks. Before dinner, a complementary stretch/relaxation class with Nicky gave relief and new vigour to tired muscles.
The third day began with absolute sunshine, walking out from Minnie Water through gorgeous headland trails filled with birdsong and flowers and glimpses of calm blue ocean. Arriving at a campground above a jagged, beautiful rock platform, Adrian provided fresh made coffee and morning tea, as naïve or gutsy baby magpies got in close to try to win over walkers’ snacks.
From there the headland vistas only got more spectacular providing for long views to the Solitary Islands, and close up inspections of dramatic wildflowers. Ducking back inland through a series of management trails past some old growth Eucalypt forest and wet heath areas added a new level of wildflower and landscape diversity. Staggering out of the bush and into civilization at Wooli, Adrian insisted on shouting iceblocks, which allowed a perfect amount of time waiting for Phil to pick us up and bus us down to have a sneak preview of the gorgeous Wooli River which we were to cross by boat the following day. After some rest time back at home base, Gina retuned before dinner to present a slide show on local history of the area and the natural values of Yuraygir National Park. Who better qualified to do so than the local NPWS Ranger!
After crossing Wooli River first thing in the morning, the final day of walking is for some the most challenging, but most enjoyable because of this – rugged, remote and sometimes a little like rock climbing – but easily handled with care, the direction of guides, and an awareness of tides. It is also a very diverse day in terms of landscapes traversed. Brahminy kites, whistling kites and a juvenile wedge-tailed eagle made for some interesting bird watching as well.
Morning tea and lunch spots at the deserted southern ends of curved beach headlands meant protection from gathering southerly winds. But after crossing Station Creek on foot, these winds were in full force for the final stretch of beach walking down to beautiful Red Rock estuary. With a sense of satisfaction and achievement, a bit of relief and maybe some sadness, the walk ended for this group after climbing into the waiting boat to cross the narrow stretch of river.
Of course, the reality of civilization soon returned to consciousness when the minivan led us back via the road network to significant highway upgrade roadworks to the west of Yuraygir National Park. This made all the more special the previous 4 days of walking in a place seemingly so far from these sorts of preoccupations.
YWE always appreciates feedback to be able to continuously improve their walks. This group had some good ideas, but we were pretty pleased to receive a lovely card after the walk from one walkers saying:
Thank you so much for a wonderful time last week. I thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience and am so grateful for the way you all looked after us, made us feel so welcome and comfortable. Your enthusiasm and love of your beautiful district was so special. Personally, I thought the walk was just great the way you have it. It’s well thought out and you did the hard work for us.
As for Poor Fay who missed out on walking due to flu, she still managed to say this:
Whilst unable to participate in the walk itself, staff ensured I was included as often as possible by travelling to drop off points with the group, given brief tours of the area with information on historical and current trends in the area, and driven back to the accommodation. Staff went out of their way to obtain medication to make my stay more comfortable; this was greatly appreciated. Thank you to all. I will do this walk!!