For most people this walk is best undertaken as a 4 day walk, however, some people walk it in 3 days, others in 5. 4 days is generally what we recommend and how we run our guided and supported walks. Here is our breakdown of the 4 day walk to give you an idea of what to expect.
Mara Creek is the start of the adventure (when walking from North to South), situated near the famous Angourie surfing reserve in northern Yuraygir National Park. The trail from here passes through numerous coastal plant communities including wet and dry heathlands with spectacular views of sandstone rocky platforms and sweeping coastline back to the north. At Dirragan headland, walkers can learn about the connection of the Yaegl people to this beautiful and bountiful landscape.
After a short stroll along the empty and wild Shelley Beach, the Shelley Headland camp area provides shady coastal banksias and a picnic table to rest up and have some morning tea. From there, the trail ascends the headland briefly and hugs the coastline for several kilometres, with great views of the coffee rock sand cliff to the south. There are also small sheltered pockets of very old paperbarks and tuckeroos behind the dunes.
The banks of the lovely freshwater Lake Arragan (an intermittently closed and open lagoon – ICOLL) make the perfect place to unpack lunch, alongside mobs of Eastern Grey Kangaroos resting in the shade around the campground area. In summer this also a great spot for an ocean swim, with a rinse off in the beautiful fresh tannin coloured waters.
From Lake Arragan, the trail passes another feature of the diverse geomorphology of this section of coastline – the coloured clays of Red Cliff and Grey Cliff headlands. It follows through a small pocket of littoral rainforest in the lee of the headland before dropping back onto the beach for an easy stroll to the end point for the day, at Brooms Head, a sleepy coastal village for most of the year.
This section of walk provides great opportunities for whale watching during the northern (May-June) and southern (Aug-Oct) migration periods.
Today is a beach walking day. Beginning where the walk ended the day before, climb the stairs south up the grassy headland to experience sweeping views of the coastline to the south, an ideal spot for turtle, whale and dolphin spotting. Then descend onto the usually deserted stretch of beach for an easy 8 km walk to Sandon River, watching out for soaring sea eagles, kites and other coastal raptors.
Sandon River is a superb and relaxing morning tea spot, gazing at Plover Island, a small tombolo accessible from the mainland at low tide. This island holds great cultural significance for the Yaegl People and has long been a source of stone material for making various implements. Sandon River is also the northernmost point of Solitary Islands Marine Park, which extends south for 75km to Muttonbird Island at Coffs Harbour.
After morning tea, catch a boat ride across the Sandon River and stroll through the small settlement of Sandon. There are two alternative routes to Minnie Water depending on tides, weather and interests of the group: the slightly longer Sandon backtrack follows a sandy access track through various heathland communities and coastal cypress thickets, particularly stunning during winter-spring flowering, providing great opportunities to glimpse many nectar feeding birds in action; the shorter and more direct route is the 10km stretch along south Sandon beach, providing swimming opportunities, whale and dolphin spotting, and the chance to enjoy the solitude that these wide open parts of the Yuryagir coastline offers.
At the southern end of the beach, wander through Illaroo campground to look for resident goannas before taking the short Angophora walking track south. This peaceful path is lined by beautifully coloured and textured old smooth barked ‘apples’ (Angophora costata). At it’s end the track leads out to civilisation, or at least to the edge of the Minnie Water township! This can be a great place to swim and rinse off under the outdoor shower near the surf club, providing a refreshing end to the longest of 4 days of walking. The local Minnie Water store also offers a wide range of sustenance (ice creams, cold drinks etc) if needed at this point, before returning to your evening accommodation.
After the physically challenging previous day, this leg provides a chance to slow down a bit and really enjoy the coastal scenery at a more leisurely pace. If staying the previous night at Minnie Water, walkers can stroll out their front door and take in the beautiful rocky shoreline and wild heath flowers around the village, before descending onto ‘Back Beach’ for an easy walk to Diggers Camp.
Diggers’ shoreline has some rocky platforms well worth exploring if the tide is right, before taking morning tea at the lovely Boorkoom camping area which looks back north over the morning’s walk. From here an easy grade grassy and forested track takes walkers alongside beautiful and rugged coastal cliffs and bays around to Wilson’s headland. It offers many opportunities again for whale watching and turtle spotting. Themeda grassy headlands (a listed endangered ecological community) are a feature of this headland walk, with an Eastern Grey or two often there as well, enjoying the view. Look out for some small but beautiful headland flowers, including lovely paper daisies.
From Wilsons Headland, you’ll see Wooli township in the distance. From here you can take a direct beach route to Wooli, looking out for signs marking the best exit points from the beach.
Or if you seek more diversity, head along a short section of board walk through littoral rainforest to the day use area and car park for a toilet and lunch stop. From there, a 2 km section of the Diggers Camp Road gets you to a NPWS management trail on the south (left) of the road, which runs through a large expanse of low wet and dry heath and old growth Eucalypt woodland with lots of hollows providing homes for owls, other birds and mammals. Continuing on this trail past an old quarry, pass through some wetland areas until eventually reaching another management trail just near the Wooli Road heading south under the powerlines. This takes walkers through another area of wet heath where seasonal Christmas Bells and carnivorous sundews can be seen along the edges of the trail. From here either head West to emerge from the national park in the township of Wooli near the pub and store, or head East to reconnect with paths that put you back on the beach, heading as far south towards the Wooli river and break wall as you’d like to travel.
This day begins with a 2km boat ride down the Wooli River to Jones Point on the southern side of the Wooli River. From here to Pebbly Beach is the most remote section of the Yuraygir coastal walk, with boat access only. After a short stroll along the Jones beach, walkers are in for a bit of somewhat challenging rock scrambling or hopping, in between short stretches of pebbly bays, for about 5 km. The route taken varies, depending on tide and swell conditions. Though this section can be quite challenging for some, the beauty and remoteness of this area makes it very worthwhile. Morning tea can be enjoyed under the many groves of pandanus along this section of the coast.
Continuing South, walkers will eventually find themselves on the Freshwater walking track, which overlooks the gorgeous bay known as Pebbly Beach. Walking through Pebbly Beach campground, you are likely to spot yellow tailed black cockatoos feeding in the casuarinas that line the shore as well lace monitors looking for an easy meal from campers. Lunch can be taken at a protected spot at the southern end of the beach.
For the final leg, its best to ditch shoes (and bring your swimmers) to wade through Station Creek estuary (ideally at low tide). This is an important breeding location for several threatened shorebirds including the Little Tern, Pied Oyster Catcher and Beach Stone-curlew. Breeding has been increasingly successful due to management action and visitation control of this part of the National Park.
The next hour is the home stretch, along the Station Creek Beach to the southern extent of the Yuraygir Coastal Walk at Red Rock. Wade over the wide sand flats at the estuary before catching a quick lift across the beautiful Red Rock River, the finish line of the 65km Yuraygir Coastal adventure.