Monday, July 25, 2016

More Coastal Wanderings: Merry Beach to Clear Point and Durras Mountain

Although we did not quite succeed to follow rock platforms all the way from Mill Beach to North Head Beach in Murramarang National Park the basic idea behind the outing seemed sound. Find a piece of coast without development and with rock platforms and traverse it from one end to another. 

Deserted beach near O'Hara Islands

Still in Murramarang National Park but a dozen or so kilometres to the north, the coast from Merry Beach to Pebbly Beach is undeveloped apart from a small campground at Pretty Beach. Merry Beach to Clear Point is about 9 km and it is about the same back along the walking track that runs over Durras Mountain. This time, if the rock platforms proved impassable, another track which runs through native forest behind the coast would be easily reached. 

Rock platforms near Snake Bay

I wanted to start from Kioloa, but Doug thought starting from Merry Beach made more sense as we would not be able to time the trip for low tide. Truth is, the start and end point for these trips is always somewhat arbitrary. You could start far to the north at Bawley Point or walk all the way to Depot Beach. Starting and ending at Merry Beach maximises the time you are away from development and minimises time spent on roads. 

Rock platforms of Snapper Point
The rock platforms at the south end of Merry Beach are alluring to coastal walkers and you'll be tempted to follow them around to Snapper Point, but you'll get stuck below the cliffs of Snapper Point so it is better to follow the track that winds around Snapper Point headland. This offers wonderful views all the way down to coast to Mount Gulaga. 

Rock platforms south of Pretty Beach
We followed the parks track down to Pretty Beach and this was the last time we used tracks until we reached Clear Point. From Pretty Beach to Dawsons Islands, two small off-shore rock reefs, it's all easy going on short beaches separated by small rock platforms. Getting around to Snake Bay requires a bit of a detour into the bush atop cliffs until you can scramble down through banksia forest to the rock strewn beach. 

Snake Bay
There is one other section where we had to circumvent cliffs through the forest. This is just north of the next deep bay south of Snake Bay (known as Courageous Slip by local sea kayakers). At lower tides or a smaller swell, you might be able to hop around on boulders. We stopped for lunch at Clear Point which juts into the ocean and catches swell from north and south. The rock platform south of Clear Point is worth a wander as this large rock platform is about 10 metres above sea level and is gradually being pulled into the sea. 

 Clear Point platforms
From Clear Point, a good track leads up onto the Murramarang Range, over Durras Mountain and back to Merry Beach. The old road is blocked to vehicle traffic and is gradually reverting to a pleasant forest track. 

 Heading into Snake Bay

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