Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Myall Lakes

After a spectacular sunset the night before, we slept well, snug in our beds and with the ocean roaring
from behind the tall sand dunes.

Our morning activities were all about walking. First, we crossed the road which runs like a spine between the lake and the beach, traversed a a short section of dense banksias and then climbed the tall dunes behind the beach. The summit revealed a quintessential Australian view, as a beach ponded by white caps breaking first off shore and then, after a respite across a twenty metre wide channel which ran parallel to the shoreline, again almost as the water met the sand. A further short hard climb across loose sand bought us to the highest point on the dunes and a 360 degree view of the ocean, it's neighbour the beach, the tall dunes which created a barrier protecting a banksia forest, the camping area and the largest of the The Broadwater.

After a short sortie on the beach itself and mindful of conserving Sue's back for the walk still ahead, we returned to the campsite. Stopping only for a cuppa, we then headed out to explore the two kilometre rainforest walk which lay to the north, between our site at Mungo Brush and the next campsite at XXXXX.

Actually, it's a combination of rainforest types, lacking the true rainforest giants to be found on the escarpments along the east coast of Australia but with enough density in its canopy to limit the vegetation at ground level. Closer to the lake, paperbarks dominate - tea trees, which give the lake it's tell tale brown hue, just like a cup of weak black tea. The falling leaves from the paperbarks stain the water. By the time we reached Mungo Point, there were sufficient gaps for passage right to the water line, where the lake lapped away at paperbark trees growing at the edge, their roots sunken into the compacted mud.

Some chicken wire and rotted posts, knocked askew by tree bullying, still remained for the sharp-eyed, but little else remained of the farm. As pleasing as the climate must have been, it is hard to imagine making much grow or graze in this combination of rock, sand and mud.

At the point, a group of cormorants, mostly huddled at the shore, were at a safe distance and away from the walkers along the track. It was only by getting right to the water's edge and peeping through the trees they were discovered. One or two sat hopefully above the choppy waves on exposed limbs of fallen trees, optimistic of catching the passing trade.

From the point, we circled back through more paperbarks, these taller and with their feet in a swamp. Some sparsely located eucalypts pushed up toward the sunlight but the dominant feature, as had been the case for all of the walk except near Mungo Point, were the cabbage tree palms. Their discarded fronds made up the walking track in some portions and just as well. The second half of the track was often covered with pools of swamp water and the fronds made suitable pontoons. Black seed ponds were thick on the ground and occasionally these had been split open to reveal the seed inside - highly sort after by the fig birds we saw. High above in the canopy, we even spotted a green cat bird but were denied its eery cats meow cry, sometimes liked to a crying baby.

Wet feet but satisfied, we returned to camp, spotting brown cuckoo-dove in the process. The Pacific Black ducks welcomed as back to camp, waddling up from the shore, hopeful of scraps.

The rest of the afternoon was occupied by reading, a stroll along the shore as the afternoon faded and another wonderful sunset.

Unfortunately, this sunset claimed me as a victim. Too much direct glare triggered a migraine which sent me to bed for twelve hours from early evening. Pain killers and sleep ended my day.

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