by Paul Ellis
I joined 21 other members of the Shoalhaven
Bushwalkers for an interesting day walk
near Lake Conjola. Our meeting place was Bewong Roadhouse at 9.30am and
by 10.05 we had driven to the small village of Lake Conjola on the south
coast near Ulladulla and parked our cars at the local tennis club. The
day was darkly overcast and rain threatened, but the worst part was the
high humidity. I later learned it was a high 86%. I was gonna be doing
some serious sweating.
We walked down the main street to the small park at the waters edge on the inlet to Lake Conjola and had an early morning tea, after which we followed the waters edge to the inlet itself and onto the sand of the main beach. This was rather tough going, the sand was soft enough for everyone to sink around 2 inches every step, even close to the waters edge, but worse was the strong wind we were walking into. At one point early on we had a brief rain shower that lasted less than one minute.
About halfway down the beach to Buckleys Point, Karen and Brett suggested to the leader that some walkers might find the going eaiser on the dirt track behind the dunes. We split into two groups, with the rest of the party making their way across the sand. We would meet them for lunch at Narrawallee Inlet. I joined the inland group, thankful to get away from the energy sapping sand. Behind the dunes we found a foot pad that headed inland, then turned south for some distance before coming out on a dirt road next to a sporting field that contained a herd of kangaroos. "Someone has roos in their top paddock" one wag was heard to say. We then followed this dirt road towards the coast for about 2km until we reached the Narrawallee Creek Nature Reserve.
We turned south and followed the Burrawang Walk for the one kilometre to Buckleys Point, passing through a large forest of Burrawang Palms. We then ascended the hill at Buckleys Point and followed a trail west for 500 metres before turning south on the track to Narrawallee Inlet 2km away, walking through impressive eucalypt forest. We arrived at Narrawallee Inlet barely 15 minutes after the other group had arrived and quickly went over to the mangroves to view an olive green Diamond Python the group had seen earlier climbing into one of the trees. No form of coaxing could get the snake to come down, and getting a decent photograph was very hard among the foliage. We returned to the grassy bank for lunch.
Thanks to the high humidity and strenuous exercise, my shirt was totally soaked with sweat, so when the heavens opened a few minutes later, forcing everyone into the shelter of a small group of trees and diving into their packs for their raincoats, I hardly bothered. I was wet enough. The rain cut our lunch break short to only 20 minutes, approximately 5 minutes less than the time we took to have morning tea. I donned my raincoat as we moved off again. I need not have bothered, apart from already being soaked, the rain ceased within minutes of our heading off and it was soon returned to my rucksack.
We backtracked a short way along where we had walked in and turned left onto the Mangrove Track which hopefully would lead us back to our cars. I mean hopefully, as in all my previous walks here a large section of this track had always been underwater. It was a long section that wound its way through the reserve and at times not far from the banks of Narrawallee Creek. The track was relatively dry, thanks to recent drought conditions and eventually we arrived at the small official car park for this reserve. We followed the main dirt road for a short distance before heading coastward again on another side track. This wound its way through the bush until we came out at the sports field we had passed earlier. It was a short walk back to the cars. As we put our packs in the car and winced as I sat in the drivers seat in my soaked clothes, the rain started falling again. This time much heavier, we had timed our finish perfectly, leaving our parking space at Lake Conjola at 2.45pm.
(Ettremist - February 2004)