Bushwalks on NSW South Coast

Sunday, Aug 29, 2010 at 15:48

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Lately we have been revisiting some of our favourite places to bushwalk close to home while the days are cool and clear.
The most challenging has been Pigeon House Mountain in the Budawangs west of Milton, in Morton National Park. It is one of the most popular walks in the region, and there are spectacular views from the summit.
Theres quite a drive along sealed and then dirt roads through forest to get there though from either Milton or a couple of signposted roads South of Burrill Lake from the Princes Highway.
The walk is approximately 5 kms return in distance but because of the terrain takes between three and four hours to complete. There is a 'lung clearing' walk which follows an old 4WD trail uphill from the carpark to large sandstone outcrops and ledge for views of the mountain so named by because of its likeness to a birdcage. From here there are also views out to the ocean.

From here the trail meanders through mostly level, forested land for a short distance and in spring there are many wildflowers - wattles, banksias, boronias in bloom. Now the gradient increases gradually at first and then more steeply and we are always surprised by just how many steps there are until the first of a series of metal staircases is reached. A timber bench has been conveniently provided for a rest before tackling the last steep climb to the summit.
Finally there is a short almost level walk westward around the base of the mountain leading to a series of metal staircases and ladders separated by mesh platforms - creating a perfect place to pause for breath, enjoy the views and take photographs.
It hasnt always been this easy. I have climbed the mountain on a number of other occasions, the first some 30 years ago when the final climb was mostly climbing and rock scrambling with rope to assist one up. I am ashamed to admit that I was very much less fit in those days this being obvious in the days following the climb when my legs hurt so badly I had difficulty walking. I remember our two eldest children then only aged 4 and 6 ran up much of it and couldnt comprehend my slowness!
From the summit there are wonderful panoramic views in all directions - north across Pigeon House Gorge to Talaterang Mountailn, as well as Byangee Walls and the Castle.
To the south Mt Dromaderry is visible along the coastline and as far north to Point Perpendicular. These views are a great reward for the climb.
We sat on top and ate our morning tea then returned to the carpark for lunch, surrounded by greedy currawongs who arrive out of nowhere as soon as food is produced.

Another of our favourite walks is the easy 7kms return walk to Mt Bushwalker on Little Forest Plateau to the north of Milton. This walk is accessed from the Princes Highway along Pointer Gap Road about 8 kms north of the township along a mainly dirt road which climbs steeply up to the top of the Plateau.

Its a great walk as the almost flat terrain provides wonderful glimpses of the coastline North towards Jervis bay along the way, as well as across to the Clyde Gorge and Mt Tianjara. The track is well maintained by the local Bushwalking Club and there are sections of boardwalk, also stumps positioned like stepping stones at regular intervals designed to keep feet out of mud. Theres a small rocky water crossing with a waterfall too and below bush orchids which are beautiful when in flower - with sprays of creamy white blossoms cascading down the rocks.

At the end of the walk sheer cliffs provide spectacular views out to Pigeon House, Mt Talaterang, the escarpment of Byangee Mountain and Castle from the Clyde River Gorge. Other notable landforms visible include Quilty's Mountain and Shrouded Gods.

Its a good place to stay a while and drink in the views before returning along the same route.

The walk to Bushwalker is a good introductory one to experience the rugged beauty of the Budawang wilderness area without too much effort.

Also from the same area on Little Forest Plateau, there are other walks leading to Florence and Rusden Heads for different views over the Morton National Park. Both of these are around the same distance - 7 to 8 kms. The car park is reached from the top of the Plateau and both walks lead from the same place.
We recently did the 8km return walk to Rusden Head which is 'moderate' grade but mostly fairly level.
Theres a 750metre walk along the Little Forest Walking Track past a large sandstone outcrop near the carpark along which are placed a number of interpretive signs. To the west of the track are waterlogged sedge and heathlands with stunted woodlands in better drained areas. Much of the views have been obscured by vegetation growth since a bushfire burnt out the area.
The track to Rusden head leads to the right and downhill from where there are glimpses of Talaterang Mountain mainly obscured by tall hakeas, banksias and other assorted vegetation. Theres a series of wooden planks to help bypass the low, boggy sections of track and after a long very gradual decline, the track ventually reaches some rocky slabs.
In the mossy lower areas an amazing little plant named a sundew thrives. This is brilliant red, quite flat and like small sparkling jewel encrusted spots along the track. Viewed from up close, it is an intricate pattern and quite spectacular.

Theres another short section of wet, boggy track which then leads uphill to rocky outcrops where there are glimpses of Pigeon House Mountain on the right and Florence head on the left. Before long the edge of Rusden head is reached and the rocky ledge drops off to the valley below.
There are wonderful, unobscured views to Mt Talaterang and Pigeon House Gorge, Byangee Mountain, Pigeon House, the Budawang Range and even to Durras Mountain in the distance, along with the coastline to the east.

If you follow the edge of the cliff line around to the left, pushing your way through the stunted spiky shrubs, there are even better views of the coastline across the cliffs of Florence Head and Lake Conjola. Theres also a cleft in the rocks here which marks the start of a steep descent leading to a track which will take you to Pigeon House apparently.

The walk to Duurras Mountain is reached from two different parking areas - Pebbly Beach to the south, or Pretty Beach to the North. We have previously walked to the summit from both ends but this time chose to drive to Pebbly Beach to begin our walk in somewhat windy conditions. From Pebbly it is just under 8 kms in length return.
Pebbly Beach is a popular place for both interstate and international tourists because there are certain to be sightings of kangaroos and native birds such as king parrots and rainbow lorikeets close to the carpark. It is clearly signposted from the Princes Highway south of Ulladulla and North of Batemans Bay and is located some 8 kms along a dirt road.
Day fees apply in this National Park, currently $7 per vehicle, and passes can usually be purchased from the machine at the carpark although it was out of order the day we were there. (We have an exemption because of Johns TP&I Pensioner status).
There is also a campground with flushing toilets and cold showers and there are limited sites for caravans although the descent to the parking area is relatively steep, narrow and winding bitumen.
We left our lunch in the car and took the day pack with water and morning tea and of course I carried the camera.
The walk starts north of the carpark along a service trail which leads to and past the cabins. There are tall spotted gums along the way and the track meanders up and down a small slope before reaching North Pebbly Beach where the waves break over small pebbles. It is a pretty little beach and worth a look.
Continuing past the beach, the track crosses a small bridge and climbs through a small patch of littoral rainforest before reaching a track junction and sign. Take the left turn to start the climb to Durras Mountain or continue a short distance towards Clear Point (and Snake Bay) for great views of the coastline in both directions. (This lovely walk with many beautiful views of the ocean and also worth the effort and we have done it a couple of times.)

We took the track to the mountain summit which climbs and winds uphill and where the vegetation becomes drier. Along the way we paused to catch our breath and enjoy glimpses of the ocean through the trees. At various places along the way the strong winds whipped around us and we anxiously watched the bending branches of those tall trees above us....hoping that one wouldnt drop without warning!

The track had been cleared and was clearly visible right to Durras trig but many views of the coast here are obscured by trees although there are some views west towards Pigeon House Mountain and the Budawangs form near here. A wooden table and bench seats provides a place to sit and enjoy the place and we had morning tea here before retracing our steps.
This walk does continue through to Pretty Beach which is approximately 5 kms further north.

Back at Pebbly Beach we wandered along the sand and I took a photo of John with the very quiet reclining, sunbaking kangaroos before we returned to the car for lunch. We sat on the seats nearby with our sandwiches and were soon accosted by some very agressive parrots and satin bower birds who are obviously used to being fed by tourists. They landed on our heads and arms and tried to take our food so we had to retreat to the car to eat!

Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt. John Muir
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