Merrica River Nature Trail is another walk we had wanted to do for a long time and it lies in the northern precinct of Nadgee Nature Reserve, a 20 671 ha wilderness area. In fact, it is the end of the road and car access to this wonderful wilderness area. From Merrica River, it is a 3 to 4 day hike (55 km) around the coast to Mallacoota, Victoria, and is another bucket list camping trip, involving heavy packs and booking ahead. Only 30 hikers are allowed in the reserve at the one time and the cost is $10 per night per person. Permits can be obtained by phoning (02) 6495 5000. I would love to visit it in November to see the masses of moulting swans, resting on Nadgee Lake, while waiting for their new plumage to grow, as well as to run down the enormous sand-dunes at Cape Howe in Croajingalong National Park, also involving a long walk in. There is not that much information online about Merrica River, but I did read in a bushwalking book that in Spring, the banks of the river were lined with King Orchids Dendrobium speciosum in full bloom, so we resolved to visit it on the last day of September. We had not envisaged how wonderful the Spring wildflower show would be, so it was a double visual treat in store! Because there were so many wildflowers (over 800 species in Nadgee Nature Reserve), this post will be more of a photo essay, in which I will probably just refer to the genus name, unless I am sure of the species name. Here is a much magnified map from the National Parks board of the area:To get there from Eden:
Travel south along the Princes Highway for 22.5km. Turn left on Wonboyn Road and follow it for 8.7 km, just before the fork to Wonboyn Lake. Turn right into the gravel Old Bridge Forest Road and travel for a further 5.6 km, turning left at the fork-it is well signposted.The Merrica River carpark and the start of the track is located across the Merrica River causeway.The Merrica River Nature Trail is 4 km to the mouth of the Merrica River, where it joins the sea, so it is worth taking a sunhat, drinking water, walking boots and bathers if it is a warm day. The track starts through a tunnel of Coast Banksia Banksia integrifolia. The track crosses a creek, which flows into a small waterfall, then joins the fire trail through a eucalypt forest to the beach… and the mouth of the Merrica River… lined with grey lichen-covered rock blocks, with forest right down to the edge of the water.The vegetation in Nadgee Nature Reserve has been almost undisturbed since European settlement and has such an isolated remote feel. We walked down along the river to see if we could spot a King Orchid, but only found one specimen far on the other side. We did however find a base camp with a kayak and a fireplace under the huge Bracelet Honey-Myrtles, Melaleuca armillaris, which flower later in Summer. What a wonderful spot to camp! I loved the brown and gold colour of the water, evidence of all the tannins in it! We then turned our attention to Disaster Bay and waded across a shallow knee-high passage, following the cliff line on the right… where we discovered masses of King Orchids in full bloom on the higher rocks – such a spectacular show and well worth the long walk in! They obviously liked that aspect with full northern sun and even salt spray and wind! The lower rocks along the shoreline were very attractive with quartz banding and were covered with oysters, as well as being refuge for scurrying crabs! We saw a Pied Oyster Catcher, a Reef Heron (photo below), and a Black Cormorant searching for food and Gannets diving, but alas, no whales, Ground Parrots, endangered Eastern Bristlebirds, or the pair of resident White-Bellied Sea Eagles! We ate lunch out on the rocks facing the ocean and looking straight across Disaster Bay to Green Cape Lighthouse, around the corner from a couple of salmon fisherpeople! Then, it was time to retrace our steps, taking more wildflower photos and watching and listening to the many forest birds, including Grey Fantails, Eastern Yellow Robins, Golden Whistler, White Throated Tree Creepers, Lewin Honeyeaters, Satin Bowerbirds, Wonga Pigeons, Grey Thrush, Lorikeets and the migratory Fan-Tailed Cuckoo, who has returned for the Australian Summer. We didn’t see any other animals, as most of them would have been asleep in their tree hollows, but here are some photos of the homes of the resident ants: Finally, here are the wildflower photos, grouped according to colour :
White and Cream:
Forest Clematis Clematis glycinoides; Wedding Bush Ricinocarpus pinifolius; Daisy Bush Olearia sp; Apple Berry Billardiera scandens; Sweet Pittosporum Pittosporum undulatum; Pimelea linifolia; Beard-Heath Leucopogon sp; and a Boronia species.Yellow, Gold and Orange:
A number of different native pea genus: Pultenaea; Dilwynia, Bossiaea – all that is certain is that they all belong to the Family Fabaceae!; Golden Glory Pea Gompholobium latifolium; Hop Goodenia Goodenia ovata; Guinea Flower Hibbertia sp;Toothed Guinea Flower Hibbertia dentata;Fireweed Groundsel Senecio linearifolius; Pomaderris elliptica; Stringybark Wattle Acacia linearifolia; Prickly Moses Acacia ulicifolia; Melaleuca megacephala;Pink and Purple:
Native Indigo Indigofera australis; Hardenbergia violacea; Glycine clandestina;Thyme Pink Bells Tetratheca thymifolia; Common Heath Epacris impressa; and Purple Burr-Daisy Brachyscome spathulata subsp. spathulata.Red: Dusky Coral Pea Kennedia rubicunda;Bush Cherry Exocarpos sp;Blue:
Waxlip Orchid Glossodia major; Native Iris Patersonia sericea; Love Creeper Comesperma volubileGreen: Large Hop Bush Dodonaea triquetraand the pods of the Sunshine Wattle Acacia terminalis.There were even some interesting fungi.It was a wonderful day out and we were so impressed with the Kings of Merrica River, that we immediately followed up with a visit to Nethercote Falls the next day to see if their King Orchids were also in bloom, as we had missed them last Spring and we were thrilled to discover that they were! Third time lucky! I have added the new photos to the old post: November Falls. See: https://candeloblooms.com/2015/11/19/november-falls/. Next month, we will finish the year with Wonboyn Lake and Bay Cliff, truly the pièce de résistance of the area and a fabulous place to enjoy the Summer! Till then…!