Last June, we had a wonderful day out, exploring the Murrah River and Murrah Lagoon by canoe. We had long wanted to visit this area, as there is nothing more alluring than places, which are difficult to access. In our first two years in Candelo, there was a problem with the access road via Goalen Head, so a visit to Murrah Lagoon entailed a 2.2 km long walk via the beach, north from Goalen Head and back, which really required a full day outing….unless you had a canoe!!
Having recently initiated our canoe locally with a paddle down Back Lake, Merimbula, we were ready and raring to go!! Here is a closeup photograph of Murrah Lagoon and Murrah River from our map.But first, a little factual information about the Murrah River! The Murrah River drains an area of 195 square kilometres of the South Coast of New South Wales, just north of the Bega Valley. The upper catchment consists of two creeks: Dry River and Katchencarry Creek, which drain from the steep headwaters of the escarpment, meet at Quaama to form the Murrah River, which then progresses 5 km downstream to join Pipeclay Creek, a tributary from the north, which drains the rounded foothills. The Murrah River then flows 12 km through the bedrock-confined valley and state forest to the lowland plains, where the valley widens and the river comes under a tidal influence.We dropped the canoe in at the bridge crossing on the Tathra-Bermagui Road, 10 km south of Bermagui at low tide, wading and dragging the canoe for the first stretch of very shallow water, past river regeneration work, with huge wooden pylons shoreing up eroded river banks, to a huge gum on the bend of the river, where we joined the main part of the river.It was a beautiful paddle down the river, past Striated Herons and Great Egrets, to the lagoon with its perfect reflections, and mouth of the Murrah River, where it meets the ocean, the Murrah Headland and Murrah Beach. We walked across to the beach to join this lucky Pied Oyster-Catcher and looked north to Murrah Head, and south, past farming properties, to the giant black boulders of Goalen Head. The water was so crystal clear and and a deep deep green. We dragged our canoe up onto a tiny sandy cove.Tucked in behind the headland, on a sheltered slope, right on the river mouth, is Thubbul, the holiday home of well-known architect, Philip Cox, and his partner, journalist Janet Hawley. Philip bought the property 45 years ago and built a series of pavilions (detached contemporary bungalows), connected by a central walkway and surrounded by an English style garden, within a spotted gum forest with an under-storey of macrozamias. Other native vegetation includes: Yellow box, ironbark and swamp mahogany; banksias, casuarinas and westringeas; and a variety of heath, reeds and grasses. The low buildings and garden blend so well into the landscape that they are in fact very private and have a low impact on the natural environment.For more information, please see: http://www.abc.net.au/local/photos/2013/01/31/3680300.htm or read A Place on the Coast by Philip Cox and Janet Hawley 1997. See: https://www.abebooks.com/book-search/isbn/0186430337/.
It is such a lovely position for a beach holiday home. Keeping to the beach, we skirted the edge of the rocky platforms to eat lunch out on the headland. In the first photo below, we are north of Murrah Headland, looking back to Thubbul. We looked north to the water tank and tall pines on the headland at Bermagui in the distance; back over the beautiful Murrah Lagoon, and south to Goalen Head. The geology on the Far South Coast of New South Wales is so impressive and I love the native westringa! What a wonderful place to spend your holidays!!Soon, it was time to return, so we headed back in the canoe, passing a long-time free camping site behind the beach, and negotiating the various channels back to the bridge. It only took one hour and we were very fortunate in that the tide was coming in, so there was no wading at the end.We decided to explore a little up the river beyond the bridge, past river oaks and grasses, where we saw Pied Cormorants, Chestnut Teals and Black-Fronted Dotterels!On our return to the bridge, we had stopped midstream to chat to a man in a kayak, who had been camping at the free campsite on the lagoon. He told us a bit about the area and informed us that the Goalen Head access to Murrah Beach (via Hergenhans Road off the Tathra-Bermagui Rd) was now open, so we drove down there on our way south: past beautiful coral trees (Erythrina) to the end of the road and the southern end of Murrah Beach, where a cheeky Yellow Robin greeted us. I loved these photos of the grass seedheads and the lichen-covered rocks and black boulders of Goalen Head to the south in the golden late afternoon light.It is so good to know that we can now walk up the beach to the headland, though we will always remember our beautiful canoe trip down the Murrah River!
For more on the Murrah River and the surrounding Mimosa Rocks National Park, including its early history, please see http://www.clw.csiro.au/publications/technical99/tr54-99.pdf.
It is also probably worth, checking out the NPWS Management Plan for Mimosa Rocks National Park, just to the south (Goalen Head), for a review of the local native flora and fauna. See: http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/research-and-publications/publications-search/mimosa-rocks-national-park-plan-of-management and http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/resources/planmanagement/final/20110246MimosaRocksNPfinal.pdf.
Next week, I will be introducing our Drawing and Art Library!