A Slice of History : Moogareeka Inlet, Ford Headland and Moon Bay

Last week, I wrote primarily about Tathra Headland and the township. Now that the holiday period is just about over, I thought I would finish it with a post on the northern end of Tathra Beach, where the Bega River meets the sea. This is also my last Thursday post for the time being, as I really do need to get some work done! But the Tuesday posts will continue in a similar weekly format : a monthly feature plant; a favourite garden post; recipes or local beauty spots and a monthly garden post.

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The Bega River meets the sea
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Low tide

The Bega River (48.6 km long) starts at the confluence of the Bemboka River and the delightfully-named Tantawangalo Creek at Moran’s Crossing. It travels east, then north north-east to Bega, where it is joined by the Brogo River, then continues south-east, then east to its mouth at the Tasman Sea via Moogareeka Inlet, 4 km north of Tathra.BlogFordHdld SliceHx 20%Reszd2015-05-28 10.18.17BlogFordHdld SliceHx 20%Reszd2015-05-28 10.14.18BlogFordHdld SliceHx 20%Reszd2015-05-28 10.25.09Moogareeka Inlet enters at the northern end of Tathra Beach and is the start (and southernmost point ) of Mimosa Rocks National Park.

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View south from the northern end of tathra Beach back to Tathra Wharf and township
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The shallow waters of Moogareeka Inlet and the bridge
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Moogareeka Inlet
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Such a tranquil place…at least when this photo was taken!

It is very shallow and sandy and a haven for birdwatchers. Birds include : sea eagles, pelicans, little terns, crested terns, pied oyster catchers, red capped plovers, royal spoonbills, cormorants, rails, herons, rainbow lorikeets, king parrots and yellow-tailed black cockatoos.

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Royal Spoonbills mine-sweeping!
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Rainbow Lorikeet enjoying the banksias
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The resident birdlife : Pelicans, cormorants, crested terns and sea gulls
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Red-capped Dotterels on Tathra Beach, sheltering from the wind
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White-faced Heron fishing in Moogareeka Inlet
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Pied Oyster Catcher fishing with the heron
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Pelicans are one of my favourite sea birds!
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Juvenile Butcher Bird learning picnic etiquette!

Fishermen also love the inlet, where they can catch:  bream, dusky flathead, estuary perch, luderick, whiting, black fin, yellow fin, jewfish, mullet, tailor and bass. There are prawns in season, as well mussels and oysters on the rocks. A veritable feast indeed!

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Steamed mussels for dinner!

BlogFordHdld SliceHx 20%Reszd2015-08-11 16.20.52The area has a rich aboriginal history. With all this abundance of seafood and fruits of the forest, the Yuin people led rich lives and tended to be less mobile than their cousins from the interior, who used to visit. Moogareeka Inlet was the end-point for a major travel route from the Monaro Tableland to the coast and was a popular camp for aborigines. Evidence includes :

  • Bunan Ground (raised ring of stones used in male initiation ceremonies) in the Moogareeka-Moon Bay area
  • Nearby rock shelter with occupation deposits
  • Fish trap in Lower Bega River, noted by George Robinson in 1844
  • Extensive middens at Moon Bay

Unfortunately, a road was built in the 1850s along the north side of the Bega River to access these middens, which were then carted away and crushed by the early settlers to make lime, used in mortar for the building boom in the recently gazetted township of Bega. There were probably other aboriginal artefacts (eg burials in the aeolian sands, isolated stone artefacts and scarred trees), but much would have been destroyed by logging, clearing and early cultivation.

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Oyster-lined rocks on Moogareeka Inlet
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Offerings from Tathra Beach : pippies, cockles, mussels, oysters, brooch and tapestry shells, scallops, abalones and ear shells, keyhole limpets, spindle and jingle shells and mud whelks. We were mystified by the red and purple, highly scented seed pods- perhaps they were wedding confetti?

The first encounter between aborigines and Europeans occurred in 1797, after the wreck of the ‘Sydney Cove’ with 3 survivors finally making it to Sydney after travelling up the coast. By the 1840s, most aboriginal men were employed as agricultural labourers or in the whaling industry, while the women worked as domestic servants or bore children to the occupiers of their land.

In 1843, former convict Fred Moon landed with sheep at a nearby bay, which later bore his family name, Moon Bay. He called his sheep property ‘Riverview’, as it was situated on the prominent headland overlooking the mouth of the Bega River.

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‘Riverview’ on headland at the mouth of the Bega River
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‘Riverview’ with Tathra and Tathra Wharf in the background
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Looking south to Tathra from ‘Riverview’ over the mouth of the Bega River
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Beach below ‘Riverview’ on Moogareeka Inlet

Over the years, there were a succession of owners and a large variety of agricultural enterprises from sheep and cattle grazing to dairy farming, orcharding and vegetable growing. The last owner, Mr Neil Ford, was even part of a government-sponsored scheme to grow drugs for pesticide manufacture. The old property is now known as Ford Headland.

The  variety of enterprises is reflected in the large number of sheds, aviaries, pens, stockyards, coops, cages and fences. There are also the remains of the old 1890s house.BlogFordHdld SliceHx 20%Reszd2015-05-10 13.41.41BlogFordHdld SliceHx 20%Reszd2015-05-10 13.06.51‘Riverview’ (34 ha) was acquired by National Parks on 2nd October 1992 under the Coastal Lands Protection Scheme (1973), which allowed for the purchase of coastal areas of significant cultural and natural heritage values. It is one of the most significant former farming properties in Mimosa Rocks National Park.

It is always a fascinating spot to visit, as I love old, wild, overgrown gardens! An assessment by National Parks in 1999 identified over 80 exotic plant species, including an avenue of Golden Cypress (Cupressus macrocarpa), ornamental shrubs and the remains of orchards and vegetable gardens.

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Black-eyed Susan vine climbing into a tree
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Looking up to ‘Riverview’ from Moogareeka Inlet
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The old driveway

Invasive species that have escaped into the surrounding native vegetation include Periwinkle (Vinca major), Cape Ivy (Delairea odorata), Black-eyed Susan (Thunbergia alata), Red Hot Poker (Kniphofia sp) and Passionflower (Passiflora sp).

Potentially invasive species include Cassia (Senna pendula), Privet (Ligustrum
spp), Radiata Pine (Pinus radiata) and Giant Reed (Arundo donax). The area contains minor infestations of Pampas Grass (Cortaderia sp), Blackberry (Rubus sp), Spear Thistle (Cirsium vulgare) and Wandering Jew (Tradescantia albifolia).

There is such a sense of history and it is wonderful imagining what the lives of the early settlers would have been like before modern day roads and bridges!!! I think that it would have been a fantastic place to grow up and explore!BlogFordHdld SliceHx 20%Reszd2015-06-19 13.02.25The shallowness of the water in Moogareeka Inlet make it an ideal spot for families and kids. There are boat launching ramps, a playground and BBQ and picnic facilities. Water sports include power boating, water skiing, wind surfing, swimming, snorkelling, fishing, canoeing and sailing. Here are 2 keen fishermen:BlogFordHdld SliceHx 20%Reszd2015-08-11 13.23.46BlogFordHdld SliceHx 20%Reszd2015-08-11 13.53.43Between Moogareeka Inlet and Wajurda Point , there are 3 small beaches, dominated by rocky reefs and backed by steep 20-30 m high bluffs. It is fun exploring the ridges and finding routes down to the beach, when the tide is too high to make it around the rocks.

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Mouth of the Bega River
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Looking back south to the mouth of the Bega River and Tathra Beach
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Walking north from the mouth of the Bega River
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Sheer cliffs add to the challenge of exploring this coastline
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Beach just to the south of Moon Bay

Here are some photos of the wonderful geology:BlogFordHdld SliceHx 20%Reszd2015-08-11 15.14.48BlogFordHdld SliceHx 20%Reszd2015-08-11 15.12.49BlogFordHdld SliceHx 20%Reszd2015-05-10 13.22.38BlogFordHdld SliceHx 20%Reszd2015-08-11 15.09.48BlogFordHdld SliceHx 20%Reszd2015-08-30 11.12.28Moon Bay lies 500m south-west of Wajurda Point and forms a semi-circle 200m wide and 270 m long. The beach faces east and is well protected from the winds, so it is a popular spot for families ( as well as local nudists apparently!). The beach does shelve steeply and rapidly, so care should be taken when swimming. There are rips after periods of high waves. It has a low backing fore-dune and a small backing valley.

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Looking at the northern end of Moon Bay
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Looking at the southern end of Moon Bay

BlogFordHdld SliceHx 20%Reszd2015-06-19 11.38.42BlogFordHdld SliceHx 20%Reszd2015-06-19 11.39.02There are fascinating cliffs at the southern end of the beach – a geologist’s delight!BlogFordHdld SliceHx 20%Reszd2015-06-19 11.42.11BlogFordHdld SliceHx 20%Reszd2015-06-19 11.42.37BlogFordHdld SliceHx 20%Reszd2015-05-10 14.16.15

The large rock ledges projecting into the bay are perfect for rock fishing, especially at dusk. Fishermen catch bream, flathead, salmon, mulloway and gummy sharks.BlogFordHdld SliceHx 20%Reszd2015-06-19 12.01.51

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Southern end of Moon Bay

At the northern end of the beach are remains of a log slide and mooring site, where timber and farm produce from ‘Riverview’ were loaded onto barges for transfer to waiting ships in the early days. Evidence includes the rusted stubs of mooring rings, grooves in the cliff face and a cutting.

There are 3 access points to Moon Bay :

1.Wajurda Point / Moon Bay Carpark : end of 2 km dirt road from Tathra-Bermagui Road.

There are 2 walks :

Wajurda Point Lookout (500 m) : magnificent views over nelson Lagoon to Picnic Point

Northern end of Moon Bay (250 m) : steep track with stepsBlogFordHdld SliceHx 20%Reszd2015-03-08 13.17.112. Link walk between former car park at the eastern end of Old Moon Bay Rd via the Moogareeka Fire Trail to Bay Drive Carpark.

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Moogareeka Fire Trail

3. Bay Drive Car Park, Moogareeka Inlet :

Old ‘Riverview’ driveway (600 m), then a 700 m track through the old property to a signposted walking track down to the southern end of Moon Bay.

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View of Moogareeka Inlet from Bay Drive
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Looking towards ‘Riverview’ from Bay Drive car park
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Walk from ‘Riverview’ downhill to Moon Bay
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Walking towards Moon Bay along the flat
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The Neighbourhood Watch!
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The end of the walk : Moon Bay
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Scarred old tree from early days

We usually do this walk first, then return to Bay Drive car park via the Moogareeka Fire Trail. It is a lovely walk, especially as you descend on the old dirt road through the forest with tantalizing glimpses of Moogareeka Inlet through the trees. We’ve seen cyclists, a tiger snake, but no nudists as yet!

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Acacia longifolia
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Stunning fruit of Pittosporum revolutum
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This sleepy Tiger Snake gave us a bit of a fright on our Mothers’ Day walk last year
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We felt much safer with this little fellow!