Durras Lake

Pristine is a word that has lost value because it has been used far too liberally to describe less than perfect places, but there isn’t a worthy alternative so I am going to use it anyway. Perhaps more than any other lake in NSW, Durras deserves to be called pristine.

WATERWAY Durras Lake, Cumbralaway Creek, Benandarah Creek
REGION South Coast, NSW
DISTANCE 12 kilometres plus
TIME 2.5 hours plus
START Boat ramp, Lakeside Drive, South Durras
GPS DMS: 35° 38’ 43.43” S, 150° 17’ 42.29” E
DD: -35.645397, 150.295081
FINISH Return to start
PARKING Small parking area
TOILET None, nearest are at Durras Oval on Durras Drive
CONDITIONS Open, tidal, light traffic, shallow areas
FISHING Blackfish, bream, flathead, flounder, tailor, whiting

Durras Lake Map

Durras Lake is a beautiful barrier estuary in the Murramarang National Park, just north of Batemans Bay. Its contents are a wonderfully clean and crystal clear mix of fresh water trickling in from forest filtered creeks, and the salt water that occasionally finds its way through the sandbar that protects this waterway from the open ocean. It is an unspoiled environment that is also a fabulous life enhancer for a vast array of plants and animals, not to mention people.

Durras Lake Photo 1

Apart from the small villages of Durras North and South Durras at its coastal entrance, this lake is completely surrounded by native vegetation. Saltmarshes, melaleuca forests, clumps of casuarinas, and rare littoral rainforest blanket the shoreline, and delicate white orchids swing gently from branches reaching over the water. Spotted gum woodlands sprinkled with Burrawang palms also sometimes find a way down to the water’s edge.

One of the first things you notice about Durras is that it doesn’t look like a lake at all. This is because it is actually a series of basins connected by shallow channels. It has a long, slender, and fragmented nature that keeps it fresh and interesting for the entire length of any trip.

It is possible to launch from either an informal ramp at the end of North Durras Road in Durras North, or a boat ramp at the end of Lakeside Drive in South Durras. I prefer the latter, because there is a sealed road all the way to the ramp and there is less of a carry to the water, so that is what is shown on the map.

Launch from South Durras and head left to go inland. This part of the lake can be very shallow and there are submerged rocks to be avoided, but thankfully marker buoys are in place to show the way through the worst of them. On the plus side, stingrays are common, and they can regularly be seen gliding over the sandy ripples of the lake floor.

The waterway follows a north westerly path for around 1.2 kilometres and then comes to an intersection. The majority of the lake is to the left so that is where you are headed, but it is worth noting that there is a pretty lagoon to the right that you can explore if you have time. After turning left you will encounter a small island. Shallow waters dictate that you must keep this on your starboard side.

Soon the lake deepens and becomes more expansive. This area is home to vast healthy underwater seagrass meadows, which are in turn a habitat for many fish and crustaceans. Birds love it here too. Over 100 species have been identified at Durras Lake. You will probably share your day with ducks, cormorants, egrets, black swans, oystercatchers, plovers, bitterns, and ospreys.

Stick relatively close to the right hand shoreline and follow it all the way to the northern end of the lake for an exploration of Cumbralaway and Benandarah Creeks. Both are narrow, protected, shady, and peaceful, and offer tantalizing invitations to stop for a mid-paddle break before returning to South Durras.

Durras Lake Photo 2

“The idea of wilderness needs no defence, it only needs defenders.” Edward Abbey

EAT On The Pier, Old Punt Road, Batemans Bay, (02) 4472 6405
DRINK Bayview Hotel, 20 Orient Street, Batemans Bay, (02) 4472 4522
SLEEP Lakesea Park, Durras Lake Road, South Durras, (02) 4478 6122

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