Gulaga is a focal point in both the landscape of the NSW south coast and the creation story of the Yuin Aboriginal people. She watches closely over Wallaga Lake and keeps it safe by wrapping a gorgeous green blanket around its western shores.
|WATERWAY||Wallaga Lake, Dignams Creek|
|REGION||South Coast, NSW|
|DISTANCE||Up to 15 kilometres|
|TIME||Up to 3 hours|
|START||Beauty Point ramp/beach, O’Connells Point Rd, Wallaga Lake|
|GPS||DMS: 36° 22′ 43.9″ S, 150° 3′ 45.9″ E
DD: -36.378861, 150.062750
|FINISH||Return to start|
|TOILET||On ramp access road|
|CONDITIONS||Open areas, tidal, some heavy traffic, shallow areas|
|FISHING||Blackfish, bream, flathead, prawns, snapper, tailor, whiting|
In order to completely immerse yourself in this experience, it is essential to have an understanding of the Yuin story of Gulaga and her sons before you get on the water. Yuin stories are best told by Yuin people so I am not going to try to relay it to you here. You can hear it directly from them on the Koori Coast website.
The first stage of this trip is across Wallaga Lake from Beauty Point to the forested shoreline of Gulaga National Park. The best place to meet up with the park is the unnamed prominent headland northwest of Beauty Point. If you don’t have a compass, then pretend the Beauty Point jetty is pointing to 12 o’clock on a watch dial and aim for 2 o’clock. There isn’t much protection from the elements out on the lake so it is a good idea to check the weather forecast before setting off.
The Yuin people are the traditional owners of Gulaga National Park. It was “handed back” to them in 2006 under an agreement which also provided that local Aboriginal land councils would lease the land to the Minister for the Environment for an initial period of 30 years. This means that the park is still part of the conservation estate of NSW but the Yuin people have the main say in how it is run.
Gulaga Mountain is the high point of Gulaga National Park. Its volcanically formed peak can be seen from as far away as Tathra and Moruya, and you get fantastic views of it as you make your way across Wallaga Lake. When Lieutenant James Cook saw it from the Endeavour in 1770, he called it Mt Dromedary because of its camel shaped hump.
When you reach the national park, veer to the right and continue on with the land on your left-hand side. There are several beautiful bays in this area. Kangaroos make regular appearances and wallabies, koalas, echidnas and wombats also live here.
If you stay close to the shoreline, you will eventually find yourself paddling into Dignams Creek. This is where the birds are most prevalent. There is a good chance of seeing swans, pelicans, herons, egrets, kingfishers, kites and eagles.
Dignams Creek is initially split in two by Snake Island. The plan is to paddle around the island and back to the lake but it is important to note that the water can sometimes be very shallow. It definitely pays to arrive when the tide is high. Tide times for Wallaga Lake – Regatta Point can be found on the WillyWeather website.
When you make your way out of Dignams Creek on the north side of Snake Island, set a course for the headland almost directly opposite. Go to the right of that and follow the perimeter of the lake into another sequence of lovely forested bays.
The final leg is from Hawkes Nest to Beauty Point via Merriman Island (see map). The island is named after a Yuin elder known as King Merriman who passed away in 1904. Yuin people call it Umbarra, meaning Pacific black duck. The Pacific black duck is their totem bird and it is said that the island looks like a duck when seen from Gulaga Mountain. Merriman Island is not open to the public so please don’t land there. Simply take a closer look and then float south to Beauty Point.
“The love of wilderness is more than a hunger for what is always beyond reach; it is also an expression of loyalty to the earth, the earth which bore us and sustains us, the only paradise we shall ever know, the only paradise we ever need, if only we had the eyes to see.” Edward Abbey
|EAT||Saltwater, 59 Lamont Street, Bermagui, (02) 6493 4328|
|DRINK||Bermagui Beach Hotel, 10 Lamont St, Bermagui, (02) 6493 4206|
|SLEEP||Ocean Lake Cvan Pk, Wallaga Lake Rd, Wallaga Lake, (02) 6493 4055|