Featuring the natural bushland setting of Conjola National Park, sheltered creeks, soft sandy beaches, scores of black swans, and some of the most impressive sand dunes in southern NSW, this is your next paddling holiday waiting to happen.
|WATERWAY||Swan Lake, Mondayong Creek, Tea Tree Creek|
|START||Errol Bond Reserve, Goonawarra Drive, Cudmirrah|
|GPS||DMS: 35° 11’ 38.03” S, 150° 33’ 35.30” E
DD: -35.193897, 150.559806
|FINISH||Return to start|
|PARKING||Large parking area|
|CONDITIONS||Open areas, tidal, some heavy traffic, shallow areas|
The perfect holiday destination is a quiet place where there are plenty of things to keep you entertained and no pressure to do any of them. That’s how it is at Swan Lake. Bring a kayak and let your mood decide whether you want to paddle, or simply set up a deck chair and do nothing at all.
Swan Lake is hiding on the south coast of NSW just south of Jervis Bay. To get there, take the well marked Sussex Inlet turn east from the Princes Highway then turn right into The Springs Road after just over 10 kilometres. The best place to start a paddle is Errol Bond Reserve, and you can reach that by turning right into Goonawarra Drive just after crossing the Swan Lake Inlet bridge.
Paddlers with fitness as their inspiration will be interested to know that a lap of the lake, following the path marked on the map, is exactly 10 kilometres. Kayak fishing folk may be more taken by the fact that flathead, bream, and whiting are on offer. Those with less athletic and gastronomic motivations will undoubtedly be more than happy to just go exploring.
The first destination is Mondayong Creek in the north east corner. Follow the edge of the lake and you will hear the delightful twinkling sounds of little bush birds, but look to the centre for the true feathered star of this trip. The elegant black swan has all the poise of a prima ballerina and there are flocks of them here. Shallow waters make it easy for them to feed on the underwater vegetation. Watch them glide gracefully around the lake and you’ll appreciate how they inspired one of the most loved ballets of all time. The sight of them taking off is equally impressive, although somewhat less stylish.
Mondayong Creek is one of Mother Nature’s breathtaking works of art. Lush native vegetation feeds the creek with tannins and keeps it glassy by shielding it from all directions. The result is stunningly perfect reflections that have to be seen to be believed.
Tea Tree Creek is immediately east of Mondayong. The surrounding vegetation is lower so it isn’t as protected, but it does have a labyrinth of channels where you can lose yourself in splendid isolation.
Continue following the shore of the lake around in a clockwise direction and you will find some lovely white beaches, whose secluded position and unspoiled state lends them a desert island style romanticism. The sandy stretches continue but the later ones are accessible by road and not so private.
You should be able to see the lollygaggers in their deck chairs by now, but don’t be in a hurry to go in and brag about what you have seen. There’s still one more highlight.
Follow the Swan Lake Inlet down to Cudmirra Beach. Even though it is called an inlet, it is usually closed to the ocean so you probably won’t be able to paddle out. You can, however, walk onto the beach to check out the surf and admire the awesome sand dunes.
“For fast acting relief, try slowing down.” Lily Tomlin
|EAT||Cudmirrah Café, Goonawarra Drive, Cudmirrah, (02) 4441 3006|
|DRINK||Sussex Inlet RSL, 200 Jacobs Drive, Sussex Inlet, (02) 4441 2076|
|SLEEP||Swan Lake Tourist Village, 4 Goonawarra Dr, Cudmirrah, 1300 555 517|