The crystal clear and incredibly clean waters of Wagonga Inlet are not just perfect for growing oysters. They provide a fantastic view of Mother Nature’s extraordinary underwater show. Vast seagrass meadows and large groups of stingrays are wonderful highlights for the watchful.
|REGION||South Coast, NSW|
|DISTANCE||Up to 23 kilometres|
|TIME||Up to 5 hours|
|START||Boat ramp, Taylor Bros Boatshed, Riverside Dr, Narooma|
|GPS||DMS: 36° 13’ 10.9” S, 150° 7’ 17.8” E
DD: -36.219694, 150.121611
|FINISH||Return to start|
|PARKING||Large car park|
|TOILET||Near start and at eastern end of Mill Bay boardwalk|
|CONDITIONS||Open, tidal, some heavy traffic, shallow areas|
|FISHING||Bream, flathead, kingfish, salmon, tailor, whiting|
If you’ve ever driven through Narooma, images of Wagonga Inlet will be etched in your mind even if the name isn’t immediately familiar. A wonderful old bridge carries traffic across a waterway of such vivid greens and blues that the engrossing game of ‘I Spy’ taking place in the back of the car is sure to be interrupted by more than a few moments of awestruck silence. It is incredibly appropriate that the town’s name is derived from an Aboriginal word meaning ‘clear blue water’.
The best place to start a paddle on Wagonga Inlet is the boat ramp adjacent to Taylor Bros Boatshed. A variety of trips are possible so you can vary your day to suit the weather, tidal conditions and fitness levels of your paddling buddies.
The most protected option is a lap of Forsters Bay to the left of the ramp. Here you can paddle up close to sea birds perched on top of jetty pylons, weave through an array of moored boats and wonder at the flourishing seagrass meadows that occupy the bay.
A second alternative is to go to the right of the ramp and follow the channel under the Princes Highway. There can be a lot of boat traffic near the bridge so watch out for that. The tidal push can also be quite strong so it is important to assess its likely effect on you before continuing.
The Mill Bay Boardwalk on the eastern side of the bridge has been constructed to give people without boats a closer view of the water. Many come to watch the families of stingrays that live here and you will no doubt be able to see lots of them as well.
A boat ramp and toilets near the end of the boardwalk make it an excellent spot for a break before heading back. Looking south west from there, you have a great view of the township of Narooma framed by the outline of Mount Dromedary. This mountain is a place of great spiritual significance to the Aboriginal Yuin people who call it Gulaga.
People who want to paddle longer distances should head due west from Taylor Bros Boatshed to Shell Point and then loosely follow the shoreline from there to Honeymoon Point. Large fields of oysters will come into view. It appears that they might block any further progress but there is a pathway through the middle.
There are three creeks at the upper end of Wagonga Inlet that are all worth exploring but none are accessible at low tide due to a combination of shallow water, sandbars and scattered oyster shells. The best time to come is on a very high spring tide.
The first creek you will find is Punkally. This disappears into mangroves on the left at the point where Wagonga Inlet turns north. Burrimbidgee and Billa Bilba Creeks can be found at the northern tip of the inlet. All three are shown on the map.
The bushland that surrounds the upper end of Wagonga Inlet makes it feel very remote but this was once home to a bustling port. A plaque beside Wagonga Wharf in Brices Bay says it was first used in the 1860s to unload supplies for settlers and the Dromedary and Nerrigundah goldfields. The wharf has since been replaced by a pontoon but some of the original pylons can still be seen here today.
“Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
|EAT||Quarterdeck, 13 Riverside Drive, Narooma, (02) 4476 2723|
|DRINK||O’Briens Hotel, 99 Campbell Street, Narooma, (02) 4476 3691|
|SLEEP||Surfbeach Holiday Park, 1 Ballingalla St, Narooma, (02) 4476 2275|