Wonboyn Lake is cocooned in rugged wilderness and perfectly preserved by the dual presence of Ben Boyd National Park and Nadgee Nature Reserve. This is one of those paddles you know will be special before you even see the water.
|WATERWAY||Wonboyn Lake, Wonboyn River|
|REGION||South Coast, NSW|
|START||Myrtle Cove boat ramp, Wonboyn Rd, Wonboyn Lake|
|GPS||DMS: 37° 15′ 3.3″ S, 149° 55′ 4.7″ E
DD: -37.250917, 149.917972
|FINISH||Return to start|
|PARKING||Large car park|
|CONDITIONS||Open areas, tidal, light traffic, shallow areas|
|FISHING||Blackfish, bream, estuary perch, flathead, tailor, whiting|
Where the hell are we Mike? Buggered if I know Mal. If ‘Ask the Leyland Brothers’ was still on television, it would be great to see their take on Wonboyn Lake. It is a tiny coastal fishing hamlet that is 22 kilometres south of Eden and to get there safely you need to dodge the wombats and giant eastern grey kangaroos that intermittently dart out onto the unsealed Wonboyn Road. Initially, the scene is similar to many other coastal estuaries. Mangroves line the shores, oyster farms dominate the shallow waters, and the pelicans are on a first name basis with the fishermen, but this place has so much more.
Wonboyn Lake is not exactly a bustling metropolis. There is a general store which does its best to stock all the essentials, but if you are thinking about staying for a night or two it is advisable to get supplies at a larger town before you arrive.
There are two boat ramps in Myrtle Cove. The more primitive one, built at least partly out of shells, is the closest to the car park and therefore the most easily accessible. The picnic table next to it is also a great place for an after paddle debrief.
Once on the water, head north up the lake and continue in the same direction into Wonboyn River. This takes you into the pristine forests for which this region is renowned.
The Wonboyn River also leaves the lake in the east (see map), but that is the way to Disaster Bay. The ominous sounding name comes from the fact that many ships have met their fate in this area. It is not suggested that you head in that direction because conditions can be very difficult.
After leaving the oyster beds of the lake behind, it feels like you have stumbled across a place only known to a select few. Apart from the birds that is. Kingfishers, sea eagles, cormorants, and bellbirds seem like they have been here for an age. It is easy to just drift off and luxuriate in the feeling of sheer wilderness. You won’t be surprised to learn that Nadgee Nature Reserve is one of very few coastal areas in New South Wales with identified wilderness qualities.
At one point the nature inspired trance is broken by the appearance of a home replete with manicured lawns. It is difficult to comprehend how and why it got to be here but thankfully there is only one and it is quickly forgotten.
The turnaround point for this paddle is close when you reach a pretty little island passable on either side. The Rockpools are just ahead. This is a point where lichen covered rock formations cross the river and prevent you from going any further. Clambering up on them is tricky but rewarding because of the brilliant view of what is taking place under the crystal clear surface of the water.
If the conditions are right you will see hundreds of fish. Wonboyn Lake has a name amongst recreational anglers for estuary perch, flathead, bream, blackfish, whiting, jewfish, kingfish, tailor, and salmon.
“To experience sublime natural beauty is to confront the total inadequacy of language to describe what you see. Words cannot convey the
scale of a view that is so stunning it is felt.” Eleanor Catton
|EAT||Wharfside Café, 253 Imlay Street, Eden, (02) 6496 1855|
|DRINK||The Great Southern, 158 Imlay Street, Eden, (02) 6496 1515|
|SLEEP||Wonboyn Cabins, Wonboyn Road, Wonboyn Lake, (02) 6496 9131|