I am so happy to be typing this out. I have completed the Shipwreck creek to Thurra River component of the East Coast Wilderness walk across the Sandpatch Wilderness Area. The component that Liz and I completed over three days from the 4th to the 6th of January is roughly a 50KM stretch. The day 1 component is quite short, as we started at Shipwreck as opposed to Mallacoota as we had to drive there from our start point at Thurra. Most of the walk’s critical information can be found directly below:
|Number of Days:||3 Day Hike - (Day 1)|
|Length & Time:||Day 1: 10KM, approx 3 Hours.|
|Start Location:||Shipwreck Creek Campground|
|End Location:||Benedore River Campground|
|Permit required:||Yes, Contact Parks office at Mallacoota|
Wow, Thats so much more concise than trying to find the info in paragraphs, But thats where my charm is! So ill write on. I heard lots of differing opinions, and read even more online about how long it would take to do the stretch of Coast between Shipwreck creek and Thurra River. So; when I originally looked at this hike I was planning to do it over 5 days. Luckily I struck gold and Petra over at the Mallacoota Parks office was able to give me some real information to help de-mystify the whole thing. So; Thank you so Much for that Petra, you really helped us out a lot!
There are plenty of campsites along the wideness coast, and they are situated roughly 5 – 7Kms apart in most cases. This means that you can break the walk up considerably more than Liz and I did and do it over a few more days, if you’re not in to hiking 15 – 20km per day. The First day is relatively easy; and thats what i’ll be covering in this post.
The first day is quite easy, with a paltry 10km, if you’re interested in making the walk slightly longer, you can start at Mallacoota instead, and that will increase the first day of walking to a more athletic 18km, the majority of which is along roads (which is why I didn’t bother!). The only real reason I can see for doing that component is for starting further up the coast in the NSW section of the Wilderness coast walk.
This first 10km winds down to shipwreck creek and walks along the beach, before heading back in-land on the other side and along the headlands to Seal cove. The first 3km are pretty easy, and there are only slight gradients at each end of the headland.
Arriving at Seal Cove you can head a little up-river to find your first possible campsite, hang on! You have only walked 3km!? Thats not for us today, heading along the cove, you will head up Little rame head, which will take you all the way to Benedore river, where we will be laying our heads for the first night. Again, this is pretty easy; the trail is wide-open, flat and well marked. Quite a pleasure to walk, I think that quite often there are groups whom make a round trip consisting of this portion of the track. Its much easier going than the other two days, and it seems like it had considerably more traffic over it.
The first day; I thought I was doing it tough, carrying 14L of water so as to have enough for all three days along with my full pack. I was pretty convinced I was carrying 30 – 35KG on my back. I was proud as punch that I was coping so well with the weight, until I saw what I can only call a most tenacious gentleman I have ever seen hiking. Justin, if you read this, I cannot ever state how impressed I was. Justin is a pretty new dad, two kids under 5; He has always enjoyed the bush, and wants to instil that same love into his kids. A most worthy goal, to achieve this he had them both in an bush stroller; basically like normal stroller but with bigger wheels and an aluminium frame and fly nets. He was pushing them along over Little Rame, with a full pack on his back when we came the other way. Thats right, he was taking two kids under 5 hiking with a full pack on his back and them in the stroller. Again, Mate; Well done.
Roughly 1/2 way along little rame, you will have the opportunity to turn off to the left toward the coast and actually walk up the head, because of time constraints and the fact that we were pretty over-loaded in terms of weight, Liz and I decided to keep heading toward Benedore.
Once you conquer little rame and head down the other side, the bush will clear slightly into a campsite. The Benedore east sites are well separated and cleared while being right on the water, they are fantastic little sites. A strong westerly meant that camping on the east would most likely spell a very windy night, we decided to cross to the east.
To cross Benedore and finish the day, you will need to head back toward the cost from the east campsites. There is an obvious track that heads back up one of the dunes and out toward the coastline. While we were at benedore the river was down and closed, so no crossing was required. All that you need to do is head across the mouth, then head back inland once you reach the other side of the river. The western sites are well cleared and you can happily camp 15 – 20 people (about 3 or 4 groups) in the clearing. If you’re really keen; and brought a rod, the surf coast around that area will provide Australian Salmon and gummy sharks. If you just have a reel and line, you could try catching something the the estuary, it was definitely deep enough for Brim or some Perch, but I didn’t fish there so don’t hold me to that!!
It was here at Benedore west that we decided to lay our heads for the night. The whole 10KM including a few short rests took us no longer than 3 hours, so this is easily a half-day walk for most people. For those looking to do a short over-night, this could be a good option. Walk to Benedore and return; but that wasn’t our plan. We went to bed early ready for the next day, where we would tackle the next 18KM of our hike to Wingan Inlet before finally on our third day completing the final 22kM to Thurra river.
Its worth noting that if you walk down the coast a little toward sandpatch point, just before the stairs that head up the point and begin the sandpatch track there is a small creek that provides potable water. I would still recommend treating it however if you have the means. Also keep in mind that snakes like to stick around on rocks near water. When we were there; a few other hikers saw a tiger snake near the water.
Thanks for reading day 1 of our Shipwreck creek to Thurra river hike, Continue reading Day 2 here