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Lake Arragan and the Angourie Circuit Walk

Feb 02 2011

In reaching a decision to go camping on the coast close to and immediately after Xmas firstly requires a judgement about two things – the weather and camp space availability, otherwise known as – how crowded is it going to be ?.

In the week before Xmas 2010 I could see on the forecasts a 2-3 day window of clear sunny weather in the middle of La Nina induced weeks of rain. Suspecting that the prolonged period of damp days had deterred a lot of potential campers, my wife Lorna and I decided to gather our optimism about the weather forecast and head off for a few days to one of our favourite camp spots – Lake Arragan in Yuraygir National Park.

This magnificent Park extends from Red Rock just north of Coffs Harbour to Angourie just south of Yamba. This 60 kms represents the longest stretch of undeveloped coastline in NSW. The Park has eight campgrounds – Lake Arragan is our favourite. The camp sites are perched between Lake Arragan itself and the sand dunes which lead onto a stunning beach which seems to go on forever.

Upon arrival we were pleased that only about half of the campsites were occupied, leaving plenty of room. The atmosphere at Lake Arragan campground is always friendly and jovial with families and couples enjoying the wonderful surrounds and facilities. National Parks provide fresh drinking water, picnic tables, non-flush toilets and wood barbecues with wood supplied.

Lake Arragan itself is a wonderfully relaxing place for a canoe or kayak. On this particular trip the Lake was open to the sea and it was an absolute joy to lay on our back and float downstream for about a kilometre from the opening mouth of the lake into the surf beach ! We couldn’t help but ponder whether it was impossible to beat an afternoon of that, followed by a glass of champagne sitting on the sand dunes while watching sea diving Terns, soaring Sea Eagles and Osprey topped off with a campfire dinner surrounded by watchful grazing kangaroos against a western sunset !! All it needed was a gentle cool sea breeze on a balmy summer night with the rhythmic sound of the nearby surf – and we had that too !

The next day called for a bushwalk and it is from the Lake Arragan campground that the Angourie Circuit Walk starts. This extends 10 kms north to the surfing village of Angourie and is truly a wonderful coastal walk – in my view one of the best of its type in Australia. It can be done as a circuit back to Lake Arragan or as on this occasion – a one way walk if you have a lift at the other end. Lorna decided to spend the time looking around Yamba and so arranged to meet me in the car at Angourie after my solo walk.

The headlands, lookout platforms, sedges, heathlands, paperbarks, sedges and wattle and banksia forests are truly magnificent in their diversity. Thrown in with the coastal water views that stretch out to the clear blue horizon, it is a great half day walk. It now forms part of the recently opened 65 km Yuraygir Coastal Walk.

Following a delicious lunch at a Yamba outdoor café we completed the proceedings with a swim at Spooky Beach before heading back to our campsite in the late afternoon.

Lake Arragan campground is accessed from the Brooms Head Road. Brooms Head is a 10 minute drive from the campground and has essential supplies including ice, wine and beer, camping gear, fuel etc.

For more information see : www.environment.nsw.gov.au/nationalparks/

Jim Downey