Bongil Bongil National Park trails are a good place for running, cycling or a long walk.
We are training for the Byron Coast Charity Walk (36km) so we set out on a big loop to explore as many of the Bongil Bongil trails as we could. You can start your walk, run or cycle in a number of places – Tuckers Rock carpark is a good option if you want to finish with a swim. You can also easily adjust the route and distance to suit yourself.
After parking the car on Overhead Bridge Road, we follow forest trails, past a park management gate. We were hoping to walk to the end of Eastern Peninsula Trail and back. But a long dark swamp blocks our way, our shoes are still dry and clean, so we decide to turn around. A side trip on Bongil Beach trail leads us past some paperbark swamps with interesting plays of light and shadow. The map tells me Scrub Creek flows through here but has no outlet to the sea. We walk onto the beach at the end of Bongil Beach Trail, the tide is high and waves are washing against the dunes. We go back the way we came and turn to follow pretty Palm Crossing trail where an understory of crinum lilies are growing in the wetlands.
Bongil Bongil National Park entirely surrounds Bundagen, an intentional community with180 members. The community formed in the 1980s, purchasing the land to save it from being developed. In the 1990s they campaigned successfully for the surrounding state forest to be declared a national park. A flooded gum plantation dating from the early 1970s is in the process of being rehabilitated to restore biodiversity.
Onto the beach we go at the end of Palm Crossing trail, and curve around the bay to the rock formation at Bundagen Head. A pair of pied oystercatchers are patrolling the beach for worms and molluscs, These beach-nesting shorebirds are endangered in NSW. Bundgaree Creek is flowing strongly, stained with tannins, and the clear water is knee high as we wade across.
Aside from wetlands and forests, Bongil Bongil National Park has an interesting system of coastal dunes and swales – swales are the low lying and often wet depressions between dunes. We pick up the Bundgaree walking track after crossing the lagoon, and enjoy the shade and birdsong as we tramp beneath staghorns, elk horns, ferns in a littoral rainforest wonderland. Plan A was to take the Bluff loop track up to Tuckers Rocks Rd, but a deep, long and spooky swamp lying across the path foils that plan. The puddles on Bundgaree track are not so bad – only shin deep. Recent floods certainly impacted this low lying national park!
From Tuckers Rock, we follow forest trails, wriggling right, right, left, right right, left until we see our waiting car. A great day out.